How to select the best ideas for an innovation project11 min read
One of the harder challenges in innovation is smart decision-making in terms of selecting which ideas to turn into innovation projects. At first glance, it may not seem that trivial…
But when you’re faced with thousands of good ideas, selecting which ones to follow up on becomes daunting.
In this article, we will first look at the considerations you need to take when selecting the best ideas. Then, we will go through various ways on how you can pick the ideas for your innovation initiatives.
Let’s get started.
Why It’s Important to Select the Best Ideas
Selecting the best ideas to turn into projects is one way to minimize the risk of innovation. Because not all innovation projects are ensured to bring a positive return on investment, it’s vital to prioritize the best ones and increase the chances of success.
Innovation projects take time, money, and manpower, to realize. That is why selecting the best ideas could also help in ensuring that the resources of the business are being used on projects with the most chances of adding value.
However, the usual issue here is the step before the selection of ideas — the misconception that collecting a handful of ideas is enough.
Without plenty of good ideas, you will only be limited to selecting from what you only have. It’s even worse if you’re faced with ideas you know aren’t good enough.
At this time, you only have two choices — either go back to the previous step and initiate a brainstorming session or force yourself and the stakeholders to choose from the current load of not-good-enough ideas.
The trick here to ensure that you have enough ideas when selecting the best ones is to collect as many ideas as possible. Use whatever means of brainstorming and ideation methods that you have. Our advice is to gather at least 300 ideas to start with.
In order to select the best ideas that would solve your problem, you need to come up with criteria on which to judge these ideas.
Now, it’s important that beforehand, you already determined what you want in a solution and form criteria based on that.
You must clearly communicate this and use it to shape the question/challenge that would give participants direction and helps form the range of solutions you’re going to get.
Here are some ideas on the factors to consider in selecting the best idea:
1. Alignment With Business and Innovation Goals
When considering an idea, it’s important to make certain that it aligns with your overall business strategy. If not, then it’s unlikely to survive as the top stakeholders may not approve of it in the first place.
Innovation needs to align with your business goals. If so, it will really add value the way your company needs it to. If not, it may sound cool, but it will not help your company the way you want it to and you want to invest in to.
When choosing which idea to turn into an innovation initiative, make your business strategy a guide and see how a certain idea you’re currently assessing could meet multiple business and innovation goals.
2. Return on Investment
Although competing ideas must not always be ranked based on their earning potential, it’s an important consideration in selecting which ideas to prioritize. A good idea that brings in a positive return on investment is beneficial to the business.
When checking on an idea’s profitability, make sure to see a few steps ahead. Some initiatives, especially those related to marketing, may not bring a positive return on investment right away. But in the long run, they may turn out to be extremely beneficial.
3. Project Timeframe
Another thing worth considering is how long the project would take. When will it be complete? When you could expect profitability? At which stage could you scale it and bring in an even greater return on investment?
Considering the timeframe will not only give you an idea of how realistic and profitable an idea is, but it would also provide you a way to track its progress should you decide to turn that idea into an initiative.
The Innovation Impact Model
Aside from the factors mentioned above, there are a few smart decision-making models out there that could help you select the best idea. One of them is the innovation impact model, which is one of the things mentioned in our guide to organizing innovations.
The way this model works is simple — you and the other stakeholders must rate every idea as low, medium, or high, in regards to the expected investment and impact.
Ideas that end up in the green part of the model are in the sweet spot — they have a high impact and a low investment requirement.
The orange part is where the ideas with a medium impact that require a substantial amount of investment end up. Don’t discount these ideas as they may end up your project champions. What you need to do here is discuss how you can move them to the sweet spot.
As for those in the red corner, there’s no need to bother yourself with these ideas. They need time to develop and need a large amount of investment. Perhaps in the future, these ideas could move up to the green part as better or cheaper technologies get invented.
How to Select the Best Ideas
As for the method of selecting the best ideas, there are various tools out there that you could use. If you’re using an idea management tool, chances are, that tool may have some sort of feature that would allow you to rate the ideas.
For this article, we will be using the Accept Mission platform and see how you can easily rate and select the best ideas.
1. User Selection
Selecting the best ideas by user selection is one of the easiest ways you could make use of a crowd to assess ideas. With this feature, they could upvote or like certain ideas that they find interesting. They could also comment on it and share their thoughts or insights.
Note that this is only a superficial way of idea selection and could work passively without the need to ask everybody to like and comment on ideas that they like. The good thing about this is that as people share their insights, the idea could evolve even further.
2. Expert Scoring
Within the Accept Mission platform, expert users can score on ideas using the innovation impact model. Here, there are already predetermined factors where users could rate the ideas from one to ten in terms of innovation impact, strategy, and finance.
As you score an idea on its impact and investment requirements, the point on the graph would also move accordingly. Depending on the scores, the point will end up in the red, white (orange in our example above), or green section.
3. End Customers Scoring
The last feature here is important especially when you’re already choosing from a few pre-selected ones. End customers and users could rate the idea based on a list of your own defined criteria and scoring type.
This is the time where you could make use of any predefined criterion that you have. The tool will enable you to completely create your own criteria and customize the list accordingly.
There are four types of criteria you can choose from:
Low / Medium / High
The custom type will allow you to create your own tasks and values to score the idea. You can edit the label, customize the weight, and define the actions.
Simplify the Process With a Tool
Idea selection is a good way to minimize the risk of innovation. Since not all innovation projects become successful, it’s important to prioritize the ideas that have the highest chances of becoming successful.
But idea selection becomes inefficient when there are only a few ideas. That’s why we recommend collecting at least 300 ideas.
It’s also helpful for you to define a set of criteria on which to assess your ideas. Make use of the factors you considered before you started any ideation activities.
If you don’t have a list before you started collecting ideas, some ideas you can start with include:
Alignment with business and innovation goals
Return on investment
There is also what we call the innovation impact model, an easy-to-understand and effective smart decision-making model where you and others rate an idea on its expected investment and impact.
Ideas that end up in the top-left section are the best ones. However, some of these ideas may not be that spectacular. Those that end up in the middle have big potential though they need to be optimized first. Those that end in the lower-right should be rejected.
Although idea selection may seem challenging when you have thousands of them, you could easily do this with the use of idea management tools like Accept Mission.
With the help of Accept Mission, you could select the best ideas using three methods: