Design Innovation Readings

Watch “How to Get Started with Assumptions Mapping” with David Bland

David Bland shows how to use Assumptions Mapping to help teams refocus their experimentation efforts on what matters, instead of being distracted by what’s easy.

In this tutorial, David Bland covers 3 types of assumptions and how to visually map them together as a team. You’ll learn how teams are refocusing their experimentation efforts on what matters, instead of being distracted by what’s easy.

Assumptions Mapping


  • Flawed assumptions are one of the worst barriers to innovation. They lead us to think we know all the facts when we really don’t. They cause us to become trapped by our own self-imposed limits and specializations. Rules, like assumptions, keep us stuck in outdated patterns.
  • Your initial product strategy may contain plenty of assumptions and risks, and you may as well discover that the strategy is wrong and does not work.
  • David Bland builds on the top of Lean UX and encourages us to start with the biggest questions and work our way down into the details, like “Do they want this?” (the desirability hypothesis), “Can we do this?” (the feasibility hypothesis), and “Should we do this?” (the viability hypothesis).
  • The concept of Assumptions Mapping is actually very simple: Evaluate each idea quickly and individually. Roughly plot them on the grid where they make the most sense (Important or Unimportant, Known or Unknown). Once many items are on the grid, begin to discuss with your teammates and re-position them in relation to each other.
  • In my experience, the value of the Assumption Mapping exercise (like many visual thinking techniques) is to do it together with the team to create a shared understanding around what are the facts versus what are just assumptions: that will help focus the experimentation efforts on what matters.
  • Assumptions Mapping is a small — but important — tool in the bigger toolset of creating a strategy, and it is essential to testing business ideas that help replace guesswork, intuition, and best practices with knowledge, which can help teams to make increasingly better decisions.
crop laboratory technician examining interaction of chemicals in practical test modern lab

Testing Business Ideas

Testing Business Ideas thoroughly, regardless of how great they may seem in theory, is a way to mitigate the risks of your viability hypothesis being wrong.

About David Bland

David J Bland is an author and founder based in Silicon Valley. In 2015, he founded Precoil to help companies find product market fit using lean startup, design thinking, and business model innovation.

David has helped validate new products and services at companies such as GE, Toyota, Adobe, HP, and Behr.

David is the co-author of Testing Business Ideas, a Wiley business book with Alexander Osterwalder.

Prior to advising, David spent over 10 years of his career scaling technology startups. He continues to give back to the startup community by teaching at several accelerators in Silicon Valley.

Recommended Reading

Bland, D. J., & Osterwalder, A. (2020). Testing business ideas: A field guide for rapid experimentation. Standards Information Network.

Gothelf, J., & Seiden, J. (2017). Sense and respond: How successful organizations listen to customers and create new products continuously. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Griffiths, C., & Costi, M. (2019). The Creative Thinking Handbook: Your step-by-step guide to problem-solving in business. London, England: Kogan Page.

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as VP of Design Strategy at SAP and lecturer of Project Management for UX at the M.Sc. Usability Engineering at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences .

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.