Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Good ideas ... testable ideas

Do you buy this?
The most irritating innovation insight .... seems paradoxical, but it’s true: good ideas are bad for innovators.
Michael Schrage thinks so as he writes:
" .... the successful innovators I observed spent less time on identifying and developing good ideas and more time testing their hypotheses. In fact, these teams and groups made the testable business hypothesis the center of their innovation effort."
Of course, the point he is trying to make is that a testable hypothesis may lead to innovation, and if so, then by definition, the underlying idea is good; whereas some other good idea may not be testable and so more or less ends without benefit.

Is this insight useful to project managers? (I hope so, or why write about it here?) Consider:
  • A testable hypothesis is "shovel ready", to use the political vernacular popular in the U.S. That is, if it's testable, then it's got to be a shorter timeline with less investment than some competing idea that is not.
  • "... business hypothesis is a testable belief about future value creation. It is not a search for truth or fundamental understanding; a business hypothesis suggests a possible or plausible causal relationship between a proposed action and an economically desirable outcome.
    If there is not an explicit and understood measure or metric for that new thing, it is not a testable business hypothesis. And if it isn’t in writing, agreed upon, and shareable, it’s not a business hypothesis. Many good ideas fail on all counts above."
Causal relationships, agreed upon, and metrics: what more could a project manager want?

  • The causal thing is harder than you might think, since the business is often not stationary, moving under the project and thus disturbing cause-and-effect.
  • And "agree upon"... would that it be every time!
And metrics! We can all sign up for that. Nothing like a measurement to spur things along
So, anything new here? Likely not, but sometimes it just helps to review.

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