A very quick way to sort ideas is to use a matrix. On the horizontal axis you can show how much effort (budget, time, mental energy) is needed. On the vertical axis you can show how much positive impact (for the end user, the company, the world) it creates.

I recommend that when you place the ideas on such a matrix, you reveal one axis after the other.

So start by placing all ideas on the effort matrix first. To do so, take one idea after the other and place it on the line, until everyone  is placed.

Then reveal the vertical axis with the impact. Move all ideas to the right position. Again one after the other.

Finally, divide the space in four quadrants and name them as follows:

Bottom left: Candies

These are ideas that don't cost much to create but don't bring much either. As with candies, if you take one or two it's okay. But if you eat the whole bag, it will be bad.

Bottom right: To forget

These are ideas that take a lot of effort, but don't bring anything. So don't do anything with them.

Top left: Quick wins

These ideas are simple to implement and create big impact. You should definitely work on those without further discussion.

Top right: Strategic choice

These are ideas that need a lot of effort but also bring a lot of impact. But as you don't have unlimited resources you won't be able to pursue all of them. That's why here you should make a strategic decision about which ones  to follow and which ones to save for another day.

As you see this is a pretty simple exercice but that already helps you take decisions.


Template to prioritize ideas


For those who use the note taking app Notion, I created a template that you  can use to prioritize your ideas following the impact versus effort matrix.

Basics of Ideation for Innovation (Alpha version)

A future course teaching ideation theory and methods.

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