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Testing Ideas

The Context

There are dozens of references on how to present a good idea’. When it comes to presenting ideas my experience is that the ‘pitch’, i.e. method and format, enjoys far more preparation attention than the idea itself. No matter how polished, ‘hi-tech’ and well-rehearsed a presentation delivery is if the idea itself is unsound the outcome will probably, at best, be the implementation of an inept idea and, at worst, be an ill-fated presentation.

The Question

How do you determine if it is a good idea? I will share a technique that expounds on an interesting method of testing ideas, namely; by tearing them apart in a meaningful manner.

Heuristic 1: Prepare the idea and present it to the stakeholders

Compose the idea or proposal as a presentation. Select a group of influential and affected stakeholders. Deliver the presentation to the group. Only the presenter is allowed to speak. No questions are allowed.

Heuristic 2: ‘Shred’ the idea 

When the presenter has finished he/she sits down on a chair that faces away from the group. The group then openly discusses all aspects, concerns, and support they have regarding the idea or proposal. Viability, pitfalls, logistics, costs, ROI, and resource requirements for example. The presenter makes notes. No interaction with the presenter is allowed.

Heuristic 3: Keep shredding until the idea is viable

The presenter then refines the presentation (30 minutes) and presents the revised presentation to the same group. The group again openly discusses the presentation and the presenter makes notes. Repeat these steps two to three times

Heuristic 4: Implement the idea

At this point, you should have a presentation based on an idea which the stakeholders have bought into and a feasible proposal that can stand up to viability scrutiny.

Testing Ideas:

  • Prepare the idea and present it to the stakeholders
  • ‘Shred’ the idea
  • Keep shredding until the idea is viable
  • Implement the idea
Take it to the next level by

Testing Ideas by Tearing them Apart.

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