INNOVATION MANAGEMENT – EVALUATING IDEAS

There is more to innovation management within an organization than mere generation of creative business ideas. It is critical that ideas are meticulously reviewed so as to identify those which have the highest success rate probability. On the contrary one of the commonest oversights by even the most competent of managers and top management leaders is to reject the more potentially innovative ideas in favor of lesser ideas.

LIMITATIONS

One of the commonest reasons for this failure could well be attributed to the fact that a structured review process may not be in place. To illustrate the case in point, a small single owner company may have a manager reading through heaps of options and has the sole responsibility of identifying ideas which would work well for her organization. On the contrary in medium sized or large organizations it is imperative that a structured idea reviewing decision making process is in place.

THE OBJECTIVE

The primary objective of a structured evaluation process would be to:

  • Ensure that maximal ideas are reviewed using minimal resources
  • Identify and group innovative ideas which have the highest probability of succeeding
  • Some ideas may be more complex than others, in such instances it is imperative that experts in the field review the ideas critically while concurrently identifying potential problem areas and most importantly suggesting appropriate countermeasures.
  • A potentially viable innovative idea may require some modifications so as to enhance the probability of success before presenting it to the top management
  • Once identified and analyzed, the idea may then be presented to the top management with the process owner defending the project.

THE PROCESS

There are innumerable methods to review ideas; however the more effective ones for evaluating innovative ideas could well include one or more of these:

  • Screening

This is simply about segregating those which will go for further evaluation against those that will not, and is based on multiple criteria like budget, timeline, culture fit and alignment. Once an idea clears the screening stage it is next evaluated using the likes of an evaluation matrix.

  • Evaluation matrix

The matrix may evaluate an idea on five or more criteria and is scored based on each criterion. Those with the highest overall score may move on to the next phase of analysis which is the SWOT analysis. At times a numeric value may not be enough and the comments of the reviewer may be far more important than the score.

  • SWOT Analysis

Strength, weakness, opportunity and threat or SWOT, as it is more commonly connoted is the perfect sequel to the evaluation matrix and helps the more discerning of managers to make the perfect choice when it comes to evaluating innovative ideas. The concept of scoring is simple, for every strength or opportunity the manager scores a positive score and conversely for every weakness and threat a negative score is given finally the numbers are totaled. The final score helps determine the priority and positioning of the idea and the implementation team can take on the process of innovation form here on.