Innovate With Purpose: Idea Prioritization


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Idea Prioritization 

Ideation and idea management pack the front end of the New Product Development (NPD) funnel with a wealth of viable concepts. One of the toughest processes in innovation is idea prioritization. Idea prioritization is about how you invest your company’s product development resources.

Most companies have too many projects underway for the limited resources available. Today’s business environment focuses on doing more with less, and providing the best value possible to shareholders. Time, human resources, and development dollars are closely guarded. Resources are too scarce to waste on moving the wrong projects forward.

Prioritization is key. Intelligently facilitated ideation sessions that involve fresh perspectives from multiple departments lead to sustainable innovation and successful ROI. It is best if the progression of ideas is not just top down.  Top down mandates lack organizational ownership and buy-in. Ultimately ownership must extend beyond a single person to be embraced by the whole organization.  It is important to make sure your team knows that the best ideas do not always come from management. According to Marcus Erb for, “a highly participative workplace yields better buy-in for decisions as people more fully support ideas they help create”.

Idea Selection Process

Begin with an ideation session to get ideas flowing into the hopper. Organizations need to conduct at least two ideation sessions each year in order to foster continued growth. A good innovation leader has the foresight to have an on-line idea submission exchange and schedule regular ideation sessions year after year, and not just when sales are dwindling.

Once you have collected your initial ideas and comments, it’s time to prioritize/select an idea using an idea ranking system, sometimes called an idea attractiveness ranking.

The first time you create your idea priority ranking, or idea attractiveness matrix, begin by surveying all associates. This will allow you to build a profile of innovation with criteria that matter to your organization as a whole, and helps to rank your organizations list of potential innovation ideas. Using pre-set and shared parameters chosen by your team ensures total buy in, and accountability.

Wallace Ryland is a current partner at Arden Operating Co., and former head of business development at Kiplinger. Ryland shares, “At Kiplinger, we created a very simple form: what it is, what’s the goal, what’s the forecast for audience development, and revenue. After 90 days, if we didn’t like it, it’s off the site.”  Tina Imm, General Manager at Time Inc., has a similar practice. “Someone submits a form that lists the idea and the potential audience. It’s the first line of defense, as it makes you think it through a little more.”

Some ideas for ranking criteria include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Market attractiveness
  • strategic fit
  • sales growth
  • product advantage
  • reward vs risk
  • cost and time to implement

Once you have set your criteria, an innovation committee can set values for each parameter.  Often these are values on a scale of 0-5 or 0-10. See the example below:

RROI Idea Prioritization

In the above example, Idea A would be given the green light to continue through the next gate of the new product development process.

You will see that the best ideas, based on the resources & needs of your company, and chosen by your team, will naturally flow through the top. The selection of the top opportunities in this fashion will assure buy-in and support across the organization, from top to bottom.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Brands
Innovation Coach and Author of "Robert's Rules of Innovation" Past CEO of Airspray the manufacturer that brought instant foaming dispensers like hand soap to market


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