The ideation phase officially began at the completion of the landscape analysis, however its roots began on the first day of the fellowship and grew with each new connection we made. Not only were people willing to share their stories with us, but they were willing to share their feelings and their thoughts. The feelings, thoughts, fears and hopes of the people we met across the country slowly built momentum. By the start of December ideas seemed to start shaping themselves from the stories we had heard, and the ideation process began as our way of transferring the thoughts in our heads to the paper in front of us.
At first brainstorming is much harder than expected. A blank canvas contains endless possibility while also offering no starting point. We began as historians instead of entrepreneurs to find our start, ethnographically combing through the first stage of the fellowship, rediscovering old ideas and thoughts and creating a few new perspectives on the way. From the stories grew problems, points of friction that were either explicitly or implicitly noted by a stakeholder along our path. From our problems we migrated to solutions in other fields, what does the Armani of diabetes look like? The match.com of diabetes? At this point our list was long and needed to be pruned. Filters were created, do people actually want this? Do we want to do this? Can we even do this? The list shrank, and as it grew smaller the criteria became more specific.
We now sit just past the halfway point in the ideation phase, with a list of ideas only a couple long. This list does not necessarily contain the final solution, but it is a new starting point. From here we can return to the problems we noted at the beginning, we can return to the patients and doctors and see how to best solve these problems. Undoubtedly that will crowd the waters again and we will return to prune the ideas back. Keeping the patient, the doctor, the caregiver or whomever we are trying to solve problems for at the center of our process will ensure that the completion of our process will end at solving a problem. The journey still has a few more iterations left though and until we reach the end it will be an enlightening ride.