Relevant Innovation

The goal of ideation is to focus human creativity on solving a client’s pressing issues, or identifying new opportunities. Creativity must have focal points, targets, and objectives, so that the final new product ideas are relevant and viable. Creativity must have "rail" to run on.

Steps in the Process

Decision Analyst’s Innovation Process includes some or all of the following steps, depending on the product category and objectives:

  • Applied Creativity Process
    Step 1: Alignment Meeting

    The purpose of the Alignment Meeting is to get all key stakeholders together to discuss and agree upon the objectives of the project, review existing research and points of view, and share information about issues, pitfalls, and constraints. Marketing, R&D, Product Development, Advertising, Research or Insights, Manufacturing, etc., should all be represented. The goal is to make sure all stakeholders agree on the objectives and desired outcomes of the project.

Step 2: Research Review/Qualitative Investigations

Ideation must have rails to run on (starting points or focal points, targets, and goals). A review of existing research studies can help determine these starting points and focal points for ideation. If existing research is insufficient or unavailable, then qualitative investigations can help provide an understanding of consumer needs, fears, desires, preferences, and proclivities. A deep understanding of target consumers can greatly improve the chances of success in the ideation phase.

Step 3: Ideation Sessions

Ideation sessions follow a proprietary creativity guide that encourages and nurtures the generation of many starter ideas and idea fragments. This creativity guide outlines the games, activities, and exercises that will be used during the ideation sessions. The ideation facilitators follow the creativity guide as they take participants through a rapidly paced series of carefully designed creative exercises to generate the greatest number of unique and relevant ideas.

Ideation sessions are conducted in an environment that encourages Imaginators® to be freewheeling, uninhibited, and spontaneous. Sessions can be conducted online or in-person, and the two approaches are often combined (a Time-Extended™ online session and separately, an in-person session).

Time-Extended™ Online Ideation

  • Online sessions last 3 to 5 days, with 15 to 25 Imaginators per session.
  • Several proven creativity exercises are posted each day.
  • Imaginators respond at their convenience, when they have the time to participate.
  • Imaginators have time to think about the issues and submit ideas when they think of them.
  • Imaginators share their own ideas first, then interact and build upon the ideas of others. Collaboration is encouraged.
  • Time-Extended™ online sessions can be conducted among consumers, professionals, executives, and employees.

In-Person Ideation

  • 8 to 10 Imaginators participate in an 8-hour group session (including an hour break for lunch) full of fast-moving, high-energy creative exercises.
  • 2 facilitators guide the ideation session and ensure that everyone is fully engaged, participating, and building on the ideas of others.
  • In-person ideation sessions are typically held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but can be arranged in other locations.
  • In-person ideation sessions with employees can be held in corporate offices, or at sites away from the office (recommended).
  • The sessions are typically held in a large colorful room with cushions (and maybe stuffed toys) scattered about the floor (there are intentionally no chairs or tables), lots of markers, and large sheets of paper. Soft drinks and snacks are available.
  • These in-person sessions can be observed by the client.
Step 4: Ideation Debriefing

No matter whether the session is online or in-person, the results are not neatly organized into concepts, but are jumbles of highly-creative ideas and idea fragments. Decision Analyst works closely with the client to determine which ideas to develop further, based on client objectives previously discussed in the Alignment Meeting, new learnings from the sessions, and client preferences.

Step 5: First-Stage Concept Development

Decision Analyst’s Innovation Team develops rough first-stage concepts, which include working names, written details about the features and benefits, and supporting messages and illustrations. The number of first-stage new concepts can range from 10 to 25 or more, depending on the number of sessions and project goals.

Step 6: First-Stage Concept Review

Decision Analyst conducts a first-stage concept review with the client. Each first-stage concept is explained and discussed, then evaluated against the project’s goals and objectives. The client and the Innovation Team agree on the new concepts to take into qualitative refinement and final development.

Step 7: Qualitative Refinement of Concepts

The selected concepts are shown to approximately 12 to 20 members of American Consumer Opinion®, Decision Analyst’s worldwide consumer panel. The purpose of this step is not to determine likes and dislikes, or the likelihood of concept success, but to ensure that each concept’s description and illustrations fully and effectively communicate the new product idea.

Step 8: Final Concept Development

The Innovation Team uses the results of the refinement phase to further polish the new product concepts’ copy and illustrations. The result is test-ready concepts—complete with written descriptions, illustrations, and rationale, ready for concept testing.

Step 9: New Product Concept Testing

ConceptTest® is an industry-leading, online concept-testing system that can predict a new product concept’s chances of ultimate success in the marketplace. This testing system also provides extensive diagnostics, pricing feedback, and indications for product improvement.

Innovation Services

For more information about our Innovation Services, please contact Gretchen Riskind, Director of Innovation/Ideation (, or Clay Dethloff, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation ( Both can be reached at 1-817-640-6166.