Monday, March 07, 2011

Criteria for your idea

I'm always a bit skeptical when I read about any definitive list, whether it's six things to improve my complexion or seven myths of innovation.  So I enter with some trepidation a list for your perusal, a checklist of sorts to help you ascertain whether or not your idea can become a a successful innovation.

Note that the list below isn't necessarily exclusive, and if you have factors or considerations you'd like to add I'd be glad to hear them (please enter them in the comments below, and please, no offers of Nigeria bank transfers or knock-off Nikes).  Also note that even if your idea meets or exceeds your wildest expectations when you compare it to this list, you've accomplished about 1% of the work.  After all, Edison said "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration".  So start what is often the more difficult part of innovation, the execution.

Here's my checklist to determine if your idea has merit:

  1. Does it solve a problem that is relevant and important to a customer?
  2. Does it cut costs, remove a significant barrier or create a significantly different capability?
  3. Will the idea be easy to adopt for the target customer, with low switching costs?
  4. Is the offer and benefit easy to understand, and easy to communicate?
  5. Is your idea protectable or defensible?  Is there any intellectual property?
  6. Do you have concepts beyond product innovation?  Can you extend your idea to service innovation, business model innovation or customer experience?
  7. Can you offer your idea at a price point where you make money?
  8. Can you scale your concept quickly?

For any idea, in any industry or market, if an idea can pass all of these questions, it has a strong chance of success, but only if you can take the next steps to develop the idea, test it in the marketplace and then launch it.

What about you, dear readers?  What other criteria would you add that isn't on my list?
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:39 AM


Anonymous Georr Revill said...

Excellent list - as someone in mid-innovation cycle I found this to be clear and coherent, can't add anything and would not take anything away.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Jeff,
Excellent and concise list that captures the critical elements. The only contribution I might offer would be to even expand item #1 - Does it solve a problem or create new value?

Thoroughly appreciate your blog posts.

Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Larry MacDonald said...

Add: Is there a way to overcome the resistance your product will face when presented to those whose support you need to implement it?

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Kate Shore said...

Great topic and thanks for suggesting a starting set.

I'd probably call these questions at the stage they are at, not formal criteria. In my mind (and this is certainly open for discussion), each criterion needs to be supported with a formal definition (e.g. what does "scales easily" actually mean in this situation?) and a defined set of answers (Yes, No, Maybe / High, Medium, Low / etc.) Without this type of rigor, it can be hard to compare ideas even if they have been scored across a common set of criteria. This approach also ensures that the scoring is calibrated across scorers and time, which is very critical if you have a set of criteria that is applied continuously.

I'd also argue that you have to be careful not to squash ideas too early with too many difficult hurdles to overcome. The more developed the idea (e.g. supplemented with external research, written up in more detail, etc.), the more strict you can be with the criteria since there is more and better quality information to make those scoring decisions.

3:56 AM  
Blogger Nimmy said...

Great post and great set of questions! Thanks!

Maybe the last question on Scale can be extended to cover some thinking around a potential ecosystem for the product in case it happens to be on the lines of FB/Twitter/iPhone...

2:26 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Excellent questions to ask and consider for judging an idea.

The only questions I would add would apply to the company or organization:

Is this something that utilizes current resources or does it need external resources?
Is there currently a process or division in place that can execute the idea?

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Sridhar said...

The one thing I religiously follow is to 'park' the thought for a week or so. If even after that time, if the idea is compelling, its a green light. Interestingly, with the time aspect, I tend to realize the fallacies of the idea or get a more balanced pov.

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