Ideas are just stories 💭

They are made up of assumptions. It's up to you to find out if they are true.

Hello friends, I hope you are having an amazing week! ☀️

Today, I want to talk about ideas. And why they are just stories made up of assumptions you think are true. I also share a simple and free worksheet that you can use to rank these assumptions and create a starting point for validating them. Let’s go! ⬇️

In my Pizza Analogy post, I talked about what happens when you ask someone to pitch you their idea. They will mostly talk about “the thing” they want to make. And if you listen carefully, there are full of assumptions:

“I am building a product for target customer that helps them with problem/need. It will cost price and they can buy it through channel. I will market and grow this business model with value proposition via marketing channels.”

I am oversimplifying here. But as you can see, an idea is a combination of multiple assumptions (and thus choices!) that come from things you know, things you have seen, creative thoughts, inspiration and examples from others, educated guesses, etc.

What is an assumption in this context?
“a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.”

If you pick one of the (infinite) ideas from the universe, made up of a combination of your assumptions (things you think are true), you basically give yourself the assignment to find evidence that tells you there are in fact true.

That is why it is important to view ideas as just stories. What you eventually want is a story + proof.
The challenge? Everyone falls in love with their idea. Why? I think it is ego. You came up with the idea so it must be true! If not, that means rejection, right? I think that thought is crazy that but even as an avid practitioner of my own principles, I still run into this.

It is challenging but necessary to distance yourself from your idea to establish a solid foundation for validation. Detachment allows for continuous, objective evaluation of whether the steps you take are genuinely providing evidence to support your story. And if not, it shows you why you should quit a certain idea!

By viewing ideas as stories, we can maintain an open-minded perspective and adapt more effectively as new information becomes available.

How to define and work with your assumptions to follow a clear path. Think about this:

Which assumptions, if invalidated, will kill your idea?

What’s important to know is that you can never be 100% right. That is the risk factor of wanting to pursue ideas. The goal of investigating your riskiest assumptions is to significantly lower the chance that you are wrong (so you become more certain about the idea).

I have created a simple Ranking Tool to help you write down and rank the riskiest assumptions of your idea to determine which ones you should investigate first. They can be split into 3 types:

  • Problem: An assumption about your market or customers

  • Solution: An assumption about the (business) value of your proposition

  • Implementation: An assumption about the technical aspects of your solution

Then you rank them based on the Possibility of your Assumption being wrong and the level of Impact on your idea if the assumption is wrong.

Which assumption do you know the least about but will have the highest impact on your idea if it is not true?

(Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets, and PDF format)

After you have ranked them, pick the top 3 assumptions and start validating those first. How to validate them depends on the type and context of the assumption.

Best of luck! Reply to this email to let me know if you used it and found it valuable. See you next week!

High five from the internet,

Bram Kanstein (@bramk)