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The SIT method is designed to help you generate lots of ideas in a systematic way. But how do you select which ideas to pursue? Filtering ideas is an essential part of the creativity process. You want to make sure you spend your time only on those ideas with the most potential. In this video, I'll share ways to evaluate ideas. First, put all your ideas in a standard format. That will make it a lot easier to evaluate them.
I like to use a template like this: Name of idea, description of idea, benefits, target audience, and challenges. Every idea should have its own name, not just a number, and give it a name that will help people see what the idea is about. Use literal names, not vague or confusing ones. For example, let's stick with our refrigerator example. If the new idea is a way to cool other parts of the kitchen, you could call this idea distributed cooling.
The next thing I like to do is put every idea into one of three categories. The first category is for those ideas that are a bit far out, perhaps even borderline crazy. They're novel, but they may not be feasible. The second category is for those ideas that are just the opposite. They're not wild at all. They're incremental improvements. But the third category is for ideas in the middle, not too far out and not too near in. They're in a special zone we call the sweet spot.
They're viable and creative. It's these ideas that people get excited about. But we're not done yet. Once you put the ideas in these categories, let's look at ways to get more of them into the sweet spot. Here's what I suggest you do. Start with the far-out ideas. Is there a way to pull them back in and take out some of the weirdness of the idea to make it more feasible? What if you eliminated an exotic feature of the idea but still retain the essence of what the concept is trying to do? That might eliminate some of the riskiness of the idea.
For those incremental ideas, find a way to push them out and add some novelty. For example, what if you used task unification to have one of the components doing an additional task? Or what if you applied attribute dependency to the concept to make it smart and adaptive? That would certainly add some novelty and push it closer to the sweet spot. After this exercise, you're ready to start evaluating your list of ideas. There are two ways to do this.
One is very simple and informal. You ask a group of people to vote on the ideas. You've probably seen the so-called Dot method. Here is how it works. First, let the group read the entire list of ideas with all the benefits and challenges. Then each participant is given a number of small sticky colored dots. They're instructed to place these dots on the ideas that they think are best. I usually have participants place these right onto the paper with a list of ideas.
This keeps the voting anonymous and makes it more objective. Then collect all the votes and tally them up. While it may sound overly simple, the dot method of voting has lots of benefits. Each individual has their own biases of what makes a great idea, and they vote accordingly. But voting as a group tends to neutralize those individual biases. Many times, the group vote will tell you which ideas the company will prefer. The other method is more formal and quantitative.
First, create a score card by listing the four or five most important criteria for judging good ideas. Criteria might include how novel the idea is or how useful it is for your customer, how viable the idea is to implement, and perhaps how risky the idea is. For each criterion, use a rating scale of one to four, where four is the highest and one is the lowest. Don't use odd number scales like one to five because people have a tendency to overuse the middle of the scale, and they rate too many ideas a three.
You want to force their ratings to be on one side or the other. Ask people to use the score card and rate each idea. Then using a tool like Excel, put all the data in a spreadsheet so you can calculate the averages of all raters. Add up the final score for each idea. The ideas with the highest scores are your best ideas, assuming you selected the right criteria. This approach takes more time, but it gives you more precision, especially when evaluating a large pool of ideas.
True innovators generate great ideas, but they also use the wisdom of others to help evaluate them.
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