Innovation is critical. "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often" Winston Churchill.
Product Development is the creation of something new, or better. But if you get it wrong it can be an incredible waste of time and money.
ThinkFeasible’s aim is to help you deliver new products with minimal waste.
ThinkFeasible’s fundamental activity is to turn ideas into products. But if your customers don’t want what we’ve created together, then you’ve wasted your money.
If your innovation is to be successful your idea needs to turned into a minimum viable product (BUILD), put in front of your customer to see how they respond (MEASURE) so you can decide (LEARN) whether to pivot or persevere.
We didn't create this philosophy we’ve just optimised our approach so we can bring the benefits of a Global Movement to startups and innovators that are trying to create tangible products. See more on Lean Startups
The "Fuzzy Front End",
Traditional texts sometimes refer to the early stages of new product development (NPD) as the “Fuzzy Front End”.
They often describe the need for definition of precise concepts so that “formal” development can begin.
The team at ThinkFeasible have witnessed first hand how this stage can result in teams of managers and engineers deliberating over the perfect concept, using only their opinions to come to conclusions.
How can you be confident that your vision is valuable with no input from your customer?
We rely on feedback throughout the rest of our lives, have you tried driving with your eyes shut?
Successful innovators need to exist to learn, but we know that we can’t just ask potential customers for the right answers. We have to put tangible representations of your vision in front of your customers, experimenting with them, learning the strengths and weaknesses of every element of your vision.
Lean prototypes, 3D models, 3D renders, Animations, can all be the tangible representation of your vision to allow this stage to progress with your customer, not in blind isolation.
So you have a concept that is relatively well defined, and you have robust evidence that your potential customer will throw some money your way if you deliver the concept.
At this point there’s still many questions left to answer, and to maintain enthusiasm you will have made a number of leap of faith assumptions; the concept has sufficient VALUE and once launched will experienced a level of GROWTH.
How do we get from concept to a potentially deliverable product?
At this point we may loop round the the build, measure, learn cycle a number of times. Creating new prototypes or adjusting existing ones every time the cycle begins.
The critical thing about this process is that we know what questions we want to answer, and what are we planning to learn. The results of this process must be measurable so we know whether we are progressing.
It’s quite possible that prototypes created along the way could bring in some financial return, even though they don’t fulfill the final concept
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat”
The lean development process focusses on CREATING rather than DELIBERATING.
This means that there will be a number of occasions where you have a number of options in front of you and you have to find a way to judge them on their merits.
There may be a number of different factors affecting the attractiveness of each option from an engineering perspective; Complexity, cost to manufacture, Safety implications etc. Whilst these are important to understand they shouldn’t form the reasoning behind deciding whether to PIVOT or PERSEVERE.
The critical element is validated customer feedback. There are many tools available to us to make this validated learning available to us, these include surveys See Survey Monkey ,customer interviews, or split testing; identifying change in customer behaviour with multiple experiments.
The battle against “Feature Creep”
Feature creep is always the product of good intentions. It’s human nature to try and make the product “just a little bit better “.
The problem is; if you keep adding features you’ll never finish anything!
Screening needs to happen at every step of the development process.
It’s vital that every “improvement” be validated as likely to add VALUE or scope for GROWTH.
These assessments will, as always, be customer focussed; using customer stories (use cases) to group functionality and sub-systems into categories.
Each added feature can then be assessed on its ability to deliver progress.
Lab Prototypes, Video Ready Prototypes, Investor Facing Prototypes, Customer Facing Prototypes, Pre-Production Prototypes.
Prototyping takes many forms but at every stage it is important to know WHY you’re prototyping. What questions will this prototype answer? Which customer use case is to be evaluated?
Time To Get Serious.
The Lean Startup Philosophy allows for a rapid development process comprising of multiple BUILD, MEASURE, LEARN cycles.
This strategy means we can create develop a product to a stage where we have a tangible representation of your vision and a great level of confidence that we have created something that customers will want.
Now we can invest in getting it production ready.
Evaluation involves testing and assessment to ensure that your product can; legally be sold and will stand the test of time once it’s in the hands of the public.
Testing; reliability/ accelerated life, EMC.
A sustainable business must at some point achieve some financial input in order to keep going.
Prototypes are the embodiment of your vision and your vision has value, now you’ve got to sweat that asset!
We live in an age where raising funds against a genuinely exciting new product has never been easier.
All of these websites provide routes to funding:
Crowdfunding isn't the only way
Grant funding, licensing part or all of your IP, outright sale of IP, angel investment or attracting venture capitalists are all options.
Regardless of the route you choose to take, funders will be more attracted if you can clearly illustrate your vision in action and give robust evidence that the product has value to potential customers and scope for growth.
This is much easier if you have been gathering this evidence throughout your development cycles.