Taking the plunge with new ideas – 7 questions for idea assessment

Hand over the money, I’m armed!

If you’ve ever attended a brainstorm session you have, like me, heard the phrase: “There are no bad ideas.” And like me, you probably said to yourself: “Oh yes there are!”

During a brainstorm, we shouldn’t judge ideas because judgment stifles idea generation. But once the idea generation phase is over, we must assess the ideas before implementing any of them. To avoid judgment of ideas at this phase would be foolish.

Here’s an example of a really novel idea that was not well assessed:

On Thursday afternoon in Utica, New York, a man attempted to rob three different banks armed with a toilet plunger. 

Undoubtedly the man was flush with excitement when he came up with the idea of using a toilet plunger as a weapon – plungers are readily available, inexpensive, and attention-grabbing. Plungers are not, however, highly threatening (at least when compared to a gun, knife or club). Plungers as weapons or means of intimidation = bad idea.


Idea assessment helps us determine whether ideas are feasible and worth implementation. Here are seven examples of questions we might use to assess an idea:

  1. Is there a NEED for this idea?
  2. What BENEFITS will result from implementation of this idea?
  3. Is the idea PRACTICAL?
  4. Is the idea COST EFFECTIVE?
  5. Is the idea LOW RISK?
  6. Does the idea FIT our vision, mission, and values?
  7. Is the idea UNIQUE?

If certain of the criteria are of particular value, we can weight them so that their presence or absence will impact the assessment.

The criteria above are only examples. The criteria that are most important to consider are those that are most important to you and your stakeholders.

Never take the plunge with new ideas without assessment!

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