Why do established corporations' new ventures often fail? The new issue of Business Insight, MIT Sloan Management Review's collaboration with The Wall Street Journal, includes an interview with Rita Gunther McGrath about problems traditional business planning processes encounter when dealing with uncertain new ventures.
McGrath, an associate professor at Columbia Business School, explains that one pitfall is to "take the untested assumptions that underlie the [business] plan and treat them as facts" -- and then make expensive business decisions based on those assumptions.
What's the alternative? McGrath recommends writing down your assumptions when you write a business plan -- so you remember what assumptions you made and can check them. Then figure out ways to test and evaluate your assumptions inexpensively as the business progresses.