Helpful Thoughts on Unpacking Assumptions and Testing Underlying Data

Right now, we need low-cost speedy experiments to test new growth and innovation ideas. Think of the ideas surrounding Learning Launches as proposed by the School of Darden at the University of Virginia and in the book Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization by Edward D. Hess. A learning launch is a scientific method for business testing or conducting experiments.

Hess via Darden says it is is about 7 steps

  1. Taking a business idea and restating it as a hypothesis
  2. Unpacking the customer value, execution, defensibility, and scalability assumptions underlying the data
  3. Prioritizing the key assumptions to test first
  4. Designing the experiment to test those key assumptions
  5. Doing the experiment
  6. Evaluate the results
  7. Deciding next steps

Presently, we need to test a lot of ideas/assumptions but what goes into that? In Learn or Die, Hess offered some helpful thoughts on unpacking assumptions and testing underlying data:

  1. What is the assumption to be tested?
  2. What facts do we already know that confirmed the assumption?
  3. What facts you already know that casts doubt on the assumption?
  4. What specific facts would confirm the assumption?
  5. What specific additional facts would disconfirm the assumption?
  6. For each specific additional fact that would confirm the assumption:
    1. Who knows these facts
    2. Where do you find those facts
    3. How many different confirming sources do we need
    4. How will we mitigate confirmation bias in our search
  7. For each specific fact, that would disconfirm or cast doubt on the assumption:
    1. Who knows these facts?
    2. Where do we find those facts?
    3. How many different disconfirming sources do we need?

There area lot of ideas floating around. I think it is imperative that we take those ideas and look at how we can test them through challenging those ours and other assumptions. Even if it is not us conducting the experiments, view news (especially) and the facts being presented – Unpack the assumption.

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