Over the years I've developed a basic structure that I use for nearly every ideation workshop. 

The introduction: meet, challenge and research

You'll start the workshop as any workshop. People should have a moment to get to know each other. 

After that you'll present what  the ideation challenge is. You can formulate this in a sentence like: "How might we...".  

After that you will present a short summary of what you learned from the research phase. Details of the research can be used as inspiration material later during the ideation exercices. Don't overwhelm the people with information at this stage, but still they need to have enough information to understand the challenge they are working on.

The meat of the workshop: Inspiration, ideation, sharing, prioritize

Then comes the meat of the workshop. That's the big and important part of the ideation workshop where you'll do the hard work. For this I use this very simple structure
  1. Inspire: Bring some inspiration that people can use during the ideation session (can be from the research or outside elements). Keep it short 10 minutes is enough.
  2. Set the stage: Give participants a set amount of time to generate a set number of ideas based on the inspiration. Explain how the ideation session will work (what technic will you use?). This takes usually 5 minutes.
  3. Ideate: this can take between 10 to 30 minutes depending on the ideation exercice. I would suggest that you start with short rounds of ideation and don't go over 30-40 minutes for long ones.
  4. Share: let people share at least their favorite idea in a group from time to time. Don't wait the prioritization phase to do it. Because otherwise they will feel that they created ideas for nothing. 

Once you have done this you'll redo these steps with  new inspiration material and maybe a new ideation exercice. In a day you can do between four to eight cycle like these. 

Break with sorting

Between the cycles it can be interesting to sort the ideas. You don't need to do it every time, but it can help to not have to do it all at once at the end of the workshop.


The final sorting and prioritization of ideas can be done during or after the workshop. It usually depends on how much time you have. For participants this a valuable moment because they will see what happens with their ideas. When this part is done after the workshop by a smaller team, it can feel as if the ideation process wasn't important.

Clarify the next steps

I recommend you finish the workshop by stating clearly what will happen with the ideas. You don't want people to go out thinking that this was all for nothing. And obviously this is something that you should have already addressed at the start of the workshop.

Another emotionally important bit is to count the number of ideas generated. This is something that participants can be proud of and share with their partner and kids when they get home. 

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