How To Pick The Best Innovation Ideas

Businesses seldom struggle to generate ideas. We usually find they are drowning in them. The trick is picking the best innovation ideas – how do you predict which will be winners?

This shouldn’t be a random or subjective process. Yet it is common to find lots of bad behaviours in play that bias the selection process. Anything from poor measurement criteria setting to ‘the herd effect’ to ‘following the leader’ being blatantly or subtly employed.

Here are some good suggestions to counteract these for the 3 main phases of idea selection:

How To Choose The Right Criteria?

Consider the criteria that are important. Usually not enough time and thought is given to this phase, yet it is fundamental. This usually breaks down in to 4 main areas, and not all of them will necessarily be key to every company or innovation project.


  • Fit with the brand proposition or the envisaged brand stretch
  • Different from current brand range
  • The brand can credibly deliver it


  • Exploits a key consumer need or frustration
  • Offers a compelling consumer benefit
  • Taps into a new target audience
  • Creates a new usage occasion
  • Level of appeal


  • Different to competition
  • Offers new category opportunity
  • Fits with known category drivers

Business Benefit:

  • Value of opportunity
  • Level of capital investment required
  • Potential for cannibalisation within the brand/ portfolio


  • Level of resources required
  • Time investment required
  • Risk of failing

Weighting The Criteria

Not all are equal, so you will need to more favourably weight the criteria that are particularly important to the business. We would always recommend that the consumer criteria are prioritised, however, sometimes a more pragmatic approach is required for those innovations that are more tactical – we call them ‘quick wins’. In this case, commercial criteria may tip the balance.

Scoring of Ideas

Now you need to score each idea on these weighted criteria. This is best done individually rather than by consensus as a group. Either, everyone rates each idea for each of the criteria and then you take a mean score at the end. Or, you assign one criteria per person. This ensures people don’t all flock around the same idea just because someone influential is in the room (usually someone senior!). It also means that more people feel engaged in the selection process, and there are many studies which correlate the high level of engagement in idea selection and the passion and commitment of those individuals to bring it to market.

Finally, all the scores are added up, and you have your top or best innovation ideas that can be taken on to the next phase. That is, building them with consumers to discover which ones have the greatest potential.