You Have a New Business Idea? What’s Next? – Learn the Learning Launch Tool


What do you do if you have a business idea and want to test its attractiveness and practicality in the real marketplace? Maybe you start writing a business plan, look for funding sources, and launch your new business, right? Hell, NO! That’s the traditional and the riskiest way of starting a business. It’s also a waste of time, as many new entrepreneurs have experienced. It’s, as Professor Ed Hesse said, a “complete idiocy”.

What do you do instead? Try your luck and launch the business instead without even writing a business plan just like flipping a coin. HAHA! I just fooled you (or you thought I was the fool). NO! That’s even riskier than the former approach of starting with a business plan. So what? Let me introduce you the Learning Launch tool.

First Things First…

We finished this week the Design Thinking for Innovation course by the University of Virginia and taught by Prof. Jeanne M. Liedtka, the author of Designing for Growth. It was a four-week course in which we learned the process of design thinking starting from the idea generation stage to the experimentation phase. We also learned a lot of useful tools used during the design thinking process, incl. co-creation, visualization, mind mapping (not the boring way of mind mapping, but using “art gallery rooms” instead), brainstorming, prototyping, doing external research, and the Learning Launch tool.

Design Thinking Process
Source: Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

The main take away of the course is the creative, 4-step process of design thinking:

  • What is? – to explore current reality
  • What if? – to generate ideas and explore possible solutions
  • What wows? – to think systematically to validate your business hypothesis
  • What works? – to try out a low fidelity prototype with actual users.

The Learning Launch Tool

I personally have fallen in love with the Learning Launch tool. The Learning Launch is a small experiment that tests your new idea in the real marketplace. A note here: this is the last phase of the design thinking process; therefore, this requires you to conduct the previous steps.

Steps to Designing for Growth
Source: Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Do lots of experiments before you fully launch your business. Small experiments. You need to test your hypothesis before investing too much money and time and later realizing that your assumptions are proven wrong. It’s unforgiving to make mistakes in the business world.

Doing small experiment is fast and cheap and the purpose is to LEARN before you scale up the idea. We’re avoiding the confirmation bias here. All ideas are not good, and ideas are like sand on the beach: they are plentiful. Therefore, don’t get wet; you’re not the idea; there’ll always be more ideas. Test. Test. Test. Innovation comes from the test.

Learning Launch Process
Source: Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

There’s a process to follow when doing the Learning Launch experiment (see the photo shown below), but this was just a small reflective post of the course. Thank you for reading.

N.B: Design thinking is more than just following a process or using certain tools.

Learning Launch Process
Source: Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

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