In the 'Ideation' stage of the innovation process, it is likely that you will arrive at the conclusion that more than one idea is worth pursuing further. When that happens, you need a mechanism to help you make the tough decision between two ideas you like. That phase is commonly known as 'concept screening.' In concept screening, you're comparing your idea(s) against a standard, evaluating its feasibility, and starting to determine its viability. Screening is the first, but not last, time you will put your concept under a microscope in the innovation process.
In this 4-part series, we're covering the first four phases of the innovation process: Ideation, Screening, Proof of Concept, Testing & Research. By taking a closer look at each stage, 'innovation through process' will take on significant meaning for your business.
Concept screening is the first official phase in which your idea will be scrutinized. When you're ideating, it can be easy to get wrapped up in inspiration. Screening keeps that spirit alive, but tests it. In the end, when your idea moves on from the screening stage, you'll feel more confident that it's going to work. Screening can be done in a myriad of ways, but typically adheres to these tests:
A popular starting point for screening a concept is comparing it to a proven standard. Find a concept's best analogue and then compare and contrast the ideas. How does the standard succeed? Can this new idea match it? Where does the standard fall short? Can this new idea surpass it? Comparing your concept to a benchmark is beneficial in plotting where your solution fits into the larger market and community. If the right subject is chosen for comparison, you can learn a great deal about what the future of your idea could look like.
In short: is it possible? Granted, feasibility can often be in the eye of the beholder. But, objectively, this is where an idea is challenged. If there are legitimate questions or concerns about a concept's ability to come to fruition, this is where they will arise. In later stages (like the upcoming Proof of Concept stage), feasibility will meet physical tests and final answers can be had on whether or not an idea can come to be. In this stage, the feasibility test is limited to glaring questions. Ask 'why won't this work?' and learn from the answers.
While 'feasibility' deals primarily with the literal question 'can this be?', viability asks 'can this be ... profitable?' When a company innovates, they're ultimately holping to secure their business and improve their bottom line. While innovation can have transformative effects on people's lives (think smartphones and the vast increase in information availability), Apple and Samsung are not non-profit organizations. Revenue matters and concepts have to be screened for market viability. This is where questions about product demand, marketing, and financial outlook can begin to be asked.
Screening is important in making sure the right questions are asked up front. Thorough screening can help prevent weaker ideas from slipping through.