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Q: What is the most effective way to research when you have an idea around a feature or product?
A reader sent this question the other day via the form. The answer to the question is a powerful term — ‘observation.’ Lack of observation is why people keep pursuing wrong ideas. Even when they talk to consumers, they can’t validate the idea well. Let’s understand what happens when one gets an idea!
We start by asking friends and family whether they like the idea. Friends and family care more about our relationship with them than our stupid idea. So they don’t want to be honest, hurt us, and hence play along. That’s why we shouldn’t ask them whether they like our idea or not. That said, there is a way to get real insights from them. How? Through observation.
Talk about their life instead of your idea. If your idea solves a particular problem, ask them what they did when they faced the problem last. Understanding it will give you a sense of how important/urgent the problem is to them. The same applies to potential users. While talking to them, observe their life, their pains, and frustrations around the problem your idea solves.
The second way of validating an idea is to ‘observe experts.’ Talk to people who have built similar products or have been active in your domain for a long time. Don’t tell them your idea and see how they feel about it. Ask about similar ideas they might have come across and the stories around them. It might seem counterintuitive to not ask them directly, but it’s essential to remove bias. Let me explain.
Markets and consumer behavior keep changing. Understanding the story helps you separate the concerns that may matter now vs. then. For example, the ideas that didn’t work pre-covid might start working now because of consumer behavior changes.
To summarise, observe consumers and observe experts. Please don’t ask them directly what they feel about your idea. And you would be able to get real insights quickly.
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