Emotional needs as problem statements

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Emotional needs as problem statements Magnus Cooney 4/29/12 8:20 AM
Hello, I have an idea for a site that has social and game-like
elements I'd like to validate. Much of it's benefit will come from
making one's neighborhood better as a fun, shared experience with
others.

I'm about to "get out of the building" to conduct problem interviews.

Much of the literature around presenting problem statements focuses on
very utilitarian, "get the job done" problems.

Does anyone have any experience / advice for writing problem
statements that address emotional or social needs?
RE: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements tbo...@auormgroup.co 4/29/12 8:59 AM
Great question Magnus!
 
I will stew on this a bit, but would very much like to see some strong responses from the community.   For consumer/social apps the behavior will be driven by these factors.

Thomas J Bohinc, Principal
 
AuormGroup  PO Box 563, Old Saybrook, CT 06475  860.857.6778
clear vision to perform
 
 
Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements Jim Benson 4/29/12 9:17 AM
Magnus,

The answer is an easy yes. But you need to "get out of the building" yourself - and that building is conceptual.

The area you are heading into has extensive domain outside Lean Startup.

I would check out writings on Urban Planning design charrettes. Duany and Zyberk, and others. Or here:  http://www.charretteinstitute.org/charrette.html 

Your get out of the building exercise can certainly start as conversations, but you will end up talking about highly contextual slices of how people view and feel about their world when the encounter you. 

The thing is, you are not giving people a product with your idea in the Lean Startup / MVP sense of the word. You are giving them a largely multi-dimensional product that involves their own NIMBY tendencies, community activism, social responsibility, politics, the melding of individual and group rights, the limitations of the built environment, and so on. Psychologically, this is pretty deep stuff. -- Which is why, for so many years, Urban Planning in the US was a regulatory nightmare.  Also, people vary wildly, but tend to form cohorts. So neighborhoods will have some degree of homogeneity. If you test in one place, you are making a product for that place. 

So when you ask about statement that address emotional / social needs - that's a huge question. 

On the other hand, you might want to try one of a few things:

1. Aim your questions not on their emotional needs, but on what they currently like about their neighborhoods - use appreciative inquiry and positive deviance to couch your questions. Begin to learn about your domain (people in a particular neighborhood) before you dive into their emotions.

2. Aim your product at supporting existing civic volunteer groups. These groups have hard times getting membership, then hard times getting their members to actually do things. If you could provide assistance to those groups - you could get closer to the outcome you seek without the mess of dealing with randomly acting individuals.

Hope this helps.

Jim 


 
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Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements Adrian Howard 4/30/12 10:09 AM
Hi Magnus,

On 29 Apr 2012, at 16:20, Magnus Cooney wrote:

> Hello, I have an idea for a site that has social and game-like
> elements I'd like to validate. Much of it's benefit will come from
> making one's neighborhood better as a fun, shared experience with
> others.
>
> I'm about to "get out of the building" to conduct problem interviews.
>
> Much of the literature around presenting problem statements focuses on
> very utilitarian, "get the job done" problems.

The first thing I'd consider is not interviewing at first - but just observing.

I've been done some early cust dev work that involves looking at the kind of relationships that people have in some local meetings. I've been attending a few and just watching and listening, and have already changed a few things from my original concept.

Next try open questions about what happening. The various "w" questions are great -  what, when, where, who, and why. Asking questions about positive experiences can give as much, if not more, information than focussing on problems.

"What do you like most about your neighbourhood?", "Tell me about the last time you had a fun time with a friend locally." - things like that. Try and encourage folk to tell stories - and spend much more time listening than talking.

Having a google around appreciative inquiry might give you some useful pointers to possible tactics. You might also find Johanna Kollmann's notes from her session at Lean Camp 2 http://is.gd/akrOJv of interest.

Finally - quick tip on taking notes if you're not recording the session. Find a way to keep what people say separate from your interpretations - and get in the habit of keeping track of both (I use different coloured pens myself). If you don't keep track of what's actually said it gets very hard to reinterpret older interviews after you've changed your ideas. Having more that one person makes this much easier. One can focus on writing down what's said. The other can focus on interpretation.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,

Adrian
--
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Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements 5iver 4/30/12 11:38 AM
Interesting. I too am facing this issue (emotional needs), but have been trying to shoehorn them into the standard "problem" template. I never thought to ask the group...

We all feel and hope that we're sitting on a business idea that will survive our validation process, but I was getting stuck at the issue of validating customer "need" with a product that, frankly, they... don't know they need yet.

The situation is both arrogant and perfectly OK in the same moment. People didn't know they 'needed' Instagram.

There's a very subtle distinction, which might warrant a discussion, between "need" (solve a problem) and just plain ol' "want", which the ultra-low barrier to entry that a 99¢ app has allowed to be satisfied in so many cases. I bought two apps just this morning based on nothing more than optimistic curiosity.

Thoughts?
RE: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements alan little 4/30/12 1:52 PM
Putting revenue model aside - IG didn't have one and was purchased by a
company that doesn't have one either -
there's sufficient anecdotal evidence to support the positions that people
want to connect, share things they value, and like immediacy. IG did those
things well at the right time, hence the viral nature of their growth.  

But, what happens when revenue is a factor? If all you want is a quick exit
via acquisition with valuation based on users (not paying customers), by all
means build something that fulfills all of the above elegantly.

However, if you are building something that is intended to stand on its own
over time, that may call for another set of metrics entirely - "what do
people want vs. what do they need vs. would they pay and if so how much?".
Your business model and exit strategy are lenses through which you might
want to look at your questions. If the model is intended to be revenue
producing, then the old "painkiller vs. vitamin" adage may apply.

Alan Little
Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements 5iver 4/30/12 1:55 PM
Eloquently put. Thank you.
Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements Sean Murphy 4/30/12 2:06 PM
On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM, Trevor Gilchrist <tmgil...@gmail.com> wrote:
Interesting. I too am facing this issue (emotional needs), but have been trying to shoehorn them into the standard "problem" template. I never thought to ask the group...

We all feel and hope that we're sitting on a business idea that will survive our validation process, but I was getting stuck at the issue of validating customer "need" with a product that, frankly, they... don't know they need yet.

The situation is both arrogant and perfectly OK in the same moment. People didn't know they 'needed' Instagram.

What are Instagram users doing less of now that they are using Instragram? Substitution effects can offer indirect evidence for the need that you are fulfilling. For example, books and movies compete for your time as entertainment. What job have Instagram users hired the application to do for them?

What will people spend less time (and money) on if they embrace your product?

Sean Murphy http://www.twitter.com/skmurphy
Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements 5iver 4/30/12 2:58 PM
Another remarkable distillation of my perceived ambiguity, thank you.

The embracing of our product would represent a dramatic, tangible dissipation of friction and resistance in a very large and vibrant market that ought, by now, to have changed/improved/evolved.
The fact that it hasn't, is fuel for our optimism, but we are trying hard to measure… validate... the hypothesis:mirage ratio. The "too good to be true" factor.

As an avid Instagram user (from long before their revenue-less valuation materialized), I "hire the application" (what a remarkable definition, thank you) to engage in a silent, creative exchange of visual moments in a private space. I never knew I would enjoy or maintain that activity (I'm not a Facebooker or Tweeter), but I do and have.

It really is Alan's "painkiller vs. vitamin" scenario. Instagram takes away no pain. There was no pain.

painkiller vs vitamin vs recreational drug? 

thank you for your considered reply.

Trevor

On Apr 30, 2012, at 2:06 PM, Sean Murphy wrote:

What are Instagram users doing less of now that they are using Instragram? Substitution effects can offer indirect evidence for the need that you are fulfilling. For example, books and movies compete for your time as entertainment. What job have Instagram users hired the application to do for them?

What will people spend less time (and money) on if they embrace your product?

Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements John Sechrest 4/30/12 3:01 PM
In the Vitamin vs Painkiller, there is a twist.

In many ways, an "Unexpected Joy" is the equivilent to the "Pain".

When you find something fun and interesting that gets all the electrons moving in the brain, it causes the same response as removing pain.






--
John Sechrest          .             
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Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements Sean Murphy 4/30/12 3:21 PM
On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 2:58 PM, Trevor Gilchrist <tmgil...@gmail.com> wrote:
Another remarkable distillation of my perceived ambiguity, thank you.

The embracing of our product would represent a dramatic, tangible dissipation of friction and resistance in a very large and vibrant market that ought, by now, to have changed/improved/evolved.

Be very careful of the word "ought" in that sentence.

Prospects may not have a "good" reason as far as you are concerned, but as far as they are concerned they have a "strong" reason. Perhaps it's not a very important problem for them. Perhaps they don't believe you or it's difficult to trial your product.

Also you highlight "tangible" in a conversation that's about emotions. I don't understand what activity they will do less of in preference to your application?

Hiring a product to do a job aka "jobs-to-be-done" comes from "milkshake marketing" by Clayton Christensen and is first mentioned in "Innovator's Solution" as an alternative to traditional market segmentation models based on demographics or psychographics.

Sean Murphy www.twitter.com/skmurphy

 
The fact that it hasn't, is fuel for our optimism, but we are trying hard to measure… validate... the hypothesis:mirage ratio. The "too good to be true" factor.

As an avid Instagram user (from long before their revenue-less valuation materialized), I "hire the application" (what a remarkable definition, thank you) to engage in a silent, creative exchange of visual moments in a private space. I never knew I would enjoy or maintain that activity (I'm not a Facebooker or Tweeter), but I do and have.

It really is Alan's "painkiller vs. vitamin" scenario. Instagram takes away no pain. There was no pain.

painkiller vs vitamin vs recreational drug? 

thank you for your considered reply.

Trevor

On Apr 30, 2012, at 2:06 PM, Sean Murphy wrote:

What are Instagram users doing less of now that they are using Instragram? Substitution effects can offer indirect evidence for the need that you are fulfilling. For example, books and movies compete for your time as entertainment. What job have Instagram users hired the application to do for them?

What will people spend less time (and money) on if they embrace your product?


Re: [lsc] Emotional needs as problem statements 5iver 4/30/12 7:06 PM
Thank you Sean,

I genuinely appreciate being called out on my choice of language — it is revealing and helpful.

"ought, by now, to have changed" should certainly be replaced with: 

"we have long thought that the market would, by now, have evolved, but truly believe (pending validation) that it's simply because no-one has yet noticed the opportunity for improvement that we now do."

"improvement" = reduction of 'usage anxiety'; greater clarity; greater efficiency; greater likelihood to re-use; more enjoyment of the experience; better end results.

I apologize for the riddles and absence of specifics — how can you possibly judge — but the early, face-to-face interviews we have conducted — which basically asked likely adopters to "play act" how they currently operate; followed by a reveal of inactive MVP mockups that suggest an alternative — have generated extremely favorable responses.

I am dedicated to using the Lean principles to make sure that our perceived "opportunity for improvement" is not just an projected wish on our part — that the opportunity is real and will be embraced/paid for. The temptation is to run headlong into development, waving the spoken accolades of a few, possibly lucky shots as evidence of guaranteed success.

Been down that road before. Not going down that road again.

Also you highlight "tangible" in a conversation that's about emotions. I don't understand what activity they will do less of in preference to your application?

Instead of "tangible", I should say "worthwhile" or "significant". I am constantly trying to be too clever with my language…

Suffice to say, my original post was reaching for a way to think about "problems" that are not being overtly expressed by a user base. These problems can be revealed as problems very easily during face-to-face, but we're not responding to an explicit "if only I could…" They are abstracted or buried one level down.

An example: before GPS came along, none of us were proclaiming "dang these paper maps! Surely someone could invent a dashboard screen that hooked up to a satellite and told me where to go."

Until, of course, someone did.

Thank you for taking the time to work through this with me, it is much appreciated.

Trevor