Many of the methodologies within the Lean Start-up and Innovation movements rely on formulating hypotheses or assumptions on which your solution/idea relies. Once available, those are structured as business experiments and fed into the customer validation process. We have found that to be a big challenge for many individuals and teams. Firstly, because formulating proper hypotheses and surfacing assumptions is not simple. Second, because of our general tendency to work with full constructs rather than identifying fundamental assumptions. We have developed the Assumption Canvas as a structured way of questioning that helps us in the hypothesis building process.
Let's assume you've been asked to help a group of people to generate options for solving a problem, or rapidly come up with product/service ideas. Have you ever wondered where to start? Multiple brainstorming techniques have evolved over the years, but we find most of them to be limited. One key limitation is our tendency to rapidly jump to conclusions based on previous exposure, rather than to be clear about our intent behind those conclusions. Hopes and Fears is a problem structuring exercise that we find helps us avoid the rapid jump into solution by starting from the original intent behind them.