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How to kill your concepts…

Answering these questions will help pin-point your best ideas, focus your energy and use your resources on ideas with the best chance of success.

Energy and excitement; the feelings after holding a buzzing brainstorming session with your team. You’re bursting with innovative ideas. You can’t wait to get going. But one problem, you have collected far too many ideas than you can make a reality.

Given that you clearly communicated your innovation strategy to your team, you will have generated a good number of relevant ideas from your brainstorming session. It can be hard to decide what stays and what goes. But to achieve the full competitive advantage from your ideas, they need to be filtered and prioritised to ensure that you can clearly see how they fit with your innovation strategy and move your business in the desired direction.

RELATED: Getting the most out of your brainstorming sessions

Having a profusion of ideas can be a hindrance, and distract you from your business priorities. The ability to quickly separate the winners from the losers is key to ensuring that you dedicate time, energy and resources on the concepts most likely to succeed. So, reality hits with a thud – it’s time to kill off some of those concepts.

Checklist for new concepts


The first task is to organise ideas into groups. What are the main themes? Are there any overlaps? This will also help to pinpoint any duplicate or similar ideas.

Scoring your ideas

Create a list of your ideas, and note the complexity of each project (High, Medium, Low). Note the length of each project (Short (<1yr), Medium (1-2yrs) Long (>2yrs)).

Now you will need to score each project against a defined screening form. This should include factors such as Intellectual property (novelty), technology, commercial potential, competition, cost and overall attitude. Our BIC Innovation R&D Roadmap includes templates for project screening.

RELATED: How do I ensure that innovation is managed in a structured way. 

Questions to answer

Think back to the market intelligence that you have gathered and use this to help you decide which ideas to pursue. The questions below give you a list of the information you need to gather in order to generate a project brief.

  • Can you describe the idea/concept/problem clearly, on paper?
  • Does the idea/project have a name?
  • Who will need the product or why do we need the change?
  • Why will they need the idea?
  • Do others offer similar solutions?
  • Why is ours better?
  • How many ideas is it realistic to take forward
  • How many ideas could be sold or what is the scale of the saving to be made?
  • How would you sell the idea?
  • How would you make enough to sell?
  • Might it be expensive/cheap to produce, or what is the cost of change?
  • How would you get started to produce the idea or make the change?
  • Considering implementation costs and potential revenue – What money might the idea or change make?
  • How big is the potential market for your concept?
  • What market share could you realistically expect to achieve?
  • What turnover would the concept generate?
  • Would you make a return on investment given your likely development costs?
  • Is it a “stand alone” idea – or might other products “spin-off” from it?
  • Is there any legislation in place or on the horizon that would affect your concept?
  • How quickly could you bring the concept to market?
  • What investment will be needed & do you have the funds to do this?
  • What channels would you sell the idea through and do you have relationships in place?
  • Do you need partners such as suppliers or equipment manufacturers to bring the product to life – and if so do you have the necessary contacts?

At this early stage the answers to these questions may be speculative on your part and this is acceptable. However, it is certain that the speculation will be tempered by your experience, and possibly some basic research into the novelty and feasibility of the idea, or impact of the change.

If the answers suggest that the idea won’t work or that the conditions are not right to proceed, it is much better to kill the idea. This process will free up time to devote to projects with a high chance to succeed in growing sales.

Project Brief

For each of the projects you have chosen from this process you need to develop a project brief which will guide your decision on whether to take your selected projects through to the formal NPD process. The project brief should include:

  • Project Name
  • Description of the idea / concept and why it is needed
  • Other possible solutions
  • Costs and potential revenue

Completed project briefs should be presented at a milestone review meeting where projects are either accepted or rejected for progression. The minutes of this meeting should record the decisions and the reasons behind them. This will enable projects to be revisited if, for example, new technologies or new ingredients become available.

We regularly work with businesses on an in depth, extended basis, to inform and establish an R&D strategy. Read more

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