Product #39

Product #39


The Mom Test · Rob Fitzpatrick · 2013

The Mom Test is great if you’re new to conducting user interviews. It explains the hazards of interviewing users, and will help you get the most out of yours. There’s an art to asking questions and this is the playbook. There’s enough examples and sample questions to give you confidence. I first read this book in 2015 and I keep coming back to it!

Key Highlights

If you talk to customers before understanding the common pitfalls, you're going to get misleading information and make bad decisions off the back of it.

The key challenge with user interviews is that you can't just ask people what they think. People are bad at articulating their rationale. They're also too nice, which results in false positives.

Every question can create bias and skew findings, so the art of asking the right questions is important. You can't ask, "Is my business a good idea?" Nobody is going to tell you the truth. Ask around your idea to get insights.

3 Rules for Good Interviews:

  • Talk about their life, not your idea.
  • Talk about specifics in the past, not generics in the future.
  • Talk less and listen more (stop pitching).

The customer owns the problem; you own the solution. Don't ask about what you should build; that's your job, not theirs. Instead, gather as much information about them as you can.

3 Types of bad data:

  • Compliments
  • Generic Hypotheticals
  • Feature Requests

Ask important questions, escape the trivial. What would make your company fail?

Don't zoom in too early, and don't ignore their indifference. Don't ask them about the gym if they're not trying to get/stay healthy.

There are two types of risk:

  • Product Risk - Can I build it? Can I grow it? (Prototype)
  • Customer and Market Risks - Do they want it? Will they pay for it? (Conversations)
  • Only once you've learned about the customer can you reveal your product or idea.
  • Then look for commitment, give them a clear chance to reject or commit.
  • The three types of commitment:
    • Time (trial, training for colleagues)
    • Cash (letter of intent)
    • Reputation (boss, pilot, introductions)
  • Qualification:
    • People have the problem.
    • Know they have the problem.
    • Have the budget to solve the problem.
    • Have cobbled together a solution.
  • Don't be a learning bottleneck - get the customer data to your team.

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A Technique for the Measurement of Attributes · Rensis LIkert · 1932

Attempts to measure the traits of character and personality are nearly as old as techniques for the measurement of intellectual capacity, yet it can scarcely be claimed that they have achieved a similar success. Part, at least, of the difficulty has lain in the statistical difficulties which are encountered when everyday aspects of social behavior, ordinarily handled as qualitative affairs, are treated from the mathematical point of view. The present study, although part of a larger investigation undertaken in 1929 by Gardner Murphy, aims primarily at the solution of a technical problem which has arisen in relation to the quantitative aspects of the study of social attitudes.

  • This paper is 100 years old, but it was an important one. It popularized the 'Likert Scale,' a revolutionary method for measuring attitudes. This scale allows for the quantification of subjective attitudes and opinions, which is a crucial aspect in understanding customer preferences and experiences.
  • The Likert scale provided a systematic way to convert qualitative, subjective attitudes into quantitative data. This approach is essential for product managers and UX researchers who often deal with subjective user feedback.
  • To this day, it enables us to perform objective analysis of subjective impressions, enabling data-driven decision-making in product strategy and user experience enhancements.
  • The scale provides a standardised method for collecting and analysing user opinions, allowing for consistent and comparable data over time.

View the Paper

Book Highlights

Insert Artwork
The Principle of Commitment and Consistency states that the smaller the initial ask from someone, the more likely they are to agree to bigger requests. This principle can be applied to user onboarding by reorganising the steps from easiest to hardest.

Ramli John · Product-Led Onboarding

The stated goal of the project has changed and morphed over time, and we’re now solving different problems than the ones we originally set out to solve. This is quite common, and a stakeholder’s suggestion for changes is often a reflection of these moving objectives. Getting to the root cause and clearly redefining the goals will help guide you back to a healthy place.

Tom Greever · Articulating Design Decisions

Good strategy works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favourable outcomes

Marty Cagan · Empowered

X-Rated (Best of Product Twitter)

The best story I’ve found on incentives. Charlie Munger explaining how Federal Express fixed their biggest problem -- by changing the incentives… "From all business, my favorite case on incentives is Federal Express. The heart and soul of their system – which creates the integrity of the product – is having all their airplane come to one place in the middle of the night and shift all the packages from plane to plane. If there are delays, the whole operation can’t deliver a product full of integrity to Federal Express customers. And it was always screwed up. They could never get it done on time. They tried everything – moral suasion, threats, you name it. And nothing worked. Finally, somebody got the idea to pay all these people not so much an hour, but so much a shift and when it’s all done, they can all go home. Well, their problems cleared up overnight.” George Mack · X George__mack

What I’m Listening to


High Speed · Nicolas · Elements · 3 Lights