Observation. Problem. Solution. User feedback & the big picture.

Henry Ford’s “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” is one of the most widely used and probably the most misused quote we have in the startup world.

It’s often used as an excuse – especially at early stage companies, making it even crazier – to not carry out proper, structured user feedback. I still like the quote, because it shows you need to be really careful with user feedback. The right conclusion from user feedback on horses would have been “People want to move faster / more comfortable /  in groups / etc” and not “want better horses”.  But most importantly: that horses simply have their limits so it does not make sense to work on faster horses.

A key thing is to really see the big picture in user feedback. It’s very easy to react to individual input especially if its from face to face user feedback which is way more impactful than looking at data. Of course the art – or actually science – is to combine both. I wrote about user feedback / data during the beta phase a while back so I am going to skip some details here.

Last Friday evening I swung by one of our companies to discuss what a week of intense user feedback had yielded. There are a million ways to do this but the team kept on updating this board as user feedback rolled in:

Observation Problem Solution

Observation. Problem. Solution.

Each observation and problem could have been fixed by an individual, stand-alone solution. But the amazing thing was that after structuring the feedback, kicking out low quality data points and fringe cases, comparing it to data and constantly making sure to “zoom out” 90% of the problems were fixed by just 2 very simple changes in user flow.

You have no excuse not to listen to your users. It’s how you use – or decide not to use – that feedback is what makes it meaningful, or not.


5 Comments on “Observation. Problem. Solution. User feedback & the big picture.”

  1. Danny says:

    Would like to send you something for your blog. Startup in San Francisco. How do I get in touch with you?

    • berlinvc says:

      Hi Danny. I don’t really write about individual startups & if so probably only those I am invested in, so – not so sure that makes sense / tell me more.

      • Danny says:

        We are not looking for you to write us in fact would rather you did not. Please send me your email, you should have mine on wordpress. We are building a product/built an early version that should have significant impact on your blog. Would like to send it to you and see what you think and if you’d like to use it.

  2. […] helpful in actually making product decisions but hopefully on how to make good decisions and by transferring a few best practices on the […]


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