Surfacing Assumptions Underlying Solution Options

When it’s time to shift to designing solutions and evaluating options for organizational problems, proto-typing is a critical step. When solving organizational issues, we’re likely not making a physical object so prototyping takes a different shape. It may be a pilot program or a focus group to test how it might work. By finding ways to design small experiments to test our new solution, we can evaluate its true efficacy before we roll it out broadly within the organization.

Senge reminds us to “beware of excitement and unbridled action.” Often our organizational solutions are created in an “ivory tower,” without testing them with the people most affected. Often, we have a “brilliant” idea and our mental models can cause us to jump into grand action immediately. We often do this with blinders on.

It’s the proverbial iceberg situation, where we must think about what’s lying beneath the surface that may derail our well-intentioned solutions.

When we’re testing our solutions in an organization setting, we can use the same assumption categories often used in product development to help us identify what we’re not thinking about. By using these as a checklist, we can start to shift our mental models to evaluate how the solution may really be received.

  • Desirability: Do they want this solution? Are they willing to do the things we’re proposing?
  • Usabiity: Can they do what we need them do to? Can they understand it? Do they know what it means? Are they able to do it, even if they want to do it?
  • Feasibility: Is it possible? Can we even do it? Are there regulations that will prohibit us from dong this?
  • Viability: Is it worth it? Is the reward worth the effort? Why is this good for the business?
  • Ethical: Are people uncomfortable doing this? Is there any harm in doing this? How do we help to mitigate any risk?

This is hard, especially when you’re really excited about an idea. This part of the process can often feel like the “bubble-bursting” phase. But it’s a critical to designing solid, unbiased solutions that will have true organizational effectiveness.


Photo by Jay Ruzesky on Unsplash




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