As product managers, UI/UX specialists, engineers, etc., we often deceive ourselves into believing that when we test a new product feature, we’re testing an idea, when the fact of the matter is, we’re testing a particular instantiation of an idea. If, in accordance with whatever metric we’re using, we validate a product feature, we correctly interpret it as a validation of an idea. However, if a feature underperforms the standard which we’ve set for it, we often wrongfully consider this to be a reflection of the viability of the idea or abstract concept that the feature represents, rather than (correctly) stating that it’s merely that particular implementation of a feature that has failed.
So I'd like to ask: do you consider it to be possible to test an idea, rather than testing an instance of an idea? If so, what are your methods (statistical, analytical, etc.) for doing so? How should the failure of a feature reflect on the idea that the feature represents? At what point, do you consider an idea invalidated, rather than considering a particular instantiation of an idea invalidated?