Challenging Assumptions TIPS

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What is your most dangerous assumption?

As Nick Coster notes, “any time you have a new product idea everything is an unknown“. There can be 100s of questions to be answered and it’s difficult to know where to start. One technique is to first convert these unknowns into assumptions that can be tested as being true or false. Then identify your most dangerous assumption and conduct an experiment to see whether it holds up.

Identifying and validating assumptions and mitigating biases in user research

It’s crucial to test assumptions you make about your customers. There’s no amount of empathy or experience that can replace a conversation or survey. In a conversation with several UX experts, Janet M. Six explores how to test assumptions and mitigate the biases that you are bound to have. She also gives direction on how to gather assumptions from your team and techniques to completely remove an experimenter’s biases via double-blind testing.

Why do we frequently question data but not assumptions?

Similarly, Brent Dykes asks why such emphasis is put on data accuracy and not on the legitimacy of assumptions that an organization may have. Inaccuracies on either side are just as deadly. He suggests that you — 1) do an inventory of what’s true, 2) weigh the impact of your assumptions, and 3) challenge your key assumptions.

How to challenge your assumptions and expand your thinking

History is littered with businesses killed by incorrect assumptions. Jonathan MacDonald in a conversation with Amy Morin gives several examples, e.g., the Western Union assuming that telephone technology was a novelty, Nokia assuming physical keyboards being best, and the recording industry assuming it could keep peer to peer streaming services at bay. MacDonald lists three directives for those who want to avoid a similar fate — 1) question your purpose and objectives, 2) challenge your sources and assumptions, 3) adjust your mindset and methodology.