Third Phase: Concept Screening
Converging exercises are designed
to narrow the idea list, usually by sorting, clustering or voting. Converging
should take place over several sessions
rather than trying to do it all at once.
The entire team can participate in the
first sort before the end of the
ideation by voting with colored dots,
each worth a pre-determined number
of points, or each color can have a
special meaning such as: passionate,
unusual, impactful or easy. After the
ideation, the core project team should
evaluate the remaining ideas using the
criteria (guardrails) established specifically for this purpose in the ideation
brief. This screening identifies key
concepts and allows a thoughtful review of all ideas.
Through discussion, concepts are
evaluated against the organization’s
capabilities, resources and customer
needs. Concepts can also be sorted by
risk, technological complexity, or time
to market. The result will be a portfolio of ideas that come at the problem
statement from a number of angles.
The most promising concepts can
then be drafted into concept statements specific enough to drive the
idea to the next stage of development.
This may involve interaction with consumers or immediate development by
the R&D team.
There will be many hurdles for
these winning concepts to overcome
on their way to becoming a reality in
the marketplace—design considera-
tions, operational or manufacturing is-
sues, cost, availability of ingredients or
machinery, time constraints, legal is-
sues, and of course, consumer rejec-
tion in testing. Each issue will present
challenges to the product develop-
ment team that will need to be over-
come. Any one of them has the
potential to kill an idea, but with a ro-
bust ideation process there will always
be enough new ideas in the product
development “pipeline” to ensure a steady flow of winners moving toward market
Mark Crowell, CRC, is the founder and principal culinologist at CuliNex, a consul-tancy specializing in the development of organic and natural food products. He is
the former director of product development for Olive Garden Restaurants and
Starbucks Coffee Co. CuliNex specializes in assisting food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and foodservice operators achieve growth goals by developing and
bringing successful products to market. You can reach Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.