Ideation is core to the innovation process, and has been the subject of study across a range of fields, from psychology to engineering. However, despite substantial progress in outcome-based descriptions of idea generation, research has often resulted in more questions than answers. For example, open questions remain with respect to the differences in behaviour related to ideation between novices and experts, the change in rates of ideation over time in different design teams, and the changing role of ideation from conceptual to detailed design. In each of these cases, robust explanation has proved elusive due to difficulties in characterising the ideation process itself. This paper discusses a major new approach for elucidating ideation and its related design processes through direct observation. A novel network visualisation approach is demonstrated in practice for the first time. This uses network analysis to link ideas dynamically to both the engineering context and the wider design process. This linking analysis gives a substantial new insight into what drives ideation and how previously inscrutable results can potentially be explained by linking ideation into other design processes.