3.2 Concept Screening

Chapter 3.2
Additional Resources

As described in Chapter 3.2, the goal of concept screening is to narrow down many concepts into a manageable, promising set for further research, evaluation and, eventually, concept selection. The steps below have been excerpted from the chapter and are presented with active web links to assist innovators in getting started.

Review and Document Raw Data

  1. What to Cover – Review all output from the brainstorming session. Associate ideas with the individual(s) who generated them and seek clarification, as needed. Assign a name or label. Summarize the results.
  2. Where to Look – Refer directly to the output from the brainstorming session as described in 3.1 Ideation & Brainstorming

Cluster Ideas

  1. What to Cover – The next step is to organize similar ideas into clusters. Assess the data to identify the most meaningful organizing principle for the groupings (e.g., anatomical location, mechanism of action, engineering area, feasibility). Experiment with different approaches, as needed. Consider using multiple organizing principles at different levels.
  2. Where to Look – Different ways of clustering ideas can be learned by reviewing other concept maps. Examples can be found by searching the Internet for sample concepts or mind maps.

Develop a Concept Map

  1. What to Cover – Visually document the clusters in the form of a concept map. Start with the need in the center and then place the groupings, subgroupings, and ideas. Again, experiment with different approaches, if necessary.
  2. Where to Look – Software can facilitate the concept mapping process. Available software packages (e.g., Mindjet MindManager and IHMC Cmap Tools) can be found on the Internet.

Assess the Concept Map

  1. What to Cover – Take a broad view of the concept map to determine if there are: (1) obvious gaps based on the organizing principle(s), (2) biases in the solution set in terms of the recurrence of specific approaches or ideas, (3) mostly general approaches or specific solutions represented among the ideas, and/or (4) commonalities or complementarities between concepts such that they can be combined into new and unique ideas. Perform this analysis for all the concept maps that have been created, using different approaches to see if any themes emerge.
  2. Where to Look – Revisit the output from chapters 2.1 to 2.4 to validate the range of possible solutions for a given need and identify gaps and biases. For example, if the primary organizing principle chosen for a concept map is focused on anatomy, reviewing one’s disease state analysis could highlight whether all relevant anatomical areas are represented on the concept map. Involving outside help to quickly assess the concepts can also help in identifying biases or gaps, since their fresh perspectives may more readily detect missed opportunities and prejudices influencing the defined concepts.

Compare Concepts Against the Need to Complete Concept Screening

  1. What to Cover – To prepare for a concept screening meeting, identify the participants, decide on a facilitator, define the process to be used in the session, and distribute prereading (the need specification and concept map should be shared with participants in advance). If a concept screening meeting is impractical (or if expert feedback is desired as an input to the meeting), schedule one-on-one meetings with targeted contacts to share the solutions and collect their thoughts. In either type of meeting, evaluate each solution idea against the need criteria until a small subset of the most promising solutions has been identified. These solutions will be the ones that go forward into the solution refinement stage of the biodesign innovation process. If too few solutions meet the criteria, additional brainstorming may be needed. Assuming that the solutions represent true concepts and not approaches, if too many solutions satisfy the need criteria, the need specification and need criteria may need to be revisited (2.5 Needs Filtering).
  2. Where to Look – The innovator should leverage his/her personal network to identify appropriate participants for the solution screening process.


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