Product building – A discovery process

“If you build it, they will come” is becoming more and more outdated when it comes to product development. In most of the cases former thing (i.e. building) happens but later one (i.e. paying customer) never happens. It is mainly because product development mainly has been focusing on “what I can offer” (as an organization) rather than “what customers want”. The only way to understand what customer wants is to involve them during the product development activity by providing them with working product incrementally (which is popularly known as “perpetual beta” these days)  and ask them to try it out. When the actual customer uses it he will figure what he actually wanted. In summary this is what Agile methodology advocates. Activities like perpetual beta, multiple demo releases to validate the idea, building product backlog based on customer requirements have become critical elements in product building rather than making it as a static activity.

After being part of multiple product development teams, I could also see changes in the way even customer see this way of building products. These days customers are also more than willing to be part of this “discovery” process they will eventually get what they want even though it is not coming out at one shot. Recently in conversation with one of my friend he put it in a very simple way when it comes to a simple item like providing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to customers:

  • If you ask FAQ in first week, I will give you a notepad file
  • If you ask FAQ in second week, I will give you a PDF file
  • If you ask FAQ in third week, I will give you in HTML file hosted as a part of my website
  • If you ask FAQ in fourth week, I will make it as a interactive platform where you can contribute back to FAQs by making it as a collaborative activity

Recently I came across a very interesting presentation which talks about this whole new product development paradigm. Have a look into the presentation below.

4 Replies to “Product building – A discovery process”

  1. Interesting to see yet another product developemt process.
    The attached presentation is also pretty interesting, considering the fact that It has actually projected the data more to its advantage to sell its Idea.

    When it comes to product development, the first company that comes to anyone’e mind is APPLE!
    It is surprising that the presentation talks about Goolge while not mentioning Apple anywhere!
    Apple has a totally different concept of product development, at least at times when Steve Jobs was leading it.
    Jobs never beleived in getting a survey before developing/launching a product.
    He always beleived in giving the best, in a closed package(you must be knowing about the macbooks not even having screws!) and without involving customers.
    His is the only company that has given many revelutionary products from the Apple-1 to iPods,iPads, iPhone – all the first of its kind.
    This shows the control a product delveloper had on the behaviour/lifestyle/needs of a customer, most of the times giving him more that he can imagine!

    Although you might argue that any product “evolves”, during which the customer is involved, but I feel when it comes to “Product development” involving customer is purely for the benefit of management
    which tries to get some advantages (mostly saving some bucks).
    Involving customers, I feel, actully makes it a software development “service”.
    So, this whole paradigm might hold true for product development for a customer(outsourced/offshored),
    but striking a comparison with google or some other products in the ppt confuses me, because I am sure
    most of the google products listed as failure were from google labs(which itself is listed as failure!).

  2. Interesting! In my opinion, the major differentiation between two methods comes because of the nature of the “product”. Let me write another post with my response to this thinking.

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