August  2012     Edition 83

There are many things we are tasked to do for the first time

, yet we are asked to estimate how long it will take, or how much it will cost, or how much work it might be, or even if we think it will work? Our first inclination is to answer "I don't know", but that doesn't satisfy the request. So we guess, or estimate based on what we do know.

In order to improve our guess, we must know more

. One tool to know more is to implement a formal step of Discovery. This is a purposeful step of experimenting, questioning, examining, and probing with the single objective of discovering the things that you don't know, but need to know, in order to provide an estimate, or even to determine if it is feasible.

The legal profession has a formal discovery process

defined as "the methods used by parties to a civil or criminal action to obtain information held by the other party that is relevant to the action"

Biopsies are performed to Discover

potential diseases so action and treatment can occur earlier.

When responding to an inquiry

such as application for insurance, a job, college, or membership, or when tasked to respond to an RFP (request for proposal) we might first take a quick glance to Discover what is being asked. A quick look can determine if it's out of the ordinary, and to Discover, in advance, what it will take to complete the application. We do this so we're not surprised in the middle of filling in an application about something required that we don't have, or will take a while to get (such as a medical exam, or letter of reference / recommendation).

Building a Prototype is an initiative to Discover

if something is achievable, or to validate assumptions about things you don't know .. .and need to find out.

Technical Feasibility is the act of Discovery

to determine if a task at hand is possible within the realm of constraints, such as budget, time, and resources. The government even treats this stage differently; as you are allowed to capitalize many projects after they reach Technical Feasibility.

Before relocating to another city

many people visit the city to Discover, where they might live, what the schools are, what the neighborhoods are like, etc. With this informationn they are more likely to pick an appropriate place to move to.

The Takeaway
. Before making a significant decision, or to prepare for a large project, or even to estimate how large a project might be, implement a formal step of Discovery to uncover some of the things that you don't know, and need to know, in order to accomplish your goal. Don't get surprised by something you could have found out with just a little research, or questioning, or experimenting. The time invested upfront to obtain knowledge will save the time a hundred fold compared to how much time it will take to respond or compensate when things are uncovered during implementation.

If you like this edition,

click here to get a Free Subscription to The Headscratcher Post.

  A monthly post with tips and techniques about problem solving, creativity, innovation and critical thinking.

Think Smarter Book Image

Check out our Workshops

• Critical Thinking for Problem Solving and Decision Making (Core, Core+Advanced)
• Advanced Critical Thinking and Innovation
• Advanced Critical Thinking and Decision Making
• Critical Thinking for Supervisors, Managers and Leaders

Visit us at

If you're not already a subscriber to The HeadScratcher Post,
Signup Here

Previous versions of The HeadScratcher Post

Critical Thinking Techniques for Problem Solving, Decision Making, Innovation and Leadership.
Our Mission;

To help people become better HeadScratchers! We teach critical thinking techniques to managers, leaders and individuals resulting in the improved performance of an individual and organization.