One of the most common questions I hear as a strategic planning facilitator is how to evaluate our new product ideas?

This is an important question as you do not want to invest all your creative energy into generating lots of ideas if you do not have a way of assessing them.

It is for this reason that I invented the 360 degree idea evaluation tool.

There is no one right 360 evaluation tool that will work across every organisation.

In fact, the more you customise the tool to your business the better.

How to build a 360 degree idea evaluation tool:

Imagine a circle divided into 8 sections.

Each of the lines is an evaluation criterion.

Along each dimension you score yourself from 1 to 10 (ten being on the outside, 1 in the middle).

For example, if one dimension was uniqueness (i.e. how unique is this idea) you might score the idea 2 to 3 if it was a ‘me-too’ idea and 8, 9, or 10 if it was quite different from everything else.

In my recent China trip for example, a packaged good company R&D team used the following 8 dimensions:

1. Technical feasibility

2. Consumer need.

3. Cost

4. Market Size

5. Sustainability

6. Category Capability

7.  Differentiation

8. Passion

They then used this tool to evaluate 6 key product concepts they had developed.

The 360 degree evaluation tool has a number of advantages:

– It is a visual tool which enables you to see quickly the strengths and weaknesses of each idea.

– The tool gives you a score out of 80 (great for those more numerically inclined).

– The tool provides a way to give effective feedback to an individual or group on an idea rather than a leader saying that they ‘do not like an idea’ which is not helpful.

– It also provides a specific focus to improve an idea.

For example, if an idea scored low in costs for example, the group could look for ways to remove features that do not add value.

– The different dimensions can include a mixture of rational (e.g. market size), emotional (e.g. passion) and imaginative (e.g. uniqueness) criteria.

– It can be used to evaluate various types of ideas from completey new to incremental.

And lastly, the tool can become customised to your brand or business which means that there is an objective, explicit criteria for evaluating new product ideas that everyone is aware of.

The 360 degree evaluation tool is simple, powerful and works.

If you are facilitating a group or team i urge you to give it a go.

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