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Exploring ideas

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30-60 minutes

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  • Minimum A3 size paper or larger sheet of paper, a computer file or a whiteboard

  • Pens and markers of different colours

  • Sticky notes

  • Equipment to look for information, such as a computer

What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


A competition diagram is a visual map of existing solutions to the selected problem that helps to identify possible gaps that could be opportunities. Existing solutions can be services, products or applications. A competition diagram can be used in combination with other ideation tools and adds another layer for deepening competition analysis.

Steps how to use this tool in practice

The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.


Start by investigating existing solutions for the selected problem. These can be services, products, applications or something else. You can look back at the outcomes of Phase 1, Cruising the problem area, Phase 2, Research, and look for new ones. It is useful to look for solutions from different countries and other sectors as the competing solutions compete of consumers’ time or money. For example, a competing solution for a soft drink can be flavoured water, freshly pressed juices or smoothies. You can write each of the existing solutions on its own sticky note. Different colours can be used for each type of solution, for example, yellow for services and orange for products.


Take a big sheet of paper or a whiteboard and start adding the identified competitive solutions on it and arranging the sticky notes into groups of similar kinds of solutions.


Once ready, look at the solutions and organise them until you are happy with your categorising and how they are situated on the diagram. Add headings to your categories.


Start analysing your diagram. Add impressions from your findings on sticky notes of a different colour, or simply by writing.


Circle interesting findings with a marker and mark potential gaps with sticky notes or by writing taking account your own professional activity.


Take a break before returning to generate ideas on the map so that you can approach the task with fresh eyes. Sometimes it is good to continue on the next day when the information you have gathered is still fresh in your mind but has had the chance to brew in your mind.


You can continue the process one step further by analysing user journeys and service blue prints on interesting existing services to find gaps and opportunities.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • If not using sticky notes of different colours, you can simply use marker of different colours to differentiate products, services, impressions and ideas.

  • You can use the same principle to compare customer journeys and service blue prints of different services to find gaps for ideas and opportunities.

Other tools of this phase

An active and exploratory way to generate ideas


An inspiration board for ideating solutions

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A group ideation tool


A fictional description of a typical customer.


Drawing parallels with analogies for ideas.


An ideation matrix of service aspects.

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Creating ideas together with customers and stakeholders.

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