Hyperselect – Identifying Top Ideas and Projects with Higher Precision

Clear separation of top ideas from mediocre and weak ideas is essential, before financial and other resources are allocated. The Hyperselect method provides a new, sound and improved way to fulfill this task. Moreover it reveals, that hyperbolas might be “the better matrix” in quite a lot of methods for prioritization and beyond.

Anything wrong with the matrix ?

Evaluating and selecting the best ideas is a crucial step on the way from the fuzzy front end of an innovation process to its focused back end. Therefore, companies need appropriate criteria and trustworthy, efficient methods. Widely used are 2×2 and 3×3 matrix displays which however have some substantial shortcomings. These are overcome by the Hyperselect method, an advanced approach to evaluating and selecting ideas and more.

Experience shows, that good concepts developed for a specific task are later on often used for tasks exceeding the limitations of their original framework.

Experience shows, that good concepts developed for a specific task are later on often used for tasks exceeding the limitations of their original framework. This is being done without bringing into question whether their fundamental prerequisites are still fulfilled.

When the BCG portfolio analysis became popular, the matrix display was used more and more for other tools of management, amongst them being methods to prioritize ideas. The BCG portfolio matrix was and still is sound from a logical point of view: its grid and parameters is only used in the way a map is used to define locations with its East-West and North-South directions.

Attractivity AND compatibility – hyperbolas show the logical way

However, things are different, if the matrix grid is used for a concept which targets at a “as well as – combination”. If there are for instance two sub concepts like “the attractivity of an idea per se” and “the compatibility of an idea with the abilities and strategy of a certain company” and the target is to identify those ideas that are attractive in themselves as well as compatible with the company, the objective term (i.e. the overall value of an idea) is mathematically expressed by the product of the attractivity-value and the compatibility value.

This is due to the basic principles of Boolean logic which says that the “as well as – combination” means a logical AND (conjunction), implying multiplication.

overall idea value = attractivity * compatibility

V = A * C

In order to compare and select ideas in a graphical display with attractivity on the horizontal axis and compatibility on the vertical axis of a diagram, lines indicating equal overall idea values are needed.

const. = A * C

i.e. C = const. / A

This provides a set of hyperbolas instead of a rectangular matrix grid and motivates the origin of the name Hyperselect. Typically the values for attractivity and compatibility are derived from respective sub sets of criteria in a precedent step.


Hyperselect: focus on what’s really worth it

The basic display of the Hyperselect diagram includes three hyperbolas representing overall idea values of 6,25% , 25% and 56,25% of the maximum. These figures are deduced from dividing the diagonal into 4 equal parts, which provides good orientation without cluttering and convenient comparison with the 2×2 matrix grid. The resulting areas A, B, C and D represent 4 categories, which are additionally divided in halves by the diagonal.

As a result precious financial and human resources are only allocated to really valuable ideas and follow-up projects.

The Hyperselect approach does not only overcome the logical shortcomings as described above. Furthermore, it provides clearer separation of bad, mediocre and excellent ideas and helps to detect potentials for idea improvements. It is particularly remarkable, that the area A, which contains the best ideas, only covers a little more than 11% of the total area and provides only 56,25% of the highest possible overall idea value as the lower limit. Ideas, which might look pretty good in matrix based evaluation methods, will turn out as mediocre under the demanding Hyperselect criteria.

In this way the Hyperselect analysis helps to set a high standard. An in-depth analysis indicates advantages of up to 30 % in terms of reliability and separation quality for data obtained from a Hyperselect based idea prioritization compared to matrix based methods. As a result precious financial and human resources are only allocated to really valuable ideas and follow-up projects.

Extended applications

Modified and extended versions of the Hyperselect method can be adapted to other fields of application like project prioritization in multi project management and strategic planning within the framework of innovation management. It can be used by single persons but excels when used in management teams.


Hyperselect was first introduced as an advanced method for idea prioritization but it is in no way limited to that. It has already been extended to other management areas. Compared to matrix based methods it delivers more accurate and sound results, whenever the target item is made up of an “as well as” combination i.e. an AND conjunction of two quantities. In all of these cases the hyperbolas provide “the better matrix”.

By Dr. Reinhard Fricke

About the author

Dr. Reinhard Fricke is professor for innovation management at Leibniz University Hanover in Germany and management consultant for innovative midsize caps and renowned large companies. He developed the Hyperselect method. Other methodological contributions are on advanced innovation processes und multidisciplinary teams.

Photo : Abstract night by Shutterstock.com

  • Jeff Singleton

    Dr. Fricke, this is very interesting as perhaps a better evaluation tool than typical matrices. I am curious though, do you have examples of it’s use in actual situations (e.g. product development ideas or project/program portfolio ranking)? Any longitudinal study of the longer term positive results of its use over time?

  • Dr. Reinhard Fricke

    Dear Mr. Singleton,

    please accept my apologies for not answering earlier. I have neclected innovationmanagement.se during the last months. It is easy to see the difference in accuracy, when you take a collection of alternative product ideas, which you have already pre-scored via two sets of sub criteria for “compatibility” and “attractivity” , which can be done with the usual methods. When you map the alternatives into the Hyperselect diagram and draw the lines for the 2×2 matrix for comparison purposes, you will easily find, that the two approaches lead to pretty different conclusions. Let us take a product idea, which has the coordinates (0,55 ; 0,45) for compatibility and attractivity respectively. In the matrix this value is in the upper left square and is close to the most desirable upper right square. This gives the impression, that it is a good idea in the medium field of overall-values and that it has the potential to reach the best square with some improvements. In fact the overall-value is only 0,55 x 0,45 = 0,2475 or 24,75 % – just a quarter of the maximum possible value. With the Hyperselect approach we will recognize this immediately, because the hyperbolas as orientation curves show it clearly.
    The Matrix approach thus leads to a wrong estimation and following to wrong decisions on budgets and other ressources to assign to the product ideas.

    Of course you can take other pairs of main criteria instead of “compatibility” and “attractivity” and I have already developed and tested a refeined Hyperselect method for detailed strategic planning.

    Hyperselect will always lead to logical sound and favourable results, if
    the 2 main criteria are connected in a way, that your most desired result is to have the maximum of criteria 1 AND the maximum of criteria 2. It is a result of basic logic, that this leads to the product of 1 and 2 which gives the hyperbolas as orientation curves in the diagram.

    If you just put your alternatives into a coordinate system like mapping location on a tourist or political map and your two main criteria are not connected via “AND”, that you are fine with the matrix.

    Therefore the classical portfolio analysis with the matrix is correct from a locigal point of view and leads to sound results.

    The problem is, that too many people have taken the matrix for purposes, which are different from the tourist map concept (like in the portfolio analysis).

    As with every tool you should know what it is good for, what are the limits and in which cases it leads to suboptimal results or even into a complete wrong direction.

    Matrix and Hyperselect are different tools like hammers and screw drivers are. You just should know what their purpose is and should not use a hammer to drive a screw into wood when you have a screw driver to do in a correct way.

    Hyperselect has already been used a quite a lot of projects and workshops by myself and collegues. As with the hammer and the screwdriver it is actually not so much a question of longitudinal studies, but a matter of deciding, what the purpose is and what the appropriate tool is.
    There are quite a lot of examples, that good ideas initially had a hard time and faced scepticism, because many people could not believe, that such an obvious better solution had not been found and used before.

    Thank you for your interest and your question. I hope my answer meets your expectations.

    With kind regards,
    Dr. Reinhard Fricke
    business consultant and
    professor for innovation management
    at Leibniz University Hannover / Germany