This is a part of the Creative Problem Solving Toolkit (2023).
Use when selecting most promising ideas to focus on after Brainstorming.
This is a tool for Convergence.
Prerequisite for this tool is a list of ideas to choose from.
What and Why?
After a brainstorming session, the tool "Hits, Clusters, and Highlights" is an effective method for converging on ideas and identifying key themes or insights. It involves three steps to streamline and extract the most valuable concepts.
The tool encourages participants to identify "hits" or ideas that stand out as particularly interesting or innovative. These are the ideas that have the potential to make a significant impact on solving the problem at hand.
The participants group these hits into clusters based on their similarities or connections. By clustering related ideas, patterns and common themes start to emerge.
The tool highlights the most significant or promising clusters. This involves distilling the essence of each cluster. The highlights represent the key takeaways that will guide the next steps.
By using the hits, clusters, and highlights tool, brainstorming sessions become more structured and focused. It helps teams converge on the most relevant ideas, ensures that all voices are heard, and enables efficient decision-making based on the identified themes and insights.
Use this tool if you want to:
Efficiently identify and select the most promising and innovative ideas.
Explore specific themes or topics in greater depth and generate comprehensive solutions.
Recognize patterns and trends within the generated ideas, gaining insights into emerging trends or potential areas of focus.
Foster effective collaboration and constructive discussions by providing a common language and framework.
Streamline idea development by prioritizing and refining concepts with the highest potential.
A. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation (~60 minutes)
NOTE: This tool is used after a tool like Brainstorming has been used to generate multiple ideas.
(Synthesis) Next steps
Debrief the activity. Invite the group to share what they experienced as a result of using this tool.
B. How Groups Are Configured
This activity works well with groups of 20 or fewer participants.
C. How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed
Ensure that the original Idea post-its are spread out providing adequate access for participants to review the post-its with ease.
Flip chart markers/ Sharpies for creating cluster headings.
Colored dot stickers (¼ “ preferred).
Large post-its (optional for creating cluster headings).
Flip charts on stands or paper roll on walls - to create space for relocating post-its and creating clusters.
Tips and Watchouts
Stay focused on the objective: While brainstorming can lead to a plethora of ideas, remember to stay focused on the original objective. Ensure that the clusters and highlights selected align with the challenge that the group is working on.
Validate and refine: Once clusters and highlights are identified, take the time to validate them against the original ideas and objectives. Refine and iterate as necessary to ensure accuracy and relevance.
Avoid rushing: Take sufficient time to go through each step of the process thoroughly. Rushing can lead to overlooking valuable ideas or making hasty decisions.
Riffs and Variations
Instead of clustering ideas based on the similarity and connections - consider sorting the ideas with hits into a matrix with four quadrants.
Create a matrix using Impact and Feasibility as its dimensions. Ideas could be sorted into one of four quadrants:
Low Impact - Low Feasibility (Also known as the “Why bother?” quadrant)
Low Impact - High Feasibility (Easy to implement but not much bang for the buck)
High Impact - Low Feasibility (Ideas that will take some effort but might be worth it)
High Impact - High Feasibility (WOW ideas!)
Hits, Clusters and Highlights was originally used as a tool for convergence as part of the Creative Problem-solving process.