<aside> 💡 Test the promise of lofty ideas with just enough research.


“Ideas are worthless, execution is everything.”

If you operate in the VUCA world of creating new businesses like we do, then you’ve probably come across some or the other variant of the above quote. But, does that quote really paint a holistic picture? Sure, execution matters, but is that enough? What about those well executed ideas that never took off? Remember Segway, the technological marvel that didn’t live up to the hype? Why did it fail? Or for that matter, if execution is everything, why does any well executed idea fail at all?

In our humble opinion, execution is important — we’ve built a whole business around it. But, is it everything? We don’t think so. We think, a well executed idea isn’t worth much if it fails at delivering value to its users. Gauging if the idea is valuable or not is as important, if not more, as executing it well.

<aside> 💡 How do we determine if users find value in the idea, before we expend any effort on its execution?


For us at Obvious, the answer lies in the three step process that follows.

Step 1: Design the experiment to gauge usefulness

Our aim is to only gauge if people can resonate with the broad idea, not the details of its execution. Without getting lost in those details, we try and outline our learning outcomes in a way that they align with the broad business goals. For example, if the business goal is to check the appeal of voice search in an application, here's how we would craft our learning outcome, experiment design and success criterion —

In the above case, tapping the button might not do anything at all, but the usefulness of search using voice gets established the moment the button is tapped, or gets debunked in case the users don't hit the button.

We often have several such usefulness tests built into a single prototype, all of which add up to paint the big picture regarding the usefulness of a potentially lofty idea, without having to build it in reality.

Step 2: Craft a Minimum Viable Prototype (MVPr)

To test our idea, we need to help our users imagine a world where the idea is a reality. Only when they can picture living with that idea, can we know if they find it useful or not. The best way to do this, is to create what we call a Minimum Viable Prototype (MVPr).