Lean product design is a software development process for creating innovative new products. It enables businesses to get their product to market fast, validate it frequently with users, and continuously respond to feedback. The process involves interweaving lightweight design and user research throughout an agile development process, rather than relying on most of the product design and research to be done up front.
In LPD, product managers, designers and developers co-create a holistic and usable product from day one. To start, a clear vision of the unique differentiating value of your product is required, which allows the team to create as few as one single core feature to take to market and test. Through continuous iterations of user research, collaborative design and development, the product can evolve in response to feedback from today’s market. The moment that users are willing to buy the current latest version of the product, it will have proven demand and be ready to take to market. Given the pace of innovation and change in so many industries, having a product that meets the needs of users today - not 6 months or 1 year ago - can be key to success.
A small team can start doing lean product development by working with cross functional roles in a very lean process. Here are some of the ways our new teams work at Thoughtworks when building an MVP (minimum viable product) for a new product:
If you have multiple teams or separate groups for design and development, it can slow down the lean process a lot. To keep moving fast and responding to change efficiently, we use design and development tools at Thoughtworks such as:
If you want an organization that has multiple products and office locations to be lean, it requires adopting ‘lean thinking’ earlier up the decision making chain. This is to prevent work on wasteful product ideas as early as possible before development. Scaling LPD to an entire organization can mean making changes to team structure, culture and processes such as:
Lean product design has different challenges depending on the size and expertise of your team or organization. But done well, it will lead to an innovative and high value product that is fast to market.