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Reducing Risks and Maximizing Success

There is much uncertainty and risk for any team solving crucial customer problems. Leaders under pressure can get antsy when their teams run rapid experiments to mitigate these risks.

Leaders or stakeholders believe they already know what to build (yet there is no significant proof). They tell the team, "We don't have time for this! There are deadlines to meet and goals to achieve!" Sometimes, leaders/stakeholders don't see or understand the value of experiments.

The harsh reality is that rushing to build without a deep understanding of the customer problem and testing critical assumptions leads to a team developing a solution that doesn't solve a thing. Another project, feature (output), ends up on a shelf.

Teams need the support, space, and encouragement to run experiments that test critical assumptions. It's all about reducing risks.

Reducing risks isn't just about avoiding failure; it's about maximizing success by solving the customer's problem and driving impact for the business.

Think of it like this: every experiment provides data and insights and ensures they head down the right path. It helps them make evidence-based decisions.

Teams are not acting on emotions, opinions, or beliefs; the teams operate like scientists searching for answers (proof).

Let's break down the different types of risks.

First up, there's the customer risk (desirability and usability). It is where teams will focus their efforts first with the customer. Will the product solve their problem and deliver the value promised? Does anyone want it? Will they understand how to use it or what they need to do? Will it meet their expectations?

Then there's viability risk—are you even able to bring this product to market within the constraints of your organization? Legal, compliance, marketing, sales, etc, in consideration here. Will it drive impact for the business? Is there potential harm if we build it?

And let's not forget about feasibility risk. Do you have the skills, data, technology, and resources to make this happen? Will it work with the existing systems?

Here's the bottom line: permitting teams to run experiments to test those riskiest assumptions that can pause or stop the work if they don't prove true —it's essential.

It's part of continuous discovery. It reduces the risk of product failure. It enables teams to navigate through uncertainty, maximize the speed of learning, and gain confidence in the direction they are heading.

There should be a culture that fosters rapid experimentation.

Let teams do what they do best: explore, experiment, iterate, and ultimately innovate, delivering value by solving crucial problems and achieving the desired customer and business outcomes.

Written By: Pam Krengel