Edge Case Bias

An interesting thing I have noted when pitching or demoing a software solution to a potential group of end users is something I like to call “Edge Case Bias”.

This is when your users provide feedback considering exceptional use cases that are rare and which usually have simple workarounds.

This sort of feedback usually sounds like “Nice solution! This solution works under the contexts A, B and C but *sometimes* we have situations like Z and this will not work then”

This bias towards edge cases by potential users is quite common but should not be just ignored mainly due to two reasons.

1. The edge case may not be an edge case after all
2. Ignoring the feedback may leave your users with negative feelings

In my mind product management is not just managing the product per se but also “managing” the users of the product.

So when considering the “A,B,C and Z” example above a reasonable approach will be to ask your users to come up with rough numbers indicating the frequency which A, B, C (covered by solution) and Z (not covered by solution) occurs.

Once you get the numbers and find out that “Z” is very rare and has a reasonable workaround you can easily convince the users that changing the solution dramatically to accommodate “Z” is probably not the best way forward.

Of course if “Z” is a high frequency use case then you may have to do some changes to the product. But from what I have experienced in agile development this is seldom the case.


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