Ask users for their problems, not solutions or opinions

You want to solve X.
You have ideas about how to solve X.
Lets say you have ideas A, B and C.
Your hunch is, that idea A is the perfect solution.

Now, just to confirm this with users, you run a round of user research to test A.
User research reveals that A solves X very well.
However, users did not care about X.
They did not need a solution for X.
X was never a problem that needed solving.
Users actually needed a solution for Y.

But the way users tell you about Y is via a passing remark.
May be a comment about what they tend to do at home.
If you listened closely, you’ll pick it up.
You’ll ask the user more about what they meant.
You’ll discover the underlying reason behind X. Y might be the reason.

Now you home onto Y. Because user research worked.
You’ll still try ideas D, E and F (with E being your favourite, this time).
And validate them with user research.
But the most valuable outcome is already here.
You were solving the wrong problem. Users told you so.

And users might like idea F, with all their heart. Or they might present idea G.
Don’t listen to them.
It’s just opinions. Your own opinion is as valid as theirs.
Focus on solving Y.
Just gain clarity around Y as you talk to more users.
That’s why, ask users for their problems, not solutions or opinions.