Product Validation Frameworks are Useless Without Taste

One of the things that I was trying to get at in Product Development as Iterated Taste was this idea that all product validation methodologies consist of two parts: an explicitly followable process, and a tacit component that may be best described as ‘having good product judgment’, or ‘product taste’. Following the explicit process would only do you so good; there’s still a tacit component to learn that is important if you want to be repeatably successful in creating new products.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I agree that building tactic knowledge in this area will be tricky.

This post reminded me of the firefighter example in Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast & Slow’. My take on that story (where the firefighting captain subconsciously realises something is amiss and tells his team to get out - then the floor collapses) is that the tactic knowledge is built upon many successful ‘reps’ so when something goes wrong you can feel it.

Whereas the overall learning process you’ve described of getting it wrong a bunch of times in my view is building experience tactic knowledge in avoiding those specific flavours of wrong. Which to me is different to having an idea of what feels right and then noticing deviations from there.

It seems to me if you don’t already have taste some kind of process where you can pick up credible experts taste via osmosis (a 'la Amazon) seems like the best way to learn. But facilitating that independently seems difficult.

Possibly by doing a deep dive on successful products in different domains could help to build tasteful experience by proxy. But I doubt it as you’re reviewing items that have already ‘clicked’ with the public. Rather than getting the experience of pushing through unproven ideas which is where the quality reps would be (again in my opinion).

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Interesting, I never found it useful to look at successful products. Recently there were several articles on how companies found their audience. However these have so many variables that are not being touched like timing, networks, money etc. that replicating such progress would be almost impossible.

A good example is eastern european culture of copying. Whenever a successful company comes from US, in a month you have code bases of exact copy floating on the internet and selling for $200, however in the end it doesn’t have the same effect.

I reckon the tacit part comes out of general experience of failures and success overall, not by just seeing it but experiencing on many layers such as industry, discussions, people, your own meta-thinking and so forth. The only way to facilitate it is to pretty much live it and notice it intentionally :slight_smile:

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I think the interesting question here is: if we understand that product validation frameworks are half process and half taste, and the taste bit is under-discussed (because it’s tacit, etc) then what have believable product people said about developing taste?

Next week’s post will be about this — I have a pile of articles that I’ve been collecting over the past decade, so we can at least do slightly better than ‘live it and notice it intentionally’ — as @kirso puts it. (Though in practice a huge chunk of getting good at building products is still going to be ‘live it and notice it intentionally’).

Edit: Also: I’m beginning to think that a huge chunk of my writing is just ‘what is tacit and stuck in people’s heads?’ Because that nearly always happens to be under-discussed.


Its good that you “tacitly” noticed that the topic is under-discussed :slight_smile: The question is, can we actually do better than “live it / notice it”? Or is it just a byproduct of experience which we cannot influence under certain circumstances. For instance, can I am prove my tacit taste if I am a grad and I am just starting at a job? Can I do anything that won’t take me 10 years to get there?

Looking forward to your article.


That is the heart of what I was thinking but more succinctly put!

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