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Are You Sure That’s a Good Idea?

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Hare-brained. Crazy. Wacky. Wild. Ridiculous. GENIUS.

Every single day we are coming up with a plethora of ideas. Most are inconsequential and get acted up without much thought. However, when we start to innovate and invent, being able to quickly and effectively assess an idea can make all the difference.

While I am a big fan of experimentation and taking a chance on new ideas, if we haven’t at least done some groundwork to determine viability then we are wasting valuable time. Time that could be spent working on a new and better idea that could deliver even great return.

To combat my own potential of getting sucked into wasting time on bad ideas, I put together a great little tool called The Crazy Ideas Double Check List.

The idea is that when you have an idea, you can quickly ask yourself these 8 questions and rate them. It should give you a quick stab at the potential of your idea while at the same time providing a reality check for you to consider a variety of commercial angles.


1. Who experiences the pain or opportunity?

This is the beginning of a market analysis. Depending on how specialized or niche the problem is, the market might not be very big.

RATING | few –> many

2. When do they experience it?

Frequency is the key to this question. If the problem you are trying to solve is only experienced once a year, it might not have enough value to warrant a new solution. On the other hand, if it’s a challenge they face 10 times a day, it might always to be top of mind for them.

RATING | rarely -> often

3. How big is the impact for them?

Impact can often trump frequency when it comes to viability. For example, products that can “save a life” might rarely if ever be used but the impact and importance of them when they ARE used is critical.

RATING | minimal -> significant

4. How big is the impact for us (our strategy/values)?

Let’s be honest, new ideas can be the most delicious distractions. This question really tests if an idea has the potential to positive impact our strategy, values and results vs. whether it might massively derail and detract from where are focused and heading.

RATING | minimal -> significant

5. How big is the effort for us?

A quick fix or an easy hack might be worth taking a chance on whereas a major undertaking that requires months or years of researching and prototyping might not such a great idea unless all the other stars aligned, too.

RATING | significant -> minimal

6. What workarounds or alternatives exist?

Before you go solving some potential problem, make sure you know how it is being dealt with today. If there’s an easy, well-tolerated workaround today or 50 other products that do something very similar to what you’re thinking, it might be time to think again.

RATING | easy/many -> difficult/few

7. Where is the evidence of this problem or opportunity?

Honestly, this is the question that always gets me and I consider it to be the most important ‘test’ of any new idea. We (especially me…lol) can totally fall in love with our ideas to where we see no fault. “Of course, people need a tool that pets their dog automatically when they have a broken arm. Who wouldn’t want that?!” Where is your EVIDENCE of need and market?

RATING | gut feel -> prospect with money on the table

8. How much would addressing this profit us (margin)?

And here comes the money question…we are talking about viability after all. Notice that is specifically asking us to ballpark the MARGIN (not revenue) of our idea taking into account all anticipated costs. This isn’t a financial projection – that will come later – but rather a chance to consider the financial implications of your idea.

RATING | small margin/opportunity -> high margin/opportunity


Watch this video to see how I used this assessment to decide to let go of one of my favorite inventions, a product called Lights Out.

Crazy Ideas Double Checklist | Why I turned off Lights Out

If you’d like to give this for a try, click HERE to download a PDF version for your own use.

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