Ideation - the formation of ideas and concepts - plays an essential part in how we, for example, form our project proposals, targets, and work plans. The ideation process needs to be fun and creative for us to keep our minds open and, to make sure that the output gives value. However, sometimes it can feel like a struggle to come up with a bunch of ideas. Therefore, I am sharing my favorite method, which has helped me many times. If you’re stuck in a project proposal, mid-term review, or face a problem in implementation and need ideas to move forward - I hope that this will be helpful. It’s most known as the “Lotus blossom” as all the ideas make the form of the flower.
Things you’ll need are paper (folded two times horizontal and two times vertical) or post-its and pens. You could also do this online with Google Docs. And, of course, you need music! Pick your favorite upbeat playlist for getting in the mood :) Timewise, around 45-60 minutes. The method is suitable for groups of all sizes.
Start by defining the problem - it could be anything. Let’s take “How might we make our stakeholders more engaged in our activities,” as an example. This will be the center of the Lotus blossom.
The second step is rapid ideation. Give yourself and your colleagues no more than 7 minutes (I usually give 4-5 minutes) to come up with 8 ideas - filling each of the spaces around the center of the Lotus blossom. Yay, time’s up! Now, take a look at all your great ideas, refine them if they are hard to understand, and merge if any are too similar. Now, let’s continue. The next step is to use each of the 8 ideas as centers of new Lotus blossoms. Give yourself and your colleagues roughly 20 minutes to work on these 64 new ideas.
When the time’s up, it’s always good to make a reality check:
- do all ideas directly reply to the main question? And,
- depending on the time spectrum, can these ideas be implemented today or in X months? Lastly,
- can we, in our project/team/location, apply them easily?
If the answer is YES to all of these questions, you now have plenty of ideas that can help you in your work! :)