My friend Bruce came to me the other day very excited about his idea and wanting to build it immediately. The first thing I asked him is who is his customer and what problems does his product solve for them. Like so many of us, he struggled. You know in your heart, if you can’t explain your product simply, then you probably don’t have a good idea (yet!). The good news, is that there is a fantastic design process that most of us follow that help us develop ideas into products. This process ensures that our ideas are actually great and that our products will be successful.
How do you know it is going to be successful? You know an idea will be successful if it solves a big unmet need of your user. How do you ensure that it solves big, unmet needs? Yep, it is as simple as 8 steps, however, like all simple things they do take a lot of practice to master.
- Know your customer. Who are they? What do they do? Why are they unique?
- Discover the problems they are currently unable to solve well. Sure, they might have solutions, but those solutions might be inadequate. Figure out why.
- Brainstorm ways to fix those problems. Keep an open mind, the greater the number of solutions, the better.
- Narrow the answers. Now you can be ruthless – decide what you want to work on and what gives you the most energy.
- Prototype those ideas. There is no time line the present. Don’t be fancy, just be prolific!
- Test solutions on users. The rougher the ideas the better. Users are more likely to give you useful feedback if they see that your ideas are not set in stone.
- Repeat 3-6 until you feel like the solution is correct.
- Bring the ideas to market. So often folks get this wrong, you don’t bring an idea to market until you are sure it solves a big, unmet need! Make sure you have steps 1-7 down before you even think about step 8.
Notice it is more about building prototypes and testing them than it is about bringing something to market. The best way not to waste a ton of time and money is to build out ideas in the best way possible to see if the customer will actually like them so much they will tell all of their friends. If they don’t, you have saved yourself a lot of time and grief and have more information for the next iteration of your prototypes and ideas!