I love it when our clients have cool technology and clever ideas. But don’t mention these to customers during VOC interviews. From the customer’s perspective, the interview should look exactly the same whether or not you’ve got a great hypothesis. Give your hypothesis the silent treatment for now. Simply listen to the customer.
Confirmation bias is the “tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses, regardless of whether the information is true.” It’s what happens when you take your lovely new-product hypotheses to customers. This systematically distorts data on customer needs… and that can’t be good for innovation, right?
Your new product development should start where it ends: with the customer. When you take your “pride and joy” hypothesis to customers and ask their opinion, two bad things can happen: 1) They tell you what they think you want to hear. 2) You hear what you want to hear. Start by uncovering their needs, not testing your pre-conceived notions.
In many areas of life, there’s the “old way” and the “new way.” Does your company still develop “hypotheses” internally, and then meet with customers to validate them? This can lead to confirmation bias for you and stifled yawns for your customers. In the “new way,” you start by uncovering customer needs, not by internally “ideating” your solutions.
The “Build-Measure-Learn” cycle in Lean Startup begins with a hypothesis, and is great for B2C. End-consumers can seldom tell you what will amuse them or increase their sense of self-worth. But knowledgeable B2B customer can predict their desired outcomes. So start with a “Learn” pre-step. Customers will tell you all you need if you know how to ask.
More in white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 3).