10 Best Product Innovation Techniques

Need to get a new app, web, or software product to market?  New to the game?  Here’s a handy Top 10 List of practices I’ve discovered along the way.  Instead of exhaustive explanations, Google any words below that are in bold and you will find a wealth of information.

  1. Live a little: Find a significant problem real people have.  Since this really isn’t a technique, go watch Seth Godin’s TED Talk – The Tribes We Lead
  2. Define a User Persona: Define who has the real problem with enough precision a stranger will understand you -For instance: “Women in their forties who get party planning ideas for their children’s birthday using Pinterest” and NOT just “Moms.”
  3. Is the group big enough to support a business model? Time to make a Lean Canvas and share it with a mentor or colleague you trust will give constructive feedback. Also check out How to use the Lean Canvas for App Planning
  4. Customer Interviews: Listen more.  Go to the place.  How are pains currently dealt with?  What is the inefficient current workaround or ineffective existing alternatives?
  5. Empathy Map: Pick an early adopter. Take their picture if they’ll let you.  That’s your new Hero Image.  Capture what she thinks, feels, sees, etc in the moment when the pain occurs.
  6. Pain-Driven Design Roadmap: The problem you want to solve relates to an overarching process or workflow that your target person already does. You should have witnessed this in all the steps above.  Create a prioritized roadmap of solutions based on the problems.  I use a variation of Lean Process Improvement described   Don’t get too attached to this lightweight plan, your goal is to disprove it.  Whatever you can’t disprove through experimentation gets to stay!
  7. User Story Mapping: Take the first item in your roadmap and break it into features. Put those Epics in the order a typical user will access them.  The break them into the tiniest imaginable User Stories you can.  Draw a line that gets rid of anything that isn’t absolutely necessary.  This is a great and tactical write-up via Atlassian’s blog: Guide to Agile User Story Maps
  8. Establish the One Metric That Matters: This will change over the life of the product. For a brand-new app, this might focus on “engagement” – For example, “How many users make it all the way to sending their first Tweet in Twitter?”  Make sure your MVP makes tracking that metric, as well as A/B testing and cohort analysis, possible.
  9. Scope out your Minimum Viable Product – keep cutting. You need so much less than you think.
  10. Experiment: Establish a baseline, be honest about your assumptions, and test the validity of each hypothesis.  If you don’t know much about delivering innovative products, check out Agile or DevOps and the Lean Startup for thought leaders and great ideas on getting better at innovation.



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