You can use an innovation method like S.I.T. on your own. But there are times when you want to use it in a group with your colleagues. After all, innovation is a team sport. Innovating in groups lets you harness the brainpower of others. Here are some tips and techniques to get the most out of your S.I.T. ideation session.
Perhaps the most important step is to select the right participants. The ideal number of participants is between 12 and 16. These people should be from diverse, cross functional areas of the company. About one third of the participants should be marketers from different parts of the marketing organization – market research, brand management, and so on. About one third of the participants should be technical – mechanical engineering, software engineering, operations, and so on depending on the project. And finally, about one third of your participants should be customer oriented. These are people that advocate for the customer. They include your salespeople, packaging, and customer service.
It’s also important to have gender diversity. An equal number of men and women is the ideal. Be sure participants are fully committed to participation in the workshop. Avoid letting people drop in and out as it suits their schedule. Otherwise, it interrupts the flow of the workshop.
When you begin your workshop, start by identifying the constraints around the exercise. Without constraints, the ideation will lack focus. You’re likely to generate ideas that are too wild to be considered viable.
Next, make sure you and the participants define the closed world around the problem. The closed world principle states there is an inverse relationship between distance from the problem and the creativeness of the idea. The farther away the solution, the less creative it will be. Where you define this imaginary space around the problem will have a big impact on how you apply each technique.
Once you select the techniques, create a list of the components and attributes by writing them down on a whiteboard, a flip chart, or a pad of paper. With Division, it’s a good idea to put these on sticky notes. Make sure you number the list. That helps keep the workshop more organized as you work through the lists.
When you apply a technique, be sure to work in smaller teams of two or three people, not as one large group. Working this way has many advantages. Pairs give each other their undivided attention. Working in pairs is also more efficient. As you apply a technique, assign each pair a different component from the list. That forces them to really focus, and it increases their chance of coming up with a creative idea. Be sure to set a specific time limit, say 3 minutes. This further constrains their brain to think inside the box.
When ideas are generated, try not to identify ideas with a specific person. Otherwise, people may bias the idea depending on who generated it. A simple way to do this is to have people write down their ideas. When giving credit for the source of an idea, make sure it’s from the pair of colleagues, not just one person. You have to find ways to strip ideas of their identity. This will make sure ideas don’t get thrown out prematurely.
A typical workshop can be anywhere from an hour in length to several days. Innovating is hard work, so be sure to manage the group’s energy level. Take a lot of breaks during the workshop, and mix up the activities to keep people engaged.
The S.I.T. method works because it channels people’s ideation and it regulates their thinking. You and your colleagues will generate many great ideas, so be sure the team has a process in place how you will capture and collect those ideas throughout the workshop.
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