Right now, thousands of individuals around the world are mulling over and debating whether or not to launch their new product into the market – the question is, how are they validating their decisions?

For some, it will be a gut instinct: insight crystallized purely from an assortment of thoughts and feelings based on observations.

For others, it will be validation through market research: a consensus validated by the responses of numerous potential/current customers.

And for others, it will be the result of collaboration: a collection of iterations to a unique idea by a number of key individuals with specific expertise.

Malcolm Gladwell, for example, would say go with your gut instinct. An interview with Business Week reveals that Gladwell believes businesses should be wary of three things:

“Relying on too much information to make decisions; asking people to explain why they made a decision that was instinctive; and believing in market research.”

Many current businesses, however, are making their decisions to bring something to market based on market research. It is commonly accepted in the business community that there should be some concrete market research to validate a concept before it is brought to market.

If, on the other hand, you were to ask Apple how they generate their ideas, they would tell you it is a result of collaboration. Pragmatic Marketing’s article on Apple reveals that for any new feature or design, Apple takes a group of designers, creates ten ideas, cuts it down to three ideas, and finally to one. According to Steve Jobs, they do not do market research. They hire really talented people and turn them loose — they rely on multidisciplinary collaboration from within the organization for all their groundbreaking ideas.

Now, assuming that at the moment of truth you rely on one of the above options more than the others to validate your decision, the question is …

How are you validating your business ideas?

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Received an interesting response via email, saying that it is a mix of a gut instinct and collecting feedback along the way, which is encapsulated very well by Eric Ries lean startup methodology.

Joel Finningley May 13

Not a complete response but an important consideration:

The reality is that an organization (or individual) shouldn’t get caught up on the details or “paralysis by analysis”. By delaying action to make something that is good/great to be perfect is a waste of valuable resources (namely time). Getting ideas out there early enough for honest feedback (sales data, complaints, suggestions, etc.) is the best way to make adjustments and improve. I know there’s something to be said about getting it right the first time – but if you listen (I mean REALLY listen) and act on that feedback, that’s how you build trust: and trust is brand. I know it doesn’t address the whole picture but sometimes you gotta throw your idea at the wall to see if it sticks… (and if it doesn’t – use duct tape!)

- Conor

Conor Topley May 13

If your idea is genuinely innovative, I am in the camp of the Steve Blank/Eric Ries folks – you have to put it out there and get the market’s reaction. Asking the market what it needs is like blind men describing an elephant – http://ht.ly/1N1gX. Now, that said, it is much easier for a startup in the web space, where agile development allows rapid iteration and pivoting. For companies where design and development is measured in months or years and the costs of changing direction are high, more rigorous planning is necessary.

I do believe market research is important even for web startups: knowing how large your target market is, who your competitors are, what market forces need to be considered when launching a new product/service/business is critical. But the only way to truly know how the market will react to your idea is to get it out there.

Paul Sullivan May 19

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