In Adam Grant’s 2021 book ‘Think Again’, the author suggests that we should think like scientists in both our work and our lives. We should approach our opinions and beliefs as theories that we test to see if they align with observable facts, and if they don’t, we should rethink them.
He noted a study by European researchers: in a four-month course on entrepreneurship with over a hundred founders of Italian startups, these researchers divided them into two groups – a ‘scientific thinking’ group and a control group.
The coursework was the same for both groups – basic startup methodology of creating a strategy, interviewing potential customers, developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and refining that prototype–but the ‘scientific thinking’ group was encouraged to think like scientists during that process. Their strategies were theories, the interviews provided hypotheses, and early products and prototypes were tests of those hypotheses.
These founders came in with startups that had no revenue. At the end of the four month course, the control group averaged under $300 in revenue while the ‘scientific thinking’ group averaged over $12,000. The researchers noted that founders in the control group tended to stay with their original strategies and products, whereas the ‘scientific thinking’ group pivoted twice as often.
I’ve been spending some time with the blog posts from Gain Compliance’s earliest days, and I was struck by the parallels.
From the onset, we theorized that better software would bring value to statutory reporting teams. The early evidence we collected – by way of interviews and primary research with these teams in 2016 – validated this, and the response to the first product provided even more confirming data points.
While we (fortunately) didn’t pivot like the ‘scientific thinking’ group of the study did, we deliberately applied scientific thinking throughout the process of working with statutory reporting teams to improve and enhance the software.
By way of an example, check out the 2017 post from our library: ‘The Science of Customer Led Software Design’. One snippet illustrates the parallel I saw between Grant’s book and what we’ve done at Gain:
“In our agile approach, we base 100% of product strategy and design decisions on customer discovery and feedback. This requires discipline: diligent discovery with a broad range of target customers is a time-consuming, exhaustive, and often plodding affair.”
The punchline from this post is still what we live by:
“Listen to the customers–they’ll tell you what to build.”
Since the evidence supports that approach, that is what we will continue to do.