Don’t get stuck studying your idea!

Don’t get stuck studying your idea!

  • It’s common to fall into the trap of over-studying an idea
  • To overcome this, start by identifying the biggest factors that could kill the idea
  • Investigate these factors by using Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles of learning


It can be all too easy to get stuck in the trap of Plan – Do – Study, Study, Study…


At inVision Edge, we follow the process of PDSA (Plan – Do – Study – Act) to keep innovative ideas moving quickly towards development. This is grounded in the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming.


In an innovation project we do this to mitigate risks or what we call ‘Death Threats.’ – Things that could kill our idea before we invest money in development.


Here is an example of what the process looks like: :


Death Threat (Something that could kill the idea): Customers won’t find our idea meaningful and unique

Plan (Desired Outcome): 80% of customers that provided feedback will agree that the idea is meaningful and unique

Do: Send out a survey to 100 existing and potential customers to get their thoughts on the idea and their intent to buy

Study: What did we learn from the survey?

Act: Based on what we learned, can we move the idea forward another day or should we kill it?


People often fall into the trap of continuous study. 

“We just need a bit more data.” – There have been countless times when we’ve heard this.

This can lead to huge project delays and essentially the idea being put on the back burner because it has timed out.

When an idea loses momentum due to this “Study Trap,” it can be really challenging to bring it back to life months or years later.

Here are two reasons why you shouldn’t allow yourself to get stuck studying:


Reason 1: Your numbers won’t drastically change with a larger sample size

Nine times out of ten your results will stay the same or very similar, but you will spend much more time and money to find that out and make the same decision.


Reason 2: Someone else may make a move on the same opportunity 

If you spend too much time studying a certain ‘Death Threat’ to your idea, your idea can become irrelevant because the market has changed or another group was able to launch the same idea faster than you.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are working through these PDSA cycles:


Run your PDSA cycles rapidly

We recommend taking no more than a week to complete a cycle. The faster you can learn and reflect, the more you reduce your overall risk.


Break your “Death Threat” down into smaller chunks when in the early stages


For example, if your threat was: Older Generations won’t be able to adopt the necessary technology for our idea.


What could you do to break this down and run quick PDSA cycles?


You may think : “We should develop the technology and test it with 500 people in the specific generation segment and see if we can get 80% adoption. That way we can reduce our risk before we roll it out to the world” – This sounds good in theory, but it will take a very long time and you might find out that your new idea is a no-go after spending time, energy, money and resources to build it. This type of testing would be applicable in the later stages of development when you are looking for feedback on the functional product.


What would be a few faster, cheaper options?


  • Send out a survey to your target audience to learn their preferences (Use phone, email, stand in the mall and walk up to people for a couple of hours).
  • Do rapid internet research to find out how others have gotten over the hurdle of technology adoption and draw some parallels to your current situation.
  • Talk to experts who have experience in similar areas.


In the early stages, you are trying to prove that your idea could be done. Not necessarily how. When you are working through your list of Death Threats, seek to learn that there are options out there to move past it. Once you resolve the threat, move on to the next one. Don’t spend time building out a development plan, until you’ve removed all the Death Threats. If it turns out that your idea has to be killed, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste time building out development plans that will never happen.


Once all of the Death Threats have been mitigated and you’ve got your PDSA cycles to back them up, you are ready to make your Go/No Go decision for development.


Wrapping Up

The PDSA method keeps things moving quickly in your projects and can greatly reduce your innovation risk. By prioritizing and investigating Death Threats, you ensure that you can rapidly assess the feasibility of an idea and move it from concept to development in a short period of time. 

Want to learn more about our proven process for innovation and how to implement it within your organization? Download our free guide “Innovate with Confidence” to get all the details.

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