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10 simple questions to check the viability of your idea
Introduction of new services is never easy, but still some succeed better than the others. Are there some elements which distinguish initiatives that have better possibilities to turn into viable businesses? The answer is Viability Radar.

How to use this?
Let's take you through an example in the health care industry. Where the need for innovative services is acute, especially due to the aging population and increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases. There is an abundance of seemingly good ideas that suggest how technology or process reconfigurations could be employed to increase well-being in the health care context. Nevertheless, they need to be accepted and adopted in parallel by multiple stakeholders in the ecosystem, such as service purchasers, consumers and many times authorities.

Why was a health and wellbeing service for students a success, but a service for activating elderly people failing after piloting

The objective of our study was to increase understanding of service innovation processes in the context of healthcare. We utilised the model of four innovation elements, inspired by the work of Clayton Christensen and colleagues (2007, 2009) to analyse the different extents of viability in real-life service transformations. We created a simple template for viability evaluation – the viability radar – consisting of metrics on: i) the novelty and simplicity of the technology, ii) the feasibility of the business models to the partners, iii) the supporting value networks, and iv) the regulatory environment, enabling renewal of the prevailing market practices. We operationalized the template by assigning a few fundamental questions to each of the four elements, see Viability Radar in the graphic attached.

As a practical tool, the simple viability radar is designed for assessing the innovation potential of service ideas in at least three scenarios. First, it may be used for funding decisions to cherry-pick which innovation proposals have the most diffusion potential. Second, it may be used to focus attention on the elements of viability that are lagging the furthest behind. Third, it can be utilized in business development by increasing the overall understanding of the potential barriers for diffusion in the wider institutional setting.


Assess your idea!

To assess the viability of your own idea go trough the following questions related to the four elements. Mark the aswer with colours (green for positive reply, yellow for medium, and red if there are considerable challenges related to the issue) and draw the Viability Radar. We take you through the Radar and show you the 10 simple questions you can ask to find out if your business idea is viabel. 


Technology (T)

The new technology enables value creation either by reaching a new performance level in some respect or by simplifying previously used methods. When renewing healthcare services, the substitution is a very important feature. If the innovation does not replace any older functions, its adoption would only increase the service system’s size unless it enables a very novel and radical value increase. Overlapping information systems and double bookkeeping of health information entries is a typical example of uncompleted substitution. Therefore, the elemental questions are:

1. Is the innovation a substitute for existing services or functions?

2. Is the innovation significantly more novel and better performing than previously used practices?


Business model (BM)

The service provider needs to have a functional business model that will provide added value to the end customers and incentives of different stakeholders to change their behaviour in accordance with the innovation.

3. Does the current Health care service provider see the opportunity for benefits to overcome the costs?

4. Do the suppliers see opportunities to generate business growth?

5. Are the consumers and end users adopting and committing to use the innovation?

Value network (VN)

Viable innovation requires that there are no major conflicts of interest among different stakeholders around the innovation. Mutual understanding of the goals and motives of each partner helps innovation adoption and diffusion considerably.


6. Are there supportive partners and interest groups for the innovation and its implementation?

7. Do the goals and objectives of the participating organizations support each other?

8. Can the innovation also be utilized in other contexts (with only slight customizations)?

Regulation and standards (R)

Rules determine what kinds of changes are allowed and what are not. Rules, standards, and legislation are society’s formal means to ensure fair, safe, and ethical courses of action. Informal routines and practices are rooted in the organisation's culture, and changing them requires recurrent communication and demonstration

9.  Does the realization of the innovation have any legal or regulative obstacles?

10. Does the innovation fit into existing practices or are the practices changeable?


Note that a low rating to some question in the viability radar does not simply translate as a “no go”. Instead, these ratings indicate the points that you must put much more effort in if you want to push the innovation forward. If a new simplifying technology does not benefit from wide support, it is possible to influence other stakeholders in various ways. For instance, you can develop a demonstration to showcase the benefits of new technology, or stakeholders may become more committed to the innovation diffusion if they participate in the development process.


The original research article is available from here

If you have questions or feedback, please contact Marikka at marikka.heikkila@utu.fi