Why do so many of today’s problems remain unsolved? Often, we have no shortage of viable solutions. Additionally, in many cases we have a critical mass of people committed to solving the problem. Yet despite abundant ideas, energy, and action, the problems persist.
How can we improve? Start by making scientific thinking a habit and using a Mission (or Business-Model) canvas.
Scientific thinking is embedded in lean thinking, as illustrated in Toyota Kata. Many similar approaches can also be reduced, at their essence, to the basic scientific method. The critical point is to identify conclusions and assumptions and recognize that we must experiment to test our ideas for solving problems—we do not know the answers, we must test our ideas and learn from experiments.
Scientific thinking involves more than prototyping and iterating. It’s critical to have a hypothesis and write it down. What did we expect? What actually happened? What will we try next? This is how we learn. (Entrepreneurs like to say “fail fast.” Lawyers have trouble embracing this. Thus, I try to emphasize that we want to “learn fast.”)
We get the greatest value from experiments when everyone has a shared understanding of the mission. There are many advantages of using a Business-Model (or, as described by Steve Blank, a Mission Canvas). A canvas organizes a group’s thinking around the critical issues. It’s also an excellent visual medium for capturing input from individuals and communicating it back to everyone. Additionally, it’s easy to quickly generate multiple canvases, depicting different models. This can be especially helpful to keep participants focused on generating ideas for testing rather than killing ideas before they can be further explored, tested, and improved.