We have models for trying to ideate what features might be good to include in a product or service. And we’ve got ways to assess idea value. But how often do we really think about the many potential input sources for creating ideas? And what about how we can quickly round out those initial ideas? The following write up assumes that we’re talking about existing products and enhancing them.
We have tools from typical brainstorming sessions to Design Sprints. But again, what about the root sources of ideas? Are there structured ways to try to get to some good ideas? I’m going to offer up a few depictions of idea sources, as well as some ways to quickly assess some early ideas. This latter part, quick initial assessment – or triage, is really the main point. There’s already plenty written about idea development, innovation workshops and the like. But fast assessment is increasingly important. The Minimum Viable Product and Scrum worlds are – at their core – really about trying to sell speed. Yes, yes, I know… the goal is the right product and feature set at speed, but it at least feels over the past decade or so that the desire for speed has been more at the forefront. (In spite of what’s being sold as the product-market fit benefits of the methods.)
Personally, I believe at a fundamental level there’s only two real sources of new product ideas…
- Flash of Insight: This is when you just have that “ah hah” moment. It’s when you’re using some kitchen item and say, “why doesn’t someone make this.” Or a digital product and you think, “you know, if only I had THIS everything would be great.” At that point, you can send an idea into a company, or build your own products if you’re feeling entrepreneurial. But the raw source of your idea was an experience of a visceral need to solve an issue to which you had a solution based response.
- Research: Yes. Of course. Research. Obvious, right? But is it really? There are a lot of different ways to do consumer and marketplace research.
And what about when it’s time to actually craft these ideas into features? We have the modern idea of a Story when we’re using Agile. And there’s a simplistic idea of “What is our Definition of Done” for a story, also referred to as “Acceptance Criteria.” But in some ways, this last bit is really an add on to try to fix the fact that Scrum – for all it’s speedy goodness – may have dropped too much off as it tried to abandon Waterfall methods and heavier product definition documents. Ignoring potential holes doesn’t make them go away. Maybe a bit more needs to be done prior to a sprint planning meeting. While every line item on the lists below doesn’t need to be in the recipe every time, it’s still useful to have a checklist. So I’m going to present some tools for a three phase approach to frame these issues. Here’s the categories and links to the presentations and templates if you don’t feel like wading through the rest of the Step-by-Step explanatory text that follows.
Charts / Sheets Tools for your use…
NOTE: These are meant to be checklists. There are likely too many steps here. You have to edit these down so they apply to your situation.
- Feature Ideation: Sources and Processes
- Feature Round Out (Better Definitions)
- More Formal Feature Prioritization
If you want a little background first, let me take a few moments to go through each of these…[Read more…]