I am sure that we all get into a situation where we are required to come up with a set of ideas that will solve a specific problem that we have run into. The question then is how one decides which ideas deserve to be picked from the bunch of ideas that we came up with. We need some sort of a framework that will allow us to decide the value of each of the idea so that we can pick one that is most valuable.
One such framework was suggested by Todd Henry in his latest podcast episode on – The Accidental Creative podcast. On a side note, if you are a creative professional or if you lead a team of creative professionals, you definitely have to follow the work of Todd Henry. He has written multiple books & hosts multiple podcasts, all focused on the needs of creative professionals.
Now back to the question at hand. In his recent episode, he shares more information about the EPIC framework that you can use to pick the idea among all the options to continue to work on. EPIC is an acronym that stands for Effective, Practical, Interesting and cool. Each idea gets rated on a scale (1-10) on the following questions:
- How effective is this idea in solving the problem that we are trying to solve?
- How practical is the idea based on the constraints that we are operating under?
- How interesting and cool is the idea? How much energy does the team have for the idea?
Once we rate each idea on these questions, we can then pick the idea that consistently scores the highest on all the questions. If there is not a clear winner, we can start looking at the ideas (my preference is that effectiveness is non-negotiable) and take interesting and cool ideas and that are effective and make them practical.
Another framework that is similar in some form that I usually advocate is the Desirability, Viability and Feasibility framework.
Create a Venn diagram like the one below. Pick up each idea and discuss with the team on which section will the idea fall in the Venn diagram. One can do this by first discussing the idea together and then deciding together (either through voting or scoring) where in the spectrum does the idea fall in.
Once this is complete, hopefully, we have some ideas that fall in the center of the Venn diagram, ideas that are desirable, viable and feasible. If we have more than one idea that falls into this space, my recommendation is for the team to pick the idea that is the most desirable among them to start working on.
If none of the ideas are at the center of the Venn diagram, I then recommend that we start looking at the ideas that are desirable + feasible intersection and explore how can they be made viable or pick the ideas at the desirable + viable intersection and explore how can they be made feasible in that order.
The desirability of the idea is the most critical factor as I have seen in my experience, however good an idea is, if it is not desirable, it either doesn’t see the light of the day or has challenges in adoption post implementation. So, my recommendation is to always start with ideas that are desirable and work towards making them viable or feasible.
These are just a couple of frameworks that I think work really well. You can find a lot more frameworks for picking the best ideas. You can decide to use multi-voting or a decision matrix analysis or a paired comparison analysis or even a simple 2×2 matrix around effort x impact.
What matters is not which framework you use but that you use a framework and that the framework is decided before the actual brainstorming, so that everyone knows how the best ideas will be picked post the brainstorming session.