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Idea Screening: Ideas, Ideas and more Ideas!

From our previous blog, we talked about coming up with lots of ideas using brainstorming and ideation processes. Best practice companies create a very free flowing idea generation process in the front end, because we frankly don’t know what we don’t know. Good ideas can come from any where, but we know we can’t chase them all. We have to filter them down into a digestible number that we can further refine through our NPD process.

What we need to do is create a process that harvests our best ideas. To do that we can follow these steps:

Step one is to turn ideas into concepts: Going from Divergence to Convergence:

  1. Organize and shape ideas to improve their yield

  2. Clustering, affinity charts, Delphi and dot voting techniques

Step two create an Initial concept statements so we can compare apples to apples. I recommend you adapt some sort of Uniform Concept Statements (some people call the opportunity statements and I am sure there are other names as well). Uniform Concept Statements help us to avoid the problem of good ideas that get overlooked because they are presented poorly and weak or marginal ideas that are selected because they are presented well. Initial concept statements should be short, no more than one page, and easy to understand.

They should contain the following:

The need/pain or job to be done: o There’s got to be a better way …. o People have problems with … o The Job to be done is … * Described as an action verb-> objective of action -> contextual clarifier – Manage personal finances at home – Clean clothes at home

The proposed solution, benefits, or desired outcomes. o Outcome expectations – desired outcomes: • Desired outcomes customers want to achieve. • Undesired outcomes customers want to avoid. • Desired outcomes providers want to achieve • Undesired outcomes providers want to avoid.

Why the customer will buy from us o Positive differentiators/ vectors of differentiation o unfair competitive advantages

The business case: o Market scope who, what and where o Potential business opportunity (rough order of magnitude) o Strategic fit

You can also include a classification by development type to help in sorting the concept: • Line extension • Major enhancement • New product or platform • Breakthrough product

While still very high level at this stage and based solely on our best assumptions, the concept statements have gone through a first level of refinement and by de facto screening in the sense that many of the ideas have been combined to create hopefully a more complete and compelling opportunity, albeit a long way from being ready for development and still way too many initial concepts that we can possible process in our definition and feasibility stage.

We need now to apply a screening method to narrow the field down to concepts we believe have the best chance of economic success. In my next blog, I will talk about a screening process that will allow us to focus on a manageable set of concepts that we can further refine for the ultimate decision to invest development dollars or to continue to look for winning ideas.


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