Finally, it's time to come up with solutions! There are many different methods and processes you can use to generate ideas. Here are some to choose from. Try to combine some of them in the same idea generation session, it can help you think from different perspectives.

1. What is an idea?

Before you start creating ideas, it is good to briefly reflect on what an idea is. In this context, we are looking for ideas that can be solutions to our “how could we” question, but in this phase it is only a seed for an idea you are looking for - not the details.

You just need to briefly describe the essence of your idea. It does not have to be well thought out. Being able to explain it in ten words or less will help you focus on coming up with many ideas instead of getting caught up in one or two very detailed ideas.

Describe your idea briefly and concretely

Example: if our “how could we” question was: How could we help young people feel safe even when it is dark outside? Then you could write down ideas such as:

  • Personal drones that follow young people in the evening.
  • A button on their phones that turns on the streetlights.
  • Happy music played in public places in the evening.
  • Luminous art on the sidewalks.
  • Book a friend service that comes with you when you go somewhere.

Many of these ideas may sound a bit unrealistic, but it does not matter! As we said in the golden rules for idea generation, in this phase there are no bad ideas and by just writing a few words as in the example above, you can share the core of the idea without dwelling on details or practicalities.

It is this setting that will help you have effective idea generation sessions, no matter which method you follow.

Below are several methods to choose from. Try one or more of them!


2. The process

Take your "how could we" question and place it at the center of the place you use for idea generation. On a wall, in the middle of a table or on a digital whiteboard.

Choose one of the idea generation methods below and if you generate idea together with others, explain the method to them. Briefly discuss the golden rules for idea generation to create the right conditions.

Give yourself a fixed time frame for generating ideas using the chosen method (s). You should have enough time to get into a flow, but not too much, the goal is for you to feel some time pressure. 15-30 minutes per method is usually enough to get a good amount of ideas, but you can of course set aside more or less time as well.

Try to come up with ideas individually and in silence. This allows you to think without being distracted by others.

Write down each idea on a separate post-it note and make sure it is concise and clearly written so that everyone can read it.

As you write down each idea, put it up in the place where you have your "how could we" question so that everyone can see it. It can also be good to read out your idea at the same time, but only very briefly. This can help others build on their ideas and gain new inspiration.

Below are several methods to choose from. Try one or more of them! Once you have lots of ideas go to the next step of the wizard to organize them.


Fill the grid

To help you focus on quantity instead of quality, here is a simple method that gives you a goal to work towards.

All you need to do is draw a grid on a flipchart, a whiteboard or wherever you are now generating your idea. Bet on having at least 30 boxes, but if you feel ambitious, you can add as many more as you want.

Start coming up with ideas to solve your "how could we" question and write each one down on your own post-it note. Once you have written one, put it on the grid in one of the boxes. All you need to do now is fill all the boxes with different ideas, one idea per box. Easy!

If you are a larger group, you may want to have your own grid to fill. You can even compete against each other and see who fills their grid the fastest.


How would… do that?

In this method, you draw inspiration from how large companies and organizations could solve your challenge. Simply take your "how could we" question and then ask yourself: how would… do it?

All you have to do then is come up with ideas by imagining what they would do. Write down each idea on a separate post-it note and put it up on a wall, flipchart or table. After one to two minutes, change company or organization and do it again!

Here are some suggestions on how to look or get an appointment for antique items. How would:

  • Google
  • Nike
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Ikea
  • a Kickstarter project
  • U.N
  • Facebook
  • Tesla

…do it?


Mash-up

A mash-up is a way to generate new ideas by putting different things together.

All you need is to quickly brainstorm a list of different technologies and a list of things related to your "how could we" question. Write down both lists so that everyone can see them.

Now the fun begins! Simply take a technology among it with a thing related to your "how could we" question. See what ideas you can create by combining them in some way. And when you are done, continue to "mix" by putting together a new pair.

In our example of the "how could we" question (How could we help young people feel safe even when it is dark outside?) You could mix things up as follows:

  • Spotify + public environments = Happy music played in public places in the evening.
  • Mobile phone + street lighting = A button on their phones that turns on the street lights.
  • Uber + friends = Book a friend service that comes with you when you go somewhere in the evening

Idea association

This method uses a selection of random words and images to stimulate new ideas.

All you have to do is come up with a random image or word, and then spend another two minutes trying to come up with ideas related to the word or image to solve your "how could we" question.

You can either prepare some words or pictures in advance or maybe try some random generators such as Random Word Generator or Random Pictures

Write down each idea on a separate post-it note and put it up on a wall, flipchart or table. When the time is up, change words or pictures and start over.

Set a time limit for yourself - around 30 minutes is enough to give you enough time to use a number of words or pictures. It is possible to include a selection of pictures and words as well!


Negative brainstorming

This is a fun method that can help you come up with really interesting ideas. Instead of trying to come up with ideas about how to solve your "how could we" question, you first try to come up with ideas about what the worst solution might be.

In our example of the "how could we" question (how could we help young people feel safe even when it is dark outside?) You could write down ideas such as:

  • Play scary music in public places
  • Turn off all street lights
  • Hire actors who persecute people in the evening

Once you have come up with these negative ideas, you investigate what could happen if you turned them into something positive. As:

  • Play happy music in public places in the evening
  • A button on their phones that turns on the streetlights
  • Book a friend service that comes with you when you go somewhere

Write a new post-it note for each of the positive ideas and connect them with the negative equivalent.

If you follow the guide, go back for the next step.

6. Develop ideas

Open