Determine and state your most important assumptions about the user problem.

👥 whole team can participate | ⏰ between 45 and 60 minutes


Your vision for a product opportunity is a series of untested hypotheses that need to be proven. Before you can test what you think you know, you need to write it down — it starts with stating the assumptions your team is making about the problem.

What problem or need are you solving for the business, product, or user? Why do you think the problem exists? What do you think are your customers’ biggest pains? 

Once you have determined your most important assumptions about the user problem, you will be able to validate whether or not they are true by talking to your customers.


  1. On a flip-chart sheet of paper or whiteboard, write down the problem or user need you are trying to solve.
  2. Each participant should have a pad of sticky notes. Ask the participants to think about any assumptions they currently have about why this problem exists from the user’s perspective.
  3. Take 5 minutes to have participants silently write down all their assumptions, one assumption per sticky note.
  4. After everyone has written their assumptions, put everyone’s sticky notes under the problem statement you wrote at the beginning of the session.
  5. Once all the sticky notes have been posted, start grouping similar items into clusters.
  6. For each cluster, write a statement or category that captures its theme on a new sticky note. These represent the team’s problem hypotheses.
  7. Have the group determine which hypotheses are the most important. This will serve as a starting point to get out of the building and talk to customers in order to validate which (if any) of them are true.


The Startup Owner’s Manual, by Steve Blank

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