Will it Fly?

When you innovate on a regular basis, you create another problem for yourself…how to evaluate new product ideas to see which ones to pursue.  Evan Williams has outlined a useful set of criteria to do just that in his article: “Will it Fly?  How to Evaluate a New Product Idea.”  He has even applied the criteria to some of his own creations like Blogger and Twitter.  Those criteria are:

  • TRACTABILITY
  • OBVIOUSNESS
  • DEEPNESS
  • WIDENESS
  • DISCOVERABILITY
  • MONETIZABILITY.

I offer three ideas and suggestions to complement Evan’s model:

First, try using some type of weighting to these criteria.  To do this, convert the ratings such as “High” into numbers (for example: High = 5, Medium = 3, and Low = 1).  Then assign a percentage to each criteria based on the importance of that criteria.  Ask your customers to do the assignment of weights.  What criteria are most important to them.  This makes the scoring results more meaningful.

Second, try using the model not only on past successful ventures, but also on past unsuccessful ventures.  See what the model does to hits AND misses.  Otherwise, we are committing the Space Shuttle Challenger mistake of not using ALL the O-Ring temperature data to decide whether or not to launch.

Third, try applying the criteria to more than web/computer-based ventures.  Try it on toaster ovens, ATM’s, wallpaper, etc.  See if the criteria have “legs” beyond the web domain.  My sense is that you will find other insights about these criteria that will make them even more useful.