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Idea Management | Engagement & Collaboration

10 Powerful Ideation Techniques to Unleash Creativity and Innovation

Generating new ideas and fostering innovation are essential for business growth, market success, and societal progress. However, coming up with innovative ideas can be challenging at times. That's where ideation techniques come into play. Ideation techniques are structured approaches that help stimulate creativity and generate a wide range of ideas.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most powerful ideation techniques that can supercharge your creative thinking and unlock game-changing ideas.

1. Brainstorming

Brainstorming involves a diverse group coming together to generate ideas on a specific topic or problem. It begins with a clearly defined objective and the assemblage of individuals with different perspectives, backgrounds, and expertise. A facilitator should establish guidelines and encourage participants to freely share their creative ideas without criticism or evaluation upfront.

In brainstorming, it is important to create an environment that promotes active participation from all members. As the brainstorming session progresses, participants should engage in open discussions and expand upon new ideas suggested by others.

After the brainstorming session, generated ideas should be collated and evaluated based on predetermined criteria. A digital platform that enables collaborative rating and visualizations can help facilitate this process. The aim is to prioritize the most promising and feasible ideas that align with the objective of your innovation initiative.


Brainstorming ideas with GenAI

Add artificial intelligence as an extra member of your brainstorming group. Combining human creativity with machine intelligence might spark ideas that will evolve into innovative solutions. 

Explore our free AI assistants that help you generate ideas or use them to plan your next workshop or brainstorming session.

2. Reverse brainstorming / headstand

Similar to brainstorming, reverse brainstorming begins by clearly defining the problem you want to address. However, instead of seeking solutions, participants think of ways to make the problem worse. The aim is to generate as many ideas as possible that exacerbate or contribute to the problem.

Once there is a sufficient number of "reverse" ideas, these are then reversed again to identify potential solutions or strategies that address the underlying causes of the problem. This involves looking for the opposite of the reverse ideas to find innovative approaches.

Reverse brainstorming for generating ideas is effective because it challenges conventional thinking and encourages participants to explore the problem from different angles. By examining the causes or factors contributing to the problem, organizations can identify new insights and alternative solutions that may not have been apparent initially.

3. Brainwriting

Brainwriting emphasizes individual and silent idea generation—unlike brainstorming, which relies on participants generating new ideas collectively through verbal interaction and discussion. In brainwriting, each participant writes down their ideas without any discussion with others. Participants then pass their ideas on to others in the group to expand upon by adding new ideas, variations, or improvements.

The idea exchange process should be repeated for multiple rounds to refine the concepts. Only after several rounds will the group come together to discuss and review the generated ideas, ideally leading to further refinement, combination, or selection of new ideas.

An approach that is often applied in brainwriting is the 6-3-5 method. It consists of six participants generating three ideas within five minutes, repeated for six rounds or 30 minutes in total. In the end, this would result in 108 ideas.

Brainwriting promotes equal participation since each participant generates ideas individually. It ensures that all participants have an opportunity to express their thoughts without interruptions, biases, or social pressure.

Brainwriting as a powerful ideation technique for innovation

4. Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats provides a structured approach to considering different perspectives and angles on a problem or situation. Each "thinking hat" represents a different mode of thinking, and participants metaphorically put on and take off these hats to encourage a well-rounded exploration of ideas.

The hats include white (facts and information), red (emotions and feelings), black (critical and cautious thinking), yellow (optimistic and positive thinking), green (creative and lateral thinking), and blue (meta-level thinking and process control).

The technique focuses on discussion and exploration amongst teams, making it a valuable approach for enriching and refining new ideas.

5. Crazy 8

The Crazy 8 ideation method is a rapid brainstorming technique often used in design thinking and innovation workshops. In this creative process, participants are given 8 minutes to individually generate 8 different solutions or sketches related to a given problem or challenge. The emphasis is on speed and quantity rather than perfection or feasibility, encouraging participants to push their creative boundaries and explore unconventional ideas.

After the time is up, participants share their creative ideas with the group, leading to discussions and potential combinations of concepts. This method effectively breaks mental barriers and fosters a culture of open innovation by encouraging diverse and rapid idea generation.

By setting a short time constraint and encouraging participants to produce a large number of ideas within that time frame, the Crazy 8 technique helps to overcome overthinking and promotes quick, spontaneous ideation.


SCAMPER is an acronym that stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, re-Purpose, Eliminate, and Reverse. It is a creative thinking technique that encourages the systematic discussion and exploration of different ways to modify, adapt, or reimagine existing products, processes, or concepts. The objective is to enrich or refine ideas and thereby enhance value realization by applying one or more of these actions.

SCAMPER as a powerful ideation technique for innovation

Broadcast search, also known as open call or open innovation, is a technique used in the ideation process to gather input and new ideas from a wide range of individuals. The key principle behind the broadcast search method is to reach as many people as possible, soliciting their ideas and solutions to a specific problem or challenge.

This method casts a wider net by reaching out to a broad audience without specifically targeting a particular group. Compared with other ideation methods, broadcast search relies on more passive involvement from participants. It typically uses widely accessible communication channels—like advertising, social media, or public announcements.

The broadcast search method can also pose challenges, such as managing a large volume of submissions, evaluating ideas efficiently, and maintaining intellectual property rights.

8. Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing goes beyond simply seeking ideas and encourages active participation, collaboration, and co-creation among participants. Unlike the broadcast search method, crowdsourcing focuses on a specific group of individuals with relevant expertise, knowledge, or interest in the given challenge. The focused nature of crowdsourcing allows for a higher likelihood of receiving high-quality, relevant, and actionable ideas compared to more general approaches.

Crowdsourcing can take different forms, such as innovation contests or dedicated communities where participants can submit their ideas. A digital platform like the ITONICS Innovation OS supports idea submission, discussion, and collaboration among participants. Collaboration features such as commenting, rating, or assigning relations and owners facilitate the collective refinement and development of ideas.

While the crowdsourcing method offers numerous benefits, it is essential to establish a clear framework, governance model, and roles to manage the crowdsourcing process effectively and ensure successful outcomes.

Pyramid search is an ideation method that can help overcome internal biases when generating new ideas by expanding the search horizon to include experts from different domains and industries. The first step is to identify experts with knowledge about the target domain in which you are addressing a problem. After discussing the problem, solutions, and perspectives with these experts, the next step is to ask them to refer you to another expert who has more insight into the topic.

Once you have reached the top of the “knowledge pyramid” within your target domain, you should seek a referral to experts in analogous domains that may face similar challenges to your organization. This process is repeated until you have gathered sufficient information and evidence pointing to innovative solutions.

The pyramid search is an effective method for looking at problems from a different perspective and sourcing novel solutions. Especially where solutions have already been developed in analogous domains or industries, this method helps organizations avoid starting from scratch and investing resources in similar ideas.

10. Ideation campaigns

Ideation campaigns or ideation challenges provide a structured framework to unlock participants' creative potential and generate ideas. They enable organizations to tap into the collective intelligence of their stakeholders, including employees at all levels, departments, and even external stakeholders like customers or partners. By engaging diverse perspectives, ideation campaigns can generate a broader range of new ideas to ultimately drive innovation.

Organizations often leverage digital platforms to facilitate ideation campaigns. Below is a typical process of an ideation challenge that can be mapped on an ideation platform like ITONICS:

Ideation process in an ideation challengeAlso see: 5 Steps To Nailing Your Next Ideation Challenge

AI tools: a superpower for idea generation

You can use tools like ChatGPT or AI chatbots (see our Creative Charly) as a sounding board for ideas and inspiration. 

The ITONICS Smart Ideation tool offers a transformative approach to the entire ideation process. By harnessing the capabilities of Generative AI (GenAI), the tool speeds up the creation of ideation campaigns and idea submissions through prompt-based assistance. It removes common roadblocks to ideation, simplifying the process and channeling creativity in the context of your campaign, business goals, and industry.

1. Auto-generate ideation campaigns

With Smart Ideation, a detailed and targeted campaign description is just a few clicks away. Campaign managers need only provide a campaign title and short summary. The autofill feature then prompts you to select a template for describing the campaign goals and scope.

2. Auto-generate ideas

Campaign managers can use the autocreate ideas feature to populate the campaign before participants are invited to submit ideas. Having a few ideas already linked to the campaign is shown to be highly effective at sparking inspiration and overcoming any “first-mover” hesitation among participants.

Once the campaign is open to participants—whether employees, customers, startups, or partners—Smart Ideation makes idea submission fast, easy, and fun. By providing an idea title and short summary, participants can autofill the description using idea templates.

ITONICS AI tool to generate idea campaigns and ideas automatically

You have tons of new ideas now; what’s next?

By now, having gone through our list of the most powerful ideation techniques, you're likely brimming with novel concepts and fresh perspectives. The horizon of possibilities is constantly expanding, opening up new paths to innovation.

But generating ideas is only half the battle. The next phase in the ideation process—arguably the more critical one—is to discern which of those ideas are worth pursuing.

Why evaluating ideas is crucial

  • Resource management: Time, money, and manpower are finite resources. By selecting only the most promising ideas, you ensure that these resources are used efficiently.
  • Mitigate risk: Not every idea, no matter how brilliant it might seem initially, will be a success in the real world. Proper evaluation helps you avoid potential pitfalls and costly mistakes.
  • Focused strategy: Zeroing in on the best ideas helps to set clear goals and directions, making it easier for teams to align and push forward.
  • Increased chances of success: By evaluating and refining your concepts, you're not just blindly throwing darts; you’re aiming for the bullseye.

To simplify this often complex process, we've crafted a cheat sheet for evaluating and prioritizing the ideas generated through your ideation activities. This invaluable tool is designed to help you in assessing the viability, feasibility, and potential impact of each idea.

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Autorate ideas with ITONICS Smart Ideation

ITONICS Smart Ideation also augments idea evaluation, saving your evaluating teams and experts considerable time and effort as your idea pipeline grows. By further contextualizing ideas within this ecosystem—connecting them to market insights, company goals, and strategy—and automating their evaluation in a phase-gate process, ITONICS positions organizations at the forefront of efficient and effective innovation.


Want to learn more about how you can streamline your ideation activities and idea management with ITONICS? Get a free demo and see for yourself!