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How to avoid validation failure

What happens when you try to validate your idea and you don't get the answer you expected or wanted? disappointment? upset? frustration?

I get it. No, really I do. You’re building a business, and maybe you’ve done or are doing a course that helps you, or you’ve read some books etc. They all say the same thing.

Validate your idea.

In the words of Severus Snape “this is a false trail”.

We all seek validation in many forms, validation that we’re loved, that we’re accepted, that we belong and many other things.

Thing is, it becomes a bit of a drug, and when we aren’t validated, that dopamine hit we’ve been craving turns into something worse.

Let’s talk about Your Dream™ for a mo. Your Dream™ is the reason why you’re here, reading this. You want to build your dream and quit your day job. Or maybe you already have but Your Dream™ is turning into Your Nightmare™.

You want to make sure that Your Dream™ is monetizable. The only way you’re going to find that out is if you talk to your tribe. They will tell you if it’s something they are going to hand over their hard earned cash for.

I’m gonna be blunt for a mo. Unless you’ve been in the business of talking to humans about other people’s dreams for your entire career.  The chances are, you don’t know your tribe as well as you think you do.

Even seasoned researchers should never assume they know the people they’re designing for well.  It’s dangerous.

I have seen this with my own eyes, and it’s the motivating factor behind why I wrote “In their shoes”. It’s also why I’m building a course to help dreamers like you.

You’re told to validate something, you interview a bunch of people and it fails to validate.

The next thing I see are the first three stages of grief, or validation grief as I call them:

  • Shock and Denial - you’re shocked that your tribe didn’t like Your Dream™ and don’t believe it’s the case, maybe you interviewed the wrong tribe.
  • Shock and Denial - you’re shocked that your tribe didn’t like Your Dream™ and don’t believe it’s the case, maybe you interviewed the wrong tribe.
  • Depression - some of you give up on Your Dream™ and walk away from it.

So you’ve gone and validated something.  Or tried to, and it’s failed. You’ve gone through the 3 stages of validation grief. What do you do now?

Just because something failed validation, doesn’t mean you need to abandon ship.  

Firstly – well done you.  You spoke to your tribe.  That was the hard part.  The rest is fixable.  

You are going to have to go back to your interviews. By that, I mean, you need to go back to the notes or recordings of your interviews.

If you haven’t taken notes or recorded the interviews, I would suggest you should start the process again (but this time use my step-by-step guide to doing customer research – In Their Shoes).  This is simply because you can’t check what you don’t have a record of. 

Now, back to your findings. What did your tribe tell you about their problem that Your Dream™ could help them solve. Where in amongst that great information do you have some good stuff that will turn this around.

Most of all out of this, don’t give up. If people gave up at the first hurdle, we’d never have so many of the amazing things we do now.  We also might still be riding horses, but let’s hope not. 

If you are about to “validate” something or were considering it, the first thing you must do is ban the use of:

  • Validate
  • Validation
  • Validating

The simple reason is that you’re creating a validation mindset just by using them. It’s the mindset that’s going to cripple you.

When you look to validate something, you are also shutting off your mind.  There is the possibility that what your tribe give you is a better dream than you had to start with. 

That’s right, you heard it. Something better.

When you change the goal of your research to understanding your tribe and what bothers them, you open your ears. 

Research is often a conversation with a new friend. Asking them to explain a problem they had that’s related to Your Dream™ and just listening to what they say can put you in thunderbolt city.

One of my most memorable set of research was talking to two separate families who had parents that needed in home care. One had a parent with Alzheimer’s and the other Dementia. I remember both of them saying “they just don’t tell you about this stuff”. And the stuff in question? specially adapted electrical devices that were for people with failing memories.  A lot of this would have been solved by a well written blog with a bunch of good links to Amazon.  

Nope, not you. You are interested in listening to your tribe, understanding their problems and finding a solution you can help them with.

Now go forth and interview!


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