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An Introduction to Assumptions Mapping with David J. Bland: Webinar Recap

Written by 
Annelise Schoups
May 22, 2017

Any time a team begins a new project, there are risky assumptions involved. Precoil Founder David J Bland has learned this all too well through his years of experience helping corporations think more creatively. His work has evolved to make Assumptions Mapping a method that ends in actionable items, so that teams can successfully move their ideas forward.

What is assumptions mapping?

Assumptions mapping is an exercise in which a team unpacks any assumptions they may have about a new product or service's feasibility, viability, and desirability. Once outlined, each assumption is prioritized by importance and potential risk.

Why assumption mapping is important

Product decisions are often driven by assumptions and by mapping them out, teams can better understand which areas need further experimentation or development. Assumptions can be risky if they aren't openly considered, and can even have costly implications if they prove to be unfounded or incorrect. This is why assumptions mapping is such a critical step in product development.

Watch the assumptions mapping webinar

David recently joined us for a webinar to explain what Assumptions Mapping is, from a high-level point of view, and why it’s important for individuals, teams and organizations to use when building new products, services or strategies.

Watch the video below to see the full recording.

How to get started with Assumptions Mapping

Essentially, the problem lies in the initial intent. When implementing Lean Startup methods, for example, there is room for misinterpretation in the Build, Measure, Learn cycle. He believes that by starting with ‘Build,’ teams and organizations fall into a trap where they are building just to build, instead of building to learn.

To bypass the mechanical mindset, David recommends asking yourself, your team or your stakeholders one question: “What do you want to learn?” In turn, this will shift the approach to beg yet another question: “What assumptions am I making?” And herein lies the key to designing and delivering thoughtful, human-centered, quality products and services.

Before you begin mapping, David also suggests three guidelines worth adhering to:

  1. Everything you map should be based firmly on what you know today
  2. Limit yourself to one, single statement per sticky note-- no bullet points
  3. Have strong opinions, but hold them loosely to make room for new info

Ready to get started?

Click the mural below to use David’s Assumptions Mapping template.

Assumptions Mapping Template

The bottom line

Whatever step a team is on in the product development phase, mapping out assumptions can help clarify and debunk any misplaced priorities. By mapping out implied rules, teams can speak to any concerns in a dedicated, nonjudgemental environment. This both improves the product end-state and clarifies where teams should focus their efforts.

Want more information? Click here to read more about Assumptions Mapping.


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About the author

About the authors

Annelise Schoups

Annelise is a writer and wanderer, passionate about storytelling and the spread of honest information.