Product Discovery - how can you rediscover something already discovered?
Before explaining why at Unravel we believe in Continuous Product Discovery, let me take a step back and outline the difference between a Product Discovery workshop and a Continuous Product Discovery process. Traditionally, a Product Discovery workshop revolved around a series of exercises performed to confirm or contradict your general product idea.
I purposefully use the word traditionally as the Product Discovery methods were coined over 30 years ago when rapid prototyping and validation was not as readily available as it is today. This meant that Product Discovery mainly focused on user research and a deep exploration of an idea before entering the production phase. This also meant that the insight and discovery stages for your product were performed in a standstill position.
What has changed, however, is the ability to prototype and validate various ideas simultaneously quickly. Never before you could break down a complex product or service and "try out" the selected components – find their value, test their usability and measure feasibility. By utilizing rapid experimentation and prototyping, you can get a validated insight before the project starts – kick off a well-validated project early with room for adaptation or change along the way.
Imagine someone offering you to borrow a car for 90 days to check it is good value for the money you are willing to pay? Find out if the potential investment addresses all your needs. Will the purchase create another set of hindrances you never thought of beforehand? Furthermore, throughout these 90 days, you will have the choice to test various fit-out options or engine variants? Now imagine trying to figure this out on your own, only during the research phase?
To put it simply, Product Discovery is fast-paced research, experimentation, prototyping and feedback process without the need to switch your product or service off. A continuous learning and development curve where failing fast has replaced design overthinking.
Why embark on a continuous learning & failing curve?
The COVID-19 pandemic produced two years of highly demanding businesses changes, switched many companies into an emergency mode. However, after the two years of the dynamic business environment, we find more and more voices of people looking favourably at the inevitable changes introduced. Changes unforeseen without the dire scenario everyone was facing.
The last two years and the rapid changes brought to multiple companies worldwide due to the pandemic can be compared to Continuous Product Discovery - developing a product in a crisis scenario. For multiple companies, services and products the COVID pandemic was all about "challenging the status quo", and in Continuous Product Discovery your product, service or even a single feature, will be facing similar tests. Although within a controlled environment and without the dire consequences.
In Continuous Product Discovery there are three major product risks addressed – value, usability and feasibility.
Introducing the Continuous Product Discovery approach to product design allows for controlled risk mitigation instead of responding to a crisis scenario. Rethinking and rebuilding instead of repairing. Now let's try and answer the question posed at the start of this paragraph. Why would you want to undergo such a dynamic product design and development process? To answer that, let's look at three reasons for employing rapid product prototyping and experimentation as part of the everyday product lifecycle.
Continuous Product Discovery = Product Open for Change
While software continues to "eat the world" and successfully replace traditional solutions with their digital doubles, the philosophies and tactics used to build that software is constantly changing. We live in a dynamic era, where it seems the only constant is 'change'. Getting from an idea to working software has never been too easy. Today with digital products and services taking over nearly every user touchpoint, it gets even more complex – we naturally expect software applications to "do more". Finding even the most simple digital solution to an existing problem sparks many other ideas and innovations brought up by end-users. With access to many software solutions, the modern end-user will be the main perpetuator of change.
Continuous product discovery allows you to build a cadence of regular alignment of products and services with market demand - for corporations to remain relevant in an increasingly social and digital context is the only defence against smaller, nimbler competitors.
Continuous Product Discovery = Consistent & Precise User Input
You probably know well what your product needs to achieve to become successful. Yet what you know is always a part of the overall knowledge that the user often holds. In current times you can't afford to avoid user research. The potential savings on user research can result in a catastrophic product design. You can have assumptions of what the user wants, what kind of working environment works best, which technical solution to use, how to implement user interaction, etc. However, you can only be sure of what you know once you have created that specific product functionality, experimented with it, tried things out.
Through continuous experimentation, you can inspect each minor change and then adapt your product based on the experiment results. Implementing Continuous Product Discovery gives your product team an invaluable skill - the understanding and the ability to budget and estimate a specific product feature validation without disrupting the existing product or service workflow.
Continuous Product Discovery = Better Organizational Safety
To understand how Continuous Product Discovery can influence organizational safety, you must understand the philosophy of "Safe to Fail" – where failure is perceived as a cornerstone of improvement. By allowing your team to test rapidly, you create space where your team feels safe to fail and thus is not afraid to conduct further experiments, test yet another assumption. Without considering potential failures, a part of the experimentation process, you won't have the learning moments that will carry your team to a new level of understanding.
Continuous Product Discovery - the cost of change?
The impact a Continuous Product Discovery model can have on your company can be truly measured by following its principles and validating the method for yourself. Changing to a Continuous Design approach doesn't mean dissolving your existing corporate structure but instead carefully empowering employees to become more involved in day-to-day processes. Smaller and more agile project teams, with a clear focus on specific product goals, and with design methods able to quickly assess the results of a performed experiment. The change revolves around adapting to a new process, eliminating communication barriers, and reducing bureaucratical obstacles to unlock the full potential of your design teams. Giving them the comfort necessary for decisions can be made and implemented quickly across multiple areas of product development.
if you want to find out more on building future proof products and switching your teams focus to experimentation design methods – get in touch. In a 30-minute call, we will introduce you to the techniques and showcase how we unravel the potential of our client's business through experimentation and prototyping.