Typically we pick a direction and try it. If it works, great, if not, we go back to the drawing board. In this way validating and marketing have a lot of overlap.
Validation as curiosity
You pick a road. You go down it. You keep going down it.
At some point you look around.
This is the moment that matters.
You either keep going or in paying attention to what’s around you, you make a decision to recalibrate, change course, or turn around altogether.
What bad validation looks like
Have you ever gotten lost in the woods?
Bad validation is just “looking up” too infrequently, too late, and for too little at a time. As a result, you go down a path too far after making a wrong turn. You see a landmark and assume you’re on the right path when you aren’t.
You’re rushing so little clues are enough and you just keep going.
What good validation looks like
This is sort of the opposite.
Before you leave you get a map. You have a plan for checking progress, that you’re on the right track: “I’ll check the compass every hour.” You have a sleeping bag and hiking shoes, your walkie talkie.
You know the sun sets in the West and the North Star is north-ish, and there are lots of forks. When you get to a new fork, you check the map.
When the channels for communication are opened with the right groups, and kept open, then its really hard to get too offtrack.
Bringing users into the story and along for the journey, its hard too imagine being led too far astray.
Revisiting “you can’t invalidate an idea”
In a previous post, I said you can’t invalidate an idea. What I think I meant was, as long as you’re committed to getting somewhere, you’ll get there. Where the idea starts and where it ends are different. If you end up with a different market, or different positioning, or solving a different problem, and your original idea is unrecognizable, who cares.
Validating by doing
Are you familiar with the “ship of Thesues” thought experiment? It’s the idea that if you replace a part of a ship, that its still the same ship. If you keep doing that until the ship is made up of completely new parts, its still the same ship… or is it?
Of course the gradual identity of the ship changes, but its history, journeys, adventures, don’t change, they just get built upon.