There are only two fields where it is legitimate to prove that something is true: law andmathematics. True scientific fields can legitimately prove that a categorical statement is not true, but should never attempt to prove a universal positive statement.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses this at great length in his new book The Black Swan.
What is the point of science if it cannot be used to prove things? In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn argues that the entire concepts of proof and progress are problematic.
What is the point of thinking of things if we cannot prove that our ideas are true? Because ideas are useful. Science seeks not to prove things, but rather to build useful models.Models, such as the idea of the atom, are useful because they correctly predict observations. As we adopt new models and cast aside our old ones, the scope of observations we can predict increase. What matters is not the individual conclusions, but rather the method.
This is also true in the world of business. The received knowledge of market segments, product strategies, business models, etc can be limiting. If we apply some rigor to the problem, we may be able to tease out some insights that were not obvious before.
If we ignore our current assumptions and ask questions like:
- Why do we group customers together the way we do currently?
- Are there profitable segments hidden inside of submarkets or segment we have been serving more generically?
- Could a particular product offering be split or combined with other offering to better address needs?
- Is there a different distribution method that may be better suited to a submarket, promoting it to a full segment?