The third step in the design thinking process is ideate, coming up with as many ideas as possible. It is about quantity and not about quality; there are no right or wrong ideas. Everyone explains their concepts, and there is no judgment. Mind maps, post its, graphs, tables, and storyboards can be used to gain new insights.
Problem-solving is a skill that everyone has, but the way people solve specific problems is different. In general, people think creativity is an innate skill that you have or do not have and cannot improve. However, everyone is creative in their way, so everyone has this skill when born, and we will develop it further during our life.
Creativity is solving problems based on novelty over relevance. Novelty is the uniqueness and originality of the idea. Relevance is to what extent the problem has really solved or whether it has only partially solved. We often forget that novelty is necessary in coming up with innovative ideas. To come up with these ideas, we have to be open-minded. Think of all possible solutions and write everything down; it is not the intention to eliminate thoughts in this phase.
In a course by Stefan Mumaw, he gives an explanation of how the ideation process works. The process is usually the same; first, they come up with many ideas up to a point where no or hardly any new ideas are invented. Then at a particular end, someone comes up with a weird, silly thought; this will let people think differently. Coming up with ideas is now much more accessible; everyone is now starting to think outside the box. This process is showed in the graph above. The y-axis is the quality and quantity of the ideas, and the x-axis is the amount of time. The leader of the group has only an impact on the amount of time that’s given, and not on the developing of ideas. By extending the time of the second stage, there is a higher chance of better and more ideas. Many companies come up with the same ideas; this is often due to a lack of time; they do not reach the second phase. Besides, they often come up with two or three good ideas. They then work them out ultimately, and they no longer pay attention to the other stupid ideas. The exclusion of ideas may not happen at the ideation stage; the prohibition is always possible. This mistake is still very often made by companies; this results in many obvious same solutions.
Coming up with ideas is only possible if you have self-confidence in your creative thinking. Believe in yourself; there will be moments in the creative process that you do not know so well if there are more kinds of ideas, and you feel lost. Besides, it can sometimes be useful to give up the assignment for a bit and do something that has absolutely nothing to do with the task. Hike a mountain, walk with your dog, listen to music or work out; this ensures that you relax and that your creativity gets a boost afterward. Furthermore, it can help to change the working environment so that you can gain inspiration. The most crucial tip in creative thinking is to have fun during the process. Humor is the key to success.
I think Christoph Niemann is very creative and is using his humor positively; you can see this on his website. He has made an app called Chomp in which he, with simple drawings and a face of a person, can make funny animation. He shows how an app can be displayed in a way everyone could make itself. Niemann is known for his abstract way of working; he makes everything look easy. He defines abstraction as getting rid of everything that is not essential. This makes everything look very simple, some people love it, and others hate it. His job is to design new things, and he often comes into the design thinking process. He is familiar with the fear of starting the process; he emphasizes that everyone has this fear, and that’s a regular thing. A design thinking process is never-ending. Technologies keep innovating, which means that we, as designers, are continually innovating too. Niemann summarizes the constant renewal of ideas as “being done is the opposite of what I am trying to achieve.” With this, he shows that he is open-minded and enjoys solving problems.
One of the best-known inventors of the world, Albert Einstein, says, “creativity is intelligence having fun.” We have received information from the empathy phase and the define phase, by looking at this information in many different ways, we can come up with new creative insights. We have got the intelligence if we stay confident, relax, and enjoy the design process, we will invent new creative ideas!