Idea Validation: Problem

Family Tree

Verify that manual implementations exist for what you plan to automate

Illustration of Family Tree
Run a Family Tree play

Difficulty: Intermediate

Evidence strength

Relevant metrics: Jobs to be done ranking, Ranking needs, wants, desires, pains, Observations

Validates: Desirability

How: Investigate whether someone has already written a script or spreadsheet macro to solve the same problem or whether people are already following a checklist to prevent a category of errors. If manual implementations exist, there is a good chance you found a problem worth solving.

Why: Replacing workarounds rather than reengineering the experience from scratch lets users stay in the same mental model and thus entails less cognitive energy on changing their behavior into using your new solution.

This experiment is part of the Validation Patterns printed card deck

A collection of 60 product experiments that will validate your idea in a matter of days, not months. They are regularly used by product builders at companies like Google, Facebook, Dropbox, and Amazon.

Get your deck!

Before the experiment

The first thing to do when planning any kind of test or experiment, is to figure out what you want to test. To make critical assumptions explicit, fill out an experiment sheet as you prepare your test. We created a sample sheet for you to get started. Download the Experiment Sheet.

Find manual implementations of your product

The “Family Tree” experiment assesses the existence of manual solutions to problems a product aims to automate.

If manual implementations exist, it indicates a genuine need, suggesting a market for an automated solution. This method also aligns with user habits, as it builds upon established practices rather than introducing entirely new behaviors, facilitating easier adoption of the new product.

Understanding existing manual processes helps in designing solutions that are more intuitive and user-friendly, thereby increasing the likelihood of product acceptance and success.

Examples of manual implementations that could be automated include:

  • Expense Reporting. Currently, employees manually compile and submit expense reports for reimbursement. This process is time-consuming and error-prone. To automate it, a software solution could be developed that allows employees to scan and upload receipts, automatically categorizes expenses, and generates reports for approval. This would save time, reduce errors, and provide better visibility into company expenses.
  • Quality Control Inspections. In the manufacturing industry, quality control inspections often involve manual checks and measurements of products. To improve this process, automation can be implemented using sensors and machine learning algorithms. These systems can continuously monitor product quality, identify defects, and even make real-time adjustments to the production process. This ensures higher product quality and reduces the need for manual inspections.

After the experiment

To make sure you move forward, it is a good idea to systematically record your the insights you learned and what actions or decisions follow. We created a sample Learning Sheet, that will help you capture insights in the process of turning your product ideas successful. Download the Learning Sheet.

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