Pants. I put the on every weekday

In 1970, the United States conducted Operation Ivory Coast, a raid on the Son Tay prison camp in Vietnam to liberate POWs. The US Army Special Forces troopers were hand selected. It was planned and rehearsed for months. And on November 21, after a difficult air penetration in hostile airspace, the 56-man assault force landed and flawlessly executed the plan. They took 1 wounded and neutralized 42 enemy guards. And rescued 0 POWs. Because they’d been moved months before. Which was known but compartmentalized and not communicated until the last minute, at which point leadership failed to overcome wishful thinking. 

 

It doesn’t matter how well you do the wrong thing. I spent years on the software equivalent of Son Tay raids. We hit aggressive deadlines, won awards, were featured by Apple, and then had layoffs because the new shiny thing was the wrong product for the wrong market and didn’t make money. It wasn’t until I got into consulting that I saw products fail because a company was unable to get something usable out the door.

 

Market research, will, by definition, help you target a market. Within that market, generative User Experience research will help you figure out what you’re making for whom. I’m currently working with a FinTech startup to evaluate the next major design and development spike. We developed high-level personas for every step of the overall process of a certain common financial transaction. Looking at the process map and personas allowed us to circle a group of people at a specific time in the process and say, “Those people are critical. We have to solve their problems.” Next, we’ll develop more fine-grained personas for the subsets of that user group and get a deep sense of their goals and obstacles so we can target a solution.