Define your topic for investigation (questions or assumptions).
This is for thinking on your feet, so you should use wanted ads or even just go down and visit your local coffee shop. See our recruiting guide for how to recruit, filter and screen users.
Identify the strongest, diverse set of candidates (select 10 if target is 6-8), and get in touch with each subject with a short but detailed overview of the commitment. Get written commitment from subject (non-binding but symbolic).
Activities can be participating in a interview (remote/in person), completing a daily survey, creating a diary entry, sending a text message/response, taking photographs, recording a video.
Start cohort at the same time (ideal but not necessary). Be prepared to respond quickly to any questions or concerns from the subjects. Leverage every opportunity to build rapport and press deeper with the subjects. Document all correspondences throughout the process.
With a full understanding of each user response and behavior, take time to review your data and start synthesizing insights soon after your final interview. Extract key findings: what was surprising or unexpected? What assumptions were confirmed? Use anomalies and edge cases to push your own product concept. Avoid confirmation bias by forcing yourself to move beyond your current product concept. Ensure your team is represented; multidisciplinary backgrounds give different perspectives and see opportunities and challenges better.
Create a concise summary document that is useful to you and can also be used to keep stakeholders up to date.