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Concept Screening


Creative tools > Concept Screening

When to use it | How to use it | Example | How it works | See also


When to use it

Use it to choose between multiple options.

Use it to gain consensus when selecting an idea or solution to take forward.



    X      Long



X          Psychological



      X    Group


How to use it

Generate evaluation criteria

The first step in using Concept Screening is to identify the criteria you will use and can itself generate significant debate. This is usually a good sign, especially if it surfaces underlying issues that can be discussed and resolved. There may be anything up to 20 criteria, although you should be careful not to hide the trees of important criteria in the wood of less important ones.

Identify baseline concept

A base option (or ‘baseline concept’) is then chosen, against which all other options will be compared. This is a very helpful process, as it is much easier to compare two options than allocate a stand-alone score to a single option. The base option may be a competitor product, an industry benchmark or other standard.

Score options against the baseline

The team then examines each option (or ‘concept’) and compares it against each criterion to give it a relative score. The scoring scheme for this may simply be +1, 0 and -1 to show ‘better, same, worse’ or may have values to indicate how much better or worse it is.

Each option then has its score totalled to show its overall score relative to the base option. If one option scores much higher, then this is clearly likely to be the best choice. However, before rejecting other options, you can consider how they may be improved. For example a low-scoring choice may have its score significantly increased at relatively low cost.


We have created three different options to manufacturing a child's bicycle. To evaluate these, we use the following table. Option 2 looks best.


Criteria Base option Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Material cost 0 -1 +1 -1
Reliability 0 +1 -1 -2
Production cost 0 -2 +3 +3
Production time 0 +1 -1 +1
Total 0 -1 +2 +1


How it works

The concept screen works simply by comparison against a benchmark base option. We find it easier to compare than to give absolute scores to something. Having a fixed things against which to compare all options helps make scores fair and equitable. By selecting a strong base option, you can also test how effective and competitive your solution really is.

A consideration that should always be held in the mind with this approach is that it is a ‘garbage in – garbage out’ process, and poor criteria or inaccurate scoring will give a poor result.

A major benefit of this that should not be forgotten is the impact on teamwork. A structured approach, no matter what it is, can help bring the team together and create a more equitable and more rationally considered decision than an unstructured argument.

See also

The Hundred Dollar Test


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