Sunday, April 27, 2008

Word of the Week: ideation

I had never heard of the word ideation until this week. (Truth be told, I didn’t think it was a real word.)

The word was used in a PowerPoint presentation made by an advertising agency in a pitch to create a seminar for a client. (The fact that the word was used by someone in advertising is part of the reason I thought the word was suspect. Or, at best, I thought perhaps it was a new word -- one that might, eventually, take hold and become part of the pop culture -- like Steven Colbert’s “truthiness” did a couple years ago -- but I doubted that ideation had already achieved that status.)

Here’s the sentence in which the word was used:

[Ad Agency] has developed ideation around a multi-format, interactive approach for the workshop.

On reading that and wondering about the word, naturally I looked it up. Here’s‘s definition of ideation: “the capacity for or the act of forming or entertaining ideas"

After reading the definition I went back to the sentence in which the word was used. I think the ad agency misused ideation. Surely the ad agency didn’t mean it had “developed” the capacity for the act of forming or entertaining ideas. (After all, don’t you think clients figure that folks working at an ad agency already have the capacity to form or create ideas?)

I think the ad agency simply wanted to say it had creative ideas for presenting the workshop -- and ideation (a word that contains the word “idea”) must have sounded good to them. To me, it sounded ridiculous (and worse, it made me question the agency's ability).


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