Mash-Up Innovation

Mash-ups is a collaborative idea generation method in which participants come up with innovative concepts by combining different elements together. In a first step, participants brainstorm around different areas, such as technologies, human needs, and existing services. In a second step, they rapidly combine elements from those areas to create new, fun and innovative concepts. Mash-ups demonstrates how fast and easy it can be to come up with innovative ideas.

Learn how to apply this tool:

Master Class Digital Acceleration
  1. Step 1:

    First brainstorm: Ask the whole group to brainstorm around the areas of:

    • TECHNOLOGIES (e.g. telephone, 3D printing, GPS),
    • HUMAN NEEDS (e.g. love, transportation, waking up in the morning), and
    • EXISTING SERVICES (e.g. Google translate, Spotify, Candy Crush).

    Spend 3 minutes brainstorming around each area. Have participants write one idea per post-it. Make the brainstorm active and fast-paced. Have participants call-out each idea as they place it up on the wall. By the end of the brainstorming there should be three large clusters of post-its on the wall, one for each area. The more the better!

    Facilitator notes

    The three areas above can be adapted for different contexts. For example SOURCES OF DATA (e.g. health records, subway timetables, census data) or GLOBAL CHALLENGES (e.g. climate change, income inequality, obesity) can be added to give another dimension to the exercise.

  2. Step 2:

    Mashups: Organize participants into small groups of 3 - 5. Explain that they will have 12 minutes to come up with as many mash-up concepts as they can.

    A mash-up concept consists of 2 or more elements from the wall combined together to create a new concept.

    For each mash-up that a team creates, they must give the concept a catchy name and capture it on an A4 paper. The A4 should include: the elements that combine to make the new concept (e.g. iPads + Doing Laundry + Paypal) and the name of the concept (eg. Launderfy).

    Facilitator notes

    Facilitator note: During these 12 minutes, put on upbeat music and encourage the participants to be on their feet, active, and working quickly. Every few minutes, all out the number of minutes left to increase the feeling of fast-pace.

  3. Step 3:

    Presentations: Once the time has elapsed, have each small group present their mash-up concepts back to the rest of the group. Put up all the ideas on the wall to visually display the volume of concepts generated.

    Facilitator notes

    Here, emphasize the volume of ideas created in the short amount of time.

  4. Step 4:

    (Optional) Develop: A final optional step is to have participants choose their favorite and/or most feasible mash-up concept and develop it further for 30 minutes, exploring the details of the concept, its functionality and a business model. Each team uses one flipchart paper to visualize the concept and then present it back to the rest of the group.

  5. Step 5:

    Debrief the experience, by inviting participants to reflect on questions such as:

    • How did it feel to work creatively in this way?
    • What was easy about it? What was challenging?
    • How did you feel? How did you behave, react, respond?
    • What insights or learnings do you have about yourself?
    • What insights or learnings do you have about idea development?
    • How can you apply your learnings going forward?