Absolute key to a successful ideation project is a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This might sound deeply obvious, but in fact it is incredibly common to set up ideation projects with the main purpose of “having ideas”. Ideas to expand brands, ideas to generate growth, ideas to beat the competition, ideas for communication. These are not problems. It is important, to get a really useful outcome, to drill down into why you want these ideas in the first place.
Having a real problem to solve provides the ideation session with a springy focus and give direction to the session. By defining the problem clearly you will find you are already part way down the road to solving it.
Sometimes it is tempting to set up the ideation session around a desired outcome. ”How can we be number 1?” for instance. Again, spending the first part of the project drilling down to obtain a clear understanding of what the hurdles and problems are is key to finding ways in which to achieve the desired outcome.
All in all, understanding the problem is the essential first step to idea generation.