By now you surely have heard this a gazillion times: You need to get out of the office and into the real world. You need to develop customer empathy. You have to practice design thinking (as a refresher — here’s Stanford’s d.school’s excellent Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking).
And yet — this is often easier said than done. During this summer’s Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University I had numerous participants come to me and ask about the best way to conduct user interviews and studies.
The problem is: If you are not uber-careful you can very quickly get into a pattern of asking leading questions (such as: “Wouldn’t you prefer to do task x in y way?”) and/or only see behaviors which support your hypothesis.
We typically go into these exercises with a specific set of expectations, believes and hypothesis which we, ideally, want to have validated. Sadly this also typically screws up our research as we look at the problem through the lens of our solution.
Like the best student — don’t seek validation but, rather, insight.
Put aside your preconceived notions of how to solve a problem (and even what the problem is), get into the “beginner’s mindset” and become infinitely curious. The best solutions will reveal themselves to you when you make space for them to show up.