Checking solutions: how do you make sure you’ve found a good idea?
You just came out of the coolest brainstorm: the room is vibrating with creativity. The ideas came faster than you could write them down and the references were truly a breath of fresh air. You realise you’re left with 6 good ideas, although only 3 will be presented afterwards. What do you do? How do you make sure you selected the really good ones?
Continuing our series of articles on ideation, we propose you an exercise that you can do both individually and with your team, that will help you figure out which ideas are really valuable and which remove the subjectivity from the process. If you choose the 2nd option, our recommendation is to make sure that the participants have different expertise so that you can generate a wider variety of scenarios.
At its core, the method developed by Kurt Lewin aims to systematise decision making, but it can be turned into an exercise that forces you to go through all the important factors that might impact your idea.
According to him, the idea or goal is put between two types of forces: those that help you to develop and implement it easily and those that may prevent you from doing so.
Once you’ve managed to list them all and assess their importance, you’ll be able to tell if you’re onto a good idea or just a really nice one.
It’s important to work actively with the things generated: from listing the problems, you can see that several add up to one big one, and at the same time that you have several types of solutions for them.
How it works:
Phase 1. Analyse all aspects of a single idea
Step 1: Clearly state the idea you want to analyse in the most understandable way possible.
Step 2: List all the PRO aspects that support the idea.
Step 3: List all the CON aspects, which could be obstacles to the realisation of the idea. This can be anything from conceptual problems to implementation details.
Step 4: Give a score from 1 to 4 to each aspect listed, where 1 is low impact and 4 is very high impact.
Step 5: Add up the scores in the PRO section and the scores in the CON section and compare them.
If the result in the PRO section is higher than the other, you have a really good idea.
If the result in the AGAINST section is higher, you have 2 choices:
- You abandon the idea as inappropriate
- Go to phase 2
Phase 2: Involves improving CONTRA aspects and strengthening PRO aspects
- You start with one of the AGAINST issues you have identified
- You generate in the counterpoint a PRO element that can help you solve the obstacle
- Alternate: start with a positive force and generate tension in the counterpoint
- Evaluate: redo the impact calculation, now with the new integrated components. If you managed to flip the score towards the PRO aspects it means the idea is good, it just needed a bit of fine-tuning.
Phase 3: Repeat the process for the remaining ideas and compare scores
How you make the selection: the best ideas are the ones with the biggest difference between PRO and CON
When to use it: when you need to make sure that an idea or project with many elements is really feasible.
Type of exercise: critical analysis of generated ideas
While it’s easy to fall in love with an idea, the most important thing is to be able to detach yourself enough to figure out if it’s really good or not. The next time you find yourself in a situation like this, we recommend that you use Force Field Analysis so that you can integrate objectivity into your idea selection process.
We invite you to continue reading our series on ideation methods for more exercises and tools to integrate into your creative work!