When people want to develop new ideas, they most often think out of the box in the brainstorming or divergent phase. However, when it comes to convergence, people often end up picking ideas that are most familiar to them. This is called a ‘creative paradox’ or a ‘creadox’.
The How-Now-Wow matrix is an idea selection tool that breaks the creadox by forcing people to weigh each idea on 2 parameters.
This game naturally follows the creative idea generation phase and helps players select ideas to develop further.
Draw a 2-by-2 matrix as above. The X-axis denotes the originality of the idea and the Y-axis shows the ease of implementation.
Label the quadrants as:
- Now/Blue Ideas – Normal ideas, easy to implement. These are typically low-hanging fruit and solutions to fill existing gaps in processes. These normally result in incremental benefits.
- How/Yellow Ideas – Original ideas, impossible to implement. These are breakthrough ideas in terms of impact, but absolutely impossible to implement right now given current technology/budget constraints.
- Wow/Green Ideas – Original ideas, easy to implement. ‘Wow’ ideas are those with potential for orbit-shifting change and possible to implement within current reality.
- List down the ideas that emerge from the creative ideation phase on large charts of paper stuck around the room.
- Give each player 3 sticky dots of each colour – that is, 3 blue, 3 yellow, 3 green. 9 dots per person is typical, but go ahead and reduce/increase that number based on the time at hand and number of ideas generated.
- Ask each player to step forward and vote for 3 best ideas in each category. They need to do this by sticking a coloured dot in front of each idea they choose.
- In the end, count the number of dots under each idea to categorize it. The highest number of dots of a certain colour categorizes the idea under that colour.
- In case of a tie:
- If blue dots = green dots, the idea is blue
- If yellow dots = green dots, the idea is green
Note: Check your yellow dots in advance to ensure that they can be seen from a distance. If not, go ahead and replace them with another colour. FYI, in the original matrix, WOW ideas are red.
Tips for running this activity online
- Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows to use a large, zoomable canvas.
- Set up each topic at a different area of the board, spread them out just like you would do it on a the walls of a room.
- Invite participants to zoom in and visit each section and add their ideas as sticky notes once you reach that section of the exercise.
- If you’re not using an online whiteboard, we’d recommend using a collaboration tool such as Google Docs to collect the information for each step under a separate heading. Invite everyone into the document but be very clear in regards to editing rights.
- Use voting features such as Mural’s voting session tool during the dot voting process. You can also add comments inside Google Docs or ask participants to add a thumbs up emoji to an idea in Slack to collect votes when using those tools.
The How-Wow-Now Matrix is adapted from work done by The Center for Development of Creative Thinking (COCD). Information about the COCD Matrix was published in the book, “Creativity Today” authored by Ramon Vullings, Igor Byttebier and Godelieve Spaas.