Just last week I was involved in a brainstorming workshop with a Not-for-Profit Organisation. All contributors had been briefed beforehand about the topics for which they were expected to contribute input. The leader set the scene and the small groups started their brainstorming. After a short while, the contributors came back together and each group shared its output with the others. There was no shortage of good ideas and after this process had been repeated three times, the brainstorming had generated some 50+ ideas. Everyone felt like the workshop had been worthwhile, but I wondered how the organisation would decide which of the ideas would have highest priority and which ones could wait.
This situation of having lots of ideas for development but limited resources to action them is regularly faced within organisations. Fortunately, there is an effective way to decide about priorities through creating an Evaluation Framework to assess the nature of each idea using the same criteria. These criteria might include: Ease of Implementation, Benefits for Members, Cost to Do Project, Time-frame, Alignment with Strategic Plan. And there could be other criteria, but the important point is that each idea is assessed using the same evaluation framework. A three-level scale could be used for each of the five criteria, for example, Ease of Implementation could be assessed as Easy or Some Difficulty or Hard; Benefits for Members could be assessed as Many, Some, None; you get the idea.
Once this assessment is complete, a simple score can be calculated for each idea by allocating 100 points across each of three levels for the five criteria. For example, on Ease of Implementation, 60 points for Easy and 30 points for Some Difficulty and 10 points for Hard; on Benefits for Members, 60 points for Many and 30 points for Some and 10 points for None; you get the idea. By adding up the points allocated to the five criteria, you then have a total score for each idea.
Once all the scores have been calculated, its possible to rank the 50+ ideas from Highest to Lowest Score and see the resulting priority ranking. It should now be clear which of the ideas have highest priority and which ones can wait. So, including an Evaluation Framework as part of your decision-making process following a brainstorming session is necessary for effective priority setting and resource allocation. This is another characteristic of successful organisations.