The third component of design thinking process is the most interesting and perhaps, the most rigorous as well. In this section, called Ideate, a design thinker is supposed to bring to the table as many ideas as possible. While brainstorming for ideas, it is not checked whether the idea is possible, feasible, and viable or not. The only task of thinkers is to think of as many ideas as possible for them.
In this process, design thinkers also resort to the use of boards, sticky notes, sketching, chart papers, mind maps, etc. We will take a look at mind maps later in this section. Design thinkers also build on the ideas of other design thinkers. All solutions suggested by design thinkers are brought to the table and thought over. There are rules for brainstorming. They are as follows.
Only one conversation is allowed at a time. No other person must intervene when an idea is being given.
Focus must be on the quantity and not on quality. In this step, the group must have large number of ideas with them.
Think out of the blue. Wild ideas must be encouraged even if they invoke plain humor or seem impossible.
The group leader must defer judgment. The fellow thinkers also need to suspend judgment. Judgmental attitude leads to an obstruction for the thinkers.
Visualization is important. The design thinkers must create a visual picture of the problem statement and then try to see a visual image of their ideas as well.
Build on each other’s ideas. Support other ideas and build on them through group discussions and healthy debates.
Following is one of the techniques to brainstorm for ideas.
Mind map is a diagram that helps to observe and study information in a visual manner. Mind map is created around a single problem statement and all the ideas to solve the problem are written around it. The problem statement usually is written at the center of a blank page as a hub and branches shoot out in all directions representing the solutions.
The ideas can be represented as text, images, trees, and even smaller mind maps. The entire map looks like a top view of a tree, with the problem statement as the trunk and the solutions as branches. It is also known by the name of spider diagram.
However, mind map is not a mere haphazard diagram. It is a well-structured organized diagram meant to aid the thinking process and to streamline the analysis and synthesis process. The guidelines to create a mind map are as follows.
Begin with the problem statement at the center of a blank white page.
Use images, different colors, symbols, caricatures, abbreviations and codes to depict your ideas. Text can be boring, but different depictions can add an altogether different charm to your mind map.
Keywords must replace long statements. The mind map must give a hint to the design thinker about an idea quickly. Reading a long statement is waste of time.
Each and every word written in the mind map must be connected to the central hub by some or other line or set of lines.
Use multiple colors for visual stimulation.
Use radial hierarchy and make use of emphasis, italics, and underlines to stress on a point.
Ideate process can also be done with the help of sketches, screens, and storyboards. There are teams in corporate organizations which have large whiteboards and they paste their ideas on it using sticky notes. Different categories of ideas are represented in sticky notes of different colors and this helps in segregation of ideas.
The main idea behind the ideate step in design thinking process is to generate ideas and try to segregate them into categories. This helps in brainstorming without judgment, helps in bringing all the ideas to the table and helps proceed to the next step called ‘Prototyping’, where the ideas are checked for their feasibility and value.
Let’s try to ideate the DT problem.
Let’s bring out all the ideas. Some of the ideas can be as follows.
Have a different mechanism for appraisal of employees.
Organize events that feature team-building activities. This will help boost the morale of employees and will make them work in a team in a better fashion.
Discard the appraisal system.
Paste motivational posters in cubicles and pantry area.
Call a motivational speaker and conduct a session.
Encourage fellow employees to take the onus of motivating other employees.
Introduce a bond period for the employees so that they don’t leave soon.
Eliminate knowledge transfer program.
Ask only for expert employees to join the organization.
Ask employees to fend for themselves for knowledge transfer.
Conduct large classroom sessions with a huge audience listening to one instructor.
Make an online document for knowledge transfer program.
Make video tutorials.
Have online instructor teaching across geographies.
And the list goes on endlessly….
You can come up with even more and better ideas. There is no limit to the generation of ideas. Let’s represent these ideas using a mind map.
This is when we can draw analogy with similar situations. Take for example the case of schools. The knowledge transfer program is nothing much different than schools teaching the students. How does a school manage to keep the students motivated towards studies? How does a school teach the kids?
If we draw the analogy, we would understand that in schools, a single teacher teaches around 30-40 kids in a classroom. To keep them focused on studies, exams are conducted periodically. Using digital technology, smart classrooms teach kids using videos, presentations, and audio aids.
The same model can be replicated in DT company as well. We can have a single instructor teaching the new employees with the help of videos and presentations. A proctored exam will help to assess the learning levels of the new employees.