One of the challenges we face is how to select the best ideas from the brainstorming process. Moving from the ideation phase to the decision-making phase can be daunting, mainly if there are many good ideas. The good news is that there are some practices you can use to put a vast number of ideas generated together in a way to show you the path forward.
Often, ideas are selected using scorecards that rely on someone’s expert opinion, in most cases, a few nominated experts in the company. This is fine for the very first quick and rough selection. However, if you have a good idea generation process, you will have numerous ideas as you begin. Even after clustering (putting like ideas together) and screening the ‘impossible’ ones, there will be many ideas. Therefore, such a first scorecard based expert selection is needed. Yet, many new ideas have unknowns and often differ much in maturity and specificity. This is a too weak basis for conscious ‘go or no-go’ decisions about how to proceed. So, the question is, how do we determine how to proceed?
For such a decision, an underpinned evidence-based evaluation is required that will go beyond opinion-based scoring. This means that time and resources (i.e., attention and focus) should be dedicated to further consideration, development, and validation of the most promising ideas that passed the first screening. Invest only in the ideas that lead to the most promising solutions.
In practice, you should have an evidence-based decision-making process. It is a well-tested, iterative approach to help you meet your customers’ unmet wants and needs. This allows you to bolster your value proposition. The brainstorming process is all at once fun, exciting, and frustrating, but you need a method to determine the best ideas. The ultimate question is: What is the best idea or solution?
Here are some metrics for you to think about:
- Clarity – You may choose to rely on Occam’s Razor. By selecting the idea with the fewest unknowns, you are protected to some degree against surprises and failures. However, if you want to promote innovation, you will want to consider something beyond the simplest solution.
- Usability – Does the solution answer a particular problem or pain point that your customer has? If it does, you may be able to fill an unmet niche.
- Stability – Is your solution a one-time answer or will last over time? Solutions that are fads quickly become antiquated and are not sustainable. Ideally, you want to create a solution that will be utilized (through its evolution) long into the future.
- Scalability – Can your solution be consistently duplicated? You want a solution that can be replicated continually without needing to be updated or revised with every production run (this is not true for customized services).
- Stickiness – Have you created a solution that will become a habit or a trend? Stickiness is typically a utilitarian term concerned with usability, but it can also apply to emotional appeal. This is where you want your customer to think your solution is necessary to solve one of their pains.
- Integration – Does the solution fit with your organization’s strategy, values, and brand? The answer may be great, but if it is an outlier to your company’s strategy, it may not be supported, making it an unviable solution.
- Profitability – The answer is not always clear, but people tend to focus on the solution’s short-term profitability. Ideas are ranked based on the return on investment, but consideration must be given to the long-term revenue opportunities.
There are many easy to use methods to help you determine the best solution.
You could use:
You have many solutions that would add value to your customers’ lives. You know you can ease their pain points. Make a decision structuring your ideas–and thrive.