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Discovery driven planning

Discovery driven planning

Discovery driven planning

Use this framework to plan a new venture

Discovery-driven planning is a strategic planning framework developed by Rita McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan. It's designed to help organisations navigate uncertainties and risks when developing new ventures or initiatives.


Traditional planning methods are based on assumptions. These can be dangerous as assumptions seldom are tested. In discovery driven planning it is accepted that there is a significant level of uncertainty regarding key variables such as market demand, technology feasibility, and resource requirements. This means that you should always test assumptions.


Market research can be helpful here but so too can inexpensive experimentation.  There is nothing like a test market to show how the assumptions are working out. However, it would be crazy to spend millions of dollars prior to the test market as this may lead to a commitment bias - that is once a good deal of money is spent on a project there is an understandable desire to make it work by keep on heading down a trajectory that may simply be wrong.


Key principles of discovery-driven planning include:


Set Clear Objectives: Begin by defining specific goals and objectives for the initiative. These objectives should be clearly articulated and measurable.


Identify Key Assumptions: Identify the key assumptions underlying the initiative. These assumptions may relate to market demand, technical feasibility, competitive dynamics, etc.


Test Assumptions: Develop a plan to systematically test the key assumptions. This may involve conducting market research, building prototypes, or running experiments.


Adapt Based on Learning: Continuously monitor the results of the tests and experiments. Based on the learning gathered, be prepared to adapt and adjust the plan as necessary. This may involve pivoting the strategy, reallocating resources, or even abandoning the initiative altogether if the assumptions prove to be invalid.


Manage Risk: Throughout the process, actively manage and mitigate risks. This may involve developing contingency plans, hedging against uncertainties, or seeking out strategic partnerships.


Flexibility and Iteration: Embrace flexibility and iteration in the planning process. Recognize that plans are not set in stone and may need to evolve over time based on new information and changing circumstances.

Overall, discovery-driven planning provides a structured approach for organisations to explore new opportunities while minimising risks and maximising the likelihood of success in uncertain environments.


We haven't prepared a PowerPoint showing how to apply discovery-driven planning because the best instruction is on YouTube, straight from Rita herself.

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