The Innovation Framework outlines four steps to successful innovation. Each step follows a process to help you complete it successfully.

What is ideation

Ideation is the process of generating innovative, yet realistic ideas which present a clear benefit to your audience. The world is constantly changing and to remain competitive and viable, businesses must generate innovative ideas which solve a problem or capitalise on an opportunity.

Watch this short animation to learn how to run an effective ideation workshop.

How to generate ideas

To generate high quality ideas you must first identify the problem you are seeking to solve or the opportunity you want to exploit. To make sure the ideas you come up with will achieve your objectives you should host an ideation workshop to ensure your ideas offer clear benefits to your business, your customers, or ideally, both.

What is an ideation workshop?

An ideation workshop is a structured group session where the business creates ideas to solve a problem or capitalise on an opportunity.

How to run a successful ideation workshop

  • People

    Bring the right people

    You are looking for diversity, in both experience and viewpoint. Look beyond your design team, developers or engineers to groups who really know your customers – such as marketing, sales and customer service. This will provide the range of perspectives necessary to focus on the customer while exploring more possibilities. 

  • Facilitator

    Choose a facilitator

    Appoint a facilitator to make sure  the workshop follows a structured process. The facilitator should provide an overview of the objectives, explain the workshop structure and schedule and emphasise that judgement-free creativity and fresh ideas are key. They should also keep time, help the group stick to assigned time limits, and record the ideas.

  • Location

    Pick the right location

    Choose somewhere away from your office, outside your team’s usual environment. Choose somewhere comfortable, well-lit, spacious and private so you won’t be disturbed. Being creative when choosing your venue will help to spark creativity among your participants.

  • Focus


    Concentrate on “How might we solve this problem?” Being creative and producing a good quantity of ideas is key. Just make sure that your group focuses on solving the problem you have identified. The facilitator should remind them of the customer’s challenges, the research, and customer personas. 

  • Relaxation


    Put everyone at ease. Your facilitator could start the session with an ice-breaker. Be creative with this and, having selected the group members, choose something you know they will respond to.

  • Techniques

    Use ideation techniques

    There are many different ideation techniques out there. Do some research before your session and choose two or three that fits best with your group size, venue and problem.

  • Techniques

    Record the ideas and talk about next steps

    Your facilitator should record all the ideas that the group puts forward during the session, and allow time to read them out at the end of the workshop.

Don’t begin a detailed analysis or evaluation at this time, but find out which ideas the group thinks are the strongest.

Ideation checklist

Make sure you have completed the following tasks before moving on to the next step. Have you:

  • Identified the problem or opportunity? 
  • Identified your audience?
  • Held an idea generating workshop to come up with a number of new ideas? 
  • Recorded the ideas?

Next steps


Next: Selecting your idea

So now you have your ideas and can move on to the next stage - picking the right one.


Get advice and support

The Northern Ireland business support finder is a searchable database that can help you find publicly-funded and not-for-profit sources of assistance.

Innovation Assessment

It's easy to take part in the Innovate NI Programme. Simply complete the assessment to discover where you are on the Innovation Framework today.