Leaders can choose to rely on Occam's razor. They can select the idea that makes the fewest assumptions. By choosing an idea that has the fewest unknowns a leader can safeguard against surprises and disasters.

Of course, the simplest solution may not be the most daring. A leader who promotes innovation won't always take the well-traveled road, but won't leave behind their map either.

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7 Criteria to Select the Best Idea

inc.com

Does the idea fulfill a practical need? Is it utilitarian? That is, does it answer some particular problem or meet some particular market demand. If it does, is it likely that the idea can find a market niche? The practicality, usability, and marketability of an idea are crucial.

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Is this a niche idea answering a one-time unique need or customer demand? Does the idea have some market stability over time, or is it a fad? Ideas that become antiquated before they even reach market are ideas that should be selected with extreme caution.

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Is the prototype capable of being scaled? Can it be duplicated with consistency, meet continuous standards, and be replicated in such a way that it can be produced and produced again without constantly being reinvented or adjusted?

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Can this idea become a habit or a trend? Often "stickiness" is used from the utilitarian standpoint (that is, its usability) but stickiness can also define its emotional appeal. Is the idea or prototype capable of bringing to market a product that will be driven over time by the customers' sense that it is a necessity?

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Is this idea fully integrated with the organizational strategy? Often ideas and prototypes are wonderful in their own right, but outliers in the organizational strategy may not receive the organizational support necessary to sustain the viability of the effort. They will peter out. Great ideas, useable prototypes must be integrated, or capable of being integrated with the overall strategy of the organization.

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This is usually what everyone focuses on. Competing ideas are always ranked by their perceived earning potential, but the answer is not always clear.

It's an innovation leader's unique job to keep an eye not only on an idea's dissemination potential and revenue opportunity, but also on the other factors discussed above.

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