Chapter 3. Act to Learn

This chapter is all about how to learn well, for better decision making. We explore how to articulate our beliefs and riskiest assumptions, and then design experiments that help us learn the relevant things. To help put theory into practice, there’s loads of methods for validating problems, evaluating potential solutions, and testing market demand.

Strategy is about doing. Doing is how we learn. Learning is how we win.

Action is how we push a theory toward reality, and in our complex world, winning is often about how we learn and respond, not how much we know.1

Learning your way to a strategy that works begins by doing the following:

  1. Defining your beliefs and assumptions (so that they can be tested)

  2. Deciding the most important thing to learn, and how you’ll learn it

  3. Designing experiments that will deliver learning

Defining Your Beliefs and Assumptions

Before we talk with customers or run an experiment, we need to identify what we need to learn. Otherwise, we’ll have a lovely chat, but might not learn anything that lets us know we’re on the right track.

The problem-assumption model in Figure 3-1 helps break down our beliefs and identify the underlying assumptions in our thinking. Those assumptions are the basis of what we test. We can translate them into questions for customer interviews or use them to design experiments that create a measurable result.

Figure 3-1. The problem-assumption model helps express problems, solutions, assumptions, and questions ...

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