Great article Rik, and right on point.
Here are some parallels to also think about…
What you have described (as I interpret it) is in essence the “empathize” phase of Problem Clarity we seek in Design Thinking (the first divergence of the first of the 2 diamonds). Once one develops their set of hypotheses (what you call assumptions here regarding “what must be true”), their next job is to design frugal experiments on how to test those hypotheses. For that purpose, Michael Schrage of the MIT Media Lab wrote an excellent book a few years back called “The Innovator’s Hypothesis”. In it he introduced the concept of the 5x5 team to come up with 5 experiments that could each be executed by $5K or less in 5 weeks or less — all to test out one’s hypotheses long before ever committing to an MVP. This is what we call “business experimentation”. In Design Thinking, it is used to find the one (most) correct hypothesis around which one then states their Point of View (PoV) of the “real” problem (problem has been reframed, so that we are more confident that it is THE real problem we need to solve, and is likely a problem that is, in fact, worth solving — the convergence process). From this, one then states their Design Principles for what a good solution must deliver in order to address that Point of View. This doesn’t mean you have a product yet, just Design Principles. From there, you start brainstorming possible solutions (diverge again), prototype many of them (still no MVPs yet), and user test them to find the one solution concept that best satisfies the PoV / Design Principles and meets users needs (final convergence, which can be highly iterative). From there, one is then free to go build their MVP wrapped around a well-thought-out Go-To-Market Strategy.
Yet another parallel is the 5-day long Design Sprint put into place at GV (Google Ventures), which, for digital solutions, is able to compress this all down into an intense five-day long group sprint exercise, as such…
- Day 1 — map out problem / pick place to focus.
- Day 2 — sketch competing solutions.
- Day 3 — decide solution to pursue — turn ideas into testable hyp.
- Day 4 — crank out high-fidelity prototype of chosen solution.
- Day 5 — live test (prototype) solution w/ 5 real users.
All of these wonderful methods make for rapid modes of learning that serve all businesses well, and ensure good capital efficiency for investors investing in new startups.
Thanks again Rik!