Design Thinking for Innovation: Stress Testing Human Factors in Ideation Sessions

John Knight, Dan Fitton, Charlie Phillips, Dylan Price

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
557 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reports on a series of studies that attempt to unpick the factors
that contribute to successful team ideation. Ideation is a popular, structured
approach to creative thinking, where the goal is to produce many viable and
innovative ideas and concepts. This is often accomplished through structured
collaborative workshops that include ‘Design Thinking’ techniques and methods. The reported studies involved manipulating variables in controlled experiments with subjects (AKA ideators). The sample of ideators, were tasked with generating ideas to solve a challenge and the outcome of their work was measured by quantity and quality of output. The latter criterion was assessed by an expert panel using a standardised evaluation framework. Four variables were employed to understand idea generation success factors. These were identified as common and thus easily applied factors in typical ideation scenarios and included varying levels of participant stimulation (before sessions), presence or absence of a facilitator, application of ‘Design Thinking’ technique (or not) and lastly, participant profile based on professional background. In this case, participant characteristics were split between designers and non-designers. The different experiments were run, with participants generating ideas in a timeboxed activity in which their outputs were assessed against the various experimental conditions. The findings suggest that counter orthodox
thinking, applying the methods (e.g. Round Robin) is less effective than the influence of ideators’ differing professional background and their level of stimulation. These conclusions in turn suggest the possibility of extending the effectiveness of workshop facilitation to increase efficiency and quality of output. The paper concludes with pointers on improving ideation. In particular, increasing levels of engagement and immersion among participants and using aspects of game theory are seen as possible areas of further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1929-1939
Number of pages11
JournalThe Design Journal
Issue numbersup 1
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational European Academy of Design Conference: Running with Scissors - University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Apr 201912 Apr 2019
Conference number: 12


  • Design Thinking
  • Ideation
  • Collaborative Work


Dive into the research topics of 'Design Thinking for Innovation: Stress Testing Human Factors in Ideation Sessions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this