The myth of ideation

If you think the key to innovation is infusing your organization with creativity, and that creativity manifests itself through successful ideation sessions, please think again.

Additional creativity is a good thing.  Ideation sessions certainly have their place, and can be very good tools.  But they are just that - tools.  If you were going to build a house, would you start the process by buying the best tools?  Of course not.  You would first figure out what type of house you should build.  And if you couldn't do that by yourself you would hire a designer, architect, or both.  And if they proceeded to do their work without talking to you about your lifestyle, you wouldn't get the house that was right for you.

 Starting the innovation process by trying to boost creativity or having ideation sessions, is like trying to build a house by starting with buying the hammer, nails and other materials.  You need to know where you are going before you start.  You need to have a corporate strategy, or at least some solid business goals.  You need to understand the needs of the people who will buy your offering.  And you need to make sure the two are connected.  When the criteria for successful innovation is defined, you can then get creative and have successful ideation sessions.  They will work because you will know how to judge the outcomes.

Innovation is not random.  Neither is ideation if it's done at the right point in the process.  If you're having an ideation session and you look at all the "new ideas" being discussed, yet you have no idea of which ones will be right for your business, then you probably weren't ready for the session in the first place.

Go back, do the rest of the work, and then try again.