The Circle of Ideation


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At the core of Business Model Innovation is “IDEAS” and not just some idea but big, bold and hairy ideas. So its all about coming up with novel ideas and setting out a plan to execute them. So even before executing a novel idea, how dow we come up with one? That’s what this piece of article is going to throw some light on.
The 5 Step process depicted below is the plain and simple truth behind generating great ideas. This 5 Step process has stood the test of times and widely used across industries. It may be present in several manifestations but this the generalized version of the process behind idea generation:

IdeationThe Circle of Ideation

Gather – building a rich pool of information will help in coming up with new combination of information which in turn will lead to great ideas. This step may seem to be simple enough, but it’s one of the most challenging jobs because collecting high quality information is a great pain. Without this step properly performed, there is no way to come up with great ideas. Many people believe only by direct intuition, great ideas are generated which is actually the 4th step in this process. So without gathering great information nuggets, there are no great ideas.

Ways to gather information:
• Brainstorming
• Primary research
• Existing research available through academic and industry journals
• Interviewing industry experts
• Talking with a variety of people from multiple disciplines within the organization

Structure – trying to make sense of all the information collected is the next important step in this process. Categorizing the stream of ideas, trying to find relationships, synthesizing the relationships, seeing the ideas from different perspectives are some of the main steps carried out in this stage of idea generation.

Ways to structure information:
• Using mind maps
• Story boarding
• User journeys
• Relationship mapping

Analyze – conducting a thorough analysis of the structured information will bring clarity on a few good ideas and this will ultimately help in picking the great idea. Analyzing multiple facets of an idea like its feasibility, use cases, economics will bring in concrete points to study the “for and against” perspectives.

Ways to analyze information:
• Feasibility studies
• Economics of the idea
• Use case study
• Problem – solution study

Intuit – with all the relevant information available and it being put through rigorous structuring and analysis, there will be surely some moments of deep intuition that will give the breakthrough required. This step is all about forgetting about the problem at hand and focusing on something that stimulates us all. Moments of insights and intuition come up at the most unlikely of times. So observing something totally disconnected to the problem at hand might give us the direction to the actual solution.

Ways to intuit:
• Do what stimulates your senses like reading a book, listening to music, going for a long walk or anything on your mind. This might sound crazy but it works! ?

Act – Do not make the mistake of holding the idea close to one’s chest at this stage. Submit it to the criticism of the judicious by quickly acting upon on the idea. Create a quick and dirty prototype, get feedback, re-work the details, fine tune and follow this loop. This step will help us in quickly leveraging the idea and gain immediate results. Achieving scale is a matter of time but getting the idea right is the most important thing.

Ways to act:
• Prototype
• Generic market testing
• Deploy to the “Innovators” for quality feedback
• Fine tuning

Vijay Muthupalaniappan
Vijay Muthupalaniappan is a Senior Consultant with Infosys Ltd. Currently engaged as a CRM Business Analyst for a Large Australian Telecom Company. Experience working on projects under Waterfall and Agile practices with hands-on Project Management and Estimation. Been a part of large IT Business Transformation projects advising clients with planning and formulating IT implementation / migration strategies.


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