(Very) Early Stage Idea Validation


We are driven by assumptions and too often we think we know people. The sour truth is that we don’t.

Running through many projects from idea to proof of concept, market and revenue it is always astonishing to see how we can get things wrong if we don’t listen, understand and validate the assumptions of our ideas — constantly.

Ideas we have many and the quantity is increasing through the spread of the digital layer in society maturing innovation processes in organization and or the startup culture. We embrace agility and fast implementation getting developers and designers on board and start developing something to show to our stakeholders.

Yet this “something” is often too biased to add value. We don’t listen deeply, understand context and emotions, and are too far away to understand people’s stories. People that we want to convert to users.

We can’t blame ourselves, as we lost the ability to listen deeply. In organizations we live a culture of argumentation, proof of delivery, politics and growth. Although, we know that we should structure first before starting to implement, in reality always someone will through a monkey wrench in the works.

Yet it does not take much to validate your idea in the earliest possible stage, during the definition of hypothesis. By conducting in-depth or extreme people interviews, it is possible to uncover how people feel about the hypothesis and what really drives them.

Please don’t confuse such profound conversations with normal questionnaire interviews. It is all about creating an environment that people feel trusted, open up and where you guide with some orientations in the conversation. Each encounter has a different plot, where we capture insights through active listening, emotional perception, change in wording combined with content analysis.

The good point is that it does not need 100s or 1000s of people to make a valid point. With 8–20 interviews, depending on the context, you can already validate your assumptions and have sufficient feedback to transform your idea into a sounder (adapted) concept.

For me this first couple of weeks where you test your hypothesis, is one of the most crucial steps in the innovation process. If you skip such you will deviate with each step further from the true value expectations and any later correction will not take some weeks but a high level of investment, time and argumentation with stakeholders.

Start your innovation journey by capturing the hypothesis and assumption and test them with people.

PS: Please don’t ask interns to handle the interviews. It is the product owners’ job and responsibility to really understand the people for whom he or she is responsible to create the solution

daniel eggerComment