The Ideas Matrix is a powerful tool used to generate hundreds and potentially thousands of new ideas in a very short period of time. It is particularly useful in product development projects where designers and developers are looking to create several products to meet the needs of different types of customers.
The matrix or box may consist of a 4×5 grid or it could be a 6×6 or any combination that you want as depicted below. Let’s use an example of a fashion designer and men’s blazers. He wants to have enough options to last him the next few years across various seasons.
At the top of the matrix lined horizontally are the PARAMETERS. Parameters are the uniquely important elements of the proposed product, without which the product cannot exist.
For something to be a parameter, it must also have unique and mutually exclusive VARIATIONS which we will list vertically under each parameter.
So, looking at our example, we have the parameters for the blazers being – buttons, fabric, pocket, inner-lining and lapel. Under each parameter are distinct and mutually exclusive variations creating a 5×5 matrix.
You can see the various combinations of styles that have been produced for example: Gold-Cotton – One-Checked-Thin. There are several other unique combinations.
In fact, there are hundreds of them. You can apply this to your design projects, come up with hundreds of ideas and then evaluate the ideas against your filters and constraints like cost/benefit, so that you can rank each idea based on cost/benefit and get the buy in of your supervisors or your organization.