I am a big proponent of testing assumptions. Whether it is my personal life, or a new idea I am working on, I am always working on testing an assumption that will prove to me I am headed down the right path.
Life is full of assumptions. Perhaps the biggest types of presumptions we make is what other people are thinking. We have this preconceived notion in our heads that we can figure out what other people are thinking in their heads.
While we do have some ability to do that, it is very far from perfect. In the worst cases, it is just plain wrong. And I think this happens (at least to me), pretty often - I think people are thinking one way and in fact they are thinking the other way.
This only highlights the need for being able to actually test whether or not your ideas are accurate.
So how do you test assumptions that actually tell you what other people are thinking?
I think the trick, or at least the trick that has worked for me in the past, is to run true experiments.
The hardest learning for me here has been being able to separate my ego from my work or thoughts.
It is very easy to become really attached to what you are working on.
When this happens, you start to sway and bias the experiment.
This happens to makers all the time. The users tell us one thing and in our heads we hear something slightly different that aligns best with our perception of the situation.
It happens subconsciously. But it happens.
And little things like that, over time, breed a biased point of view that makes it really hard to run true experiments on the way things should be working.
We convince ourselves of a reality that looks far different from the true one.
And we waste tons of time doing things in our head versus in real life.