What's an 'Ideation Workshop?' Joanne Oguntimehin fills us in

Our Creativity Works: Creative Media Campaigns course is well underway! Last week the team attended an Ideation Techniques workshop, facilitated by Abraham Asefaw, co-founder of The Pop Up Agency. They learned all about how getting their ideas from mind to paper and beyond, and the most effective ways to go about doing it.

We caught up with Joanne Oguntimehin, one of the trainees, to hear what she had to say about the workshop (and why it was a 'mental rollercoaster').

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Joanne says...

"I have always seen myself as an ‘ideas’ person, but I always looked at ideas from a very spontaneous, light bulb moment, pops-into-your-head-randomly lens. I had no idea that there was a process and a word for the formation of ideas and concepts – ideation. I love a brainstorm just as much as the next person, but it never occurred to me that there could be a methodical way to generate and develop these thoughts. Look at cooking, for example, the process is crucial to the end product. The same applies here with ideation.


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The ideation techniques workshop was led by Abraham Asefaw, co-founder of The Pop Up Agency. The aim of this creative consultancy is to democratise creativity by working under the philosophy that creativity is a human quality that exists in every single one of us. Their USP is that they solve briefs within 48 hours! It was interesting and inspiring to hear how they had ‘popped up’ in over 40 countries since 2012 and worked with major brands all in the name of creativity, innovation and re-energising/reframing traditional approaches to teamwork and idea formation.


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We’re not fast, we’re focused’ ~ Abraham Asefaw

The ideation process we went through looked something like this:

1. Empty your brains: We sat down with post-it notes and were told to write down as many ideas as possible linking to our brief on young people’s engagement with mental health. This was important to get the obvious ideas out of our brains and out of the way. It seemed counter intuitive to follow the notion of quantity over quality, but the whole point was to generate as many ideas as possible – essentially a mind dump. I was grateful that we did not have to share these ideas publicly as this reduced the pressure for the idea to be polished, presentable or even ‘worthy’.


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2. Speed Dating: The next step was more collaborative as we got into our teams armed with flip chart paper and Sharpies. Each of us wrote down one idea and then we had to rotate left after a few minutes and add to the idea of the person next to us and so on and so on, until we had added to each person’s idea and returned to our original spot. This required a different type of brain power as you had to quickly digest what the person had written and search for ways to enhance it which wasn’t always easy, but there was no time to overthink anything, instincts and putting pen to paper was key. This was my favourite part of the ideation process because it produced some really interesting thought patterns as each person added their own sauce to an idea, often coming up with something I did not think of or taking an idea in a direction I had not considered. The importance of this activity is to remove egos and ownership. There is now no such thing as ‘your idea’ as everyone has had a hand in it.

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3. Mashup: Finally, we were given three categories – tech, services and needs. After brainstorming words that would fall under each category; for example, 3D printer, Tinder, water, we were then tasked with picking one word from each category and concocting an idea from the three words. This was difficult, but interestingly not impossible. It required my team to really bounce off each other and think outside the box, but still anchored by the brief that we had been set.


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4. Evaluation: Finally, we had to plot our ideas on a graph to measure how powerful they were (impact) and how easy to execute (implementation) they were. The idea is that the one which has the most impact and is the easiest to implement is likely to be your strongest idea.

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After the session, I reflected on one of my biggest take homes from the day, that creativity is not synonymous with chaos and disorder, there can be method and process involved that actually enhances the ideas, not dull them. For my team personally, we went on a mental rollercoaster, but the process really helped us get intimate with the brief and remain open minded, which is important in Week 1 out of 4. At this stage it wasn’t about focusing on the details, but more grappling with the bigger picture.

It should come as no surprise that all brains were activated and drained by the end of the day."

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Coverage by Joanne Oguntimehin
Photos and intro by Amer Idris and Ketishia Vaughan