how to be all inclusive when innovating

Some may say that extroverts are always more successful than introverts. Some say the opposite. Some say that you need to be a bit of both. I think I’m an ambivert, a little of this, a bit of that.

To hold a useful design thinking session, you need both introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts. It would be best if you ensured that both types of individuals to ideate in a way that makes them comfortable. Introverts and extroverts ideate in entirely different ways – and you need to account for this.

This is one of the reasons I always include personal/individual ideation and group/team ideation in every design thinking ideation session.

It’s like education. People are designed to react visually (by seeing), audibly (by hearing), and kinesthetically (by doing), but for most, one of these is much stronger than the other. This is why the best educators know how to use all three modalities when they teach. Whatever they are teaching, they show it, they talk about it, and they make the students do it. If they teach using all three modalities, then they cover all of the bases when it comes to teaching.

It’s the same for creativity. Your design thinking ideation session is full of several different kinds of people (or it should be if you designed it properly). These different kinds of people ideate in very different ways, but the main ways I’ve found which should be tackled are for introverts and extroverts. Some people prefer to communicate within the group to the group, and others prefer to share directly with you, the facilitator. Both types of people should be considered in every ideation session.

The variety of attendees is one of the reasons why I always start sessions showing, talking about, and discussing “the problem” (you know, the “thing” that came up in the first three stages of the haia process “observe/discuss/immerse.” What is the main problem that the customer wants to solve? What is, in Clayton Christensen’s terms, the “job to be done“? The problem statement needs to be presented to the session in such a way that the ideators can empathize with the customer. That they can deeply understand what the customer is going through – preferably without the customer in the room.

The exposition of the problem requires a detailed presentment and discussion of the problem itself. Sometimes these get into ideation as well (so make sure that you capture every bit of the debate since sometimes nuggets emerge from the problem statement discussion). But once that’s done – you must have both a personal/individual ideation (where you set a timer and let people silently ideate on their own and a group ideation session (where the ideas are shared and discussed).  This tactic lets both the introverts and extroverts contribute in the way they know best – pulling out the best, more creative, most interesting, most valuable ideas.

As long as you work the room right – the ideas generated will create massive value for your organization.


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