Competing ideas at the finish line? How to pick a winner

Usually, a Five Sketches™ design session results in one design that the team is pleased to start testing and building.

From time to time, toward the end of a Five Sketches™ design session, you’ll see that the team has produced two competing ideas that they cannot combine into one mash-up sketch. No problem—you can resolve this.

Competing ideas
Sometimes, it’s not apparent how to mash up two different sketched outcomes.

You’ll have just enough time left in your four-hour session to discuss the merits of each idea. Start by scoring the competing ideas. The numeric scores will serve as a catalyst for the necessary discussion.

Choose the attributes to score

Choose attributes that will help the team to consider what your business, your customers, and your end users need. Choose a balance of company-focused and user-focused attributes such as these:

  • Cost to build, for your company.
  • Cost to maintain, for your company.
  • Total cost of ownership, for customers.
  • Ease of learning, for end users.
  • Speed of use, for end users.
  • Regulatory compliance, for your company or its customers.
  • Convergence with your product manager’s objectives.
  • Convergence with your company’s strategic objectives.

Ask each participant to rate attributes of the competing sketches, from 1 to 7.

Score the competing sketches
Each participant scores each attribute.

Then compile the ratings on a white board. Where the ratings are spread, get participants to explain their ratings, and then see if the team can come to a consensus. Again, the rating is merely a catalyst for the discussion. Hopefully a happy compromise will emerge. It’s also possible to get a grudging compromise—an acknowledgement that the problem hasn’t been solved well. This signals that you’re not finished, yet.

Involve the project sponsor

If the team isn’t satisfied with the compromise, explain the two competing ideas to the sponsor, and request more input. A product manager may see additional market-facing benefits of one approach over another. An executive may see additional strategic benefits of one approach over another.