Ideas vs. Assumptions

Anyone can look at any community and say ‘hey, why not do [x]?’

You might implement, members might engage in it, and the originator of the idea claims success and comes up with more ideas.

None of this really helps anyone though. At least not in the long-term. You haven’t learned or incorporated anything new.

You shouldn’t be coming up with ideas, you should be testing assumptions.

They’re not the same. An assumption is built upon research, data, and observations. You develop a test and define success and failure in metrics before you begin. If the assumption is proved correct, you incorporate it into how you engage the community.

An idea might be “let’s get members to share their equipment stack!”

An assumption would be: “We know from survey data that newcomers want to make the right purchase decisions and don’t trust influencer reviews. We assume they would find recommendations from our members more useful. We will test this in three ways:

1) We will invite newcomers to highlight their toughest challenges when they join the community. If 1/3rd of them list knowing what equipment to buy/setting up the right equipment in the top 3 answers, we will consider this a success and move on to 2)

2) Create a survey sent only to top members asking them to select the equipment they use. We will publish this list and measure how many newcomers click on it. If it ranks in the top 20% of pages clicked, it will be a success and we will move on to 3)

3) We will initiate a discussion asking members what equipment advice they would recommend for newcomers. If this ranks in the top 10% of discussions by views in this month, we will consider it a success and turn this into an annual ‘best of’ equipment list curated by top members (and create a category for these discussions).

Notice how based upon the results of the test, you can decide whether to continue performing the activity, expand it, or incorporate it into a major plank of the community.

Coming up with random ideas is a waste of time (so is listening to the ideas of others). Working on assumptions and adapting quickly…that’s much more useful.

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