Add an AI chatbot like Google Bard to your ideation process

Leverage ideas in your brainstorming process to take advantage of discovery engines like Google Bard.

This illustration shows a three-step brainstorming concept: Think, Ask, and Share.
Image: Andy Wolber

There are many ways to elicit creative concepts, and discovery engines like Google Bard and ChatGPT add another option to the ideator’s toolbox: prompts.

A series of well-worded instructions to an AI chatbot can quickly display the text generated by the large language models that power such systems. These discovery engines allow you to add an immediate phase to your ideation process: think, ask, then share.

SEE: My 4 tips for Google Bard search

How to use an AI chatbot in the ideation process

Before using an AI chatbot for a quick step, make sure your company allows employees to use this technology. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple is one of the companies limit employee use of AI chatbots.

Once that obstacle is cleared, define the problem and think about it on your own. You should document the problem and initial set of ideas using whatever tool works well, whether it’s a new Google Doc, a blank whiteboard in Jamboard, cells in a Google Sheet, or perhaps a piece of paper and a pencil.

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Once you’ve exhausted the initial exploration of ideas, try prompting. You can try the three-phase approach of an initial query with a few additional requests.

For example, let’s say you’re thinking about how to train your employees and you have access to Google Bard. You can try a series of prompts, as shown here Figures A, B and C in a row.

Figure A

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard.
Create the initial prompt. For example, “Can you suggest 20 effective ways to teach a group of 100 people about computer security concepts and practices?” Note that the system does not necessarily respond with the number of concepts requested.

Figure B

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard.
Then ask for more ideas. For example, “Please suggest 15 more ideas” or “More ideas?” Note that the answers you receive contain several different concepts.

Figure C

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard.
Encourage a little more creativity in your answers with an additional prompt: “How about 15 unusual ways to teach safety?” This will bring more ideas to your attention.

If you need more ideas, try additional call-to-action rounds with different wording. Continuing with the above example, additional prompts could be:

  • “Develop a curriculum for a 5-part computer security training course for employees.”
  • “Write a 75-word workshop description for an employee computer security session.”
  • “What are the three most unusual things people should know about computer security?”

Review the responses, then edit and transfer the ideas to a Google Docs brainstorming document or worksheet or Jamboard (Figure D), where you can group or organize concepts for consideration or discussion.

Figure D

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard and a snippet on a sticky note.
Include useful ideas in your brainstorming document. The example shows a piece of text copied from Bard (right) and pasted into a note in Jamboard (left).

Don’t rush to delete ideas unless the items are repetitive, misleading, or otherwise off target. Keep the weird, whimsical, and unusual ideas at this point. Depending on the number and nature of ideas, you may want to reorganize your content to place related ideas close together.

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At this point, you’re ready to share your ideas with your team. First, share your source document, whiteboard, or sheet with your team members. Ideally, give people access to commenters so they can select and add their thoughts. Make sure everyone on your team has time to review and comment on all content. Then meet in person or perhaps via Google Meet to discuss it.

Incorporating a chatbot into your brainstorming sessions can help you and your team generate more ideas, but you still need to take the time to think through and evaluate ideas before acting on them. Message or mention on Mastodon (@awolber).