How to run a business growth innovation program with no training, no support and no processes
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How to get people to self assess their ideas so you don't have to

Sorting and assessing other people's ideas is time-consuming, frustrating and often a waste of time. Especially when you consider how few ideas submitted are focussed on business growth innovation.

But there's a better way to handle it. Hang around, and I'll show you how.

Like supermarket self-checkouts get you to do their work for them, you can get people to do work for you, by self-assess their ideas. 

Meaning you get to go home on time, and only the best ideas come through. Oh, and there will be no more politics, resentment or a potential mutiny on your hands because it's all transparent.

Businesses usually use one of three ways to assess ideas:

1. Send all the ideas to a committee to decide whether to proceed or ditch the idea.
2. Have one leader make the call.
3. Have the submitted fill out a 20-page business case on why the idea should proceed.

Frankly, all three of these ways suck. They create resentment and stifle any business growth innovation.

Here's why…
Committees are made up of busy people who get together to try to read between the lines and make sense of someone's idea on top of their already busy job. While they are supposedly on the lookout for the next BIG idea, they are usually looking out for risk. "Will saying yes to this idea cost me my job?" Couple that with their time limitations, and very few ideas come out the other side, and not necessarily the best ideas either.

Having one leader making the call is a tad faster than the committee. Still, they will have even more of a risk detection radars operating.

If the idea flops, it's the manager who approves it and whose head will roll first. Favouritism and bias rear their ugly head in this one too. The leader will favour their buddies, and hate and resentment can start building rapidly…

A mutiny is on the cards in the future, or no participation is coming for the next session.

The business case is probably the most painful one. Chances are the person coming up with the idea doesn't have all the answers. Well, not enough to write a business case on something that hasn't been validated yet. After page 2 or 3, they realise they might look stupid if they don't get it right. And how much time will it take, and will there be anything in return for the effort. After all, If I'm spending all this time just submitting an idea, how much work will it take to build it?" This leads to the submitter dropping the idea and getting back to work as usual.

Can you see why we need a faster and fairer way to assess ideas now?

So here's the fix.
There are 3 criteria that you need people to consider when self-assessing their ideas. Used together, they will inform both the idea creator and recipient of the assessed idea:

  1. How risky the project might be
  2. How aligned the idea is to the business focus or strategy priorities
  3. The potential for profits and the appetite of the market

We've successfully helped create effective, simple one-page idea assessment forms for various organisations and teams. From hard-hitting R&D labs, to local government admin teams. By the way, you can access all our forms from our membership site, The Reinvention Club.

If you can communicate your idea sorting criteria by drawing it on the back of a napkin, then you know you're heading in the right direction.
Here are some criteria to consider for your idea assessment form:
Provide a small space at the top of the form for someone to give a very brief description of what their idea is.

Such as:

  • What's your idea in a nutshell? 
  • Who does the idea help?
  • How does the idea help? 
  • What would be your next steps?
  • And what support would you need if any?

Now that they've written the basics of the idea, get them to score their idea.
Score potential ideas out of 10 for each of the following three criteria:

  1. Tactical - is this a problem the market wants solved? How well does your idea respond to an insight, is this a problem the market wants solved? Is this idea a strategic fit for the business? (The better the fit and response the higher the score e.g. 10/10)
  2. Technical - do you have the technical skills to solve this? How many unknowns are there with this idea? Do you have the skills to solve them, or are they easy to find people who can do this cost-effectively for you? (The less unknowns the higher the score e.g. 10/10)
  3. Financial - how deep are the market's pockets? How big are the rewards versus risk? How deep are the pockets of this market? (The lower the risk and the higher the return, the higher the score e.g. 10/10)

If you're feeling fancy, you could get people to plot the idea score accordingly on a graph like the one below. Or simply add up all the scores to see how their total compares to a perfect score of 30. This total score should help them determine if they should submit it or not.

That's it. You now know a proven way to create an idea assessment form that gets your people to do the work for you.

It will reduce your workload and educates the idea submitter on what commercial innovation for growth is all about. No more random ideas for a massage chair or espresso machine. Just the ideas that will get you the results you deserve.

Oh, and say goodbye to the mutiny and say hello to a more cooperative innovative team.

Before I forget, did you know we have a business growth innovation membership that gives you access to the full in-depth technique with videos and flow charts?

Go here to The Reinvention Club, so you become the one known for creating business growth at minimal risk with minimal effort.

I'd love to know how you go with this tool. Please DM or email with your success stories or challenges if you have any.

Founder, Keynote Speaker, Author, Father, Extreme Sportsman

PS: Whether you’re looking for an innovation agency to improve your product with innovation, create an innovation disruption, or hack your business growth, we’re here to help.

Nils Vesk is a Four-Time Author and International Keynote Speaker. Nils has worked globally with over 200 bluechip companies including 3M, American Express, Canon, Caltex, Microsoft, Nestle´, IBM, Fuji Xerox, PWC, HP and Pfizer.

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About Nils Vesk

He's the founder of Ideas With Legs.

His  clients call him a Reinvention Renegade. Nils Vesk is an international authority on innovation and the inventor of the ‘Innovation Archetypes Process’.

Around the globe, leading companies such as Nestle, HP & Pfizer turn to Nils to share his proven innovation techniques for formulating commercial insights, ideas, extraordinary customer experiences and irresistible products.

Nils unpacks the million-dollar innovation principles used to create rapid growth for the future.

Nils is the author of a number of books including "Ideas With Legs - How to Create Brilliant Ideas and Bring Them to Life", and "Innovation Archetypes - Principles for World Class Innovation".

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