3.2 Initial Concept Selection

IDEO: Deciding What to Work On After an Ideation Session

David and Tom Kelley of IDEO describe their approach for assessing the merit of ideas after brainstorming.

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•  3.2 Initial Concept Selection •  David Kelley •  IDEO •  Tom Kelley • 

The SSB4 Team: Organizing Concepts

A team of Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellows (called SSB4) demonstrates the process its members used to organize concepts into mind maps after brainstorming to identify gaps and identify the most compelling ideas.

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Comparing Concepts to Need Criteria

A group of Biodesign Fellows demonstrates how to use the team’s need criteria to evaluate ideas after brainstorming.

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Getting Started

During initial concept selection, the goal is to narrow down many concepts into a manageable set for research, evaluation and, eventually, final concept selection. A more formalized approach will be introduced in 4.6 Final Concept Selection for the purpose of selecting the final concept after additional information has been gathered on the most promising solution ideas, including their IP, reimbursement, regulatory, and technical profiles. For initial concept screening, the following steps can serve as a guide.

Review and Document Raw Data

What to Cover

Review all output from the team’s ideation sessions. Make sure that concrete solution concepts have been identified rather than general approaches (otherwise, innovators should return to ideation). Associate ideas with the individual(s) who generated them and seek clarification, as needed. Assign a name or label. Summarize the results.

Where to Look

Refer directly to the output from the brainstorming session as described in 3.1 Ideation.

Cluster Ideas

What to Cover

The next step is to organize similar ideas into clusters. Assess the data to identify the most meaningful organizing principle for the groupings (e.g., anatomical location, mechanism of action, engineering area, feasibility, influencer appeal, decision maker value). Experiment with different approaches, as needed. Consider using multiple organizing principles at different levels.

Where to Look

Different ways of clustering ideas can be learned by reviewing other concept maps. Examples can be found by searching the Internet for sample concept maps.

Develop a Concept Map

What to Cover

Visually document the clusters in the form of a concept map. Start with the need in the center and then place the groupings, subgroupings, and ideas. Again, experiment with different approaches, if necessary.

Where to Look

Software can facilitate the concept mapping process. Available software packages (e.g., Mindjet MindManager and IHMC Cmap Tools) can be found on the Internet.

Assess the Concept Map

What to Cover

Take a broad view of the concept map to determine if there are: (1) obvious gaps based on the organizing principle(s), (2) biases in the solution set in terms of the recurrence of specific approaches or ideas, (3) any remaining approaches or mostly specific solutions represented among the ideas, and/or (4) commonalities or complementarities between concepts such that they can be combined into new and unique ideas. Perform this analysis for all the concept maps that have been created, using different approaches to see if any themes emerge.

Where to Look

Revisit the output from chapters 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 to validate the range of possible solutions for a given need and identify gaps and biases. For example, if the primary organizing principle chosen for a concept map is focused on anatomy, reviewing one’s disease state analysis could highlight whether all relevant anatomical areas are represented on the concept map. Involving outside assistance [perhaps one or more people to compare concepts against the need specification (see below)] can also help in identifying biases or gaps, since their fresh perspectives may more readily detect missed opportunities and prejudices influencing the defined concepts.

Compare Concepts Against the Need

What to Cover

To prepare for a concept selection meeting, identify the participants, decide on a facilitator, define the process to be used in the session, and distribute pre-reading (the need specification and concept map should be shared with participants in advance). If an initial concept selection meeting is impractical (or if expert feedback is desired as an input to the meeting), schedule one-on-one meetings with targeted contacts to share the solutions and collect their thoughts. In either type of meeting, evaluate each solution idea against the need statement and must-have need criteria to eliminate those that do not. And then assess the remaining concepts against the nice-to-have criteria until only a small subset of the most promising solutions has been identified. These solutions will be the ones that go forward into the concept screening stage of the biodesign innovation process, ultimately leading to final concept selection. If too few solutions meet the criteria, additional ideation may be needed. Assuming that the solutions represent true concepts and not approaches, if too many solutions satisfy the need criteria, the need specification and need criteria may need to be revisited (2.5 Needs Selection).

Where to Look

Innovators should leverage their personal networks to identify appropriate participants for the solution screening process.