Turning ideas into innovation plans

This month we’ve covered a lot of ground exploring innovation in business:

In weeks 1 & 2, the principles and strategy exercises serve you by providing a ‘compass’ for where to innovate for greatest impact.

(It’s no good innovating for innovation sake. If you’re going to set goals for innovation, make them meaningful!)

Then, week 3’s idea generation exercises (and the others found in the Innovation Workshop Plan) are there to spark the fire of your team’s creativity and produce hundreds of ideas.

At this point you’re hopefully flooded with new ideas.

So what now?

There are three steps to take for evaluating ideas, whittling them down to the 1-3 gems, and creating a plan of attack for implementation:

  1. Shortlist
  2. Vote
  3. Action

Let’s check out how to move through the Shortlisting and Voting processes to identify your top 1-3 ideas:

How to shortlist hundreds of ideas down to 10 – 15

When you design an innovation session, one of the first steps is to create a precise description of the problem you want to solve.

Part of this description are any parameters for how the problem needs to be solved.

These are your: Selection Criteria.

With Selection Criteria in hand, you can evaluate ideas and rule out the off-target, unviable and down-right crazy!

An example:

Let’s imagine that you have a problem holding onto new staff. You take one look at your formal onboarding process and you notice an issue: you don’t have one!

So your goal statement might be:

‘The purpose of this idea session is to brainstorm solutions for creating a formal onboarding process that welcomes, engages, and increases retention of new staff.’

Along with this goal statement, you also set out the parameters that the solutions need to fall within (Selection Criteria):

  • Needs to be delivered within the first 30 days of a new hire
  • Can’t take new hires away from their job responsibilities for more than 20% of the time
  • Maximum cost to the business of $5,000 per new hire
  • Nothing embarrassing, immoral or illegal!

In practice:

Shortlisting ideas is simple. Create a spreadsheet with ideas in rows, and your Selection Criteria in columns. Next, place a tick in each column where the idea satisfies the Selection Criteria.

What if you don’t have Selection Criteria? In the Innovation Workshop Plan, I outline a fantastic set of broadly-applicable Selection Criteria called Need, Greed, Succeed, Speed

Now, just rank ideas by the number of ticks. The 10-15 ideas with the most ticks are your shortlist.

After you’ve shortlisted, it’s time for the group to vote on the 1-3 ideas that will actually implement.

Here’s how: 

Voting for the top ideas

Ok so you’ve refined a list of ideas that meet your Selection Criteria.

Now we’re going to tap the collective wisdom of your group via democratic voting.

This bit is super easy (and fun!):

  • Put each idea on a post-it note, sticking them around the room
  • Give each person 4 gold stars
  • Tell everyone to vote on ideas by putting 1 star on each of their favourite 4 ideas
  • The top ideas will have the most stars!

Depending on your implementation budget, you will now select one or more ideas to roll out.

Don’t forget to turn these ideas into actionable plans! I recommend creating a simple 1-pager for each idea, covering 5 key action points that will keep the project moving. Download the Innovation Workshop Plan for the walkthrough of this final step.

Any questions?

If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.

Thanks for sharing!