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How can we predict whether something will change?

The big topic this week is on how to figure out if a new technology is worth gambling on or not. But
How can we predict whether something will change?
By Paul Sturrock • Issue #3 • View online
The big topic this week is on how to figure out if a new technology is worth gambling on or not.
But this issue also includes some practical tools you can use to help you design your brand, your sales channel, your revenue model and your advisory board.

How can we predict whether something will change?
The biggest question we all have when gambling on an innovative idea is whether it will be successful, not jut technically but commercially.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. This piece by Benedict Evans is a long article. But it is worth persevering as it offers some real and insightful ways of figuring out whether something is worth a gamble. Here are some nuggets to spark your curiosity:
So, what do we mean when we say that some new piece of technology is a toy? It seems to me that there are two parts to this: either it doesn’t work, or it won’t matter even if it does work. On the one hand, it cannot do what it is supposed to do because it is incomplete, impractical or expensive, and on the other, even if it does work no-one will want it, or, perhaps, even if they do it won’t matter. These are all effectively assertions that nothing will change: the product won’t change, or people’s behaviour won’t change, or the things that are important won’t change.
The question, then, is not whether something works now but whether it could work - whether you know how to change it. Saying ‘it doesn’t work, today’ has no value, but saying 'yes, but everything didn’t work once’ also has no value. Rather, do you have a roadmap? Do you know what to do next?
…it’s quite common… for something to propose a new way to solve an existing problem. It can’t be used to solve the problem in the old way, so 'it doesn’t work’, and proposes a new way, and so 'no-one will want that’. This is how generational shifts work - first you try to force the new tool to fit the old workflow, and then the new tool creates a new workflow. Both parts are painful and full of denial, but the new model is ultimately much better than the old.

…the test throughout this post is falsifiability and predictive power. “That is a toy’, 'everything looks like a toy’, 'no-one will want that’ and 'no-one wanted phones either’, paradoxically, are statements that are both completely true and 'not even wrong’: you cannot use them as a test for anything. They have no predictive power. Of course, asking whether there is a technology roadmap, or whether this is a superpower, are analytic projects that might get you to the wrong answer. But they do give you a roadmap to understanding what might happen. 
A branding tool for people who hate branding
I share Jake Knapp’s discomfort with branding. I veer between my initial instinctive reaction that it’s superficial, and the more sober knowledge that it is essential to distill what makes your business truly different in a meaningful way.
This post has some really valuable exercises to get you started. One of those articles to work through, not just read.
The Three-Hour Brand Sprint – GV Library
Distribution channel design
It’s all about tools you can use. Here is a great one for designing and assembling your sales channel, after careful consideration of all the components. Includes brutal clarity and a fun music video.
Quick Tools
Storyframes before wireframes: starting designs in the text editor
Start Up on the Right Foot — Build a Customer Advisory Board | First Round Review The 10 Most Popular Startup Revenue Models
Coming up
Ollie Purdue went straight from Uni into our first FastForward London cohort. Great interview on his experience since then. If you want to follow his example, our next cohort starts on the 28th. There’s only two days left to apply at ffwdlondoncom.
My summer course in Simple Venture Design starts 3 July. There’s still 3 places left. You can book here, or forward this to a friend.
Design Thinking For Business Innovation - CSM Short Courses Blog
But if you’d rather do it all yourself for the moment, help yourself to a Venture Design Canvas here.
That's it...
Please let me know by clicking the thumbs up or down below whether this is useful or not. You can also reply and let me know what you’d like to see more or less of.
I’m aiming to send this every two weeks but got sidetracked by too much work and the election last week. No, I wasn’t running for office, just geeking out.
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Paul Sturrock

Simple Venture Design. Tools to start and and grow businesses using what you're good at, like to do, and care about.

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