Planning your next move in the current chaotic environment may seem futile, but it’s necessary if you hope to learn anything as you go along.
Here’s an overview of “theory-focused planning,” which simply means building a theory and testing it, from business professors at Dartmouth and Tuck.
In the first six steps, you build theory. In the last two, you test it.
1. Describe how the project works. What actions will succeed? How?
2. Choose metrics. What can you measure?
3. Set goals. How do you define success in all its forms?
4. Draw up a budget. How much of an investment is needed, when and from where?
5. Forecast. Given the budget, what results do you expect?
6. Identify “critical unknowns.” These are your assumptions. What makes them critical is that only a few unknowns could truly make or break your plan. How will you test these assumptions?
7. Analyze disparities between your predictions and the results. What’s your evidence? Can you validate or invalidate parts of your theory or assumptions?
8. Revise the plan. How can you apply the lessons you’ve learned?
— Adapted from 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators, Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, Harvard Business School Press.
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