Step 1: Pre-Pilot Diligence

As you are thinking about running a pilot, the most common trap to fall into is underestimating the amount of organizing, preparation, and research required to execute well. Pre-pilot diligence happens before you are even committed to the pilot and serves to help scope and scale later work. Before you run a pilot you need to know what you don’t know. On a rushed timeline you should dedicate two full work weeks to this process for a small to medium pilot. For longer or more extensive pilots outside your area of experience, you should dedicate more time to these processes. These steps set a bar of excellence that will prepare you to run the best pilot you can. Don’t worry about being too informal when you start this process or not being an expert. The most important part of this part of the process is to be honest with yourself about what you don’t know.

Desk Research

The process of desk research can be reduced to a single question; if you were to call up an expert, what information would you need in hand to ask good questions and present yourself well? Begin to immerse yourself in this stage! What is the economic history and cultural context of the country you are piloting in? What other projects have been run in the past which are similar to what you are proposing? Search widely and read quickly, drawing from academic work, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and books. Keep track of key questions that change or reinforce your assumptions.
Input: Read broadly and quickly.
Output: Quick notes and key questions. A couple of sentences for relevant papers or articles and a citation should be sufficient.

Insight Scratchpad

In conjunction with the background research you’re doing, it is useful to keep a document on hand to capture observations, questions, or assumptions that come to mind. It is useful to have this document easily accessible on a mobile device or in a physical notebook. You will keep this document with you throughout the entire process.

Expert Interviews

In tandem with the desk research, you should also conduct a handful of interviews with experts in the field you’re interested in. You may want to cultivate these relationships throughout your pilot and beyond. Make sure to send an appropriate thank you note.
Input: A document for each interview with a bio of the person you are interviewing, why you are interviewing them, the objectives of the interview, and a handful of specific questions.
Output: 2-8 interviews covering unique and different perspectives. Notes which refine your assumptions.

Regulatory Environment

This pilot toolkit is specifically focused on running digital currency pilots. Before going any further you need to understand the regulatory environment in the jurisdiction(s) you hope to pilot. Speak to a local legal counsel and be prepared to answer the relevant questions. If you are able, we recommend a counsel explicitly sign off on your plan. cLabs may be able to help - feel free to reach out to us at if you’d like an introduction.