Think Like An Astronaut
HolePunch Before You Launch
Since launching the website for Kinney Strategy, the most frequently asked questions I get are “What do you mean by ‘HolePunch’ and ‘think negative?’”
When describing the power of negative thinking, I used to say, think like an underwriter. But now I can say, “Think like an astronaut,” thanks to Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth. Let’s face it, astronauts are a lot cooler (sorry underwriters). And, astronauts understand the power of negative thinking. As Hadfield puts it in An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, “Truly being ready means understanding what could go wrong – and having a plan to deal with it.” Underwriters understand that, too.
Back in my early days as a reinsurance underwriter, I used to try to imagine the worst-case scenario for each opportunity. What could go wrong? How will it go wrong? When? Why? Is it worth the risk? Who benefits if it succeeds and who benefits if it fails? The point of asking these tough questions (and a lot of others) wasn’t to kill the deal. Instead, I was looking for solutions that would make the deal better. The only way to do that and protect our interests was to fully understand every detail. Better to sweat the small stuff now than when the losses start.
And that’s the whole point of HolePunch. Before you launch, let’s harness the power of negative thinking and punch some holes in the idea rather than after investing significant time, energy and financial resources only to flop.
Here’s How It Works
- Present your idea to an intellectually diverse panel of experts [we take care of recruiting and vetting panelists that meet your specs].
- Panelists then take turns poking holes in the soft spots, trying to identify the weaknesses and potential problems with your idea.
- We analyze and report their findings back to you with our recommendations.
- You take our insights and make your new venture, product or service even stronger!
HolePunch is fast. It’s easy. And it is the most economical way to hedge the risk of a new product or venture launch.
Do You Need External Panelists? YES!
Bringing in external panelists expands and deepens the bench strength of your internal team, improving intellectual and experiential diversity. In addition, external panelists are more objective since their only agenda is to provide honest feedback unhindered by office politics or their level of enthusiasm for the project.
Is HolePunch A Focus Group? NO! (Sort Of)
HolePunch is similar to focus group but not exactly. Focus groups tend to sample the thoughts and opinions of representative set of stakeholders, typically consumers. The research session is designed to test for responses to a set of specific questions. HolePunch panelists are not typically end users. Rather, they are experts in their field recruited for their subject matter expertise in order to expand your team. Secondly, their sole purpose is to find the flaws in your idea. I recommend conducting a HolePunch session well in advance of conducting a focus group.
Negative Thinking Is Not Being Negative
One final point: There is a big difference between using negative thinking in an effort to make something stronger and being negative. Negative thinking is a tool that when used properly can be used to anticipate and solve problems before they start. You can still have a positive attitude and be an effective negative thinker. Being negative is simply having a bad attitude. No one wants Debbie Downer on his or her team. Some of the best negative thinkers were also the most positive people and champions, like Commander Hadfield. So, think negative. Be positive. Keep winning.