Idea generation: Is ill-defined better for innovation?

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Abstrakt

It is well known that designers can tackle ill-defined and wicked problems with no apparent right solution as opposed to well-defined problems with a single answer. So in Industrial Design Engineering education we focus on teaching students how to approach and deal with wicked problems without necessarily reflecting on what happens if they do not use this approach and when is the approach irrelevant. It is such in intrinsic part of the Design Thinking approach it is hardly questioned, nor clear in terms of influence on the result of ideation.
So to what extent does it influence the outcome of an idea generation whether the outset is ill defined and questioned as opposed to straightforward ideation on a proposal for a solution?
The hypothesis is that an approach to ideation where ambiguity and discrepancy deliberately is sought creates more radical innovation that an approach without this. Using a straight proposal creation process is expected to create proposals that operate within the present sociocultural meaning. Whereas an approach seeking ambiguity and discrepancy in the initial ideation sparks a deeper sense-making process, which in return creates proposals that can be interpreted as having new sociocultural meaning in line with Vergantis definition of radical innovation.
This paper discusses the results of an experiment with 32 students on idea generation and product concept development. The experiment was setup as and A-B comparison between two set of students with the same objective: designing a new coffee machine for a specific brand, but one group was asked to seek ambiguity and dissonance before creating proposals. Results indicate a very clear difference in the outcome in terms of radical changes in relation to. Group A produced 12 out of 16 proposals in the Styling category, whereas Group B only had 1 of 16 in this category.
The interesting aspects discussed in terms of Industrial Design Engineering education are: Is the deep and questioning ideation, radical innovation and conceptualization always relevant for all stages and assignments and should straightforward conceptualization be used more deliberately to increase students skills in assignments they will face in their professional career?
The obvious significant difference in the approaches of straight versus ambiguity and discrepancy oriented ideation and conceptualisation is the significant higher level of radical different solutions when seeking ambiguity and discrepancy. Within the very limited experiment the conclusion seems to be very clear, it leads to more innovation if the designer seeks to question the framing and scope of the task.
So seeking ambiguity and discrepancy in the ideation phase aligns with the intention of educating Industrial Design Engineers that by default will challenge the initial framing of the task in order to open up the potential solution space and seek innovative solutions on more radical level.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelProceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE15) : Great Expectations: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise
RedaktørerGuy Bingham, Darren Southee, John McCardle, Ahemd Kovacevic, Erik Bohemia, Brian Parkinson
Antal sider6
Udgivelses stedGlasgow
ForlagDesign Society
Publikationsdato3 sep. 2015
Sider438-443
ISBN (Trykt)978-1-904670-62-9
StatusUdgivet - 3 sep. 2015
BegivenhedThe 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Great Expectations: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise - Loughborough University, Loughborough, Storbritannien
Varighed: 3 sep. 20154 sep. 2015

Konference

KonferenceThe 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
LokationLoughborough University
LandStorbritannien
ByLoughborough
Periode03/09/201504/09/2015

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  • Citationsformater

    Tollestrup, C. H. T., & Laursen, L. N. (2015). Idea generation: Is ill-defined better for innovation? I G. Bingham, D. Southee, J. McCardle, A. Kovacevic, E. Bohemia, & B. Parkinson (red.), Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE15): Great Expectations: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise (s. 438-443). Design Society. https://www.designsociety.org/publication/38131/ds82_proceedings_of_the_17th_international_conference_on_engineering_and_product_design_education_e_pde15_great_expectations_design_teaching_research_enterprise