Test Hypothesis With Minimal Change

…  you are trying to IMPROVE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE, you SLICE AND DICE HISTORICAL DATA about the problem and FORMULATED A HYPOTHESIS, the team is trying hard to CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

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There is a natural tendency to implement a change that will “solve the problem.” Almost always, this will cost more time and money than a smaller “test the hypothesis.” Very often, the obvious solution won’t be the the most effective solution.  Additionally, the smaller the change, the faster you can get it out and get feedback (i.e. hours versus days); however, you may be too close (or to invested in something) to always find that “minimal change”


After brainstorming options for the minimal change, explain the problem & options to someone else on the team (especially if they are good at critical thinking and they’re more removed form the problem than you are) and ask them to find a more minimal alternative. Use the results as the minimal change to test the hypothesis

Everyone will try to build something to solve the problem – your intern, your boss, the CEO, you – everyone.

How does this change? Experience. What experience?

  • The experience of implementing a (relatively) huge solution and seeing that it has no positive results & even negative results.
  • Implement the minimal change (certain that it’ll yield a huge improvement “why are we wasting our time on this….”) and it has not positive results / negative results.

Do this a few times you’ll remember the difference between testing the hypothesis and solving the problem

In our example, we brainstormed and came up with several options

  • change the flow
  • improve the visual design to emphasize the grocery list
  • provide an excerpt of the grocery list on the previous page, i.e. as a teaser

After some consideration, we had that review to find the minimal change, and

came up with

  • add a popup when you’re done with the meal plan

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now you’re ready to implement the change, ISOLATE THE TEST, BUILD THE TEST and release it via CONTINUOUS DEPLOYMENT

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