As mentioned in yesterdays post, a common query I have from students is them asking “is my idea okay?”. I think this is something that a lot of people come up against when coming up with ideas, whether it’s for startups or within an existing company. The tendency is to ask someone in authority whether they think its a good idea.

A lot of the time, these people may not even be as clued up as you are regarding an industry or an issue. The best way to test your ideas is to deeply investigate whether the problem exists and figure out if your idea really solves the problem. When we come up with ideas we make many assumptions, and we need to test these and see if they hold.

One project group came with an exciting idea about getting older people involved in NGOs and development projects. Their assumption was that these people were bored and would love to be involved in developing South Africa. They first came to consultation to check if their idea would work, and I wasn’t really able to give them feedback. They then went to an old age home with questionnaires and the immediate feedback was that their was almost no interest in their idea. They’ve now pivoted and found another idea, as they realized the assumptions underpinning their original idea didn’t work.

If you find yourself struggling with this, check out the Lean Iterator (a Cape Town based group), click “get started” and go through their playbook and videos:

Don’t seek approval, seek evidence

Picture is from a neighbourhood watch patrol I went on earlier this year. Our safety idea had pivoted to focusing on neighbourhood watch groups, and to test our assumptions we spent time on the ground, which helped us immensely.


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