Hypothesis Creation


  • To ensure that your innovation addresses business and customer problems.
  • To make sure that an innovation has a clear and measurable metric of success which helps with testing and learning.

When To Run This

  • In the ‘Make’ state: To define what you want to learn from your Prototype and guide the testing.
  • In the ‘Test’ state: When you’re about to pilot the innovation. Define the expectations of the innovation so that when results come back there’s a clear understanding of what needs to be improved in the next iteration.


1 hour


  • Ideas
  • Prototype
  • An idea of the pilot
  • Summary of research
  • HMW statement


  • “If, Then, Because” template
  • Hypothesis Creation template
  • Markers
  • Post-it notes
  • Wall space
  • Or large piece of paper
  • Large sticky pad (optional)
  • Sticky dots




  • For ‘Make’ — prepare a clear How Might We statement for Hypothesis Creation. Using a hypothesis driven design helps to focus the prototype as it places emphasis on the results and effects, rather than the process of designing.

  • For ‘Test’ — have a Prototype, proof of concept or pilot plan ready. Creating a hypothesis is an essential step of doing an experiment. It gives you a goal to aim towards and lets you test your assumptions about your innovation.

Action It:Action It:

  • Choose your team. Include as many diverse points of view as possible.

  • Introduce the “If, Then, Because” statement (ITB) format.

    1. “IF” - describe the idea and opportunity that your innovation was designed for. This forms the variable, you can modify this to affect the desired outcome.
    2. “THEN” - describe the desired effect your innovation will have, making sure it’s something that can clearly be proven or disproven.
    3. “BECAUSE” - describe the rationale of your innovation, based on the insights you have gathered from research.
  • Fill out the ITB section of the Hypothesis Creation template as a team. Map out the template on the wall, or print it out on a large piece of paper and stick it up. Get each person to have a go at writing the hypothesis as “If” “Then” and “Because” statements on three separate post-it notes, share them with the group, and then stick them up on the template.

    Example of a good ITB:
    IF more payment methods were accepted by charities
    THEN more people will be likely to donate
    BECAUSE many people don’t carry cash anymore

  • Align and agree on the hypotheses. Group all the common post-its or by voting using sticky dots on the statements (see Affinity Mapping).

  • (‘Test') Fill out the rest of the Hypothesis Creation template

    1. Professional hunch. This is usually the starting point of any idea. Write down the educated guesses of why this idea will work.
    2. Qualitative / Quantitative data. This is data, from earlier research you’ve done, that backs up your idea.
    3. Further information/activities. Are there any other activities you should do before committing the time and resources to launching the experiment? E.g. Interviews with customers, Surveys, Goal Tree session.
    4. Primary & Secondary metrics. The primary metric determines whether the experiment is a success or failure. (Note: if an experiment fails to meet the success criteria, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Use the learnings to take your idea in a better direction.) The secondary metrics are other areas that are useful to track and might contribute in new ways to improve the innovation.
    5. Targeting/Audience. This will help decide who you want to test with. If the idea addresses a specific need of certain types of people, make sure you test with a relevant audience so that you get a clear gauge on the performance of the innovation. Testing with the wrong people will confuse the results.
  • Alternatively, create a Hypothesis using the below format to emphasise the measurable metrics, rather than the rationale behind the idea or solution.

    We believe that _____[the solution]____

    Will result in ____[the desired effect]_____

    We will know we have succeeded when _____[we see a measurable signal]___

Next Steps:Next Steps:

  • ‘Make’ — run an ideation session, using the Hypothesis and your HMW Statement as starting points. See the Rapid Ideation tool for examples.

  • ‘Test’ — test the innovation through a user validation session or by doing Live Prototyping. How does the innovation perform? Does it meet your metrics of success? How can you improve this?

  • Create new hypotheses. Remember, the hypothesis is just a framework for testing. Keep updating the statement as you uncover new findings and improve your innovation.



  • You should have more than one hypothesis statement. An innovation is usually multifaceted, so having multiple hypotheses is a great way to measure its performance.
  • This format is a great place to test assumptions. If a client or team member has an idea, a hypothesis statement can help investigate its desired effects and rationale. It’s also a good way to document all ideas that your team comes up with and ensure everyone gets a say.
  • Consider starting the session with a review of any high level research findings and the HMW statement to help frame the hypotheses.


It's Going Well When:

  • There are measurable and clear metrics for a hypothesis
  • The rationale is sound and based on research

Watch Out For:

  • The team taking orders from the “business”
  • Get a diverse range of team members to participate and put democratic actions in place, such as talking in turns or dot voting.