Ideation Toolkit

What are the biggest pains that cause problems, unmet needs, or wants? 

How do you find out if your proposal is more likely to fly—or to crash and burn? 

Want to "go wide" with your concepts and outcomes, but still keep your ideas viable and well-organized?

 Ideation Toolkit

The Ideation Toolkit

by KFF Staff, March 2020. This article also appeared in ASEE PRISM, March 2020.

Explore painstorming, biomimicry, bisociation, screening, the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), and more with the Ideation Toolkit

You'll be able to use this variety of systematic innovation tools and techniques to help your students more routinely recognize opportunities, generate a wide array of possible concepts, and select the most promising concept for further development.

Get the entire toolkit now or browse below through individual materials.

Strategy & Problem Definition



What are the biggest pains that cause problems, unmet needs, or wants? 

Painstorming identifies problems that need to be solved. Students think about problems, hazards, frustrations, faults, anomalies, worries, and concerns. They seek to create a better value proposition for existing products. 

For instance, what’s annoying you about the airline seat in front of you?

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy

How can we create value through a differentiated product or business model? 

Instead of competing with other companies, the purpose of this strategy is to make the competition irrelevant. The goal is to be alone in the “blue ocean," a concept from the book by Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne. 

Therefore, students focus on new customer markets instead of existing ones.

Ideation & Concept Generation

Concept Fan

Concept Fan

Want to "go wide" with your concepts and outcomes while keeping your ideas organized?

Ideation gives you both the drive and the material to provide solutions for your users. Using Edward de Bono’s Concept Fan technique, students approach ideation from a broad view of concepts and approaches that meet the directive, while generating alternatives to grow the list of ideas.

Students will organize their ideas while ensuring they’ve considered the full conceptual design space, looking for remaining gaps.



How would nature solve this? 

Study the natural world to spark ideas for more efficient and sustainable products and services! Break down big problems facing our world today into manageable concepts while identifying natural systems, processes, or organisms that could help deal with these same problems.

Biomimicry leads students to identify and uncover opportunities ripe for innovative solutions. 


bisociation shark

Want to be a game-changer with a new product or service? 

Move beyond association to bisociation! Make connections between an ideation topic and a random stimulus to blend these seemingly unrelated concepts into new patterns and products. 

If a shark photo can lead to the design of special sterile medical instruments and algae-resistant coating on boats, what could your students create? You never know where a photo will lead!

Idea Management & Implementation

The Will it Fly Scorecard

Will It Fly?

Is your product good enough to make it in the marketplace? 

Regarding business viability, the Will it Fly Scorecard provides a nice framework for decision making. It is a systematic method to assess the viability of a proposal. 

Use it to find out if your proposal is more likely to “fly” or to “crash and burn”!

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats Edward de Bono

Have you examined your idea from all points of view? 

Often, the best decisions come from changing the way that you think about problems, and examining them from different viewpoints. 

Leverage the Six Thinking Hats (created by Edward de Bono) to help you explore your ideas from all angles – one angle (hat) at a time.

Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)

Analytical Hierarchy Process AHP

How would you justify your choice? 

The Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is a decision matrix where you define criteria, prioritize criteria, assign weights to the criteria, perform a pairwise comparison, organize data into a chart, rate each design against the criteria, and calculate scores for each design option.

Associated Content

Creating Value

CardDeck: Ideation Toolkit

This carddeck holds a collection of the Ideation Toolkit resources, some of which were outlined above. Explore painstorming, biomimicry, bisociation, screening, the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), the multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT), and more!
iGen students

Innovation Bootcamp

Take these tools straight to the classroom! You'll be taught three methodologies that you can turn around and teach to your undergraduate students. All three techniques enable the entrepreneurially minded student to be thorough and systematic in their development process to maximize the likelihood of developing a winning value proposition.


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