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How mature are your ideas?

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I’m not asking how ‘old’ or ‘grown up’ your ideas are, I’m wondering how ready your ideas are to be brought to life.

I have found there are two types of people in the world…people who come up with lots of ideas and people who don’t. The people who come up with lots of ideas can be categorised further – into people who act on their ideas and people who can’t or don’t. However, as with most defined categorisations, I also believe that my initial or embryonic categorisation in this instance is deeply superficial and flawed.

Firstly, I actually believe all humans are capable of both coming up with and executing their ideas.

Secondly, even if people think they can’t or are unwilling or unable to think of ideas or bring them to life, there are awesome processes like Design Thinking, Human Centred Design, The Wonder Mindset which are all methods or processes that help you come up with ideas to solve epic problems or design customer centric solutions. Great processes help guide people from Idea to execution.

The first thing you need to do is define the problem, opportunity or space you want to come up with an idea around. This can be anything from “I want more money” to “I want to build better services for my customers” to “I want to design a product that will change the world”. Whatever your starting point, the next thing you’ll do is understand the start point, diagnose, empathise and figure out the real problem that you’re trying to solve…. trust me, there is always a presenting problem and a ‘real problem’… the data will help guide you. You’ll then frame it and then it is time to think of ideas.

As I said, some people find this easy – some find it super tricky. Just a quick google of “how to come up with ideas” will provide you with *cough* lots of ideas… on how to come up with ideas….

Once you have come up with ideas, I think it is really important to be able to map the maturity and viability of your ideas, and so, inspired by the International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management’s idea maturity model, I have created a simple Idea Maturity Model to help you categorise your ideas :

You see, not all ideas are ‘good’ ideas (feasible, viable, desirable) and not all ideas are ready to be ‘born’ or delivered into the ‘real world’. You should have come up with a list of ideas, so understanding their maturity and then further ranking their desirability #favourites. When it comes to prioritising and ranking ideas, there are lots of methods for selecting promising ideas, narrowing, ranking and scoring the ‘BEST’ ideas but within each category again it is important to understand how mature the groups of ideas are.

Where you focus your time when it comes to selecting and prioritising lots of ideas is really important…choosing ideas that are really to be prototyped and that will ‘work’ and solve the problem or customer need is key. Some ideas are amazingly epic, but not ready to be prototyped or brought into the real world…yet. They may be highly desirable but not actually feasible or highly feasible but not overly desire-able – so the skill of lensing ideas and choosing the ‘best’ ideas for now and the future is an important skill to master.

Understanding, defining, lensing, prioritising and filtering are key skills for taking an idea from an embryonic concept to actionable and deliverable innovation.