IAF Methods

Innovation: Ideas Generation

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This workshop is part of a process that helps turn potential business innovations into business proposals. It is one of a series of tools, including an "Attractor" Workshop 1 and Problem Identification Workshop, which precede this one.

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The group will generate ideas based on the attractor statements from Workshop I and make a first selection of ideas that seem interesting. The participants are excited about the possibilities of dealing with the proposal identified in the Workshop. (See method and file.)


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Flipchart (referred to as "flip-over" in the attachment)
  • Markers
  • Dots
  • Blank paper and pens



Types of participants: Technical and business experts

Time needed: One Day

Pre-Work Required: This process has 5 stages, prework, workshop one: Problem Identification Workshop, Home work, this workshop and follow up.

- Decide which of the workshops you will use for this session. See the tips for selecting a workshop

- Prepare an overhead slide and one sheet of paper for each participant with the attractor statement at the top.



1. Welcome the people to the second workshop.

2. Introduce the Innovation Team and the Sponsor (or champion). (This workshop assumes that this is part of a vetting process for new technical business proposals.)

3. Re-introduce yourself to the group.

4. As most of you may remember, I am …and my role today will be to facilitate the process of idea generation that will hopefully help … (Sponsor) to come up with an innovative idea. I would like to start with a reminder of who is in the room this time.

5. If there are new people please ask them to say a bit about their background.

6. Let us go around the room and give our names, and one attractor you solved since we last met. Go around the room and let all participants introduce themselves to the rest of the group. Exercise ‘control’ by keeping eye contact with the person talking.

Review of Attractor:

1. We want to review the work we did in the last workshop at this point. Review the attractor and summarize what happened in the first workshop.

2. Are there any questions?

3. I would like each person to report his or her three to five ideas. They can put their blue cards on a flip-over.

4. Are there any questions?

5. At this point, the Facilitator asks him or herself three questions: a) Has the homework been done? b) Are there more than one idea being presented? c) Are the ideas innovative? d) Are there sufficient potential innovative ideas? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then continue with this workshop. If the answer is yes, skip the Brainwriting and go to step number 6, procedure number 16.


12. Pass out the sheets with the attractor statement at the top.

13. We want to use an exercise called “Brain Writing” to generate ideas about possible solutions. Review the blue card reports. On this sheet of paper please write down 3 possible solutions. Pass the paper to the person on your right. Take the paper from the person on your left, read what is written there and add three more ideas that are different from the ones on the sheet. Continue this process until you have your sheet in front of you.

Select Promising Ideas:

14. Ask the participants to tick one per page that they find most promising. Now we want to evaluate the ideas. We will do it quickly. Pass out the dots. You have one dot per sheet. Please pass the sheet around again. This time put one dot next to the one idea per page that is the most promising. You can vote for none but you can’t vote for two or more.

15. Highlight or circle the most popular idea on each sheet. We want to put up the most promising names and evaluate them. Look at the list in front of you and give me the chosen items. Go around the table and get the names of the most promising, writing them on a flip over.

16. Look at the list on the flip over and ask if any are the same. You are not interested in combining items but eliminating overlap.

17. We want to select the most promising of these now. We will use the PMI method. The four criteria are a) Case a sound business case be made for the idea, b) is the idea likely to be taken up by a division in the company, c) does the idea offer the company an opportunity to stretch and d) Will the idea differentiate the company from the competition? I would like you to come up to the board and put a “P” for positive, an “N” for negative and an “I” for interesting next to each idea.

18. You want to select the 1-3 most promising ideas. If no clear choice emerges from this list discuss the interesting ones first. Discuss the positive ones next and the negative ones last. You can ask how the negative ones could be turned into positive ones.


1. This can be done in several ways. The group can be divided into teams that are responsible for recording all of the information generated by the selected ideas.

2. You can ask one of the participants to act as recording secretary and they are responsible for documenting the discussion.

3. In closing, ensure that the Sponsor clarifies to the participants what further steps might be expected from them.

See the attached file for more information following the steps.


Follow-Up Required: The follow up is to prepare a business plan for the proposal and present it to the appropriate people.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: The components of a business innovation proposal

Potential pitfalls: These ideas are pretty fragile and need to be supported to some degree but they also must be able to stand on their own by the time the workshop has finished.


Source: Maureen Jenkins

History of Development: This was prepared for a client of Imaginal Training.

Comments (1) ( 4.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • Includes brainwriting and specific procedures for prioritizing ideas that are very grounded and allow a group to think deeply.

    over 3 years ago