I am codifying a 7-step process that I have mentally followed for the last fifteen years to help me think in a structured fashion to reliably identify big inflections in the technology and business environment. I developed this framework while learning to be an Equity Research Analyst. I believe it has broader relevance.
- Write down your thesis or hypothesis. Until you write it down, it is not real.
- Write down key debates (assumptions) surrounding your thesis. What’s your view on each debate? What’s the consensus view? Why is your view correct? What do you know that they don’t? What are the risks? Where could you be wrong?
- Develop or update your model. Don’t be obsessed with comprehensiveness of the model. Your goal should be to tease out assumptions, variables and sensitivities. Your goal should not be to be able to answer every question or specify every detail.
- Do your research. Dig into fundamentals and first principles. Market your thesis – describe it to others. Write down feedback carefully. Ask questions to clarify feedback. Try not to be defensive. Feedback contains valuable information about key debates.
- Third level and fourth level thinking – Imagine the intersection of your theses. Distill implications. What does it mean if one of your theses is correct? What if all of them are correct? What if none of them are correct?
- Rest your mind. Don’t boil the ocean. Deliberately ignore calls to provide more details just to be comprehensive. Stay focused on what matters. It is easy to get distracted by “know-it-alls”.
- Change your perspective. Think in different settings. Travel. You’ll likely have different thoughts. Write them down, and reconsider your thesis.
Clearly this is an iterative process. The more times you are able to cycle through these 7 steps, the more robust your thinking will become. When the number and magnitude of debates surrounding your thesis has diminished, your thesis has become consensus. Congratulations!