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Exploring ideas

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20-30 minutes

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  • A sheet of paper, ideally A3 and heavier weight, or a cork board, computer file or Pinterest, or digital whiteboard/ collaboration software if a virtual meeting.

  • Optional: coloured papers and pencils/ pens/ markers, textures, photos, colour swatches, sticky notes, magazine to be cut for pictures and text, and any other inspiring material

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


An inspiration board is used for collecting sources of inspiration for a project. These visual boards are collages of, for instance, words, photos, colour swatches, magazine clippings, textures, quotes, drawings, or inspiring and visionary ideas from other sectors. These can work as a common source to keep everyone on the same page, represent the mood of the ideas to develop, or function as the starting point of ideation. It can help to generate the ‘feel or mood’ of a project, which is often hard to capture with words alone.


Steps how to use this tool in practice

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


Establish the purpose for the vision board based on the research results.


Prepare the board and materials for your work. Perhaps you have photos from magazines, markers, materials, fabrics, images and/or graphics from computer files and internet searches, other items like feathers, and sticky notes.


Think about your purpose and problem to solve and start working on the vision board. The board can be paper, cork board, an electronic format or Pinterest based.


Browse ideas online and from magazines and clip and collect any suitable sources of inspiration for your project. You could lead with feelings by asking:

  • What would make you feel energised, positive, involved….?

  • What kind of feelings and emotions could be linked to your solution? Is there a colour world, shapes or items that could inspire you?

  • What kind of inspiring ideas already exist? These can be from another sector. What else could inspire you?

  • Work on the vision board until you are happy. You can leave it overnight and look at it the next day for final updates before fixing the clippings and materials on it.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • Do not worry too much about presentation - focus on ideas and thoughts instead.

Other tools of this phase

An active and exploratory way to generate ideas.


A group ideation tool.


Drawing parallels with analogies for ideas.


A fictional description of a typical customer.


Creating ideas together with customers and stakeholders.

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An ideation matrix of service aspects.

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The must, should, could and won’t haves of a service.


Soliciting the expertise of the crowd.


A visual map of existing solutions to the identified problem.

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A visual idea generation diagram.

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Generating ideas quietly and getting inspired by others.

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