"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

- Bill Gates

Emerging technologies provide an opportunity for early adaptors to gain an advantage over competitors. Earlier adopters, however, face the risk of hidden pitfalls of the new technology.

Gartner's Hype Cycle is a framework to evaluate the maturity of a technology. The Hype Cycle evaluates a technology's location between hype and expectations. A use-case for the framework is to assess the risk faced when adopting new technology.

The Hype Cycle plots a technologies path along five stages:

Stage 1. Innovation initiation

Technology evangelists fixate on the potential of the innovation. Media channels typically initiate a surge of enthusiasm as influencers first discover the technology.

Stage 2. Crest of promoted expectations

Few numbers of successful implementations are made publically known. Companies evaluate the technology and attempt to hedge risk as far as possible.

Stage 3. Pit of disillusionment

Attention for the technology declines. Few companies boast impressive successes in line with original forecasts. Boundaries and contexts are starting to become clearly defined.

Stage 4. Ascent of enlightenment

More practical functions for the technology are found. Implementation numbers increase off the back of revised business models. As skill availability increases as more companies adopt the technology. The total number of published use cases increase.

Stage 5. Plateau of productivity

In this stage, more comprehensive market adoption takes place. The market generally views the technology as stable. The technology becomes known well enough for implementers to realistically define the outcomes possible through it.


Technology does provide an advantage when adopted earlier than competitors or early enough to deliver value to an awaiting market at the right time. Timing needs to be accurate. The hype cycle framework helps determine the best moment to select a technology within the mixed chorus of excitement and resentment.

Honest and transparent self-assessment is the key to creating value for any innovator. However, self-bias often creeps in, preventing the ability to identify genuine opportunities; it's what scientists call the Dunning-Kruger effect. Without the knowledge of a need for correction, improvement is unlikely to follow.

Mark Murphy suggests a simple solution for individuals suffering under the defined bias. In his article "The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They're Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible", Murphy suggests that the answer lies in visualization and feedback mechanism that removes the bias.

Typically, these mechanisms rely on senior leadership to provide feedback, but these hierarchical means isn't the only good feedback loop for innovators. Innovators can use:

  • Hypothesis based testing and validation cycles that provide reliable, data-based feedback to verify theories;

  • Open innovation groups that welcome debate and challenge assumptions or;

  • Innovation collages gather individuals attempting to solve similar problems.

The Dunning-Kruger effect indicates that all innovators possess, on some level, self-bias that can distort performance evaluation and delivery. Checks and balances are welcomed insurance for all innovators against that personal threat.

Let us know

If you have any stories about innovation and validating assumptions, we would love to hear them. Drop us a message on LinkedIn or Twitter.

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of diversity in the innovation process. I suggested the use of one of four different kinds of networks to achieve innovation goals. In a world of resource, limitations collaboration is critical to reaching company goals. In short, to make the future together through collaboration.

Dorie Clark suggests the main ingredients of collaboration lie in collaboration capital together with the ability to show how your partnership will reach your shared goal. By offering collaboration capital, you provide a form of value useful to your potential collaborator, who should bring similar value in return.

Dorie suggests some forms of collaboration capital.

"Fetcher" Capital

This concept is similar to the hard work a fetcher would play in rugby. By offering to do the leg work, you're able to attract partners who have an elevated status. These partners possess a unique skill that breakthrough when facing specific challenges. Some examples are conducting a complex negotiation or ensuring innovation is legally compliant, etc.

"Expert" Capital

Domain knowledge experts know the targeted industry or particular topic well. Domain knowledge experts offer partners a reduced risk of unfavourable outcomes.

"Funder" Capital

Often external funding is needed to capitalise on the opportunity entirely. One way to increase the chances of collaboration with funders is to prove the probability of the deal. An example of evidence like this might be a signed letter from a potential client who has committed to signing up once the service has been created.

Innovation extracts enormous amounts of mind space. By collaborating with skilful partners with who you have aligned with your goals, you increase the probability of success.