Challenges Getting Team Input in Concept Development

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This is the wrap-up, final episode of our series - the 7th episode in our series about generating ideas with a team toward action.

Since the start of 2023, we focused on a few quality tools and methods to both generate ideas and then choose which idea to pursue.

We've talked about:

  • Changing our scope to a closed world, to failures or questions, or design heuristics
  • Brainstorming within a problem-solving framework
  • Grouping many ideas and then further refining them
  • Prioritizing many ideas by comparing them to 2 criteria or by using team voting
  • Choosing an idea by using paired comparisons or a structured decision-making solution like DMRCS
  • Giving individuals a process to create a full design concept

We also interviewed an expert in brainstorming and learned the importance of planning for teamwork, including choosing our team.

What have we learned through the last few weeks? Let's highlight take-aways and next steps.

Reminders when evaluating ideas with a team

We need to Mind our Mindset

Recognize that it's difficult to evaluate ideas from a brainstorming activity into actions for next steps.

We're handling ideas systematically with our team to get the maximum benefit from our creative phase.

We want to control our itch for a quick decision on the best idea - to do so would ruin our efforts toward creativity and innovative ideas.


We aren't looking to eliminate ideas. We're looking to develop them to the best solution we think there could be.


Yes, we approach activities with the  spirit of developing creative ideas.
We say things like, “That’s a great idea, what can we do to make it work?" or "What is it about this idea we can use?” 

No, we don't want to just eliminate ideas. We try to avoid first jumping to say things like, "That’s a great idea, but here’s why it won’t work.” 

Discussing Ideas

We’d like consensus on a clear option, which is that place where everyone supports the decision, even if it wasn’t their first choice. 

We discuss to clarify ideas. If it’s not clear, then let’s make sure that everyone understands the information about some ideas.

We don’t need to pressure anyone to change votes, but we do need to ensure we’re all voting on the same idea, or the same understanding of an idea. 

7 Steps for Teamwork Design Engineers can use for Concept Development

1. Frame our Challenge / Write the Problem Statement: Have the goal in mind, propose criteria for judging, and collect information or plan to collect it as part of the process.  

2. Choose and invite our team: 3-7 people, mix experienced & non-experienced, involve cross-functional people, and involve Deciders!

3. Select a method for brainstorming: Provide a process that is bound by time, create space to recharge (schedule time, physical breaks), and collect materials needed.

  • If it's simple, consider brainwriting on post-its. (Ep. 1 and 2)
  • If it needs a big idea, consider the 4-step sketch. (Ep. 6)
  • If it's a large or critical project, consider DMRCS. (Ep. 5)
  • If a new design concept is needed, consider a Design Sprint. (Ep. 6)
  • Consider a different prompt (problem, failure, question, closed-world, design heuristics – Ep. 1)

4. Generate ideas: The endpoint or goal is always displayed. Keep ideas anonymous and keep the activity individual and silent but doing it together (e.g. brainwriting or sketches).

5. Group and prioritize ideas: Display all ideas at once and do activities silently (e.g. no talking or clarifying during sorting or voting). Discuss to clarify ideas (no debates or presentations).

  • If ideas need to be grouped, use an affinity diagram (Ep. 3)
  • If ideas need to be further explored, use a fishbone or tree diagram (Ep. 3)

6. Define and refine: Vote for stand-out ideas or prioritize ideas. 

  • If ideas can be evaluated against 2 criteria, use a 2x2 chart (Ep. 2 and 4)
  • If stand-out ideas are needed, use Multivoting (Ep. 4 and 6)
  • If ideas need to be prioritized, use paired comparison (Ep. 5)

7. Choose actions and assign owners: Choose an option or choose two options with pros/cons, and don't let the Deciders cede their authority!