Reframing and the hypothesis-driven process in becoming a success!
Some of you may already know what you need to do and may already be en route to feeling rejuvenated. Others may feel that they need to work their situation a little more, looking at it in yet other perspectives, to identify the right thing to do. In this article, we wrap up the five steps of strategic thinking by looking at the hypothesis-driven process and reframing.
Because we can’t tell the future
The feeling of helplessness creeps in when we have done everything we thought possible to solve our situation and we still find ourselves there! This saps our enthusiasm and very soon, we slump into this overpowering feeling of being “no good”. This happens to the best of us and in moving out of this stasis, we must first adopt a mental model that “we can’t tell the future”. This being the case, we need to proceed with our options with caution. This caution requires us to limit our downside (what we call the “affordable loss”) and to test each assumption as we walk down the implementation stages. Here’s how we do it…
First, line up all your options and rank them from best to worst. Then, starting with your top option, write down all your assumptions about why it will work. Next, work out tests to assess whether the assumptions are true or not. Then work each test, inching your way from one test to the next until, finally, you complete all your tests. If at any point you hit a test that disconfirms your assumption, you need to go back to the option and see if it can still work. If it cannot, then you need to discard this option and go for the next one, repeating the process. And if all your assumptions are true, then your option is most likely a good one and you can pour in more energy and resources to make it happen.
Do bear these in mind…
Don’t put in too much resource into each experiment (money, time, love, sweat, whatever!)
Make sure your downside for each step is low so that you can “kill” the idea without being bitten by the sunk cost fallacy – remember “fail fast, fail cheap”!
One experiment at a time
People ask me, “Since we don’t know what is happening, why not do several experiments at the same time so that we can get to business viability faster?” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. The problem with running several experiments at once is you won’t know which variable works and which doesn’t. It also splits your attention, which may be a contributory factor.
Be brutally honest with yourself
The problem about these experiments is we usually have a favourite option and when it comes time to hit the kill switch, we find excuses to keep the project alive. This is not helpful. Be brutally honest with yourself and the minute you find that the option does not work, it is time to move on.
But what if we’ve run out of options and all of them bombed? What shall we do then? Well, then it’s time to reframe and dive deep once again…
Reframing one last time
If you’ve come up to this point, having done everything that was set out from Steps 1 to 4, there is really no reason for you to still be stuck and feeling helpless. No reason, that is, unless you have not been totally open with the process. But we still have an ace on the river: taking a third-party perspective.
In my first article of this series, I described the scenario of you cutting a lime. While there was no lime physically, I’ll bet you salivated. And I’m betting you’re salivating right now! The point is, the mind can conjure up any image as if it were real and make you think in like manner. So, when you are still backed up to the wall, ask yourself this question,
“If I were the world’s expert on this subject, what will I tell myself to shift me out of this situation?”
You will suddenly transform yourself into being that expert and prescribe your own medicine. This exercise can single-handedly present you the right thing to do, even if you didn’t want that; especially after you have done all the Steps from 1 to 4. More importantly, it will come from you and you can convince yourself why that was the best thing to do. And once that is done, go out there and do it, applying the hypothesis-driven process once again.
Shifting you to positive action
If we said it once, we have said it a thousand times: action is the cure for helplessness. And action coupled with purpose is the highest form of cure. The purpose comes from your intent, which also guides your system and your hypotheses. Your system determines your centre of gravity, which guides your purpose. Your hypotheses drive action, which ultimately leads to your intent. And when still stuck, your reframes drive more hypotheses, which drive more action. Ultimately, action leads back to intent, which leads to purpose. And this is the interlocking system of strategic thinking that leads us out of the gloom of helplessness into the sunshine of action!
A success story
Tomorrow, we wrap up the whole process with a story of how one business owner, who was stuck in a five-year business stasis, applied strategic thinking to get him out of a bind and land him a million-dollar deal in one fell swoop! Don’t forget to read tomorrow’s post!
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