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Posted by Mark Tuckwood 3 July 2018 Workshops

Choosing the right idea to take forward into product development and scale up can be difficult. You may have generated several or even scores of ideas, but this is only the first stage in your innovation process. With so many factors influencing the success of any idea you choose, from funding to tough marketplace competition, it is essential that you make an informed and measured decision about where to invest your time, money and effort. 

So how can you ensure you select the idea that will contribute most to your organisation’s innovative potential, drive growth and, ultimately, profitability?


According to an article by TechGenYZ, data is a valuable tool for driving idea selection. The article argues that often team members or individuals responsible for innovation are ‘surrounded by great idea funnels filled with product suggestions and opportunities’ but struggle to detach themselves sufficiently from the decision-making process.

Arguing that gut instincts and decisions based on pride are rarely a reliable approach to idea selection, the article suggests that ‘us[ing] a consistent data-driven workflow to allow the best ideas to bubble up to the top’ is a more consistent approach. One way to do this is to ask the following key questions of any idea:

  • What is the impact of the change?
  • What is the effort I need to apply to accomplish the idea?
  • How confident am I in my effort and impact understandings?

By then giving each idea a ranking from one to ten in response to these questions, it is possible to see which ideas perform most consistently in an objective and measurable manner. 


One of the key challenges inherent in idea selection is trying to wade through the sheer volume of ideas generated in the ideation session. One way to reduce this number in an informed way, without leaving behind potentially important ideas, is to use an ‘affinity diagram.’

Designed to highlight links between ideas, an affinity diagram allows innovators to see connections and similarities that might be otherwise unapparent when looking at so many ideas. According to an article by the Interaction Design Foundation, using affinity diagrams in this way ‘will help you uncover patterns or themes that may be promising,’ which may lead to breakthroughs and using multiple, overlapping ideas to create a stronger, single idea.

The article suggests ‘clustering ideas which share attributes, eliminate duplicates, and form idea themes or concept themes’ are all best practice for employing affinity diagrams, allowing teams to whittle down the ideas they generated into those to take forwards.


There is much debate over the value of brainstorming sessions and whether or not team-led ideation generates more ideas than individuals. If you are working in a team, it is vital that each member is encouraged to participate fully in the process in order to benefit from a range of opinions, experiences and approaches. 

One way to do this is to use methods like ‘dot-voting’ to select ideas. Forbes contributor Robert Tucker wrote in an article last year that he regularly uses the dot-voting method to energise idea selection. He explains that:

‘each participant is given five or more sticky dots and instructed to place their dots as votes on the ideas they believe have the most potential. Participants are free to vote all their dots on a single idea (if they believe it’s particularly compelling) or to spread their dots to different ideas.’ 

Not only does this method create a visual representation of a group’s thinking, but it ensures that each team member is required to participate and justify their reasons for thinking as they did. This can create some interesting discussion points to take forwards for the next phase of selection or indeed allow teams to see potential challenges in the idea they choose to take forwards.

By employing these idea selection methods, you can ensure that you take forward the ideas with the most potential to drive long term innovation and remain competitive. If you would like to know more about our idea selection workshops, follow the links below.

As global innovation specialists we aim to help and encourage people and organizations to become more nimble, boosting their ability to generate ideas. We bring pace and focus to your innovation initiatives using our unique innovation techniques, which are constantly being developed by our professional licensees. If you’re interested in becoming a licensee for the think team, contact us here.

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