Kill or Keep

How we decide what ideas are worth pursuing and what ideas to leave behind.

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We have heaps of ideas for new projects at MM. A luxury but important problem is to know what projects to start investing time and money in, and what projects to kill. To prioritize amongst ideas and to give every idea a fair chance we use a version of Google Ventures Design sprint and the methodology of Design thinking developed at Stanford’s D School and IDEO.

 

Google Ventures came up with the Design Sprint concept to evaluate projects before investing in them. The idea is to get a multidisciplinary team to solve a design problem within a few days. The result and insights from the design sprint are intended to work as a guide to make the right decision whether to proceed or not with the idea.

 

In our team we represent the disciplines of UX, Visual design, Development, Marketing and Business development. This is our take on the Design Sprint which we do in two days. (The original process and methods can be found here: http://www.gv.com/sprint/)

Day 1

1. Understand & Define
Summarize the idea so far. What are the user and business needs that the idea address? What is the target group saying? What is the competition?

 

2. Diverge
Explore many ideas and get inspired by each other. How could the app/web/product look like?

 

A great method for this step is “8 ideas in 5 min” (we believe 4 ideas in 5 min is better). Fold a paper so that it has 4 sections. Ask every participant to draw one idea in each section in 5 min. One section could contain a complete app screen, just one interaction or a certain feature. Explain your ideas to everyone. Repeat once. This is a great way to get inspired by each other and take the idea into new directions. Group the ideas (often you will find that multiple sketches are parts of the same idea).
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3. Decide
Select the best idea direction by voting.

Day 2

4. Prototype
Continue to work on the chosen idea by creating more detailed wireframes and put them together in the form of a simple prototype that can be tested.

 

Depending on the idea you might want to settle for simple paper wireframes or take it further by creating actual visual design. Make a simple clickable prototype in InVision or get more advanced with Origami or even code a very simple website.

 

5. Validate
Test the idea with users from the target group and potential stakeholders, customers and partners.

 

Obviously what you are presenting here is not a final concept. But you should be able to find out if the users feel that your prototype addresses their need or not at all. Try to find out what they like, dislike, what can be improved and what is missing.

 

Gather the team, go through the findings and vote to keep or kill.

 

Every idea is different

For each of the five steps there are numerous methods to use. Get inspired by Gamestorming, D School and Design Kit. The most important is not to feel stuck with methods that feel like they do not suit the idea you are evaluating. Just make sure that you cover all of the main steps.