3D of Innovation - how to test your idea in 15 minutes

Have you ever presented an innovation to your boss or stakeholders? And have you ever been greeted with plenty of questions, most of which you didn’t know how to answer?


How can you test and evaluate new ideas quickly? Let’s look at the options.


You could decide to first spend days of creating fancy models and diagrams. But if it’s truly something innovative and novel you won’t have easily available information anyway to create such an accurate model. Alternatively, you could go down the economical route and try to predict future revenues and profit margins. But again, your business case will not be precise and take a long time to compile.
Another option would be to follow the design thinking approach. You could start with in depth research, conduct focus group interviews, come up with some hypothesis testing and maybe even create a prototype. But, how do you know if you should invest all of that time into an idea yet?


There is a swift way to evaluate the potential of an idea quickly. I call it the “3D of Innovation”. It follows quick checks on three dimensions which are desire, doable and dollar.





The three circles address the key requirements around an idea. If your concept can positively answer the questions of each dimension you should be well equipped to have further conversations with confidence. Let’s have a closer look.


The first D - DESIRE


You need to show that your idea solves a real problem, meets a demand, or is desired by the marketplace. Fancy solutions in search of a problem are not going to cut it. It really needs to be the opposite.


Critics will be quick to point out that Henry Ford and Steve Jobs famously mocked the idea of asking customers what they wanted. Henry Ford knew that his initial customers would have asked for faster horses. Steve Jobs was famous in telling that his clients do not know what they want until he tells them.


But, both Ford and Jobs are exceptions. And they still created products that the marketplace really desired. Their genius was in being able to see that desire more clearly than their customers did. Desire was always a crucial part of all of their key innovations (and Marketing did the rest).


The second D - DOABLE


Your idea must be feasible and convincing to others. It may be out of the comfort zone, stretch its capabilities and may require sophisticated problem solving. This is what usually makes something a true innovation anyway. However, for an idea to be worth pursuing you must be able to explain how to reach it. If you believe in it, you can also convince your stakeholders. The other way rarely plays.


The third D - DOLLAR


Would somebody pay for this new product or service?  The third circle does not need a full-blown business case for your idea at this point. However, who you see as your future payable customer should be explainable. Another valid option would be your idea to safeguard existing revenues, i.e. keep existing customers from leaving to a competitor. Safeguarding existing revenues also satisfies the dollar requirement.


Challenge your idea around these three circles quickly. Spend five minutes on each and see if you have a convincing story. Get a sparring partner if needed and have fun clearing open questions.  If your idea meets the requirements of all three Ds (desire, doable, dollars) you have a solid basis for further talks with confidence. You could still pursue the other options at a later stage (and you most probably have to). But for a quick check, 15 minutes around “3D of Innovation” will do the job.


Chris Frey @chrisfrey.com