Mashup Innovation | Fast Idea Generation with Hyper Island

By August 8, 2016blog
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In my workshops I have been recently using the Hyper Island Mashup Innovation. After Nick pointed it out, I used it with great results both at in-company trainings as with students from Media & Entertainment Business Thomas More and Postgraduate Digital Marketing and Communication at Ehsal Management School.

What is this tool about? Hyper Island summarises it as:

“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.”

Step 1: brainstorm

The idea is that participants brainstorm around Technologies, Human Needs, Existing Services. Based on Nick’s suggestion I also added “Existing Data Sets” as a 4th category. I made a little change to the original Hyper Island workshop, where I asked the participants to do silent brainstorming on their own, before putting all the sticky notes on the wall (P.S. If you don’t know how to pull of a sticky note, read this post).

You end up with a gigantic heap of post its. Tip if you want to try this out yourself: make sure that participants write with markers instead of normal pens. It enhances readability for the rest of the group.

mashup innovation

Step 2: mashup

Next step is that small groups of maximum 5 people come up with mash-up ideas. Every idea consists of 2 or more elements on the wall. Each idea has to be written down on a piece of paper and it must have a cool and trendy name. (everything with -ify works :))

mashup innovation results

Step 3: presentation

Every group presents their ideas to the rest of the participants.

(Optional) Step 4: prototype

In some cases – if I had the time – I also allowed groups to make prototypes on paper, which they could afterwards test out using prototyping tools such as Pop (Prototyping on Paper) or Invision.

Why do you want to use the Mashup Innovation workshop?

The first goal is to highlight how fast and efficient a large group of people can come up with a huge pile of ideas. So you showcase quantity. All groups were flabbergasted by how much they came up with in such short time – I tend to do this workshop in only 30 to 40 minutes.

But next to that the quality of some of the ideas is also quite stunning. The one that struck me most up until now: Smoney. An app that allows you to do online payments with a smile instead of a code or a card reader. Just smile at your phone, and the app recognises your individual smile and makes the payment. Wonderful.


You can perfectly make variations on the workshop. We used this technique at our office for example where we added a specific client as an extra step at the end. Forcing lateral thinking, and merging completely crazy ideas with what our client could use.

Further reading: