Validating Ideas

Many teams and organizations have begun adopting design thinking as an effective strategy to identify solutions faster and more efficiently. A major component of this methodology is testing ideas. The term “Failing Fast” has grown to represent this segment of the process, however, failing is not actually the objective. The point of getting a cross functional team to buy in and contribute in a meaningful way to this process is not to fail but to LEARN! Failing is inevitable when testing and attempting to validate ideas. Anyone can fail, but learning and applying the lessons in an appropriate way is what separates a stagnant team from one primed for success. 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

Validating ideas requires only one thing….USERS! It’s best to engage users early and often to ensure you never stray too far and are actually developing something that brings value to your user base. Listed below are a few steps that provide more information and an opportunity to improve upon your idea or pivot towards something more valuable.

Scenario: Your team has a great idea for a new feature or product.

Validating the idea: Does the idea solve an existing problem? If so, is the problem worth solving? If your solution doesn’t solve a problem your users see as important it wont bring them much value. 

  1. Conduct ideation sessions with Stakeholders
  2. Conduct focus group sessions with target audiences

Validating the market: You’ve spoken to users and have validated that this is in fact a problem that needs to be solved. However, do enough users view this as a large enough problem to warrant the time, effort and financial investment required to solve it? If only a small percentage of users see value in this solution is it worth it to move forward?

  1. Google Trends: View search volume for different terms.
  2. Google Adwords Keyword Planner: View average monthly searches on keywords. 
  3. Competitor research: Understand how others are attempting to solve this problem.

Validating the product: At this point we’ve determined that a problem exists and enough users in the market want it solved. The next thing to do is to design and build a prototype of your unique solution then iteratively test it with potential users. 

  1. Build a prototype:
  2. Test it with users:

Working through these steps unfortunately doesn’t guarantee your idea will be a success but it certainly puts you in a better position to find a solution that ultimately will be.  The goal of validation is to learn while minimizing costs from developing solutions that don’t provide value while staying user centric in your focus. Let the research, data and users instruct your team as to what will provide them the most value and maximize the potential success of that new feature or product.