Assessing an idea

This practical guide started with a simple question some time ago: “How do you know if an idea is good, before it is implemented?”

We have heard this question many times in SciFY. We have discussed with many people their own ideas. And we have found out that, for many people, having an idea is very exciting, but its assessment is an unknown territory.

“How do I know it will work?” is usually the good question. It shows you want to work on it.
Unfortunately, there are people who keep describing “their idea” and focusing on its implementation, and never bother to do their homework: discuss with end users, understand the problems they have or their aspirations…

Surprising as it may be, it is much, much more common than you think.
So, what should you do? Read the simple step-by step guide below or check out this presentation.

First things first: What is a “Good Idea”?

A “Good idea” is something
● people really want to use / do / follow / apply
● you can find support for
● that can be implemented in the foreseeable future
● that makes you want to be involved in making this happen

Four Steps to assessing an idea

1. LEARN – Check if you are convinced about your idea
Search – Do your homework:
● What need does it satisfy? / What problem does it solve?
● Who benefits from the solution? / To whom is it addressed?
● How is the problem currently solved? Why is your idea better?
● What is needed for the idea to be implemented?
● Why do you want to do this?

2. CO-CREATE – Work with the ones who know the problem
● Learn what they really need – listen, ask the right questions and understand
● Co-design the solution that will help them
● (The new description of the solution may differ from the initial idea)
● Clearly describe key characteristics (“user stories”)

3. PLAN – Create a plan
Chances are you do not have all the skills / resources needed to do this. Describe:
Resources
● Who do you need to create the solution? What skills /qualities / expertise do they need to have?
● Plan the formation of your “team” and your “supporting network”
● What other resources do you need? (Money, networks, etc…)
Support
● Who would be willing to support your idea? Why?
● How can you convince partners to support you?

4. DO – Build a prototype solution
● Create a prototype with a basic functionality
● Get feedback from end users to understand how to proceed
● Update your plan based on what you learned

What have you learned?

  1. If people want it
    ● You co-created it with end users
    ● You got feedback for your prototype
  2. If it can be implemented
    ● You know the features
    ● You created a prototype
    ● You know the next steps
  3. If you can find support
    ● You know what you need
    ● You have allies
    ● You have a solid plan
  4. If you want to be involved
    ● You have reached this far
    ● You know what comes next

So, you know if this a really good idea or not.
Now you can look for support with a very solid basis for success!

Vassilis Giannakopoulos
Marketing and Social Impact Manager
vgia@scify.org