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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2021

Caroline Jobin*
MINES ParisTech, PSL University Les Sismo
Sophie Hooge
MINES ParisTech, PSL University
Pascal Le Masson
MINES ParisTech, PSL University
Jobin, Caroline, MINES ParisTech, Centre for Management Science, France,


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The literature on design distinguishes between exploration-based experimentation and validation-based experimentation. This typology relies on an assumption that exploration and validation cannot and should not be performed simultaneously in the same experimentation. By contrast, some practitioners, such as les Sismo, propose that proof of concept might combine these two logics. This raises the question of what design logic might enable this type of combination of exploration and validation. We first use design theory to build an experimentation design framework. This framework highlights a typology of proof logics in experimentation related to proof of the known and proof of the unknown. Second, we show that these proof models are supported by les Sismo's cases and describe a diversity of arrangements of exploration and validation mechanisms: sequential, parallel, and combinational. Through the formalisation of proof of concept as a double proof (proof of the known and proof of the unknown), we show that proof of concept can be more than a tool for the go/no-go decision by gradually validating propositions, questioning the relevance of propositions, and discovering new propositions to be investigated and tested.

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The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press


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