Great ideas are the lifeblood of innovation. But gathering ideas is, of course, just the start of the process. Focusing your time and energy on taking forward ideas that have the maximum impact is a must, so how you evaluate ideas is key. It’s essential to have a decision-making system in place to make selecting the right ideas as efficient and effective as possible. An idea evaluation matrix offers a compelling solution.
Evaluating ideas involves assessing many factors. How much will the idea cost to implement and run? What impact will it have on your business and the bottom line? How long will it take to implement? Does it align with your strategic goals? The list goes on. The beauty of an idea evaluation matrix is that it enables you to rank each idea based on the score it receives for various factors or criteria, giving you a clear, visual metric (and subsequent business case) for deciding which ideas to take forward.
Here, we outline the five steps to building your idea evaluation matrix.
1. Select the ideas to put through your matrix
An idea matrix can work effectively with many ideas, but if you’ve just completed an innovation competition or challenge and have hundreds of ideas to evaluate, you’ll need to ’filter’ those ideas to select the ones that are most worthy of inclusion in the matrix. You can use your crowd of idea generators as the first filter, letting everyone vote, rate and comment on the ideas that have been submitted.
And if you’re using Idea Drop, the “Idea Score” capability can help you with this first round of evaluation, by automatically ranking each idea based on the crowd’s collective response.
At this stage of the evaluation process, you might find that some ideas are “quick wins” and they won’t need to go through the evaluation matrix. For these quick wins, simply get going! For the bigger ideas, though, an idea evaluation matrix is invaluable.
2. Choose your ranking criteria
The second step in building the matrix is to decide which criteria to use for scoring your ideas. While these criteria will vary for each organisation and depending on the type of ideas you’re evaluating, they’ll generally include the following:
How much time will each idea take to plan, implement and produce results? Does the time investment reflect the idea’s value?
What will it cost to bring this idea to life, including multiple pilots (if necessary) and a full rollout? Sometimes big changes are worth big investments, but you’ll need to be sure that you’ll get a return on your spend.
Is this a major shift in the way that you work? Will it change the way your clients see you? Big, bold ideas can be scary, but often highlight the changes that need to happen.
Is this idea going to directly impact your bottom line? Innovation should have a direct impact on your company finances, so always consider this dimension carefully.
How much of your organisation is affected
While it’s important to pay attention to the needs of each team, when you’re allocating resources it often makes sense to prioritise the ideas that will affect the greatest number of people.
How vital is it that this idea happens, and happens soon, for the survival of your business? Take a look at the wider landscape and think about how this idea sets you apart.
Will someone be able to take ownership of this idea, and manage the process from start to finish? All innovation needs to be managed, so make sure your great idea is manageable.
Linked to strategic goals
Your company already has a strategic direction, but does this idea fit? The best idea in the world is no use to you if it takes you in a direction you’re not trying to go in.
3. Rate your criteria
4. Score each idea
5. Calculate each idea’s weighted score
Finally, you need to calculate each idea’s weighted score for each of the criteria.
To calculate the weighted score for each idea, first you need to find the weighted score for each idea in each of your chosen criteria. To do that, simply multiply the ranking you’ve given to each criterion with the score you’ve awarded for each idea in that particular criterion. For example, if you’ve ranked your cost criterion as a 2 and Idea A has a score in the cost criterion of 3, the weighted score for Idea A in the cost criterion is 6 (2 x 3). You’ll need to calculate these weighted scores for each idea across each of your criteria.
6. Sum the weighted scores and compare
The final step is to sum the weighted scores across each criterion for every idea in your matrix, and to write these scores in the final column of the matrix. You can then compare these scores to evaluate which ideas are the most viable (those with the highest scores) and which are the least.
By scoring every idea based on the evaluation criteria you deem critical, an idea evaluation matrix can prove an invaluable decision-making tool for helping you to find the best, most-workable ideas for propelling your business forward.