A strategic hypothesis lays out your view of the market, the opportunity, the risks, and a prioritized set of options. Once subjected to internal review and discussion, there are bound to be a number of additional questions raised, and perhaps some preferences expressed.
The purpose of validation is to test the preferred options with friendly customers and internal stake-holders, and to find answers to the questions raised in the hypothesis review process.
Validation can be short or long, depending on the scope of the strategic leap proposed, and upon the style of the organization. I always try to keep the validation phase short, because you have established some momentum as a result of the hypothesis review, and you don’t want to allow too much time to pass between the establishment of a hypothesis and the delivery of final recommendations.
The key elements to be assembled in preparing for validation are these:
- The list of unanswered questions raised by your stakeholders that need to be addressed to complete the strategy proposal
- The list of objections and concerns raised in presentation and discussion of the hypothesis
- The best sources of answers to the questions, objections and concerns
Once you have the validation data, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I still believe the original hypothesis as stated, or does it need modification?
- Do I have adequate answers to each of the questions, issues and objections so that a credible case can be made?
If all is well, congratulations! You are ready to proceed to the delivery of final recommendations. But if not, don’t despair. If you’ve done a good job throughout the process, you will find that the differences are small, and can generally be incorporated in a small revision of the ideas. The goal in concluding the validation process is to update the hypothesis with the additional information, so you are now armed with a thorough and defensible set of strategy recommendations.
How those are delivered is the subject of our seventh and final step to a sound strategy.