Innovation matrix

Your wall of ideas is filled with hundreds of ideas, and the time has come to make a selection. What are the really promising ideas? Use the innovation matrix and the ranking system on this page to filter out the best ideas

 

Innovation Matrix

Before you start

  • Get the right team of 3-5 people together
  • Grab a large chunk of wall space or a war room
  • Print or draw the canvas on a big sheet of paper
  • Have plenty of sticky notes and markers ready
  • Allow yourself 30-45 minutes of undisturbed time

How to use the tool

After you have generated hundreds of ideas, it is time to make a selection. What are the really promising ideas? In many situations, this is where teams can bog down. What is needed is a simple way to categorize ideas with respect to the Design Criteria you defined earlier.

We humans are fantastic at categorizing things. We spend much of our professional lives categorizing and sub-categorizing the work we do. When it comes to pairing down your wall of ideas, a 2×2 matrix is a perfect tool to harness our innate ability to categorize.

Categorize your ideas

We, humans are fantastic at categorizing things. We spend much of our professional lives categorizing and sub-categorizing the work we do. When it comes to pairing down your wall of ideas, a 2×2 matrix is a perfect tool to harness our innate ability to categorize.

The innovation matrix lays out rows delineating incremental and substantial changes, and columns delineating reducing cost and increasing revenues. You can certainly use your own decision criteria for the rows and columns. Whatever criteria you choose, make sure it has clear distinctions that will help you organize your ideas and select the ones to move into prototyping and validation.

Go big or go home

This tool is designed to separate the ideas that result in incremental, easy-to-accomplish changes from the ones that will make a big difference. For instance, an idea to reduce costs by mandating that everyone print double-sided pages is incremental and small. Sure, for a large company, this could certainly reduce operational costs. However, it is probably a change that can and should be implemented anyway. A big change will cause bigger shifts. These ideas will show up in the top quadrants of the matrix.

Using the matrix

To use the innovation matrix, pull your ideas off the wall or canvas and, as a team, discuss where each idea belongs on the matrix. Unless you’ve modified the canvas to represent your own axes, the discussions you have at this point are not about feasibility or even viability. They’re about the potential for change. Is it an incremental change, one that your company could take on with little work or resources? That idea should probably be placed in the bottom half of the matrix. Is it an idea for generating more revenue? The right half is where that one belongs.

Think bigger

When you find people sticking to small, incremental ideas on the bottom half of the matrix, you’ll need to find ways, such as fire starter questions or an “into space” exercise, to push the boundaries and get people thinking bigger.

Low hanging fruit

There could be low-hanging fruit in any one of the quadrants that represent quick wins. When the matrix is completely filled up, you might even distribute these to people who can take them further. But the ones on the top make the biggest changes.

What’s next

  • Most of your ideas are in the top two quadrants
  • The outcome from the voting was significant
  • You were able to make a clear selection based on the design criteria
  • Can you work out your ideas as a business model canvas or a value proposition?

 

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