Scientific method as first principle for product managers

The scientific method is first principle thinking product managers. Applying the scientific method in an organisational context to achieve product goals is essential in what product managers do everyday.

The scientific method has been used for centuries to uncover new knowledge and answer difficult questions. What makes it special is that it produces verifiable and repeatable results. There are six steps:

  1. Observation
  2. Research
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Experiment
  5. Analysis
  6. Conclusion


Observing something that you would like to learn about and asking a question you would like answered. This could be:

  • What can we see happening in the market?
  • What problems do our target audience face?
  • How do people use our product?


Gathering information about what is already known about the question and creating new knowledge. It can include:

  • Reviewing publicly available information
  • Evaluating evidence from previous experiments
  • Analysing data
  • Conducting primary research with users


Forming a hypothesis connects action to expected result, it says, if we do ‘this’, we expect ‘that’ to happen. They should be:

  • Relevant to the research question
  • Unambiguous with no assumptions
  • Observable and testable


Conducting an experiment means deliberately manipulating a situation in order to test the hypothesis. It should:

  • Validate or invalidate your hypothesis
  • Empirically measure the test against the control
  • Be ethical


Analysing the data generated by the experiment. This should:

  • Use statistical techniques
  • Establish if there is any relationship between the variables
  • Apply deductive reasoning to reach logical conclusions


Drawing conclusions from the analysis to support making decisions. These include:

  • Understanding if the hypothesis was proven or disproven
  • Documenting the test results for future research
  • Communicating to inform recommendations or decisions


The method works best when it can be repeated to continually build knowledge. This means:

  • Reflecting on the process, results and conclusions
  • Improving any weak steps in the method
  • Using what was learned to inform following observations and questions


The scientific method isn’t applicable to every situation. It:

  • Relies on existing knowledge to build upon, it doesn’t handle unknowns
  • Can only answer questions that can be proven or disproven through testing
  • Only describes what, doesn’t explain why