We live in stories and beliefs about the world around us. Sometimes our beliefs become deeply entrenched in our identity. The more strongly we hold beliefs the harder they are to change. This is sometimes referred to as fixed thinking, whereby we perceive some of our beliefs as facts; facts that should not be challenged or questioned.
Change through design requires a more agile mindset. We need to be able to question the status quo before we can effectively explore new possibilities. Introducing hypotheses encourages us to explore relationships and question outcomes.
Think of a hypothesis as an educated guess of a likely answer or a prediction of what research will find. Many Researchers and Designers have heard clients say, "we know what users want" or "we know this already." Sometimes they are right - they do know. The purpose of hypotheses is not to dismiss collective intelligence, but rather to encourage inquiry so that people become more open to challenging their beliefs and experimenting with new ideas.
A hypothesis is not just a guess. A good hypothesis is based on existing theories or knowledge. Unlike fixed thinking which is difficult to challenge, hypotheses are formulated so they can be tested and therefore be supported or refuted through scientific research methods such as experiments or observations.
Want to engage stakeholders with new possibilities? Watch this short video for tips on how to formulate hypotheses that you can test directly on users.