What’s a Good Idea? Understanding Evaluation and Selection of New Product Ideas

DS 58-3: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 3, Design Organization and Management, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Gutiérrez, Ernesto; Kihlander, Ingrid; Eriksson, Joakim
Series: ICED
Section: Design Organization and Management
Page(s): 121-132


This paper investigates how ideas for new products are evaluated and selected in industrial companies. It is based on an empirical and explorative study in three companies, using qualitative interviews. The findings indicate that a good idea is the result of a process in which at the same time the idea is generated, evaluated and selected. This process determines which ideas are further developed, which of them reach a formal decision-making forum and, to some extent, the decisions made in these official forums. This process is characterized by a social and a cognitive aspect, overlooked in normative literature. The social aspect is about interaction between people that makes possible to combine formal and informal processes, and rational and non-rational approaches for developing and evaluating ideas with different grades of ambiguity and uncertainty. The cognitive aspect refers to how ideas and company's context are interpreted, in individual and collective levels, for making evaluations on ideas. Implications of these findings for designing supporting methods for evaluation and selection of ideas are discussed; and general descriptions of a practical method suggested.

Keywords: Product development, project selection, idea evaluation, decision making, cognition


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