When do you validate your ideas?

Making a difference by design…

Mike asked me a great question last week: “At what stage do I scope all the ideas I have for new products? Do I scope each idea first, work out the size of the opportunity, etc. And then rank all the ideas when I know which ones have potential? Or do I rank the ideas based on gut feel, and then just start with the top one, start it, scope it properly and based on the findings decide if it’s worth continuing into development or not?

My advice is to do the latter.

For 1 big reason: it saves a lot of time.

It saves time in 3 places.
Scoping a whole list of ideas first and then starting on the top ones means:

  1. You’ve probably scoped more ideas than you can start this year. (= wasted energy.)
  2. You’ve scoped some projects that are worthwhile but won’t be starting them for a while. Which means you’ll have to re-familiarize yourself again with the project when you do pick it up (= double work)
  3. Unnecessary waiting: if you were to have to scope a bunch of ideas this week, where would that task sit on your ‘to do’ list? What priority would it have? Yep, exactly! It wouldn’t feature very high. Be honest, you’ll never do the scoping of the whole list of ideas. It feels like an ‘extra’ task that’s hard to get to. And it’s not fun work when it’s doesn’t feel productive. Which means nothing gets done for a while. And it will keep all the ideas waiting.

It’s a bit like Warren Buffet’s 5/25 rule:

1. Make a list of the top 25 things you want to do in life.
2. Now do the top 5.
3. and never, ever, think about the other 20 again.
4. else they will take time away from the 5 that are the most important.

One bite at a time. It’s doable. It’s faster, it’s more efficient and it’s more fun!

It is so much quicker to prioritise all the ideas, just based on the teams gut feel (which probably isn’t too wrong anyway), then start working on the first idea. Scope it, and if the findings look promising, you can go straight ahead and continue with all the learnings fresh in mind. Much faster!

And, if the findings don’t look promising, that’s good news as well. Bin* the project and move on. It means you get to pick up the next project quicker and drive the company forward. One of my clients had exactly that experience. The first project of the rank was one that had been talked about for about 2 years. It had sat on several peoples ‘to do’ lists over the years. Consistently dropping to the bottom but taking up ‘brain space’ and creating unnecessary stress any way. One of the team picked up the project and within 2 weeks realised the opportunity was nowhere near as big as what they had thought. It made for a quick and unanimous decision to drop the project and move on to the next project on the list. One of the team sighed “Could have saved all that time thinking and stressing about the project….” Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Moving on quickly felt great. Onwards & upwards!


It’s what’s implemented that counts, not what’s prepared. 

Look at your list, what’s important?

*) now, don’t really bin it. File the project it in an ‘ideas’ database. Just in case the idea ever pops back up again.

Let’s design for the better!

Onwards & upwards,

About Saskia

Saskia is a new product development expert. She helps organisations to unlock their potential to consistently deliver new products faster, better, more profitable and with more fun.

OFFER: Want some guidance? Do you have a project that you’re keen to get to market quickly?
Would it be great to have an expert guide on your journey? Someone to bounce ideas off, help with next steps and tips and training where needed? Helping you to deliver the project faster, better and more profitable and having fun doing it.
I’m rolling out a new service and am looking for 2 more projects to start with. Just give me a ring (021-68 49 68) or flick me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

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