Part 4: Converge and Analyze
Up until this point, we have focused on idea generation - trying to generate as many ideas as possible, and employing strategies to create a wide variety of unique ideas. Through the process, we have generated 50-100 unique ideas, many more than could possibly be implemented. Most ideas aren’t great nor unique, and are simply fodder to build upon to create more ideas. Of our 50-100 ideas, we have perhaps 5-10 “Good” ones.
But those good ideas aren’t perfect yet. We haven’t been searching for perfection until now. Now, we need to find what are 5-10 best ideas are, and work on them until they’re perfect.
Look broadly, and see the possibilities through the imperfections.
Also, each situation is unique. Maybe you’re able to consider 5-10 ideas. Maybe you can only implement one. Use converging techniques to narrow the possibilities down to the number you can consider.
Warning Warning Warning!!!
We are still not rejecting ideas for not being perfect! The primary concern is which ideas you like. Look broadly, see the possibilities through the imperfections. The ideas with the most potential will be shaped to make them more perfect.
Until this point, we have been diverging - “going out.” Now it’s time to make some decisions. Of our 50-100 ideas, which are the best?
There are a number of ways to do this.
Dot voting: Put each idea on a sticky note. Give each member of the working group a number of votes. Reject the ideas with no votes.
When I do dot voting, I usually give each member 2-3 votes. After the voting is complete, I allow everyone one more chance to vote for one idea with no votes they think really needs to be considered.
Need to work virtually? Use Padlet (www.Padlet.com)
Card Sorting: Take your top ideas and put each one on a card. Ask the working group, “Of all these ideas, which is our least favorite?” Remove that idea, and repeat until you have reached only one left. Not only does this help you narrow down ideas, but it also gives you a ranking of preference.
Once you have narrowed it down to a small number of ideas, it’s time to figure out which will be the best fit. Now is the time when we turn the ideas into perfect ideas.
Turn problems into possibility questions: Each idea may have potential problems. It’s too expensive, it doesn’t fit with your brand, it requires expertise we don’t have, etc.
Each of those problems are valid problems. But instead of using them as grounds to dismiss the idea, turn them into possibility questions that invite a solution: “How can we make it less expensive?” “How can we make it fit with our brand?” “How can we gain the expertise?”
Matrix Analysis: Make a list of the required traits any solution implemented would need to have. For example: legal, fits regulations, weighs under 1000 lbs, can be explained in social media posts, and can be implemented for under $5,000.
For each potential solution, check off which requirements they meet. And if they don’t meet a requirement? Turn that problem into a possibility question that invites a solution!
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