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Uncovering the kernel

The average person thinks between 50,000-80,000 thoughts a day. That means around 2,100-3,400 per hour. While most come and go, every once and a while an idea bubbles-up that’s worth exploring.

This is the idea that internal stakeholders get excited about, the one that will determine a company’s future.

As these ideas evolve, a kernel is often uncovered and a pivot happens. Instagram was originally Burbn, a location-based check-in app, but found that people loved using the photo filter/sharing feature. Twitter spawned from Odeo, a podcasting company, and was originally thought of as an SMS platform.

While Burbn and Odeo may have been great ideas, once the kernel was uncovered, a pivot was made that changed their trajectory.

When trying to execute any project, it’s likely you’ll need to pivot or simplify the concept more than once. Getting your product in front of as many people as possible (early on) is the only way to get the right signal.

The best way to do this?

  • External interviews
    • Some say 5, others say 10, but have personally found that the best number for a signal is 25 conversations with prospective users
  • Surveys
    • Bulk short surveys that span 5-10 questions relating to an idea
  • Internal brainstorms
    • Not presentation, or review, brainstorms on how to pressure test the product
  • Concept iterations
    • Test the same concept, with small tweaks, in parallel, with the same users

Remember, it’s rare that an idea stays the same from concept to inception, so the sooner you get it out to the world, the better. Even if it’s half-baked.

-Al Cavalieri

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