When it comes time to innovate, most people the Independence Blue Cross Innovation team works with are excited about the idea-generating part. If you bring smart people from diverse backgrounds and expertise into a (virtual) room, eventually you are bound to come up with some new, fresh ideas. Sometimes we wrap up an ideation session and come out with dozens of ideas, and our participants are thrilled!
But what comes next? No person, department, or company has the time, energy, or people needed to implement a hundred ideas ― at least not all at once. So how do you figure out which ideas to run with, which ones to scrap, and which ones to refine before they could be ready for the piloting process?
Time to Prioritize
The Innovation team uses something called a Prioritization Matrix. It’s a two-by-two square that you land your ideas on. The left side is the impact axis. Ask yourself how effective this idea could be at achieving your goal. If it would absolutely be the perfect solution to your problem, it goes in the top square. If it wouldn’t begin to achieve your objective, it goes at the bottom.
Then, we introduce the bottom axis ― the effort axis. How difficult would it be to implement this idea? If it would be simple and easy to implement, it goes toward the left side of the axis. The more difficult the idea is to implement, the farther to the right side of the axis it would go.
Sure, installing a complimentary ice cream parlor with unlimited toppings would potentially have a big impact on employee morale (at least among those who are not lactose intolerant!) but in terms of ease of implementation, odds are that idea is going to drift off somewhere beyond the outer limits of the effort axis.
Make It Happen
Once you have landed all your ideas within the two-by-two square, focus on the ones in the upper left-hand quadrant. That space will correspond with the ideas that are potentially the most impactful and the easiest to put into place. We like to call this quadrant the “just do it” or “low-hanging-fruit” quadrant.
Odds are that this area of your matrix is not going to be that densely populated ― and that’s okay! Get some quick wins under your belt and then tackle the next important quadrant ― the one just to the right of this. This is where your projects will live. It’s going to take some extra planning and strategy, but these ideas are going to be impactful, just not that easy to put into place. You are going to need additional time and resources to make these happen, but they will be worth it in the long run.
Maybe Next Time
The third quadrant is just next to where the two axes meet – these are the ideas that are up for debate – could they be made better by adding or deleting from them? What would push them higher up on the impact scale?
If the answer to that question is “nothing,” then they slide over to the right into the fourth quadrant, the “forget it” quadrant. No one wants to work on putting an idea into place if it is going to be hard to do and it won’t work.
Great Ideas Start Here
This is where the hard part starts, but it is also one of the most valuable tools in our innovation toolbox. It’s easy to get stuck when you are inundated with ideas. Next time you find yourself stuck, try using the Prioritization Matrix. You might be surprised at how quickly less-effective ideas fall away and you are left with a handful of really great ideas!