How to judge your ideas objectively

Judging ideas can be hard. It’s easy to fall in love with an idea, and it’s incredibly difficult to kill one of your darlings when the time is right. To stay away from fiery discussions and teary eyes you can best decide what the most promising ideas are with the help of three simple categories; Gamechangers, Showstoppers and Distractions.

A few weeks ago René and I had an interesting Skype conversation with our nephew, a friendly, long bearded, London-based programmer. We wanted to collect some feedback from a real ones-and-zeros wizard about a new digital tool that we are developing at the moment.

He explained that a developer wants to know three things:

What is the essence that the program should do?
What would you also like to add to the program, yet is not essential?
What features will likely be added in the near future?

The questions made us reflect on our product and led to a long list of features. As simple as they are, the 3 questions helped us to clarify the core product and prioritise our ideas.

Our nephew’s list reminded me of a simple tool I have used many times; the ‘Three Bucket Model‘. This model, created by Slava Akhmechet, is developed for product management and categorizes features into three buckets; Gamechangers, Showstoppers and Distractions.

The three categories can be described as follows.

People want to buy your product or service because of this feature

If your missing this feature people will not buy your product or service, yet adding this feature doesn’t generate demand

This feature has no measurable impact on adoption.


Here’s an example.

Suppose you’re developing a new watch. The feature that shows a user what time it is, can be labelled as a showstopper. People will not buy your watch if you don’t offer this feature, but they won’t buy it because of this feature either! For obvious reasons. All watches have this feature. The ability to use your watch as a remote control for a drone, however, is already much more likely to generate some attention. People would love such a feature and they will probably want to buy your watch. Unless… your customers do not own a drone, nor want to buy one. In that case the ‘drone-remote-functionality’ is pointless and the feature would be a distraction.


The Three Bucket Model is a great tool to quickly evaluate and prioritise your ideas. Picking the right category can sometimes be a little tricky. Nevertheless these classifications are incredibly helpful when you’re working on your first prototype. In doubt, ask your customers. They are likely to provide you with the answer you are looking for…


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