This page is an output of the Itana Spring Face2Face 2016 meeting, contributed to the Itana wiki by the meeting attendees.


The process of generating and developing a pool of ideas for satisfying a need or solving a problem and sifting that pool into a workable set of useful ideas.  These ideas have the support of the group that created them.  Processing these ideas could involve classifying them according to some relevant framework.


  • One or more viable ideas for an issue or topic with definitions for the ideas


  • We are aware of a problem or need via a strategic plan, a work request, a governance group, or some other formal or informal communication of need.

  • A catalyst exists for which ideas, solutions, et. al. are needed.

  • This process is good to support the creation of some of the artifacts enumerated in the ITANA catalog.


  • An undesired condition is defined (say, there are 20 versions of a technology throughout campus).  EA is tasked with proposing one or more solutions/outcomes to this condition.

  • Many application teams want to monitor many applications and would like to have a easier way to do so.

  • EA is going to hold an all-day event and we want to brainstorm topics and build an agenda.

  • Undergraduate Advisors want to envision what a dashboard for advisors could contain and look like

  • An executive leader wants to replace an existing campus technology.

  • Campus leadership wants to enable a new capability.

  • A service owner needs to create, enhance, or deprecate a service

  • A manual process needs to be modernized using 21st century technology

  • A group lists a bunch of current state issues.  The process may involve sorting those issues according to workflow or lifecycle stages.

  • A state mandate is issued for stable tuition for 4 years

Source Material

Material that can be used as a source for ideas include:

  • Strategic Plans (business and IT)

  • Industry Trends

  • IT Portfolio reports

  • Existing EA representations

  • IT work request system

  • Leadership planning retreat

  • Enterprise improvement suggestion program


This activity should include at least three aspects:

  • The act of gathering a lot of ideas (ideation)

  • The act of narrowing the list of ideas down to a manageable number of viable ideas. (winnowing)

  • Classifying, Clarifying, defining and/or framing the ideas

Some best practices include:

  • Use an Ice Breaker (“Yes, and…”, “Meet and greet”, etc.) to get the group thinking and build relationships.

  • Use facilitation tools (like Appreciative Interviews) to make the group comfortable and open with each other.

  • Be aware of how introverts and extroverts interact.

  • Use games and role-playing, scenarios of people using the idea to help people be spontaneous.  (Role Storming )

  • Space is important.  Be thoughtful of the space you are working in.  Get people out of the normal work space.

  • Consider and plan for supplies and materials needed to complete the exercise.

  • Have a scribe and a neutral facilitator if possible.

  • Consider and plan for recording the output and distributing it to participants.

  • Tap a diversity of perspectives (people, backgrounds, experiences) to capture a breadth of ideas

  • Mix “I” time (periods for people to think on their own) and group time.

  • Break people into small teams and have them work independently for a while to prevent groupthink.

  • Be explicit that this is a safe place.  No criticizing ideas.  “Yes, and...” type of input rather than “No, not...”.

  • Make sure you set ground rules and use facilitation practices to make sure everyone gets a voice.

  • Be explicit about the constraints that bound the ideas or solutions.

  • Be careful of seeding the topic with a preformed idea or example that will limit creativity. (Don’t say, “Think of an animal like a whale” say, “Think of an animal”)

Some well known techniques for ideation and or narrowing include:

Brainstorming is not recommended due to the propensity for groupthink

The outcome of this exercise, is a narrowed list of possible solutions, objects, goals, or outcomes. The items in the list might additionally be classified

Related Skills

  • Meeting Planning

  • Meeting Management

  • Personal Leadership

  • Building Relationships

  • Building Political Currency

Possible Next Steps

  • Choose and create an artifact that reflects the chosen idea(s) that meet unmet needs

Architecture Leadership > Generating Ideas

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