lean product development framework

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  • Dana Lee 3, dana@propono.com

    A customer-centric playbook based on lean startup methodology

    adapted for the non-startup (that wants to innovate like one).

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    BUILDING GREAT PRODUCTS

    Successful companies build great products that customers need.

    It doesnt get simpler than that.Yet many companies struggle with operationalizing this very goal. A report from The Economist found that the main obstacles to improved business responsiveness are slow decision-making, conflicting departmental goals and priorities, risk-averse cultures and silo-based information.[12] Sound familiar?

    This playbook provides a step-by-step overview of Lean Startup core concepts and outlines an easy to follow model on how to effectively integrate these building blocks into your product development process.

    The Lean Product Development Framework:1. Inspires innovation and new ideas

    2. Ensures that your product idea is what customers need

    3. Evaluates your product roadmap to prioritize resources on the most valuable solutions

    4. Scales to work for both large and small initiatives

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    Lean Startup is a learning strategy to build sustainable products that can be validated scientifically to test for viability.

    Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, Lean Startup relies on: Validated learning Rapid scientific experimentation Practices that shorten product development cycles Ways to measure actual progress, and most importantly Learning what customers really want[1]

    Lean Startup favors: Experimentation over elaborate planning Customer feedback over intuition Iterative design over traditional big design upfront development[2]

    The success of the Lean Startup methodology is increasingly resonating in large enterprises. Companies like Intuit, Amazon, GE and many others are implementing key principles and tools of Lean Startup in order to deal with the complexity of their markets and the increasing speed of disruptive innovation.[3]

    WHAT IS LEAN STARTUP?

    A selected collection of books and publications about Lean Startup is included in the Appendix.

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    From inspiration to launch and beyond, each stage extends and builds on the next with some inherent overlap core to its design. For example, while defining the Problem/ Solution Fit and Product/ Market Fit, the Minimum Viable Product is being evolved continuously, adding features that customers need while removing others that do not provide meaningful value.

    Customer-Centric. Repeatable. Step-by-Step Guide.Vet ideas, build smart, and optimize through rigorous measurement and user feedback.

    LEAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK

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    Innovation has nothing to do

    with how many R & D dollars

    you have It's about the

    people you have, how you're

    led, and how much you get it.

    - Steve Jobs

    Innovation is Messy.

    Inspiration strikes at unexpected moments. Its not sparked on a schedule or when it is most convenient. But its the lifeblood of your organization and critical to your on-going success.

    Tom Kelley, General Manager of Ideo Product Development, said he believes that one thing will differentiate winning companies from also-rans: their ability to innovate.[9] Every day, you must demand it of yourself, your team, and most importantly, for your customers.

    But how does a company innovate? To begin, it must be embedded into the fabric of your company culture. That starts with including it in job role requirements through to performance evaluations.

    And dont make the mistake that innovation is just about the Next Big Idea. Rather it encompasses both the incremental as well as the revolutionary. But whatever the size, its a non-stop journey driven by your customers needs.

    STAGE 0: INNOVATION STARTS WITH AN IDEA

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    Seeking Inspiration.

    There are multiple paths to spark ideas. As a product owner, you need to continuously monitor and evaluate:

    1. Customer Voice2. Employee Ideas3. Data Insights4. Competitor Moves5. Partners and Vendors

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    STAGE 0: INSIGHTS INTO ACTION

    Measuring

    Customer Voice

    3M needed to kick-start a poorly performing division with new product ideas. To accomplish this goal, they formed two innovation teams. One consisted solely of 3M employees, the other, a group of users/ customers. The results spoke volumes. The user-lead innovations earned 8x more revenue than internally generated ideas without customer input ($146 million vs $18 million, over 5 years).

    The lesson: customers are a critical part of the product design mix, otherwise youre just working in the dark.

    Your customers are critical to the innovation process there is a fundamental connection between consumer insights and developing profitable new ideas. But there are limitations. These quotes sum it up:

    If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses Henry Ford (attributed)

    It can be really hard to design products by focus groups A lot of times, people dont know what they want until you show it to them. Steve Jobs

    In short, you cannot outsource your innovation to your customers. But you do need to talk to them. Often.

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    Thars Gold in them thar Hills

    You need innovative ideas? Youre in luck. A perfect way to generate smart ideas exists right under your nose: your employees. They think about your business every day and ways to make it better. As Sir Richard Branson said, A companys employees are its greatest asset and your people are your product. A wealth of ideas sit within your ranks. Dig in!

    So, how do you engage employees and provide a channel to submit and coax forward their ideas?

    Good Question. Two Recurring Workshops:

    1. The Idea Workshop (Select Invitation)Focuses on a specific area of the business you want to grow leveraging a core team of thought leaders / problem solvers from all levels of the organization

    2. Open Innovation Workshop (Open)Similar structure to the Idea Workshop, but with a few key changes. Most noticeably, all employees are welcome and encouraged to participate.

    STAGE 0: IDEA GENERATION

    A Proven Path

    AT&T introduced an open-door policy for their employees to submit ideas, which has resulted in the introduction of multiple new products to the market that were initially seeded by employees working in the front lines.

    Forbes profiled the program in Dec. 2013: AT&T's Innovation Pipeline Engages 130K Employees[11]

    The difficulty lies not so

    much in developing new

    ideas as in escaping

    from old ones.

    John Maynard Keynes

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    1. Idea Workshop(Select Invitation)

    2. Open Innovation Workshop(Open Invitation)

    GO

    AL

    Focuses on a specific growth area of the business you want to expand

    Provides an open door for any employee to pitch an idea in a supportive space

    PA

    RT

    ICIP

    AN

    TS Cross-functional team of thought leaders / problem solvers from

    all levels of the organization. Participants shift regularly to encourage new and different

    voices. Eric Schmidt, in his book How Google Works, said Choose [your

    participants] wisely. It shouldnt just comprise the people who have been around the longest or those with the biggest titles.

    All employees are encouraged to participate. But admission comes with a price: they must bring an idea to workshop .

    Seed the workshop with a sub-set of the Idea Workshop members to boost creative thinking, encourage or help start the ball rolling, and provide guidance to first-timers.

    WO

    RK

    SH

    OP

    PA

    RT

    1

    Start by clearly defining the problem the team is gathered to solve provide as many insights as possible to help inform the ideas; post on the walls for easy reference.

    Team brainstorm cranks out as many ideas as possible: good, bad, and otherwise; make sure one or two people capture the ideas on a whiteboard in real time. A good stretch goal is 100.

    One rule: No judging. Limiting phrases like were not set up for that" or "that's stupid" kill creativity and deflate the energy of the space.

    Each participant that brings an idea provides a high-level outline to the group - they can use props, slides, printouts, etc. to help illustrate their idea (5-10 minutes).

    Workshop members spend the next 20 minutes brainstorming, exploring, riffing and expanding on the original idea. This is a no judgment exercise - it is a safe haven for all suggestions.

    Repeat cycle until each participant has had a chance to present.

    WO

    RK

    SH

    OP

    PA

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    Take a break after part 1, then switch gears and begin to evaluate, assess feasibility, and mold/evolve the ideas. Some will be big, new, and bold; others become components or complementary to other ideas, and some will fall away.

    Focus on the ones that create the most excitement within the group, and more importantly, solve the biggest problem for your customers. Prioritize the ideas (possibly a top 10 list); add a high-level overview for each concept and an initial hypothesis of the problem it solves.

    STAGE 0: IDEA GENERATION, Employee Workshops

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    The Lean Can

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