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IdeaPAD case study: How do you identify high-impact innovations for an existing product?

“[The PixelEdge] workshop and canvasses provided an easy, structured framework to work through our evaluation and customer discovery process. The ideas … have been very exciting to me and my team.” – Client Business Information Director

Table of Contents

Problem

A leading data aggregator for an entertainment sector came to PixelEdge to help maximize one of their offerings. The team knew that they had a wealth of data that helped them make deals for their clients, and they sold this data to companies in their space. 


It was clear that there was more opportunity for their research and data products, but they wanted to invest their resources in promising ideas for their target market. The product was useful to their business as a marketing and operations tool, but they wanted to build it into something more.


They decided to call Paul Silva at PixelEdge to see if he could help them identify market opportunities for this underutilized data. He could look at the information and infrastructure they had, help them define goals, and walk them through a structured process to find the most effective ideas to pursue.


PixelEdge Solution 

The client had deep experience in their industry, but they knew they wanted some outside guidance on ideation for their data aggregation tool. To find ideas that would get off the ground, they needed to first establish a solid launchpad.


Paul Silva built the IdeaPAD during years of working with students and companies in innovation and entrepreneurship. The IdeaPAD helps a team identify potential ideas based on its goals, resources, and market, all with only a single page of prompts in a day or less. The prompts then lead to a brainstorming session for team members, and a scoring system allows the best potential ideas to come together. Previous companies using the IdeaPAD scaled their product by 10x or became leaders in their space.


To use the IdeaPAD for your company:

  1. Create a team and find a day to all meet together

  2. Build the PAD

  3. Identify and score the ideas



IdeaPad blank template, including sections for Purpose, Assets, and Demand, and then a Scoring Criteria and Ideas on the bottom, brainstormed to fit with the PAD

Create a team

The IdeaPAD works best with a good mix of team representatives from two categories:

  • Leaders who can allocate resources

  • Team members with current experience in the field


Bring together all team members to work through the IdeaPAD prompts with a neutral facilitator.


Build the PAD


The PAD (“launchpad”) allows you to come up with a firm foundation for the ideas you’ll brainstorm later. It covers what you are hoping to achieve (the Purpose), what you already have that can help (the Assets), and whether there is already evidence that there is a need in your market (the Demand).


The facilitator works through the prompts with the team to build the PAD, as outlined in the table below.


Prompt

Questions

Result

Purpose

The facilitator asks the decision maker of your group what they want to achieve and to list priorities the idea should align with. 

Do you want to earn more revenue

Become a thought leader? 

Does your company need to achieve a milestone to earn its next deal? 

The leader defines your goal.

Assets

The facilitator asks your group what makes your organization better than your competitors

Look at your people, relationships, equipment, financing, and other assets. 

From these, figure out the one thing your organization is best at.-

Defines your superpower.

Demand

The facilitator asks the group to discuss what the opportunities are. 

What are your top-selling products, and what are stakeholders demanding, through their feedback or loud signals like increased subscriptions? 

What do your competitors offer that you aren’t? 

Are there powerful external factors changing the landscape and creating new opportunities, like technological or global economic trends? 

Identifies what your market needs


Identify and score the ideas

After your team really understands its PAD, it’s time to brainstorm ideas, score them, and decide which ideas are the best candidates for launch.

Step

Prompts

  1. Ideate

  1. Every team member takes ten minutes to brainstorm ideas on their own.

  2. Each team member puts up their best ideas and describes them.

  1. Score

  1. Create and weight a scoring system for how well each idea aligns with the PAD.

  2. Define and weigh any other criteria of your choice, such as cost, feasibility, risk, and so on.

  3. Team members individually and privately score each idea against the criteria.

  1. Discuss and decide

  1. The facilitator combines the data.

  2. Discuss any scoring that is far apart, which can lead to a lively discussion about different team members’ experiences. 

  3. Take a few minutes to discuss any low-scoring ideas respectfully. 

  4. Individuals can adjust their scores based on the discussion. 

  5. Review the top ideas, and senior leadership can then decide which ideas are worth pursuing further.

Innovation example

The entertainment data client that approached PixelEdge already had data and technology. They had an investment information tool for their space, including research and data analysis. Their customers liked the tool, but the company had not made this resource a priority and wanted to unlock its potential.


They brought together a team that included two company leaders, the product leader, and two data analysts who worked on the project. This team was a good mix, including people who defined strategy and allocated resources along with those who worked closely with the data. Paul Silva then facilitated the discussion.


PAD

Purpose: Why innovate?

The company representatives knew that they had amassed the best data in the business, and wanted to tap its potential. Without a clear objective, however, it is difficult to succeed. Paul prompted them with questions about whether they wanted more revenue, subscribers, or visibility in their space.


The existing product already improved marketing and sales by raising their credibility in the entertainment sector. It also helped their operations team by providing strategic data directly to their clients. As it was originally envisioned as a marketing and sales tool, it was currently a cost center. While they have ambition for the product to grow to have a significant impact, the team leader smartly decided to go for iterative improvement and decided to focus on growing its revenue enough to cover its hard costs.


Once the team leader decided on that goal, they also defined their purpose to include the organization's objectives of marketing, sales, and operations.


Assets: What you’ve got on hand

From there, they looked at their assets and discovered that they are well positioned for growth based on their current market position in the industry. They have great internal resources and a large external network to work with.


In short, their superpower is their position and brand in their industry. They recognized that they are the top company of their kind in the world and that their team has personal relationships with the industry’s most important players. This potential superpower was being used in other parts of their company, so they realized they could apply it to an idea for this product to reach their revenue goals.


Demand: What the market wants

They then reviewed the demand:

  • Current top offerings: Customers liked the information they provided on investment, mergers, and acquisitions, as well as a list of the top investors and acquirers.

  • Stakeholders asking for: They wanted the data to be simplified in some areas but with the ability to have custom reports. They also wanted more market research and important announcements in the space.

  • Competitors offer: Their competitors offered some key information in public company data, regional data, and additional investment information.

  • Changes from external drivers: Their industry had experienced a wave of exponential growth that was now slowing down, and global economic and political issues affected the industry. Additionally, technology like AI was something their customers wanted to understand for their sector.


Identify and score ideas

Now that they had their PAD (and took a lunch break), they were ready to start brainstorming ideas for what they could do next.


Criteria

Along with the default scoring criteria, which includes scoring against the Purpose, Assets, and Demand (PAD), they included the following additional criteria:

  • Differentiator–Would customers view this as an essential or best-quality product?

  • Feasible–Can this be done with existing people and budget? 


Each criterion was weighted at either a 1 or 2, though any multiplier could be used. Since the company wanted to reach low-hanging fruit, they weighed the feasibility category at 2.


Ideas

From here, they brainstormed several ideas to increase interest in the tool and wrote them on Post-it notes. They each picked their best ideas, put them on the board, and gave a brief introduction to everyone as they posted them.


Example IdeaPAD for entertainment company, showing several promising innovations

Voting

The team members had a few minutes to secretly score each idea against the five criteria. Paul then tabulated and compared the results. 


With Paul facilitating the discussion, he first checked scores to see if some scored a 0 (lowest) versus others a 2 (highest). When someone’s idea scored poorly, there was a quick, respectful discussion, and then the idea was put to rest.


Some interesting discussions came out of the low-scoring results:

  • The analysts wanted to sell data to colleges, but business leadership had experience in that market, and knew it would be challenging. The idea ended up scoring the worst once everyone understood the resources it would take.

  • Some scored partnering with market research firms highly, but others on the team explained that there were hurdles such as negotiation and compensation to be decided on. It didn’t leverage their current assets.

  • The team had more historical data than any of their competition, but on review, there was no demand for that data.


And the discussions for the best-performing ideas were exciting:

  • They helped their clients understand current trends and terms used in mergers and acquisitions but didn’t provide this data, which would be valuable to their clients.

  • They provided one generic view of all their data, and the executives they targeted were only interested in particular information. Creating a dashboard for the executives could be an easy win

  • Similarly, they could create multiple views of the data for themes, particular sectors, geographic regions, and so on, which would also provide value with minimal investment.

  • They had never formally marketed this product to the users of their other products, so that might also be a fruitful opportunity.


Some of the longer-term, bigger ideas were tabled and left unscored, because it was clear that, while those could be valuable in the future, they would take a lot more thought and assets than the company was willing to provide versus its current purpose of increasing short-term revenue.


At the end, they had a chart of ideas, and could clearly see a few winners with total scores over 80 that made the most sense to the whole team. They were excited to see that the best ideas both built on their strengths and were reasonable to achieve.



Bar chart showing IdeaPAD results for entertainment company

The team lead selected two of the ideas, and Paul assigned them additional tasks:

  1. Create a KISS Canvas for each selected idea.

  2. Use the Customer Discovery process to test out the hypotheses from their KISS Canvas:

  3. Revisit your assumptions and “pivot, perish, or persist” as appropriate.

  4. After you’ve started sending out prototypes, move on to Product-Market Fit.


Result

The client spent a single day with PixelEdge to build their PAD foundation and develop ideas. At the end of the workshop, they had clear objectives for moving forward with the best prospects, and they had already assigned team members to do the work. Best of all, they were excited by the opportunities to leverage their superpower and achieve their goals.


As the Business Information Director at the client said:


Determining if a product has a market opportunity is a tricky process. [PixelEdge] helped us evaluate our offerings internally to decide what is important to us as a company as well as which products are within our wheelhouse, feasible and easy to integrate into our process, and of value to our customers.


PixelEdge workshop

If you would like a guided IdeaPAD workshop like the one featured in this article:




Get your own IdeaPAD template for free

If you want to use the IdeaPAD yourself, the template is licensed under Creative Commons, which means you may use or modify (with attribution) it freely:




Acknowledgments

Paul Silva would like to give a huge thank you to:

  • Stephen Brand for his original work that inspired this tool in the first place. 

  • Kelly Minton, co-founder of Paul Silva’s last startup, helped evolve this tool from its earlier iteration to something much more powerful. 

  • Liz Slavkovsky for clarifying the language and helping us communicate with you.

  • PixelEdge's Muhammad Awais Amjad for applying his design skills to make the IdeaPAD as attractive to look at as it is functional!

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