• Wendy Castleman

But, what do you REALLY know?

Updated: May 23, 2019


"I just know customers are going to love it!"

In working with teams over the years, I've found that they often think they know what customers want but they don't actually know. It makes sense that something that seems right to you would actually be right to your customers. But, we often have a different experience level than our customers - often more familiar with the technology and less familiar with the context in which our customers are choosing our solutions. This disconnect often leads us to fall in love with our solutions and build things that customers don't really value. It can lead us to spend incredible resources building products that customers don't buy.

Avoiding this outcome is the intention of Lean Startup. The core of the Lean Startup is that you identify your "Leap of Faith Assumptions" and you test them prior to putting resources and time into your full product. Make better, faster decisions. The challenge is really understanding what it is that you need to learn fast, and assessing what you already know.


In order to address this challenge, while I was at Intuit, I devised a tool for helping a team capture and assess what they know. I call it FOG. Honestly, I was inspired to the idea from an activity in cool little book called "Rapid Problem Solving with Post-it Notes" by David Straker. I took his original concept for FOG and modified it in two ways: To work with a group or team, and to clarify the concepts.

With this tool, the whole team comes together and captures what they know, then they identify whether each thing they "know" is a Fact (F), Observation (O), or Guess/Assumption (G). A fact is something that has hard data behind it. An observation is something you have seen yourself, but may or may not have a complete understanding of. A guess is something that you assume to be true. If you are making assumptions about something important to the success of your product, you are putting the success at risk. You need to focus on moving those assumptions into Observations or Facts, or disproving them as soon as possible so you can pivot on your idea before you put too many resources towards it.

Check out my tools page to download a free step-by-step how-to guide for facilitating or hosting your own FOG session with your team.

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