Often we see a mismatch between the solution and the audience. In other words, there’s no shortage of great ideas. This two-part series covers the essential prep work that converts dreams into practical ideas. We share our methodology to generate viable products.
Step 1: Ideation and Pre-planning
Disruptive, world-changing ideas rarely come out of nowhere. They often grow in the rich soil of your subconscious, but first, you must think deeply about why things are the way they are. Immerse yourself in the problem space and the complex factors contributing to current market inefficiencies.
Those who deal with the problem regularly are the best source of data about how significant it is, how often they are forced to use workarounds, and what they would pay to never worry about it again. Ask why no one has tried to solve this before or why earlier attempts have failed.
Don’t give up because others have failed. In many cases, being a first mover can be a disadvantage due to timing alone. At this stage, you should give yourself (or your team) the freedom to go wild and brainstorm but only develop the SMART ideas: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. When you know you are on the right track, start filling out your own Business Model Canvas.
Step 2: Discovery = Use Cases + Research + Research + Research
Your dream is shaping itself into a viable idea, but it’s not old enough to face the cruel world on its own yet. The next step is reality testing by digging deeper into who your target users are and what they want. Document ideal user characteristics and behaviors for a fuller picture of how adopting your idea will change other aspects of their lives.
Even in best-case scenarios, other players in the space will have reactions and repercussions, including competitors, imitators, and alternatives. What lessons can you learn from other failures to solve this problem? What value are you bringing that doesn’t already exist?
Many people get stuck at this phase on what Steve Blank called the «toothbrush in China» effect. Business owners feel they don’t have to differentiate themselves in a large-enough market. Everyone in China needs a toothbrush every few months, so why not just aim for 1 percent of that market? The global economy is littered with the wreckage of innovations that languished due to insufficient justification for buyers to make a change.
The more original you are, the harder this step becomes. Discovery planning is an intelligent approach to dealing with the uncertainty of introducing wholly original concepts to the market. It’s about defining success, benchmarking similar innovations, and documenting assumptions.
Step 3: Validating the Product Definition & Unique Value Proposition
Now you are nearly ready to pitch the idea. All you need is a streamlined product definition and a value proposition. How would your customer describe your vision and its value to their lives? You must be able to see it all from their perspective. You will need to work backward from the value proposition to the product definition, but adjustments should go both ways.
The three main components of your value proposition are:
- How it solves the problem/meets unserved needs/makes life better (addresses relevancy)
- Specific benefits/results (addresses quantified value)
- Why there’s nothing else like it (addresses differentiation)
The product definition should cover:
«This is for (user group). We want to PROVIDE (value proposition) BECAUSE (your personal why) to GET (the job done).»
You should state the product definition and value proposition in the most precise language to be evident within five seconds. In most cases, that is the amount of time you have to change a buyer’s mind. The final stage in the idea formation process is where you will concentrate on product-market fit and crystallizing your brand promise.
Coming Soon in Part II
In the mobile, global world, every new idea eventually leads to the question of how users will interact with it. Increasingly, the answer involves apps. From collaboration hubs to business process gamification tools to IoT controllers, apps can serve many functions in realizing dreams. Next time, we will lay out the most direct pathway from assembling an app development team to innovative launch strategies.