Bright & Early Podcast
Innovation and Ethical Design with Andrea Hill
Brian: Hey everyone and welcome to bright and early the podcast for people building early-stage startups.
I'm your host Brian Rhea.
I talk to entrepreneurs, product people, designers, and marketing pros to learn what works, what doesn't, and why; giving you at least one thing to apply to your business first thing tomorrow.
my guest today is Andrea Hill Andrea is a UX researcher and product strategist she has led innovation efforts at companies like LexisNexis ReadyTalk in through her own consultancy frame play next up for her is a fellowship with Code for Canada where she'll be embedded within a division of the government of Canada for 10 months so listen if you've got a complex problem in need of an elegant solution andrea is someone you want to listen to you Andrea welcome to bright and early hey Brian thanks for having me it's great to be here it's it's a pleasure so we we originally met at a Denver startup week several years ago talking about jobs to be done I think is that correct yes it's been really it's been really fun staying in touch and so you you're up and you're up in Canada now I am I moved up here about 15 months ago right in the middle of February which is not something I would necessarily advise to anyone you've got a chance to explore Canadian winter so move from Denver up to Ottawa Canada and now I'm really excited to be really entrenched in that and kicking off some work with the government up here yeah I can't wait to hear a lot more about that first I want to ask you though you are you quite the distance runner I am I didn't run here though I didn't run all the way from Denver that would have it that would have been super impressive do you say I mean you dude like serious distances but have you ever done one of those insane like ultras 100 miler crazy I haven't done anything that far the furthest I've gone at one time is 50 kilometers which is about 32 miles I did do something a couple of years ago around Lake Tahoe which was about 80 miles over three days so it was three marathons in three days goodness goodness and you just finished a race like how long ago I feel like I saw on Twitter right I did yeah a local community here had a few races on Sunday so they had a 5-mile race at 8 a.m. or sorry 10 mile race at 8 a.m. and then at 10:10 they started a 5 mile race so I jumped into both of those in preparation for the Ottawa marathon that's coming up here in about two weeks mmm that'll be fun can I can I work in a strained metaphor here about how growing a business is more like a marathon than a 5k is that too much I think you can I think you can you can work that in yeah do you find yourself in all seriousness do you find yourself thinking through problems as you run is that like a set a process for you absolutely so I running is actually a great place for me to be thinking through things and sometimes that is listening to podcasts to be completely honest that's where I get a lot of my podcast listening in because when you're out there on a weekend for 2 3 hours kind of alone to your own thoughts sometimes you don't want to be alone to those thoughts so I'll use that for kind of some educational time or reflection I have been known to stop a run and jot something down and Evernote and just kind of process through things so I do I find it's a really great opportunity for me to kind of take a step back from the desk I think sometimes we think that we have to always be sitting somewhere and maniacally producing to make to make games and for me that taking that step away from sitting at the computer and manically doing something can be a way to kind of give yourself the space and time to process through and think things through what are some of the podcasts that you tend to listen to on your runs I listen to masters of scale by Reed Hoffman yeah if you haven't listened that one before they do some interesting like audio and sound effects that kind of keep you engaged over the run one one that they've just spun off four masters of scale is something called should this exists and I think it's incredibly timely yeah so it the premise is a founder with an idea will come on and talk about his idea and then they'll have two experts kind of give pros and cons of the potential ethics or the ramifications to society or kind of the maybe the parts that the founder doesn't necessarily want to think about and so it's almost a philosophical you know there are benefits this thing but what what else should we consider when this comes up to the world so it's actually only listen to one episode thus far but it's it was a pretty interesting one because I think it's it's really easy for us to get excited about our ideas and want to push them forward and this is sort of a little bit of a cautionary kind of let's make sure we're thinking about the potential less-than-stellar aspects of our ideas that's interesting should this exists in the sense of what is this going to do for society not should this exists as in is there a sustainable business here correct okay I gotta I gotta check that out and I've seen you tweeting about is it is it Montero Mike Montero how do you pronounce his last name I've only ever I don't know okay I'll link to it in the show notes and so that our pronunciations can be botched here but but I've seen you tweeting about his new book mm-hmm that's right ruined by design if you haven't heard of it you will now now that we've mentioned it you'll see it everywhere but it came out probably within the last few months we're recording this in May 2019 and there's a few few aspects of it so one is this notion of the responsibility we have to take as designers so it can seem we might get caught up in thinking that we're doing something that's very innocuous but the fact is there can be implications and any decision we make we have to take responsibility for kind of the things that filter out of that so he raises some some challenges you know it's really a book about ethics and there's a call to action to almost create kind of a Hippocratic oath for designers and I want to pause here and say before everyone like hangs up and says I thought this was her founders not for designers aha the the notion of a designer is really you know anyone who brings something into the world and so as you are you are designing your company you are designing these are all you know this notion of creativity or creation and design are kind of intermingled and so there's just kind of this notion of even if you have good intent you're ultimately responsible for how that gets used in the world and he he rags on Twitter a bunch you know it's just half the book is just making fun of Twitter but and you know questioning some of the decisions they've made or decisions they've chosen not to make so if you're offended by the f-word you might have a problem with this book but if it was for Mike Montero in general it was an interesting book to to reflect on the role that you're playing as you're kind of bringing something into the world I was going to ask that you know the obvious examples are Facebook and Twitter most people don't shouldn't think or expect that they're going to create the next Facebook or Twitter and so does he give does he give other examples of maybe he's smaller or like less impactful companies that should have been more thoughtful or mindful in the early stages about what sort of impact is this going to have on society or on the people who use this thing offhand I don't know that I can think of kind of a smaller company that he that he pulls out of his class but but one that I one example that he pulls out very early that was very impactful was Volkswagen so we all know that Volkswagen wasn't exactly straightforward and honest in their emissions testing yep and I say we all know maybe we don't so Volkswagen was charged with kind of misleading folks on their emissions testing and basically what happened is the cars were designed such that when you run an emissions test it filters it really well when you are not running that specific emissions test Aldus and the emissions aren't filtered quite as well and so it was designed know somebody built that mislead that and so and that person has actually been charged and I believe went to jail and so that was kind of the the case that he says you know someone made that you know someone made that decision and someone wrote that code and someone implemented that like that was an intentional choice and now we're seeing people that they have to pay the price and so it's sort of that question of at what point do you say do you take responsibility for what you're doing maybe it wasn't that programmers decision to do it it wasn't his idea but the fact is he implemented it and now he's in jail and so just kind of that notion of do we need some you know a Board of Ethics do we need a licensing do we need a an oath that says we will you know not do harm onto others because once upon a time maybe the projects we worked on weren't impactful but now these do have potential to impact people's lives and so do we have to take some some ownership and responsibility the of the impact we could have yeah no doubt I mean especially at that especially at the founder level I mean you're talking about where we're talking now about programming and things that have have made it out into the you know out into the world as part of that product this is not just accessibility or or anything like that those are decisions that founders need to think about mm-hmm and I would say there's probably and I don't recall if it's in his book or something else I read recently really that question of the business model you know when all is said and done someone is gonna be paying and so is that your customers paying out of pocket are you selling their data are you expecting a big company is going to buy you out because in that case you still need something to sell and so really being conscious upfront it to think about that and consider it and figure out where your own personal line is because one day you are going to have to figure it out and so it really doesn't doesn't do you a lot of good to start without having an idea of eventually how is this thing going to be a business and not a hobby yeah yeah and ultimately what what impact is it going to have on on the people who use it and people around the people who use it mm-hmm so I'm really curious how you're taking taking this line of thought into your your code for Canada fellowship can you talk to us a little bit more in detail about the about the fellowship and what that's what that's going to be like certainly so I have a background in private enterprise so I have worked for a lot of for-profit companies making software and this fellowship what the government is is actually gonna be really exciting and I'm excited to kind of make this shift the purpose is to take professionals who have worked in the digital space and kind of embed them into government agencies so kind of bring in additional capacity and potentially some different skills to kind of shake things up and help them work in a more agile thinking EEE sort of way so I'm going to be working with public services in procurement Canada which is kind of the backbone of the federal government in reimagining the government travel experience so I am sure we've all got some travel horror stories and especially if you've ever travelled for work kind of the question of how do i schedule this how do I book it how do I pay for it how do i do expenses all these sorts of things and we've seen those for our individual companies now imagine that you've got 300,000 federal employees that are trying to travel and so the the fellowship or the initiative I'll be working on is helping helping to try to boil that ocean in the in the course of nine months how do we identify where the gaps in that process where is it falling down how can we have the most impact and really the goal is within that nine months to do early upfront research prototype tests with users and you know I think ideally have something out within the next year for public servants to be able to use to improve the travel experience okay yes so and so this is what this is why I wanted to have you on to talk to talk through this is a there's a show for early stage founders and so the Government of Canada is not exactly an early stage company fair but so you but your background at URI has been as an entrepreneur running innovation teams within companies so how how are you thinking about well and let me say many many founders are rightly looking out into the world at extremely complex problems with 800-pound gorillas running the market and they're trying to figure out okay how do I get in there and tackle this problem in a nimble way that's going to have a major impact all right and so that's that's the connection that I want that I would love to draw and think about and talk through here is that you're kind of on the coming in as you know as you just kind of described trying to take a more agile approach to solving this problem so from that from that point of view can you talk about your process for understanding and tackling a ridiculously complex problem with a small team absolutely so they always say that the best way to eat an 800-pound elephant is one bite at the time and I actually had this conversation with someone just this morning of well if we have a limited we have a limited period of time and I have no doubt that people have thought about this problem before it's not like this issue just arose and so there might be a sense of there's so much information we could get there's so many places we could start how do we how do we do anything how do we move forward and I think we're at a really unique place right now where we're starting to feel that tension of do you build for a big market do you build for the generic user or do you go after a specific niche and I think that that's I actually think that my answer might be different than that what I would advise people listen to this podcast why is it because I would generally say if you're starting something new you should go niche yeah I would say you should have an idea absolutely that there is a large market potential you know you don't want to be so niche that that you're capping your potential growth but I would I would tend to say to start out with you want to you want to be very specific and very focused and make sure that you are solving something that is very important for a limited group of people build something small simple and great for those small number of people and make it work and then add one layer of complexity and then one layer of complexity so that what it works along the way so what you're envisioning exactly okay yeah good right and so the only reason why I would say I might have to take a bit of a different approach is just by virtue of given the size and scope of the audience like usually an early stage company will want to start with a small you know if you look at the diffusion of innovation and you start with your early adopters you want to have those passionate early adopters and then over time grow that group and then I'm drawing that little bell curve design do you know the what I'm talking about yeah so you start with a smaller group and then over time you can grow that and as more people start to adopt your product they're going to have slightly different needs they're going to have different levels of tolerance for how rough this thing is or how much they need to duct-tape it together and well as though the project that I'm going to be taking on might be almost a little bit later now now I'm going to talk myself out of this see I should have probably planned this before we got on the phone because great this is this is what this process actually looks like is thinking through something poking holes in it yourself re convincing yourself of your position yeah so go ahead for sure this might be a little bit closer to founder who's maybe trying to enter a market that there's already incumbents so there's already something out there there's already you know I mean an example for lack of a better one I guess it's pretty good one is slack right first came out people are like that's certain people we're like that's just IRC that's existed already like why is it such a big deal about this that technology already exists and the fact is well yeah the technology existed but there are only a certain type of people who were willing to go to the efforts to use it and so slack came in the idea was you know the concept was proven and they were able to hit a larger target market because because the experience ultimately right like the market and aligned with the experience and they were able to kind of capture a big piece so at this point I'm going to say that the code for Kansas Network is exactly aligned because we have to come in to something that people are going to be able to adopt relatively quickly we don't want to have that two years of run way of establishing a market because we just don't have it and so we don't want to be too too early on the far side of those early adopters where we say something and people have no or the majority of people have no concept of how important it is or why they would need it because we don't want to have to to establish that that category yeah yeah you've already got there's there's already an early majority in late majority of people using the thing that you need to improve upon yes absolutely they recognize that they've got a problem and so it's a little bit easier to sell them a solution than really kind of make them recognize that they have a problem sorry go back to your original question okay yeah okay so let us let it let's go back to the original question this is an extremely complex problem and so if a founder of a founder approaching a complex issue with deeply entrenched incumbents they their options their options are to find a very narrow niche of of customers and that make them ridiculously happy and then kind of land and expand from there or how would you summarize the alternative which is the position that it seems like you're in where you actually need to within your first couple of offerings provide a solution that's going to satisfy even late adopters and laggards yeah so I think that there's there's a couple lovers there so one is the one you mentioned which is the lever of theirs there's a customer segment that is not currently having their needs met and so if we go after that niche you know they're they're hungry for a solution we can we can focus in on their needs and and we're off to the races the alternative is to take a little bit more of a product centric approach and look at well if we look at the solutions right now are and the experience that folks are going through right now where are the opportunities within that that that they're kind of struggling and so you and I obviously both jobs to be done aficionados for lack of a better word so I would almost look at something like the universal job map and so what is the what is the process that people are going through through this experience and where where are they struggling so that could be a journey map which is like what it what are they doing right now where are the highs and lows from their different touchpoints or it could be at a high level you know what would you hope that to see happen at this point what are your considerations while you're doing your booking what are the things that are working for you where are things going wrong what is the point in this what what did this step are you struggling with and really use that to hone in and say oh it turns out that it's the moment that people are collecting their receipts to submit that is time-consuming leads to error drives people crazy all those sorts of things and so you can kind of look at there's already existing people doing this process but this is where the process is broken and that can be the opportunity to really sing in and and iterate and improve on that piece [Music] hey friends this is a great time to pause and let you know that bright and early is brought to you by transistor not FM transistor offers you professional podcast hosting and analytics they host this very podcast that you're listening to right now and my friends I got to tell you it could not be easier I can tell you from personal experience as you also probably know podcasting is becoming one of the best ways to develop a closer relationship with your audience and so if you're thinking about starting a podcast trust me look no further just visit transistor dot FM and if you decide to sign up let him know that Brian sent you yeah yeah exactly and you've got it you've got an advantage there and that you're gonna have access to a bunch of those a bunch of folks and and I mean thinking about the diffusion of innovation often the the late majority and even the early majority it's not that they don't want a better solution they're just hesitant to adopt even a better thing and so if if what you're able to to discover is you can design a and design a better product or design a better offering by digging into those processes that you were just talking about finding the pieces of it that are overly complex designing a better solution that's more human-friendly there's there's there's no reason why the the majority of the curve won't adopt it sooner especially if it's you've got the levers of of the people who can make that happen right one thing I'm really excited about is because of the fact that this process art exists we are going to be able to do more like contextual inquiry we're going to be able to watch people do this it's not going to be an abstract you know what would you do or it doesn't have to be a conversation where people are explicitly telling us what they think they would do we're going to actually be able to observe that and that's that's a piece of research that I really love is being able to kind of passively observes thing and notice the issues and notice the challenges that people have that are almost they've got their own workarounds where they've got their own they accept it so so they're not going to complain about it if there's something that takes me a period of time and I just think that that's how it is it's not going to occur to me that it could be better and those are the problems that I love to solve for customers the ones where no one even asks you so I've kind of always had this this perspective when I when it comes to product and design that if someone asks you for a feature you will never actually be able to solve them because the minute you give them the feature they asked for they will say why didn't I have it sooner like kind of a losing a losing battle whereas if you give someone something that will solve a problem that they never asked for that's where you're gonna get the delight yeah they didn't even have expectations so not only did you meet them you you blew them out of the water and so for me being able to spend that time observing someone and seeing what are the words they use when they describe something or what are the steps that they struggle with those are things that are just super like you can't put a price on them and and so that would be something I would advise every founder even if you have a great idea even if you know you're very confident you know what to solve that that time with customers put that time in because especially early on those are they're going to be the rich insights that are really going to help drive what you're doing and and those would be the people that you're solving problems for so I would say that that time spent with the people who are eventually going to benefit from whatever you're building is invaluable I think what's interesting about what you're saying there is you're threading this needle between oh gosh me let me get this right you're threading this needle between not just not talking to customers don't talk to customers ask them for the features that they want and build that exact thing that that will not lead to success and this other end of the spectrum of you know customers don't really know what it is that they want and so you need to be the the genius solo founder who acts away at something in the basement and then like reveals it to a world who wants it in some like job Z and here's your iPhone fashion does that make sense like you're you're talking about this middle ground of don't look don't listen to two people verbatim and go recreate those features understand what's underneath it is that right yes yeah so can you talk a little bit more about that certainly so customers people I hate saying customers or clients first that well I mean I do but it kind of in Spurs that like they're paying us money and that's why they're valuable they're actually human so people are really good at knowing what doesn't work for them they're good at articulating what their problems are and their frustrations it is our job as designers and founders and product people to help create I like to solve those problems and I wish I'd said that a little bit more sound by T not up to in the middle of it but that's alright so people are really good at knowing what their problems are it is our job to help solve them for them yeah it's not their job to tell us how to solve their problems and so and that's tough it's really easy when someone starts to tell you their problem too for them to want to also say you know if you just put three more buttons that would solve my problem yeah but but again it should be our you know that's that's why we do what we do to help solve problems it should be on us to kind of help understand the best way to do that and we can also do that by coming up with lots of individual data points learning from a lot of people and then coming up with the solutions that's gonna solve it for a larger group yeah yeah I think the testing that mm-hmm yeah I think the the sound byte II version of that I think that I've heard is people are experts in their problems not the solutions to those problems which is wherever yeah which is where design comes in business design product design UX design the whole whole thing there are there are there times though that you think that just the like that the Eureka moment of thinking through a solution without a defensible amount of customer inside our customer input is valid I think it absolutely can be now there's some really smart people out there and every experience we've ever had kool aids itself in our brain right so you might wake up tomorrow morning with this amazing idea and you might think it doesn't come from a person who told you that but for all we know you know it was your your grandma sue three years ago who said us something and it just happened to make that connection in your brain so yeah you know I think that those things are absolutely possible I would recommend that your next step would be to go out and kind of test them waters with it I wouldn't holiday tis a little bit yet they go and build it for the next two months yeah that would be you know the next 12 months but I think that absolutely if those ideas come to you that's a great time to say well let's kick this around I don't think that we should necessarily throw ideas out just because we didn't talk to a person yesterday and come up with the idea today mm-hmm what are so what are some of the let's just change course a little bit here and just think generally because you've worked with you've worked in a number of different settings and have seen enough founders and and people getting ideas off the ground in the very early stages and have done that work yourself of course what are what are some common mistakes that you see founders make in the very early stages of building and nurturing an idea or a company I think one of the biggest challenges we can have is solving of solving a problem that's not critical we're solving a problem that people don't actually want to be solved and so an example I have for that is a few years ago I was working for a web conferencing company and you're toying around with this idea that when someone ran a webinar afterwards we were going to auto we were gonna do AI Brian we're gonna auto create Clips video clip so it would actually be a perfect example for what we're doing right now you and I are gonna have this conversation and the notion was at the end of it it would snap our little sound bites and then you would you would not have to spend time editing we would already have these sound bites and this was this internal idea we thought this is great it's gonna save our customers so much time you know who doesn't want time saved like this is fantastic and we got all excited about it and then my team kind of said well let's let's just wait let's just just chat with a couple people and just make sure and it turned out for our use case which was people who are paid to run webinars it turns out that that's actually the part of their job that they really love they loved the notion of going through it and finding those pieces and they were worried about you making sure that it was snipped correctly and then it had the right feel and so they there was a sense of well you're you're taking away the part of my job that I actually love where's from our outside perspective we thought oh we'll just save them time doesn't everyone want save time and we didn't realize that they actually had other values in play so I think for me it's making sure that you're solving a problem that your customer really wants to have solved and in solving the right so solving the right part of the problem in the right way is that you know the thing yeah if you're you're taking the you're taking the joy out of it for them even if that's that is something that they run up against and it does take them time if you take joy out of that piece of the job that's that's no fun yeah now this is a weird example and it kind of becomes a kind of a philosophical question in a little bit I would guess that if we had talked to maybe their bosses their bosses might have been fine with the idea right because unfortunately if the boss cares about speed and money at this point this you know automating this person's job away might still seem like a good idea which kind of comes down to that question again like what is what's your goal for your company are you are you sir who are you serving are you serving people who make webinars or are you serving marketing managers who want to cut costs and that's that's kind of a decision for you to make because any idea can be applied at a number of different levels interesting Andrea we only have a couple of minutes left here there's been a really fascinating conversation I could go on for another 40 minutes so I think gonna we should we should meet back up at a later time so it is really fascinated in the way that you think through these problems like the philosophical aspect is that as a designer so one of my last thoughts our last question I'd like to ask you is just around the the idea of maintaining sanity calmness and peace of mind as you're working on a start-up early-stage company it can get to be a little bit nuts if you don't actively work to maintain you know sanity so I'm curious if there any practices that you have found helpful that you would like to share so we already talked a little bit about running that's a big one for me to kind of separate myself making sure that I'm getting time outside in nature then is surprisingly rejuvenating to just kind of take a step back and realize as much as these things can seem crazy and life consuming and the world the weight of the world is on your shoulders you know well you're still in Colorado I think you know go outside and take a look at a mountain and you kind of you get a little bit of perspective back yeah and for me that's always been a way to kind of take a step back and say all right we'll work our way through this and then I would say another thing that I try to do almost every day is journal so there's this thing called warning pages and the idea is you get up and kind of first thing in the morning you just jot long and three pages of whatever's on your mind and for me that's been a really nice way to kind of get the day going get kind of those niggling things that are back on my head out onto paper and then I can figure out if I'm going to deal with them today or I'm not but at the very least it kind of helps clear my head a little bit I don't do it every day but it's definitely something that I try to do and especially when I find I'm getting overwhelmed just that little you know I think it takes about 20 minutes can be a really good way to kind of wake up and get focused before jumping into whatever else I have to do my guest today has been Andrea Hill you can find her on Twitter and mediums at AEF Hill Andrea thanks so much for taking some time to chat with me today thanks so much Brandi was great to talk to you [Music] okey-dokey get my coffee and some notes let's do some closing thoughts it's funny when we ended that call and react often was like we covered a lot of topics was that any good I thought it was awesome I hope you enjoyed it as well particularly just a whole conversation around the ethics of design the ethics of the business model I think that's just like becoming more and more pertinent as how Andrea was pointing it out you know the work that a lot of us you know a lot that a lot of us have the opportunity to to be investing our time and our skills and our efforts into you know can have you know seriously large seriously large impacts and so I think it's important just to be aware even on the business model design you know a side of things you know what what's your what's your revenue model and what are the letter get the impacts of that going to be I'll say yeah I'll go ahead and go into this as I've been working on building my building my own audience growing this podcast you know pretty much every bit of of audience building community building advice that I have come across always includes start a Facebook group and I'm not gonna get on a soapbox I'm not gonna go on a rant I am just going to state the the fact that for myself I deleted my facebook account in January of 2018 and I don't I don't miss it and I noticed a big I noticed a lot of yeah there were good things about that for me and so running ads on that platform in order to send traffic to my properties is not something that I'm going to do and I am certain that there's fraud that there's probably a cost to that cost a lot more to run ads on Google than it does on Facebook and which is okay which is a separate topic I'm sure a few of you just shouted at your head sure it's your podcast player there you can't not run ads on Facebook and then run them on google fair enough reach out to me and explain to me why I would I truly would love to have that conversation and so anyway so outside of that like what which businesses are you going to support who are you going to do business with the other side of that is how are people going to do business with you and what are the effects of your of your business and there certainly to think about you know wanting to you know what's the goal is to increase engagement to create a sticky product for people to log into your thing all the time I think there's a there's a there's just a question needs to be asked as you're as you're doing that are are you increasing engagement because it's such a useful thing and people can't imagine running their business without your product I would describe Trello that way for myself I spent a lot of time in Trello every single day I'm at work because it's just so useful for me it's just the way that my brain works like it works for me in a whole lot of ways I don't spend a lot of time in Trello because I'm addicted to it or but yeah you know or because I'm just checking it obsessively the way that I definitely feel myself doing with with Twitter and I try to keep that under and you know in try to keep that manageable and for sure the sort of thing I noticed about myself with Facebook and Instagram I didn't mention this I also have deleted my Instagram account list not sure I didn't delete it I've just deleted it from my phone and I never log into it anymore and so it I think I think you're probably out hopefully I'm explaining this well and you might be nodding along with that distinction between creating something that is extremely useful to somebody to your customers so useful that they are highly engaged and spend a whole lot of time with it versus trying to you know induce little drops of dopamine along the way so that so that people are constantly just you know spinning and you know fluttering our way they're they're minutes and hours in a day using your thing I think that's all very very fascinating found it interesting to hear Andrea you know this expert in in innovation and an innovation design to hear her talk about how she and her team are facing a design challenge that's more along the lines of like an agency level redesign with this existing sub par sub optimal solution and they're there's going to be a list of requirements that likely aren't up necessarily for negotiation - it's old - it's to some degree but if you're like if you're a startup going after a deep you know an incumbent then it's it's all up for negotiation like all the requirements are on the table because you're you're creating something new so through customer research and interviews you might come to some provocative solution that says yeah hey we're gonna cut out about a third of what you might have called table stakes features we're gonna offer less we're gonna under do the incumbents on purpose because we think you know for the most part that's like Crufts and feature creep that has just worked its way in over the past you know eight to ten years and then you get to test that hypothesis and see if you can win within your niche and then expand from there that's just the way that that innovation goes and so as I I just really enjoyed you know thinking through and talking through that with Andrea I'll be very fascinated to see what she hopefully she is able to write and share a bunch of this stuff as she goes along or certain certainly downton down the road when there are things to share but I mean you know bit major take away like put the time in with your customers qualitative insights or just absolutely invaluable we talked about it a bit you know custom our experts in their problems not the solutions and so don't you know don't ask if we build X feature would you use it that is that is a question in customer research that can lead you down the wrong trail don't ask if we built this which you use it and don't solve problems that aren't critical there are some problems that are in fact problems but people will not break their habits in order to get them solved they just won't so here's and here's how you can suss that out because if you like if you pitch a solution and then ask hey if I built this will you buy it or say hey if we added you know X to the to the product do you think you would use it people will say yes for for one if well for a number of reasons but for starters they'll say yes to spare your feelings and some some people will be blatantly obvious or blatantly honest most people won't most people will say yes to your face and lie to your face or even lie over email if there's any kind of a relationship just to spare your feelings and besides that even if they are honest people are people are too optimistic about their willingness to alter their behavior where or break their habits and so it may it may be legit oh yes I really would I would want to do that that is a better way to go about it but when the rubber meets the road just think about your own decision-making and how many times have you said oh no I need but I know I need to do this differently but gosh whatever I just want to get I just I want to get this done you don't have the energy to learn something new or to try something new even if you know over the long haul there will be a benefit that is just not the way most people operate and so if you if you observe someone struggling with a problem and you think you might be able to that you think you could solve you just pursue a lot a line of questioning like hey it looks like you're dealing with a problem there it looks like this piece of the workflow is inefficient or you you're frustrated here so how often would you say that happens and then you can let them give you a factual historical answer and so what like what happens if you don't resolve that or if it or if it takes a while for you to resolve it how do you usually solve that and what else have you tried so think about those things like how often does that happen it happens every single day well what happens if you don't resolve that or if it takes a long time um I mean actually it's kind of not that big of a deal they're just like tell the intern to do it or like between you and me nothing really happens if I don't do this okay cool end of discussion like that is not an actual problem that's an inconvenience or how often does that happen all the time what happens if you don't resolve that well we won't get these payments filled and we get charged at $25.00 late fee sometimes we pay it sometimes we're able to push back but I mean there's there's a late fee oh okay well how do you usually solve that well I'd you know put a reminder for myself or like I said we can you know contact the vendor and get the $25 fee back you know it's it just kind of depends but you can you can see the difference when you ask questions that are about how often does this happen what happens if it doesn't get solved and what what have you tried how do you usually solve it those things are not this like emotional objective hey would you buy this if I built it or if we added this would that be helpful that's that's the way you can kind of dig in there and and suss that suss that out so goodness what what else I could probably go on for another 15 minutes about that about that episode but but we'll we'll pause it there I would love to hear what you all think you can you can go to bright and early podcast.com by the way I don't think I've been pushing that quite enough it's about a couple people sign up over there so bright and early podcast.com where you can add yourself to the newsletter or just you know stay stay up on some things or you can of course reach out to me on Twitter I am beer a br HEA as in barefoot runner pills endurance and aerobic
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