Hypothetically This Will Work

Hypothetically This Will Work

by | Oct 21, 2021 | Business & Product, CROP | 0 comments

I did not like my Chemistry class in High School. In hindsight, it should have been fun. As an adult, I think I would love it. But for me, at the time, it was too much about theory and memorizing formulas and not enough blowing stuff up. I think education has evolved to emphasize hands-on learning more nowadays, and I’m also mature enough to empathize, ask questions, and see connections between chemical concepts because I’ve done more adulting and I have more context. So I think I would enjoy it more now. But at the time I hated it. One thing that has stuck with me, though, is the Scientific Method.

I’m very curious. I love discovering new things. So for me, the Scientific Method of ingesting and analyzing information, asking a question, anticipating an answer to that question, and then proving my guess right (or wrong) is fun. It’s no wonder, then, that I love hypothesis-driven business development. And frankly I think everyone does. In the same way that it’s much more fun to put some baking soda in the vinegar and see what happens in a chemistry lab, it’s much more fun to actually build something, put it in front of a user and see what happens than to sit in planning meetings growing old through intellectual debate. Granted, there is a time and place for debate. It is very necessary. But it’s also necessary to arrive at a starting point and go make something happen–preferably soon.

Ask yourself…

In Product Development, I’ve learned to ask the following questions:

  1. What is the biggest human challenge this product resolves?
  2. How will you know when that human challenge has been solved?
  3. What is your unique solution to solving this biggest human challenge/gaining this knowledge it has been solved?
  4. What is the biggest benefit people will receive from this solution, and…
  5. How will their lives be changed?

Go ahead, think deeply about it. Because it turns out that the answers to these questions will form your hypothesis.

An effective hypothesis

If you take the answers to these questions and turn them around a bit, you’ll arrive at a very effective hypothesis to test. You will have identified the problem, your proposed solution, the measurement, and the outcome; now you just need to string them together into a vision your team can rally behind. Try this:

We believe [question 1] will be achieved if we deliver [question 3] because customers will gain [question 4]. We will know this for sure when we see [question 2] and [question 5].

Here’s a fillable PDF worksheet to walk through it:

And then test (and measure) it

So now it’s pretty easy to test because you’re focused on qualitative outcomes as well as quantification in some unit of measurement. As such, there needs to be some framework for observation in place. The tools and observation methods will evolve appropriately. Sometimes the most effective method of observation is simply a conversation with the customer. Sometimes it’s sitting with them while they navigate/use your product. Sometimes it’s video replays with funnels using software such as HotJar, FullStory, etc. And sometimes it’s just plain numbers from analytics tools such as Google Analytics. The process will vary depending on the situation, but the intent remains the same: find out whether or not you’re solving the problem.

Events are a little bit different from retail products, software, or service-oriented businesses, but the fundamental process remains the same. Are your spectators satisfied because they’re able to participate in the thrill of watching this sport? Can exhibitors at your trade show get down to business? Are your athletes, vendors, organizers, sponsors, and/or all other humans able to do what they need to do? How do you know?

Measure what matters to the customer

Whatever that unit of measurement may be, the process of measuring it is what really matters. Ideally the unit of measurement will revolve around the customer: number of repeat purchases, customer satisfaction scores, positive reviews, decrease in complaints, etc.

You could measure dollars, but that paradigm is more about you and what you want, and less about the customer’s needs. So if you’re measuring revenue as an indicator of success, always think of it in terms of value exchanged. You’ll know the customer’s problem is well solved when they’re happily exchanging [x] amount of revenue for this solution.

And most importantly, learn and iterate

The most import of the Scientific Method is the learning. And iterating to a new hypothesis to continue learning. Trial and error means nothing if you just give up at error, and somehow even success gets boring after a while. Business is constantly evolving, and the best way to evolve is by leveraging the momentum gathered from prior learnings.

So think about it. Because hypothetically (and in my experience) this will work.


Cover photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash


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