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Transforming Ideas Into Action With The Now Wow How Matrix

The ability to quickly evaluate and prioritize ideas is essential. The Now Wow How Matrix, The Center for Development of Creative Thinking, emerges as a vital tool, enabling organizations to effectively streamline decision-making processes across various operational aspects. By categorizing ideas into feasible 'Now' actions, impactful 'Wow' proposals, and visionary 'How' concepts, this matrix simplifies complex decisions, aligns team objectives, and ensures a strategic approach to both immediate and long-term goals. Whether refining product lines, crafting marketing strategies, or advancing technological innovations, the Now Wow How Matrix stands as a cornerstone for fostering creativity and driving organizational success.

The Now Wow How Matrix

The Now Wow How Matrix is a strategic tool used primarily in innovation management and business development to prioritize ideas and projects. It's designed to help teams or individuals evaluate and sort ideas based on their feasibility and impact. The matrix consists of three key dimensions:

  • Now: Ideas categorized under "Now" are typically feasible with existing resources and knowledge. These are low-risk and can be implemented quickly to achieve immediate results. They often represent incremental improvements rather than groundbreaking innovations.

  • Wow: Ideas in the "Wow" category are those that are highly desirable and could have a significant impact if implemented. However, they might require more resources or involve more risk compared to "Now" ideas. These ideas are exciting and can potentially bring substantial rewards.

  • How: The "How" category contains ideas that are currently not feasible due to various constraints like technology, budget, or expertise. These ideas need significant problem-solving or advancements in certain areas before they can be implemented.

This matrix helps visualize where each idea stands in terms of readiness and impact, facilitating better decision-making and strategic planning. Organizations use it to balance their portfolio of projects, ensuring a mix of safe bets and innovative ventures while also identifying areas that need further research or development.

Use Cases

The Now Wow How Matrix can be applied to a variety of use cases across different fields and industries. Here are some common applications:

  1. Product Development: In product development, the matrix helps teams identify which features or products can be developed and launched immediately (Now), which ones could significantly differentiate the product in the market but might need more resources or time (Wow), and which are visionary ideas that might not currently be feasible but could be game-changers (How).

  2. Innovation Management: Companies use the matrix to prioritize and manage their innovation portfolio, balancing quick wins with long-term transformative projects. It helps in fostering an innovative culture by categorizing ideas based on their potential impact and current feasibility.

  3. Strategic Planning: During strategic planning sessions, organizations can use the matrix to evaluate various strategic initiatives and decide where to allocate resources to optimize both immediate results and long-term growth.

  4. Marketing Campaigns: Marketing teams can use the matrix to brainstorm and prioritize campaign ideas. Quick, easy-to-implement strategies might fall under Now, while more ambitious campaigns with potential for high impact could be categorized as Wow, and experimental or future technology-dependent campaigns as How.

  5. Startup Pitching: Startups can use the matrix to structure their pitch to investors, showing a balanced view of immediate, feasible solutions they offer (Now), innovative aspects that can disrupt the market (Wow), and future aspirations that showcase growth potential (How).

  6. Educational Programs: In education, administrators and teachers can use the matrix to develop curriculum or extracurricular activities, quickly implementing some while planning for more impactful or resource-intensive programs.

  7. Change Management: When managing organizational change, leaders can categorize initiatives based on what can be accomplished quickly and easily to gain momentum, what will have a significant impact and might take longer to implement, and what are long-term aspirational changes.

Facilitating a Now Wow How Matrix Workshop

Facilitating a Now Wow How Matrix workshop involves engaging participants in a structured brainstorming and idea prioritization session. Here’s a step-by-step guide to conducting such a workshop.


  1. Define Objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve with the workshop. It could be generating new product ideas, improving services, or finding solutions to specific challenges.

  2. Invite Participants: Select a diverse group of participants that includes various stakeholders such as team members from different departments, management, and possibly even customers or external experts.

  3. Prepare Materials: Arrange for materials such as sticky notes, markers, large paper or whiteboards, and labels for the Now, Wow, and How categories.

  4. Set Up the Space: Choose a spacious room and arrange seating to foster interaction. Set up three distinct areas or boards labeled Now, Wow, and How.

Conducting the Workshop

  • Introduction: Start the workshop by explaining the purpose, the process, and the expected outcomes. Introduce the Now Wow How Matrix and describe what each category means.

  • Brainstorming Session:

    • Warm-up: Conduct a quick icebreaker or warm-up exercise to get creative juices flowing.

    • Idea Generation: Have participants individually or in small groups generate ideas on sticky notes. Encourage creativity and free thinking without constraints.

  • Idea Posting: Ask participants to come up and place their sticky notes on the matrix in the area they believe their idea fits best: 

    • Now (Blue ideas): conventional and currently feasible.

    • Wow (Red ideas): exciting and innovative.

    • How (Yellow ideas): visionary, yet not possible.(COCD-box®. (n.d.))

Source: CreativeSolvers. (n.d.).

  • Group Discussion:

    • Clarify: Allow participants to explain their ideas briefly as they post them, ensuring everyone understands each concept.

    • Discuss and Debate: Facilitate a group discussion to explore the ideas further. Encourage participants to debate constructively on the placement of ideas and whether they belong in Now, Wow, or How.

  • Revising Placements: After discussions, participants may have a better understanding of each idea’s feasibility and impact. Allow them to move their sticky notes if they feel a different category is more appropriate.

  • Prioritization: Once all ideas are placed, discuss as a group to identify the most promising ideas in each category. You might want to vote or use dot stickers to prioritize ideas based on interest and potential impact.

Conclusion and Next Steps

  1. Summarize and Reflect: Review the categorized ideas and discuss what was learned through the process. Highlight the top ideas in each category and discuss why they stood out.

  2. Plan for Action: Decide on next steps for the prioritized ideas. Determine what resources are needed, who will be responsible, and set timelines for further exploration or implementation.

  3. Follow-Up: Schedule follow-up meetings or sessions to assess progress on the action plans and to continue developing the ideas.

  4. Feedback: End the workshop by asking for feedback on the session to improve future workshops.

Additional Tips

  • Keep the Pace: Ensure the workshop moves at a brisk pace to maintain energy and engagement.

  • Encourage Participation: Make sure everyone contributes, and all voices are heard.

  • Document Everything: Take photos of the matrices and notes or use digital tools to record the ideas for future reference.

By following these steps, you can facilitate an effective Now Wow How Matrix workshop that helps your team or organization prioritize ideas and plan for implementation in a structured, collaborative manner.

The main takeaway

The Now Wow How Matrix workshop is a dynamic and engaging method for harnessing the collective creativity and insight of a diverse group. By encouraging participants to actively generate, discuss, and prioritize their ideas across the categories of Now, Wow, and How, this framework ensures that initiatives are not only innovative but also aligned with organizational capabilities and long-term aspirations. Through a structured approach that emphasizes inclusivity and open dialogue, the workshop not only identifies actionable strategies but also cultivates a culture of continuous improvement and visionary thinking. Ultimately, this process empowers teams to transform ideas into tangible outcomes, ensuring that each step forward is both strategic and impactful.


COCD Box (How Now Wow Matrix) - CreativeSolvers. (n.d.).

COCD-box®. (n.d.). School of Creative Thinking.

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