Focused innovation: The creative matrix

Joss Wyatt
By Joss Wyatt under Insights, Agile 12 October 2018

Ideation is a key part of product innovation; it is an effective way of gathering and articulating the collective knowledge of a cross-functional team, while thinking laterally about problems.

A common problem with ideation, however, is that it's easy to lose sight of the particular problems you're trying to solve, especially in circumstances where divergent, flexible thinking is encouraged. The creative matrix workshop is a solution to this problem. Typically run in discovery phases, the workshop aims to expand thinking around a problem statement. It is designed to push the boundaries of existing ideas within a team, while providing clear parameters to guide thought and focus the innovation process.

The creative matrix itself takes the form of a large grid - often on a wall or whiteboard - which workshop participants are asked to populate with ideas. Headings are given to the columns and rows to drive thinking around the areas where they intersect. There are three key benefits to using the creative matrix in an ideation workshop:

  1. It's a simple framework that requires little set up and explanation  
  2. It's highly flexible and can be adapted to suit the workshop’s particular aims
  3. It makes ideation accessible by encouraging people to think inside the box - but boxes they haven’t necessarily considered before.

Running a creative matrix workshop is an effective way of exploring potential solutions, considering problems from new perspectives and ensuring ideas take the product vision into account. The ideas born out of the exercise can then be validated and prioritised (link to article) to form actionable product backlog items.

If you're looking to use the creative matrix in an upcoming ideation workshop, you can read our ten simple steps to get you started here.