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Building Innovative New Products

Designing a new and innovative product can be a challenging process filled with uncertainties. From a business perspective, you need to explore and keep at the forefront of what is happening in the market, search for unique opportunities and listen to customer’s needs until you discover a meaningful solution. But once you have a new product idea, the design process does not end there. By the very nature of the fact that you are creating something innovative - that no-one or very few people have ever done before - every step of the journey to market will be a learning experience.

Lean product design is a great technique for creating innovative products. It enables businesses to get to market fast, validate their product with users frequently, and continuously respond to feedback. LPD 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.

This approach allows product managers, designers and developers to co-create a holistic and usable product from day one. Having a clear product vision of the unique differentiating value of your product allows us 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. 

My talk at FlowCon, a conference on continuous design and delivery, shares some of the techniques and tools we use for doing Lean Product Design. 

For example:

  • designers pairing with developers to co-create solutions that are fast to build and highly usable.
  • having the current product vision displayed on a living Design Wall, where designs are updated as the product evolves.
  • doing sketch-to-code and minimalistic wireframes on an as-needed basis, instead of creating copious mock-ups in advance and continually updating them as things change.

We also discuss how to scale Lean Product Design to meet some of the challenges of having large teams, multiple products and geographically distributed work. Such as:

  • building the “right” features by spending time upfront to define the problem and taking a scientific approach to validating whether or not solutions are effective.
  • minimizing unnecessary work by using lean thinking early on in the decision making process as an organizational approach to product strategy.
  • picking up the pace of responding to product feedback by breaking into goal-oriented teams who are empowered explore and test ideas quickly.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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