Inclusive Rules for Ideation

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

I’m really loving the Rules for Ideation developed by Mark Leung and Nika Stelman at the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business for their Human Centered Design for Inclusive Innovation course offered through Coursera.

  1. Defer judgement
  2. Encourage wild ideas
  3. Build on the ideas of others
  4. Stay focused on the topic
  5. One conversation at a time
  6. Be visual
  7. Go for quantity
  8. Be inclusive

Most of these rules will be familiar to anyone who has taken a design thinking course or who has participated in a Life Design workshop. But #5 and #8 really address the issues of equity and inclusion that often holds back even the most creative design teams. If you don’t have a diverse group of stakeholders at the table, or if you don’t give all of your participants a chance to speak and be heard, your design project will be flawed from the start. So even before you get to Post-It notes and mind maps, it’s useful to first ask yourself “Whose voice is missing from this session?” and to continually ask that question throughout the process.

“Invite various individuals from different backgrounds to participate in your ideation session. If you look around the table and everyone looks like you, or if there is no one who is directly impacted by the challenge, stop and invite different people to join you. Your collective ideas will be stronger for it.”

Nika Stelman, “Human Centered Design For Inclusive innovation”

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