Choosing the Best Ideas: Value Mapping

Once you’ve brainstormed a long list of powerful new ideas, the challenge becomes choosing the best ones to pursue. We all know that great ideas without execution is about as productive as protesting the rules at the DMV.

One of my favorite techniques for idea selection is *Value Mapping*. In this case you are scoring each possible idea against a set of values that are important to you and your company instead of traditional factors such as feasibility, time to market, anticipated return-on-investment, and risk.

As an example, the board game maker Cranium created their own word: CHIFF. It is an acronym that stands for Clever, High-quality, Innovative, Friendly, and Fun. When they set out to evaluate ideas, a big deciding factor is how CHIFF the idea is. They use the CHIFF benchmark when hiring and evaluating team members, deciding on which markets to enter, and how to market their products. They are using the benchmark of who they are to guide decision-making.

Vigrin Group, the parent company of Virgin Records, Virgin Airways, and now Virgin Galactic (space travel) is willing to consider entering just about any new business as long as it meets their values criteria. To be considered, a concept must:

• Challenge existing rules
• Provide a better consumer experience
• Be more fun
• “Put a thumb in the eye of the complacent incumbents”

Rather than using a numerical score, they let their values dictate their actions. To Virgin, the spreadsheet matters less than the opportunity to “stick it to the man.” Virgin stands for something. You may not like or agree with their brand, but they are certainly remarkable. They are irreverent and edgy, funny and clever, youthful and energetic.

While the company’s product offerings span several industries, their overall brand and attitude are totally consistent. They realize their overall shareholder value is based on the growth and consistency of their brand and their values.

This week, give Value Mapping a shot. See which new ideas map best to your company’s big-picture values and goals. Let your purpose and values serve as the deciding factor instead of some overly complicated spreadsheet. Sometimes, you simply need to let your passion and vision override the bean counters. And by the way, doing so can be incredibly liberating!

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