Thinking about Ideas as a System: Evaluation of Ideas

Guidelines for going beyond great ideas


  • A sub-system for evaluation of ideas
  • A sub-system for exploration of ideas
  • A sub-system for exploitation of ideas

The Process

  • Idea (Evaluation)
  • Hypothesis (Evaluation)
  • Business Case (Evaluation)
  • Concept (Exploration)
  • Proof-of-Concept (Exploration)
  • Request-for-Work (Exploration)
  • Request-for-Comments (Exploitation)
  • Work Order (Exploitation)

The Actors

  • Sales department
  • Marketing department
  • Product department
  • R&D department

The Three Rs

  • Resource
  • Risk
  • Reward
  • Why this idea?
  • Why the timing is right for this idea?
  • Why not another idea instead?
  • Why not a simpler version of this idea?
  • How complex it is to build?
  • How many unknowns building it involves?
  • How aligned it is with current engineering resources?
  • How clearly understood total cost of ownership is?
  • How does this unlock new financial value (e.g. revenue)?
  • How does this unlock other customer value (e.g. reduce the time required for critical workflows)?
  • How does this reduce the cost of ownership of the system?
  • How does this reduce the energy consumption of the system?


Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article, I would love to hear your thoughts about it. 🧡

If you didn’t already, read Ideas as Cost, the first part of this article series here.



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Worked with machine intelligence for 15 years, and built the interwebs for 25. Nothing here is my own.