As part of proposition development, leveraging a DVF (desirability, viability, feasibility) scoring framework allows you to separate and assess the broad potential of growth engines or business model innovations. This assessment is best done early on in the development process, as it forces you to challenge assumption and address critical issues from the outset.
Desirability Viability Feasibility In Propostion Development

Every successful business is intent not just on surviving but thriving into the future. Value proposition development plays a crucial role in helping businesses to evolve and stay successful. Testing a new proposition for its desirability, viability and feasibility (DVF) is a valuable scoring framework in the initial phases of any proposition development. 

Robust DVF scoring allows you to separate ideas with real potential from those doomed to fail. However, businesses can often fall into the trap of using DVF scoring at the wrong moment in the process – or placing too much or too little value in its findings.  

> TURNING IDEAS INTO COMMERCIAL SUCCESS: The art of creating new value with proposition development

Spoiler alert:  A no is as valuable as a yes, we'll explain why...

First, a little high-level theory

The idea for DVF scoring was hatched by the design consultancy IDEO in the early 2000s. “One tricky and exciting thing about building a business is that to succeed, all the pieces have to work in harmony – the value proposition, pricing, financial model, etc – so often you’re testing how these different pieces work together,” said IDEO’s Joe Gerber. Asking questions around desirability, viability and feasibility allows you to identify that sweet spot. 

Let’s take a quick look at what a DVF framework is measuring:

Desirability: Is this a product or service that people want or need? Does it solve a pain point – and is that problem of sufficient scale to merit investment? If you were in customers’ shoes, would the proposition genuinely make your life more enjoyable/interesting/fulfilling/complete etc? 
Viability: Is the proposition something that you can readily commercialise? Will it make you a profit? Does it fit with the company strategy for sustainable growth? If there is just a two-year window of opportunity, due to changing technology, legislation or culture; can you sell sufficient volume to make development worthwhile? 
Feasibility: Is it a product or service that your business can create with new or existing technology? Is the route to market easily navigable? Does it play to your existing strengths in terms of people, partnerships, supply chain, finance, technology, reputation etc? 

As part of proposition development, Cognosis consultants have used the framework many times on behalf of clients to assess the broad potential of growth engines or business model innovations. This assessment is best done early on in the development process, as it forces you to challenge assumption and address critical issues from the outset.

Let the numbers be your guide

A scoring system, backed by robust qualitative and quantitative analysis, can help promote unemotional and unbiased decision making. Within the development team, individuals will own and champion ideas, so a spread of fact-based metrics and industry viewpoints will help to robustly interrogate a new concept.

How does it work? 

Under each desirability, viability and feasibility section, you set a number of individual parameters or questions, which each contributes an individual score. For each project, questions should be carefully crafted and tailored to probe important considerations for that particular project rather than adopting a 'shopping list' approach that gets applied to every project. You may also choose to weight priority factors. These will reveal a total for each of the D, V and F – and then you can aggregate an overall impression of the idea’s robustness.

A DVF framework only allows you to draw conclusions at a headline level. It equips you to make an initial decision, and then explore it further. Keep results in perspective. A high score doesn’t guarantee that the idea is destined for greatness. Never forget, there's always an element of risk in building a new product.

Until you launch, you're not going to know for sure if it will sell. Things can and often do go wrong. Your product may not solve the customer problem like you hoped. The marketing may not catch the eye of the target audience. The market itself could shift unexpectedly. So, you'll need to adapt quickly. The lesson here is that if you do hurdle the DVF, don’t go all in. Build a minimum viable proposition, get it into the hands of customers, refine it, then scale it up. 

Ideally, the concept will build upon and fortify the existing business model. But ideas will fail if they are force fitted.  This can also ring true when businesses try to imitate (or better) a competitor; lacking the business structures that made the competitor proposition feasible in the first instance.  A business needs to be honest about what is required for the proposition to succeed. Far better to critically work through what business model is required for the concept to flourish, and be prepared to adapt – rather than force fitting it into your current one.  

Build confidence early in development

It pays to bring in the DVF scoring as early as possible in the development process. The outcome might be that you iterate the idea, select the best option in a set of ideas or mothball the idea altogether. If you do run with the concept, you’ll know that you have minimised the risk and feel more assured in taking the new product or service to market.

Done right, a DVF framework acts as a set of traffic lights in the early stages of proposition development. The ideas that fall short get a red light. They are discarded (or adapted). Those that pass the test earn either an amber (proceed with caution and iteration) or a green light (advance to customer research, detailed proposition design, testing and refinement).   


Looking back over the value proposition work that we have carried out for clients in recent years, it’s interesting to note that 50% of the ideas we assessed never made it past the DVF stage. In Go/No Go sessions, the evidence failed to make a compelling case.   In the high-stakes world of proposition development, a no is as good as a yes. 

A DVF scoring framework therefore provides an effective way to manage your risk. 

> PANEL DISCUSSION RECORDING:  How to overcome the common pitfalls to Proposition Development