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Ideation exercises for design

With journeys mapped, and key issues identified, you are ready to begin the ideation phase of the design sprint. Feel free to use the following ideation exercises however your team sees fit.

Wall of Key Ideas

Team members collect ideas that they enjoy from around the web and the world. The team members list the ideas on a whiteboard. Ideas are grouped into themes, which concepts can draw from for inspiration.


To kick off the next phase of the sprint, the design sprint team talks about their favorite experiences around the web. Some cite examples such as an app that gathers all banking data in one place, a simple survey form they encountered, or their favorite theme park’s wearable experience. Some of the key themes identified were easy form completion and simplified guidance.

Wall of Key Ideas

Why use it?

Wall of Key Ideas is a nice icebreaker for the beginning of the next phase and coaxes out the drivers of success the team holds internally.

Crazy 8s

Crazy 8s is an exercise in speed and rapid ideation. Fold a single sheet of paper in half three times so that it creates eight mini-rectangles. Each rectangle should have one hand-drawn solution to the issue identified from the problem tree. Each team member has one minute per cell to draw. Then they must move on to promote ideation over quality. Ideas are not shared with the group at this point.


The team prepares their paper, then begins to draw. One member draws a wearable for the customer to auto-identify identity, a unified system of record, a bot that automatically finds and files disputes, and so on.

Crazy 8s

Why use it? 

Rapid ideas may generate common themes and create unique solutions to the problem.

Three-step solution sketch

Fold a piece of paper into three even rectangles. On each rectangle, have the team member draw a single step of a three-step process that targets the core problems. Each step might be flowcharts or bullet points. The team member then moves on to step 2 and then step 3. This exercise takes about 30 minutes. Then, team members share with the group and prioritize the best ideas as a team.


A team member feels that providing a unified system of record and preset questions to accelerate the experience tackles the core problem. In step 1, the team member draws an automated customer verification. In step 2, they draw a unified data source. In step 3, they draw a checklist of standard questions to ask the customer. The team member then shares with the rest of the team and finds that four other team members have similar ideas. The team decides to promote the flow.

Three-step solution

Why use it? 

This stage is where the team begins to define the new flow as a group, based on all the groundwork already laid down on the mapping phase. 


Storyboards use the art of the narrative to focus on a person's experience of using your application. Using large cards, individual sheets of paper, or hand-drawn zones on a whiteboard, start the new flow process on scene 1 and the completion state on your final scene. Each region should have a core step in the flow, and if need be, the alternative steps. Work out all the steps you need. Then within each scene, allow space for three regions:

  • Scene (a flowchart of what is happening)
  • Data (which data needs to be collected)
  • Interface (what systems of record are included)

List what is needed for each scene.


The design sprint team now has a very good sense of what to prototype, but they need to crystalize the idea as a group before moving forward. In scene 1, the team decides that the incoming customer call is the interaction's kick-off and the final scene is the call-center agent completing the call with the customer. In between, the team has scenes for verifying the customer's information, searching for the transactions in question, and confirming the severity of the issue. The team then completes the flowchart with the persona involved, the data that needs to be collected, and the systems that need to be accessed to retrieve the customer validity and transaction information.

Finally, the team identifies that an alternative investigation process is created if the dispute is serious enough, but this is a separate flow with separate personas. That flow requires its own set of storyboards as well, and the team also creates those storyboards.


Why use it? 

Storyboards give the team a clear sense of the case's design and information architecture.

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