Project Management

Idea Qualification

last edited by: erin decaprio on Oct 7, 2006 1:57 PM login/register to edit this page

1 Applications
2 Procedures
3 Instructions
4 Example

A technique to categorize all ideas, generated in brainstorming sessions, and to identify idea sensitive areas.

During reengineering brainstorming sessions, many ideas are generated, using a variety of techniques (see Brainstorming, Displayed Thinking, Nominal Group Technique, and Lateral Thinking). Each of the techniques suggest ways to organize the information or ideas collected; however, the following best practice classification is recommended to enable further exploration of the breakthrough thinking:

  • "radical" ideas
  • ideas that customers would recognize as an improvement in satisfaction
  • innovative use of information technology ideas
Ideas can fall into one or more of these groups. From each of these groupings, impacts on the activity set being reengineered can be determined in a structured way to enable a complete solution (see Solution Development).

During any workshop (e.g., vision analysis, project identification, or priority setting, etc.), this technique can also be applied to highlight "idea-sensitive areas" or breakthrough opportunities (see Workshop and Facilitation). An idea-sensitive area is a thought that may embody an opportunity that should be explored more fully. It is often useful to group these idea-sensitive areas into the categories above for later use during breakthrough sessions. Developing a tracking mechanism is recommended so as not to lose sight of the potential opportunities (see Issue Tracking). Idea sensitive areas can also be culled from analyzing interview notes, by performing an IT Lever Analysis, or conducting a SWOT analysis (see Structured Interviewing, IT Lever Analysis, and SWOT Analysis).


  • To categorize all ideas generated in a brainstorming session to enable the development of solutions.
  • To capture, at any time, idea sensitive areas which may present breakthrough opportunities.


  1. During an "explore breakthrough" brainstorming session, collect ideas as they are contributed.
  2. Review all ideas and categorize into one or more of the groupings.
  3. Continue exploration and perform subsequent analysis.
  4. During any other workshop, team meeting, or interview, note any idea sensitive area, explore possible opportunities presented, and document.
  5. Track each of the ideas for use during breakthrough and solutions development sessions.


Before starting a breakthrough session, confirm understanding of the current situation.

Explain objectives of the session, and review the list of idea sensitive areas (if available). Select an appropriate brainstorming and/or lateral thinking technique, and explore breakthroughs. Be sure to understand each contribution. Ideas can be grouped into the three categories, as they are contributed, or (more typically) group the ideas after all contributions have been exhausted. (Be sure to apply the results of the IT Lever Analysis completed prior to the session—if conducted.) An idea can fall into one or more of these groups.

An idea can be "radical" for an enterprise even if it is an idea borrowed from a competitor, a benchmark, or a different industry. The point is that this idea, if implemented, would be a drastic departure from the way work is currently performed for this enterprise. A good test is to examine whether or not a customer would perceive the proposed solution as increasing his or her satisfaction (e.g., flexible payment plans may be recognized by a customer as meeting a need, thus being satisfied; however, handcuffing the customer with complex rules and procedures to make payments would not!). It is not uncommon for one idea to be an innovative use of technology, to be really radical for the enterprise, and to deliver tremendous customer delight and satisfaction. These are the powerful ideas to strive for.

Those ideas which are totally off-the-wall should be explored until it is determined whether they are out of scope or if they can fit into one of the groupings. Ideas that do not add value to delivering customer satisfaction should be treated carefully and even avoided. Use judgment. (See the following example for a depiction of the deliverables and process used.)

Once the categorization is complete, the key ideas are then ready for development into solutions. To do this, a list of questions regarding the key ideas should be developed to focus research and confirmation activities (see Solutions Development).

During the life of an enterprise change project, track all relevant idea-sensitive areas, as they are uncovered. When conducting a workshop or interview, if a contribution suggests an opportunity (e.g., "Hey, what if we..." or "Can we apply...", etc.), take time to briefly explore the suggestion, qualify it, and keep track of each idea, using a simple tracking list (see example below). Elements of vision may also suggest idea sensitive areas, and these too can be tracked for later use, during activity reinvention.


idea sensitive areas tracker

last edited by: erin decaprio on Oct 7, 2006 1:57 PM login/register to edit this page


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