In Business Design projects, we spend a lot of time and effort in the Validation of future scenarios such as new business models, products, services or software applications. How the validation will be taking place is either planned in the Design Workshop or in a dedicated Validate Workshop (depending on availability of the team members). It is virtually impossible to learn something about your new business by staying in your office. Especially Business Models need to be confronted with the real world to be improved. Thus, the project team needs to leave their desks to get in touch with customers, run experiments, talk to experts and create tangible outputs to validate their business model. As a result of the Validate phase, the project team has run experiments on either open questions (= exploration) or testable hypotheses (= validation) to challenge the future scenario. In many cases, the project team also starts building Lean Offerings if we need 100% reality to test some hypotheses (e.g. willingness to pay a premium). After three to four weeks, a Review Workshop will be held to adjust the execution of the experiments and prepare for the final Decide Workshop. Right before the Review Workshop we usually schedule another Sneak Preview with the sponsor so that he gets a first clue what he can expect in the Decide workshop. Weekly Status Calls will help the team to stay on track.
During the validation phase, there are different biases that might hinder your team to be successful. First, they might tend to spend time solving the "easy" experiments, devoting a disproportionate amount of time to menial and trivial matters while leaving important matters unattended (Bikeshedding). Second, they might suffer from Cognitive Dissonance, where they reject, debunk, or avoid new information that conflict with their beliefs and attitudes because it makes us feel uncomfortable.
3. Key Activities
The following activities represent the core of the Validate phase:
Exploring Open Questions: Especially in early iterations, many questions are still completely new to you. They need to be explored further before you can phrase testable hypotheses about how your new business works. Interview people from your network, prototype and engage in desktop research to derive testable hypotheses from your open questions.
Validating Hypotheses: The success of your business model is based on hypotheses that need to be proven correct. Run the experiments you have defined in the Design Phase and document their results. Pay attention to avoid biases and leverage the diversity of your team to ensure objective interpretations. Use the dashboard of the Project Workspace to collect and visualize collected data. The sponsor will love it!
Building Lean Offerings: Some hypotheses can only be validated by proposing a lean version of your planned offerings to your targeted customers, which they already pay for. Build a Lean Offering designed in the previous phase and get feedback under conditions which are as authentic as possible. Focus on concrete aspects in your experiments such as willingness to pay, relevance of features etc.
Before you present a (technologically) new idea to the public, see a patent attorney and ask for advice how to protect your idea with patents, trademarks etc. Don't risk to loose the possibility to file a patent.
Validate Workshop (optional)
Virtual teamwork to explore open questions (see Exploring Open Questions)
Virtual teamwork to validate hypotheses (see Validating Hypotheses)
Virtual teamwork to build prototypes (see Prototyping)
Virtual teamwork to build lean offerings (see Building Lean Offerings)
GTD Workshop (optional)
Customers and (team) external experts like Prototyping Expert
6. Tools & Materials
See Review Workshop
7. Q & A
See Design Workshop
What if the members of the project team are reluctant to go out and challenge their ideas? Be aware that sometimes team members are just scared to test their own ideas. Quite normal, isn't it? Make clear that this phase is the very essence of Business Design. If we don't test ideas we won't get any proven evidence whether our ideas are promising enough to continue working on them.
As soon as the Decide Workshop / D-Day comes closer, the time may be right to gain the interest of the sponsor and other colleagues in the company with some visual teasers in the office, e.g.:
"Coming soon" posters or banners
Stickers on laptops of the project team
Mysterious flyers on canteen's food trays
(double-check with sponsor before you start your "campaign")