As I delve into the suggested reading for Top Gun, I’ve been surprised by some striking similarities with my medical training. In particular, it appears that the venerable scientific method has at long last found its way into the realm of entrepreneurship. Building on the work of ancient Greek scientists ranging from Thales and Aristotle down to the great Arab scholar Alhazen, the modern scientific method was crystallized in Rene Descartes’, Discourse on Method.
This process of forming hypotheses based on observation and conjecture and then testing the validity of those educated guesses through experimentation and data collection is well known among scientists and non-scientists alike. The iterative twist of repeating experiments based on new data creates the ubiquitous feedback loop seen across numerous fields.
Now thanks to thought leaders like Steve Blank, Eric Ries (The Lean Startup) and Alexander Osterwalder (Business Model Generation), those same scientific principles are being applied to startup entrepreneurship. Instead of scientists “interrogating” the nature of the physical world, entrepreneurs are interrogating the nature of potential markets for their products. This approach encourages entrepreneurs to test the validity of their business models through a small scale, iterative process before taking on the significant financial risks inherent in launching a new product.
This makes sense given my training as a biology major, podiatrist and inventor. As has been pointed out by our Top Gun mentors, many of us intent upon changing the world come from a technical background. I believe these same scientific skills can be leveraged to our advantage in this new approach to the startup. Experimental design, data collection and the feedback loop are already a familiar part of the mental landscape for many of us. It’s reassuring to be able to put these concepts to use in our business ventures as well.