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The Mom Test

The Mom Test: your mother is lying to you

Never ask your mother if your business plan is a good idea. Indeed: don’t ask anyone! That’s what tech entrepreneur Rob Fitzpatrick advocates in his book The Mom Test. People in business, he says, are not always honest in their judgements, to avoid confrontation. But then how do you test your new idea? How you do find out what your customers really need is a fundamental skill for anyone involved in product development.

The comparison made in The Mom Test is extremely apt. A mother, out of love for her children, will never admit that something is wrong with their business plan. Unless you ask the right questions. The same plays out with business contacts. Based on this fundamental fact, The Mom Test offers many recognisable examples and tips to improve customer communication. Matter from The Mom Test is often used during a Product Discovery. It is always advisable to have read this thin booklet before you start developing your MVP.

Finding truth with The Mom Test

Erik Seveke, co-founder of GlobalOrange, argues that good communication between customer and service provider is a shared responsibility. However, the crux of the problem is that in many collaborations, the interests are not connected, resulting in a lack of open and transparent communication. Yet in product development, he sees an extremely positive trend where those interests do come together. You work together on a project, following agile working methods and the Lean Startup, in order to achieve a successful final product. This is radically different from the old-fashioned development projects delivered using the waterfall method. The model, of ‘you ask, we turn’. But even in modern development projects, there is still much to be gained.

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