While “blue sky” freedom might seem desirable at the start of a project, it is often within constraints that novel ideas are sparked. It may seem counterintuitive to impose limits on the creative process, but when a problem is too broad, or you’re having trouble breaking away from conventional thinking, structure can actually help.
If you want to generate many wide-ranging ideas in a short amount of time, the structure of a Creative Matrix is useful because it stimulates cross-pollination by providing a template for generating new ideas where topics intersect. In a Creative Matrix grid, each cell represents the intersection of two disparate categories. It’s best to use the columns as categories related to people (e.g., personas, market segments, or problem statements) and the rows as categories for enabling solutions (e.g., technologies, environments, or policies). You can then use this “mash-up” of categories to help generate a wide range of concepts in each cell.