Over the last three days, we ran one of our new “Exponential Innovation Programs” at Singularity University. The program takes our participants through the spectrum of innovation frameworks and techniques. A key take-away from the program is the notion that we all need to stop reasoning about problems and instead get out there, prototype and experience them.
I see this happening with startups and companies large and small all the time: People get into a room and start reasoning about a product or feature. Well-meaning and often passionate — but still only an intellectual exercise which more often than not doesn’t create outcomes which survive contact with the customer.
Instead of talking, arguing and reasoning (and celebrating those who do so best), get into a habit of formulating your hypothesis, create a quick and dirty experiment and test it out. There is nothing more valuable than actual customer feedback — and when you are clever about this whole process, you will not only validate or invalidate your hypothesis but also gain entirely new insights (from observing).
When I was a Mozilla, we regularly created quick ’n dirty paper prototypes which we took into the Starbucks situated in the building next door and asked random guests if we could buy them a cup of coffee in exchange for a few minutes of their time.
What is something you currently hypothesize about? What is the underlying assumption worth testing? How can you create a quick and dirty prototype of the product or experience you can test within the next hour or so?