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Generate ideas to test

Use everything you’ve learned so far, and the creativity of your team, to come up with ideas about how to meet your goal and deliver what users need.

When to do it

Generating ideas to test should take place toward the end of your discovery stage. Do this after you have identified the impact that you want your work to have (see chapter: convert user needs into impact). This will help you identify what to test at the next stage of your project.

How to do it

You should:

  • review the goal and intended impact

  • review all the evidence found so far

  • create ideas for potential features of your policy, product or service

  • choose the best ones

  • make sure there is a clear relationship from your goal to actor to impact to feature

Try this activity

This exercise will help you generate ideas about how best to meet your goal and user needs. This will give you a prioritised list of features for your policy, product or service that clearly map to your goals and intended impact.

Time, space and materials

  • 2 hours

  • any space with a wall, tables and chairs, small and large sticky notes, A3 paper, and pens for a face-to-face event

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’


  • display evidence you have gathered on the wall along with the goal and intended impacts of the work

People to include

  • your team and the policy, product or service owner

  • a facilitator to give the instructions


The overall purpose of this activity is to come up with ideas for features and check that they contribute to the goal and intended impact of your work.

  1. One person should read out the goal and intended impact of the work. For inspiration, review what evidence you have found so far and discuss this as a group. Give people some time to take notes about any ideas for potential features. Minimum 30 minutes.

  2. You are now going to sketch ideas for features. Features are things that you can build or change to deliver the goal and intended impact. Everyone should take a seat and a piece of A3 paper. Fold the sheet of paper to create 8 frames. Sketch your best 8 ideas, 1 per frame. These are for your own use only – no one else will see them. Spend 1 minute per idea. The facilitator will tell people when each minute is up.

  3. Everyone should choose their best ideas to share. Take another piece of A3 paper and create a 3-panel storyboard. Sketch your idea across 3 large sticky notes and stick them to the paper. Make it a 3-part story, 1 frame should lead to another. Try to reduce the number of features, so that you have the smallest possible number of features to achieve the outcome you want. Make it self-explanatory. Keep it anonymous. Ugly drawings are ok. Consider the words you use carefully. Give it a memorable title. You have 30 minutes.

  4. The facilitator collects all of the solution storyboards. Make this anonymous because you do not want people to know who has produced each idea. Stick them to the wall.

  5. Everyone should read all of the solution storyboards and draw a big dot next to all the parts they like. You have 10 minutes.

  6. As a group, discuss the highlights of each solution in turn. The facilitator will note standout ideas and important objections on small sticky notes and stick them onto the solution storyboard. The person that made the storyboard will remain silent, but at the end of the discussion, they can tell others about anything that they missed. You have 3 minutes per storyboard.

  7. Everyone should silently choose their favourite ideas. You have 3 votes to place wherever you like – share them around or put them in one place, it’s up to you. Vote by drawing a star. You have one minute to think about where you will vote and then everyone should vote at the same time.

  8. You now have a prioritised list of features.


  • it’s sometimes helpful to give someone a ‘power vote’ to determine which solutions win if there’s disagreement about which is best or if the solutions do not meet your strategy. Give this vote to the senior responsible owner or a policy, product or service owner

  • when you are discussing the storyboards, think about whether the solution:

    • meets your goal and intended impact

    • considers your constraints and is achievable

    • satisfies user needs

Next steps

  • refine your features by designing them to be as small as they can while achieving the maximum impact

  • only keep the features that are most important

  • follow up this activity by putting all of the features into a storyboard so that you can see how they fit together

  • prioritise which features you will prototype first

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for:

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