Idea selection

Once creative ideas have been generated, there are many techniques that can be used to decide on a suitable idea to take forward. These include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • decision matrices
  • feedback

SWOT analysis

SWOT is an acronym that stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Carrying out a SWOT analysis will help you identify which ideas are worth taking forward.

  • Strengths are characteristics that give an advantage over others.
  • Weaknesses are characteristics that are disadvantageous relative to others.
  • Opportunities are features that can be exploited to advantage.
  • Threats are features that could cause problems.

Each creative idea can be thought of in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

A particular idea may stand out from others if it has more strengths and opportunities when compared to the other ideas. On the other hand, an idea may be discounted if it has more weaknesses and threats when compared to the other ideas.

Decision matrices

A decision matrix is another tool that can be used to help select an idea.

It involves thinking about what factors are important in choosing the best idea and giving these a point score and a rank order. Usually the idea with the highest point score is the idea that should be taken forward.


If you were thinking about carrying out a campaign to reduce neighbourhood litter, important factors to think about are:

  • the cost of the campaign – anything too expensive may not be feasible
  • the time needed to complete the campaign
  • the level of expertise needed in running the campaign and creating the materials

Once these factors have been decided, a decision matrix can be created.

To create a decision matrix, the ideas are entered into the ideas column. Then a mark out of 5 or 10, for example, can be given for each criterion. The key to the criteria below is:

  • Cost – where a high cost = 1, and a low cost = 5
  • Time – where lots of time = 1, and not much time = 5
  • Expertise – where a high level required = 1, and a low level = 5

The score for all the criteria is then added up. Each idea is finally given a rank order.

A decision matrix in the form of a table. The table has 4 rows labelled Presentations in primary schools, Leaflet drop in local neighbourhood, Local radio advert, and Blog. They score 12, 10, 5, and 7

In this example, the leaflet drop has received the highest score. However, the presentations in primary schools have also received a high score, so it may be that a further SWOT analysis or a de Bono six thinking hat exercise is carried out to help select the final idea to take forward.


Using feedback to select ideas can be done by gathering qualitative or quantitative research.

One example of qualitative research would be to interview someone about their thoughts of how successful a presentation in a primary school would be in reducing the amount of litter in a local neighbourhood. This could be with a primary school head.

Alternatively, an online survey could be created to find out whether the local community listen to the radio and if so, what stations they listen to.

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