“If you build it, they will come” is becoming more and more outdated when it comes to product development.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.