2.5 Needs Selection

SSB4 Team: Needs Selection Tool

A team of Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellows (called SSB4) discusses the limitation of available tools for aiding needs selection and presents the approach the members chose for managing this challenge.

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SSB4 Team: Needs Selection Approach

A team of Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellows (called SSB4) demonstrates the process its members used to move from 200 to three top needs.

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An Incubator’s Approach to Choosing Needs

Mark Deem, Managing Director of The Foundry, describes his incubator’s approach to selecting needs.

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•  2.5 Needs Selection •  Mark Deem • 

Getting Started

Even though needs selection is somewhat subjective and highly experiential, the following steps can be followed to initiate the process. Remember to experiment with different selection factors and rating methods, and always take an iterative approach to ensure that nothing is missed.

Choose Selection Factors

What to Cover

Define the most important factors that will be used to select the needs. Consider several objective factors that accurately identify strong opportunities from the perspective of potential investors, physicians, payers/purchasers, and prospective employees. Next, consider subjective factors which reflect the interests and priorities of the innovator. Capture these factors in a database or spreadsheet.

Where to Look

Refer to information gathered through research as part of the needs screening process (chapters 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4) for ideas on what factors to consider. Innovators should also revisit their strategic focus for help identifying the more subjective criteria (1.1 Strategic Focus). Network with others in the field and ask for their input on the most important criteria before selecting needs.

Assign Ratings

What to Cover

Develop an appropriate rating scale and rate each need against the chosen factors. Remember to evaluate the benefit that results from addressing or eliminating the need to ensure that the assessment remains solution-independent. Document all ratings in the database or spreadsheet.

Where to Look

Refer back to 1.3 Need Statement Development for information about keeping needs solution-independent.

Calculate Scores

What to Cover

Decide on an approach for combining all ratings to come up with a single score for each need. Assign weights to each factor, as appropriate. Calculate scores and do a “gut check” of the approach being used. Make required adjustments and record the scores in the database or spreadsheet.

Where to Look

There are few external resources to assist in this exercise. Innovators must rely on their own critical analysis skills to perform this step in the process.

Validate and Select Needs

What to Cover

Decide on an approach for reducing the number of needs by defining a specific number of desired needs or choosing a threshold score. Directly compare scores across needs and eliminate some according to the chosen approach. Perform additional research, adjust ratings and score (as needed), and go through the selection process again until the list of needs is eventually refined to 1-10 top-priority needs. At an appropriate point in the process, take a manageable number of needs back to key stakeholders to gather their input. Take this into account as a data point in the selection process.

Where to Look

As with the previous step, there are few external resources to assist in this exercise.

Create Need Specification(s)

What to Cover

For each top-priority need, develop a need specification. Leverage common information across needs where it makes sense, but make sure that a unique specification (especially the need criteria) is created for each need. Where appropriate, revisit the needs selection process if information is gleaned that may affect the standing of top-priority needs.

Where to Look

Network with other innovators and ask to review need specifications they may have written in the past. Review and consider the outputs from chapter 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 independently and collectively in creating the specification.