What if there are no patterns

I was talking to a friend about doing customer interviews the other day and he had a great question.

“What if we do all the interviews and we don’t find any patterns?”

I thought this was such a great question because it perfectly highlights a common misconception around the purpose of research.

The misconception is that doing customer research will point you in the right direction and tell you what you need to do.

This is similar to a common misconception around science as a whole. People think you can prove stuff with science. Every time someone says ‘scientifically proven’ they’re just demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of how the scientific method works. The whole point of science is to disprove stuff. You can’t prove anything, failing to disprove something is the best you can hope for.

Coming back to customer research, interviewing people will never show you what needs to be done but it can eliminate what doesn’t need to be done.

The idea that not finding patterns is a bad thing is predicated on the idea that an absence of patterns means you have learned nothing. An absence of patterns is a pattern. You can never not learn something with reserach.

If what you learning is not useful then you’re probably just asking the wrong questions.


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