You can plan design sprints, but you can’t plan “insights” or “innovation”

Image via unsplash @firmbee

  • The best stories tumble out of a customer’s mind when you are walking them out after an interview. When they are relaxed. When they have had time to introspect. When they don’t have to please you anymore.
  • They come when you meander on to an unrelated topic. They come when people are animated and say things like “You know that reminds of something we were talking about before, actually… ”
  • Subconscious motivations show up when you compliment someone on their shirt and they say “I only bought it because it was half off, I am a sucker for sales….”
  • The best insights come to you when you have a moment of epiphany — a pure truth reveals itself after being filtered through multiple scenarios.

I am not saying don’t interview users — I am asking you to hold your interview questions loosely. Let a conversation meander — you may find an interesting story.

The best ideas don’t show up when you are “brainstorming”

I see teams planning to come up with the best idea in 2 hours, and implement it the next week. Ideation is important. It primes your mind to explore widely. It deeply situates the problem and data in your mind. However, the best ideas don’t come when brainstorming.

  • They come when you are showering
  • They come when you are out for a run
  • They come when you are discussing politics
  • They come when you are bored and your cell phone is dead

I am not saying don’t brainstorm — I am telling you the best ideas will come a day, a week or even a month after brainstorming.

Start thinking about a problem 6 months before you intend to solve it. Realize that the problems you are solving now had germinated in your mind 6 months ago.

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