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Assessing the Quality of Ideas From Prolific, Early-Stage Product Ideation

[+] Author Affiliations
Barry Matthew Kudrowitz, David R. Wallace

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2010-28991, pp. 381-391; 11 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 22nd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Special Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4413-7 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


The goal of many idea generation techniques, such as brainstorming, is to generate a large quantity of ideas with the hopes of having a few outstanding novel ideas that are worth pursuing. The output of such sessions is a large number of rough concept sketches, which require a rapid means of screening to select a manageable set of promising ideas. In this study we develop and test metrics for evaluating large quantities of early-stage product idea sketches. In total, 1767 ideas for three different product themes were used as a test bed. With our findings, we suggest three independent qualities that fully describe an innovative product idea: creative (as a subjective judgment), useful (as defined as having practical applications), and feasible (as determined by experts). Reviewers’ subjective ratings of idea creativity had a strong correlation with ratings of idea novelty (r2 = .80), but negligible correlation with idea usefulness (r2 = .16). The clarity of sketch positively influenced ratings of idea creativity. Another interesting finding is that the quantity of ideas generated by the individual subjects had a strong correlation with that subject’s overall creativity scores (r2 = .82) and novelty scores (r2 = .85), but had weak correlations with that subject’s usefulness scores (r2 = .38).

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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