Ideation is a way of coming up with a lot of ideas in a short amount of time. There is no one way to do it, though there are a lot of great activities that help product teams find design solutions.
We use ideation as a way to get over blocks to new ideas. The goal of brainstorming is to open your mind to all kinds of possible solutions to a design problem that unconscious biases and rigid thinking (something we’re all guilty of) might prevent us from seeing.
You can use brainstorming techniques at any time in the design process. I like to use them when the product team is blocked and we’re unable to get past a creative or business loggerhead.
Getting the whole team together (not just the designers) and urging everyone to put aside judgement and throw ideas onto a whiteboard can really shake things up.
Collaborative design takes the responsibility (and burden) for creative ideas off the designer and opens the whole team up to input. Once teams get past their initial fear of sharing ideas, it can be incredibly energizing and exciting as ideas flow.