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What will this tool help me do?

Impact at scale is only possible when your solution, scale strategy and model is validated through real-world testing. To achieve this, you should start by identifying the assumptions that underpin your strategy, model, and/or solution. 

Your assumptions are what needs to be true in order for your plans to succeed. We use the word assumption’ to describe any aspects of your solution, strategy, and/or model that are unknown and untested.

This tool will help you identify and prioritise the assumptions that carry the greatest risk if they turn out to be untrue. Following this, you can move on  to test and validate your assumptions through lean innovation tests.


To work on the tool worksheet, follow these steps:

  • Make a copy to your own Google Drive folder: Click file > Make a copy > Entire presentation > Select your personal drive folder, OR
  • Download a copy to your desktop: Click file > Download > Microsoft Word (or other file type)

Step 1

Start by brainstorming what assumptions would need to be true in order for your solution, scale strategy and model to work. Consider:

  • What parts of your solution, strategy, or scale model are untested?
  • What are your biggest unknowns?
  • What feels like the biggest risks to your success?

One example of an assumption that is important for sustainability could be “our target users will want to pay for the solution”.

You can use the Value, Impact, and Sustainability framework to help you brainstorm different types of assumptions. For more info on this framework, go to our Sweet Spot for Scale tool.

What do we mean by 'target users'?

Target users are your constituents or, simply put, those you intend to reach with your solution.

Step 2

Ensure that each assumption you have identified is broken down even further, into more detail, to ensure it as concise as can be.

For example, if your starting assumption is ‘Users will pay for this model’, you can break this down into:

  • ‘Users are interested in the model’ 
  • ‘Users will have the means to pay for it’

Another example of an assumption that can be further broken down is “Others can implement the core of our solution effectively”. This can be broken down into:

  • ‘We’ve defined the ‘core’ of our solution’
  • ‘We’ve explained it in a way that others can understand it’
  • ‘We’ve systemised the materials for others to deliver it’
  • ‘We offer sufficient support to implementors to ensure quality delivery’

Step 3

Move on to prioritising your assumptions by plotting them on this matrix, which you can open here. Remember, to work on it, make a copy to your own Google Drive folder or download a copy to your desktop.




Step 4

Consider the assumptions categorised in the top right corner of the matrix which are those that pose the highest risk and are most uncertain, and move on to designing real-life tests for your priority assumptions with our next tool – Test Risky Assumptions. 


Learn about our Lean Innovation support

We developed our Lean Innovation practice with Ann Mei Chang, author of ‘Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good’ and Steve Nagai-Ma, one of our sector’s most experienced lean impact practitioners.

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