Everyone has situations where you have to come up with a set of ideas that will solve a specific problem. The question becomes how to decide which ideas to pick from all the ones you come up with.
Great innovations result from picking good ideas, making them better, and bringing them alive. While most teams can come up with interesting ideas for innovation, the biggest hurdle is ensuring that the right ideas are selected to develop, test, and launch.
We need some sort of framework that will allow us to decide the value of each idea so we can pick one that is most valuable.
One such framework was suggested by Todd Henry on an episode of his Accidental Creative podcast. On a side note, if you are a creative professional or you lead a team of creative professionals, you need to follow Todd Henry. He has written multiple books and hosts multiple podcasts, all focused on the needs of creative professionals.
Now back to the question at hand. In this episode, Todd shares information about the EPIC framework that you can use to pick the best idea among all the options. EPIC is an acronym that stands for Effective, Practical, Interesting, and Cool. Each idea is rated on a scale (1-10) on the following questions:
- How effective is this idea in solving the problem that we are trying to solve?
- How practical is the idea based on the constraints that we are operating under?
- How interesting and cool is the idea?
- How much energy does the team have for the idea?
Once you rate each idea on these questions, you can pick the one that consistently scores the highest on all. If there is not a clear winner, you can start looking at the ideas (I believe that effectiveness is non-negotiable) and take interesting and cool ideas and that are effective and make them practical.
Another framework that I usually advocate is the Desirability, Viability, and Feasibility framework.
Create a Venn diagram like the one below. Pick each idea and decide with the team which section the idea falls into in the Venn diagram. You can do this by first discussing the idea together and then deciding together (either through voting or scoring) where in the spectrum the idea falls.
Once this is complete, hopefully, you have some ideas in the center of the Venn diagram, ideas that are desirable, viable, and feasible. If more than one idea falls into this space, I recommend the team pick the idea that is the most desirable to start working on.
If none of the ideas are at the center of the Venn diagram, I recommend that you start looking at the ideas in the desirable + feasible intersection and explore how can they be made viable, or pick the ideas in the desirable + viable intersection and explore how can they be made feasible (in that order).
The desirability of the idea is the most critical factor, in my experience, but however good an idea is, if it is not desirable, it either won’t see the light of the day or will have challenges in adoption post-implementation. So, my recommendation is to always start with ideas that are desirable and work towards making them viable or feasible.
These are a couple of frameworks that I think work really well. You can find many other frameworks for picking the best ideas. You can decide to use multi-voting or a decision matrix analysis or a paired comparison analysis or even a simple 2×2 matrix around effort and impact.
What matters is not which framework you use but that you use a framework and that the framework is decided before the actual brainstorming, so that everyone knows how the best ideas will be picked after the brainstorming session.