Chapter 2. Where Should I Start?

It’s too easy to think we know our customers from all the meetings, phone calls, and reports we’ve read about them. To deeply understand how people actually use our products we need to go to where they work, where they play, and where they live.

Braden Kowitz, lead designer at Google Ventures

I’m not writing it down to remember it later; I’m writing it down to remember it now.

Slogan for Field Notes notebooks

The amount of customer development you do will depend on whether you’re attempting to validate a brand-new business idea, launch a new product to an existing customer base, or simply add or change features in an existing product.

But whether you plan on spending a few hours or a few weeks on customer development, you’ll get the most out of your time by starting with a strong foundation.

To get that foundation in place, I want you and your team to do three exercises that will take less than an hour total to complete (Figure 2-1):

  • Identify your assumptions

  • Write your problem hypothesis

  • Map your target customer profile

I recommend these three exercises because it’s fairly easy to get your team members to participate regardless of whether they embrace customer development or are actively skeptical. It’s hard to argue with “Let’s make sure everyone understands what we’re trying to achieve and how.”

For some of you, these exercises may feel redundant. Surely everyone on the team already knows our working assumptions and what we’re trying to achieve, right? ...

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