Evaluate Ideas

You have lots of ideas -- now what? With your team, select one or two of the most promising ideas to develop and test during the Play phase. Depending on your time constraints for this activity, your team can use all ideas generated from your brainstorming session, or only the top ideas.

Choose a method for evaluating ideas from the exercises provided below. By the end, you will want your team to choose one idea from this list that seems possible to accomplish with a mix of hard work, perseverance, skill, and the right people. You want to choose one that will give you continuous momentum – not stagnation – during the Play phase.

Time Needed

30 mins - 1 hour

Idea Evaluation Guide

Now that you have generated ideas from brainstorming, take a look at what you’ve produced. Are there ideas that seem to go together? Cluster them into a single concept.


Once you’ve clustered, use one of the following methods (or a mix of a few) to evaluate the ideas that are the most promising—the ones that you will develop and test in the Play phase.


Take a Vote

  • Give each person three post-it notes or colored dots—these represent their votes.
  • Have everyone put their votes on their top three ideas they think are most promising.
  • After everyone votes, you will be able to focus further evaluation on the top ideas.


Difficulty x Impact Matrix

  • On a whiteboard or wall, draw intersecting x and y axes to create a 2x2 matrix. Refer to the image below. The X axis is a spectrum from Low to High Impact on your users. The Y axis is a spectrum from Low to High Difficulty to implement.
  • Organize the ideas you’ve generated within the matrix. Move the post-its along the two axes depending on their impact and difficulty.



Design Principle Rating

  • Use your design principles from your Reflect phase as design criteria. Rewrite them if needed.
  • Create a table, with your brainstormed ideas at the top and the design criteria along the left side. Refer to the image below.
  • As a team, give each idea a score for how well it meets each of the design critera:  A score of 1 = somewhat satisfies; A score of 2 = satisfies; A score of 3 = strongly satisfies.
  • Add up the total scores for each idea to prioritize the ones with the highest score—those that best meet your users’ needs.


Record your unused ideas

When you move into the Play phase, you may find the solution you are testing isn’t having the success you hoped for, and you may have to go back to the drawing board. Before you throw away the concepts that your team has put aside, archive them so you have others readily available to try.

Differentiate by user type

If you have multiple user groups or stakeholders (such as parents, students, administrators, teachers, etc.) for which your solution must be designed, create different principles or sets of principles for these different groups.

Talk it out

It may take some discussion in order to have your team decide on where ideas fall. Try to look at them objectively - what real value are they providing for the user? Once you've chosen one, do a gut-check with your team. This should be an idea(s) that you are excited to work on that will bring value to your users. If you are divided, take a vote, or consider moving forward with more than one idea.

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