The difference between ideation and brainstorming is that in an ideation session “you introduce new stimuli to excite people’s brains in a new way. That’s where new ideas come from,” explains Bryan Mattimore, author of 21 Days to a Big Idea.
In the book, he talks about ideation workshops he conducted with brands like Chips Ahoy! to come up with new products and ideas for marketing campaigns. “These companies have been around for 100 years,” he said, “how do you get people to start thinking about something differently when all these smart people have been thinking about it for a century already?”
His solution? Avoid traditional brainstorming where people throw ideas to the middle of a room – and use triggers instead.
Mattimore’s team brought in exotic menus from restaurants all over the world as well as menus from the late 1800s. They also introduced different ingredients, spices, scents – a whole new set of stimuli to get people to start seeing and sensing different things. Instead of just thinking and talking, they were physically experiencing new things and ideating in new ways. This is what’s called an Ideation Workshop. Unlike Brainstorming, the real value of a well-organized ideation session is to network a group of minds via communication techniques and stimuli; talking, writing, drawing, listening – enabling much broader and much more complete thought than just throwing ideas at a whiteboard.