on June 01, 2016 Innovation Culture Design Thinking Creative Process

Five Idea Generation Strategies for Businesses

Fresh, innovative ideas are the lifeblood of success, but coming up with genuinely brilliant ones is no easy feat. They tend to emerge unexpectedly and unpredictably – which is far from ideal for businesses looking to drive innovation and make money in a productive way.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve the efficiency of the innovation process by proactively moving your team into a more creative space where ideas can flow freely. With that said, here are five business idea generation strategies that can break down creative barriers and ignite inspiration.


Mindmapping is a visual way to organize information. It involves finding peripheral ideas around one central concept, connecting the unconnected, and bringing order to it all. To get started, write a key phrase or big picture idea in the center of your document, wall, or page. From there, add associated images, words, drawings, quotes, and questions. Draw lines connecting the main idea to directly related elements, and continue branching out from there. 

This business idea generation strategy helps teams spark innovation, visualize the bigger picture, and break down large ideas into manageable chunks. Plus, it’s a great way to trigger fresh associations and innovative ideas that are just waiting to be uncovered.


There’s always a story to tell, and it’s up to your team to dig deep enough to find it. That’s where storyboarding comes into play. Because most people are visual communicators by nature, it’s a great way to uncover the story, generate fresh ideas, show context, and tell the bigger picture.

When creating a storyboard, the goal is to develop a visual story that explains and explores ideas. It’s about representing information in a creative way, using pictures, quotes, and other elements. Whether you’re using a whiteboard, a corkboard, or an online software program, don’t worry about getting it perfect. The greatest stories develop when you’re just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks – so give yourself and your team space for that process to happen.


Visual Prompts

Visual prompts are an incredible tool for the innovation process. They involve distributing pre-selected, visually interesting images to your team, and having everyone write down whatever ideas come to mind when viewing their pictures. From there, the group should share and discuss these insights and see where the conversation leads.

Visual prompts are great for idea generation because they help the brain establish connections by linking emotions and intuitions to seemingly unrelated concepts. As such, this tool tends to result in innovative ideas that will have an emotional impact on your audience.

Stream of Consciousness

Stream of consciousness involves writing, drawing, and scribbling whatever comes to mind, without rules or limitations. If it pops into your head, get it down on paper without censoring, editing, or criticizing yourself.

You can develop countless new ideas with this strategy because it breaks down some of the biggest barriers to creativity, including shame and fear. It’s also a great way to shake things up and infuse some freshness into the innovation process, especially if your team has been blocked for a while.  

Productive Wishing

Productive wishing involves asking for tangible outcomes and brainstorming ways to achieve them. To begin, ask your team to list dozens of wishes pertaining to the business. Then, without any restrictions, let their imaginations run wild with ways to make these wishes a reality. Why does this work? Because it encourages out-of-the-box thinking and lets the unconventional ideas flow. Before you know it, someone will shout out a crazy solution that just might work.

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