Customer Development: Interviewing Tips

Want to learn how interviewing can lead you to your next product idea? The basics come from Steve Blank and Eric Ries' startup methodologies. Check out this article on early customer development:


A few favorites:

  • Listen, don't talk (it's about them not you)
  • Ask Open Ended Questions (interviewing 101)
  • Get Psyched to hear things you don't want to hear (you're probably wrong, so let your customers correct you).


Is it Real? A Framework for Startup Decision-Making

An April 2012 case study of LoJack identified a situation where there was a portfolio of new product ideas and a desire to develop new “big i” Innovations. Their early products were closely tied to the unstable U.S auto market, and they were looking for a hedge against risk and new sources of growth. While expanding into international markets was appealing, they couldn’t resolve the difficulty in finding markets where relationships with recovery forces (e.g. Police) could easily be established.


Charlie Munger on Incentives

Trying to solve a problem that involves human behavior? Take a few minutes and read this interview with Charlie Munger, the Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (among many other roles). Through his research and experiences with businesses and workers of all forms, he’s come to recognize the importance of incentives. While the focus of this interview was on the psychology of misjudgment (especially in financial matters), it provides many lessons for marketers, managers, and analysts.


On Criticism and Innovation

When working on a project or just doing day-to-day work, managers and team members are given countless opportunities to either praise, criticize, or ignore others work. HBR just wrote an article called ‘The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio’ that explains how a mix of both is best to improve team performance. The research was a bit limited in that it took a binary view of praise/criticism and ignored ‘flavors’ of criticism like sarcasm and disparaging remarks. Recognizing that limitation, they found that a ratio of 5 positive comments to 1 negative comment was most beneficial to team performance.

Test Then Invest

Any scientist worth their salt knows that when preparing to study a concept/phenomena you have to use the good old scientific method. What’s that you say? Essentially, it involves using empirical (e.g. observable/measurable) data and a bit of reasoning to ensure that what you think you know, is real. Oxford’s English dictionary put’s it another way; they call it “"a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”


Do We Really Need an iWatch?

Apple's iWatch Will Measure More than Time, but what customer need does it solve? It helps move the needle towards a 'digital self' - is that enough?

I was a bit disappointed in Bloomberg (and Forbes for re-printing it) when they quoted Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen as saying, “This can be a $6 billion opportunity for Apple, with plenty of opportunity for upside if they create something totally new like they did with the iPod—something consumers didn’t even know they needed.”

Diving In: A Follow-up to Kittyhawk

In my last post I wrote about how HP failed to create a disruptive product in the early 1990s. They had a fantastic new technological innovation planned and two markets in mind. The problem is that the market they sought (PDAs) failed to develop. Let’s ask why.