A lot of UX guides suggest that teams start by writing down hypotheses about customer preferences and behavior.
I’ve done this sort of activity myself many times, and suggested that others do it at the beginning of their own processes, too.
“We believe that invoicing customers with custom processes through procurement portals is the most time-consuming task for accounts payable coordinators.”
This seems innocuous. It seems scientific. It seems reasonable. There are some cases where hypothesis statements can be useful, like when you’re doing an A/B test on a landing page. You have a hypothesis that changing only the headline will lead to a lift.
But after reading Cialdini, I’m rethinking hypothesis statements for exploratory research.
If you follow Cialdini’s research, writing down hypotheses in an exploratory context like customer research might be detrimental.
It might bias the team towards validating their hypothesis rather than evaluating it.
It might make the team look ill-informed to their leadership or investors.
It forces them to potentially face being inconsistent in their beliefs.
In cultures with psychological safety and customer research at their core, hypothesis statements for exploratory research might be fine.
But even in those organizations, I think there might be an alternative.