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Innovation: How to Decide Which Ideas to Pursue? – The Screening Phase

Having many ideas is good but once you’ve generated lots of ideas through ideation it’s now time to screen them: to determine if an idea is worth moving forward to the implementation stage.

3 questions you can ask to help determine if you should proceed with an idea:

Can we?

Are the technologies, production capabilities, management systems, and other resources needed to create the innovation available inside or outside the company? If not, can they be created at a reasonable price?

Should we?

Before an investment decision can be made, you need to know what the likely costs of the innovation are going to be, how much revenue it will generate, money it will save, or impact it could have, and over what time frame they will occur.


Innovators need to know whether people are ready to adopt whatever-it-is, because throwing an innovation at an audience who really have little interest is an expensive way to fail. You also need to predict the competition.

If you can’t answer the 3 questions above, it may be a signal that you should abandon the idea and move on to a different one. If the 3 questions are answered, it is time to further validate and refine the idea. Here are a few methods we use at TVI to continue screening an idea before implementation which usually requires more approvals, time and money:

The Lean Canvas

A lean canvas is a 1-page business model that should take under 30 minutes to fill. A completed lean canvas looks something like the below. Download a PDF here:

Get Out of the Building

In a startup no facts exist inside the building, only opinions. Your business plan is loaded with opinions and guesses, sprinkled with a dash of vision and hope. To validate an idea, try to learn about your customer in order to qualify the hypotheses you are making about what kind of product customers will ultimately buy. This is an important validation step as it helps you to find out whether your dream is a vision or a delusion.  It also helps minimize the risk of total failure by checking your theories against reality.

As you kick start the innovation process you will see that you have an increasing number of ideas in the screening phase. At this point, it’s vital that you take the ideas through screening and make good judgement calls, prioritizing which ideas will be worth seeking investment for, or self-funding, and moving them to the implementation stage.


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