Learning by doing
For better and for worse, when I think about developing product solutions to customer problems, my mind often works like a feasibility search—I’m scanning a database in my head for ideas & technologies that I think can be successfully and readily applied.
Why is this a better approach? Well, I like to build products that can work today—with the technologies and capabilities already at our fingertips, the challenge is to come up with the right user experience, and the right business model to make the product successful.
Why is this a worse approach? I might jump into solutioning without a deep enough understanding of the problem. I might end up fixating on a particular solution that I think will work, and then start to figure out how to build it before testing the concept with customers.
A few weeks ago I gathered feedback on a product concept I was trying to develop—I learned that I was going too deep into how I might build a particular solution, when I hadn’t done enough customer validation to know if anyone even cared.
Still, being a Product guy with an engineering background, I zoomed out to broadly test a new set of product concepts by bringing in more toys to play with, rather than testing idea with customers. (Shameful?)
Right or wrong, experimenting with these new toys in the past couple of weeks gave me a ton of valuable, new insights—and I spent less time and money than I did on that single, complex development kit.
Now that I’ve sated the engineer in me (for a tick), I’m ready to develop some experiments to test product concepts with potential customers… and… but… how do I do that in this COVID-19 era?