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  • Writer's pictureRafael Martino

The Evolution of Product Development: From Idea to Launch with the help of AI.


When brainstorming ideas constantly are taking you nowhere.


Are you ready to turn your ideas into reality? Do you feel like you are in a vicious circle of coming up with great ideas, great products, and services yet they seem impossible to implement? Are you asking your favourite AI to help but feeling stuck going nowhere?


In this blog post, we are diving into the exciting world of product development. No need to be daunted by the process – it's all about embracing the journey and getting your hands dirty with creativity and innovation. We'll explore a simple yet powerful framework that will help you bring your ideas to life without the need for extensive planning or market research. Let's jump in and start building!



 

Pick up this Framework: The Lean Product Development Approach.


At the heart of our approach is the Lean Product Development framework. Inspired by principles from Lean Start-up and agile methodologies, this framework emphasises quick experimentation, iterative learning, and a bias toward action. Instead of getting bogged down by meticulous planning and sophisticated market analyses, the Lean approach encourages entrepreneurs to dive in, test their assumptions, and adapt based on real-world feedback.



A sequential, yet iterative process to work on your Product or Service Development.
A sequential, yet iterative process to work on your Product or Service Development.


It's all about learning by doing and making progress with each small step forward. Real-life examples are:


  • One prime example of the Lean Product Development framework in action is the early days of Dropbox. Founded in 2007, Dropbox quickly built a prototype of its file storage solution and released it to a small group of users. Their simple demo video garnered widespread interest, leading to thousands of sign-ups before the product even existed. By embracing quick experimentation and iterative learning, Dropbox was able to continuously improve its product based on real-world feedback, ultimately becoming one of the most successful cloud storage companies globally.


  • What could happen by not embracing this framework? A counter-example to the Lean Product Development framework is the Segway Personal Transporter. Introduced in 2001, the Segway underwent extensive planning and development behind closed doors, deviating from the principles of quick experimentation and iterative learning. Despite high expectations, its high price point and limited practical applications hindered widespread adoption, highlighting the pitfalls of extensive planning without real-world validation.


This essentially means: DO NOT DEVELOP YOUR PRODUCTS FOR A FULL-BLOWN COMMERCIAL LAUNCH, but sketch, prototype, share it and gather feedback from the beginning.


Noteworthy: In the world of entrepreneurship, it's natural to worry about idea theft for which many innovators are scared of sharing with others. But remember, the true value lies in brand trust and execution. Just as luxury brands thrive despite imitations, focus on building your brand's reputation through quality and innovation. Don't be afraid to share your ideas – it's your unique execution that sets you apart.


 

But seriously, where to start and how to begin?


This post won't cover brainstorming ideas to identify products or services to develop. That will be covered in a different post. But once you have great and valid ideas, you need to move on to the next step.


It's rather simple: Sketch, Write, Iterate! The journey begins with a simple sketch or idea. Grab a pen and paper, fire up your favourite word processor, or brainstorm with AI tools like ChatGPT or Perplexity. The key is to start putting your ideas into tangible form – whether it's a rough sketch of your product concept or a basic description in a Word document. Don't worry about perfection – the goal is to get the creative juices flowing and start exploring possibilities.


There are many techniques to achieve a better picture or translation of your idea, including creating a Rich Picture. This technique proves invaluable for individuals aiming to create innovative solutions. For instance, consider a team tasked with developing a new smartphone. By employing rich pictures, they can visually represent user needs, technological specifications, design aesthetics, manufacturing processes, supply chain logistics, market trends, and competitive analysis, among other elements. These visual maps enable the team to grasp the project's scope comprehensively, identify potential challenges and opportunities, and align on strategic priorities. By fostering collaboration and ensuring a shared understanding of the product vision, the rich picture technique empowers the team to make informed decisions, iterate effectively, and ultimately deliver a successful product to market.



Rich Picture Example (Generated with DALL-E. May 2024)
Rich Picture Example (Generated with DALL-E. May 2024)

Another technique which has worked very well for me has been the Product Management Canvas which in essence it is about gathering different aspects of the product or services being developed on a single spreadsheet, which considers important aspects of the product. The next table illustrates a standard template that you can use for your Product Management Canvas to be filled out with the aid of your favourite AI tool.


Product Aspect -->

Product Strategy

Product Strategy

Product Design and Development

Product Design and Development

Business Model

Business Model

Marketing and Sales

Marketing and Sales

Risk and Compliance

Risk and Compliance

Sustainability and Scalability

Aspect Description -->

Description and Value Proposition

Market Analysis and Target Segment

Key Features and Technology

User Experience (UX)

Revenue Model and Pricing

Operational Requirements

Marketing Strategy and Channels

Sales Strategy

Risks and Mitigations

Regulatory and Legal Considerations

Growth and Scalability Plans

Your content here -->














Noteworthy: While some may view tools like rich pictures or a product management canvas as overly simplistic, their effectiveness should not be underestimated. This blog isn't about training corporate product managers; it's about empowering entrepreneurs and creatives. By embracing these tools, individuals can streamline their approach, gain clarity, and confidently bring their ideas to life. Let's recognise the power of simplicity in driving innovation and fostering entrepreneurial success.

 

My product or service has too many features, what to do?


After putting together your Rich Picture or Product Management Canvas (or any other tool that helped you get here), you may find yourself overwhelmed with the features that your product would require to launch commercially. It may look a titanic, never-ending task to develop it to its full concept.


This is where the well-known MoSCoW technique will help you to define your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for a Soft Launch. MoSCoW stands for:

  • M (Must-haves): Essential requirements for project success.

  • S (Should-haves): Important but not critical to project success.

  • C (Could-haves): Desirable features that are not necessary for project completion.

  • W (Won't-haves): Requirements deliberately excluded from the current project scope.


Your favorite AI tool can be incredibly helpful in defining the MoSCoW priorities of your product based on your product management canvas or Word Document or even by reading your Rich Picture. By leveraging AI capabilities, you can analyse the various features and requirements outlined in your canvas and categorize them into Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, and Won't-haves with greater accuracy and efficiency. This enables you to make more informed decisions about prioritizing tasks and allocating resources effectively to meet your project goals. This is how useful MoSCoW is:


  • The MoSCoW technique has been successfully implemented in various industries, such as software development, product management, and marketing. For instance, in software development projects, teams prioritise features like user authentication (Must-have), push notifications (Should-have), and social media integration (Won't-have). Product Managers use MoSCoW to create roadmaps, prioritising tasks such as task management (Must-have) and integrations (Won't-have). Similarly, marketing teams prioritise activities for campaigns, like creating landing pages (Must-have) and running targeted ads (Should-have). These examples showcase how MoSCoW effectively guides prioritisation, ensuring resources are allocated to critical tasks, ultimately driving project success.


  • But it can backfire if not using your intuition and the Lean Iterative Process we have been discussing. For instance, in a product development project, a team decides to prioritise adding advanced features like AI-powered recommendations (Must-have) over basic usability improvements (Should-have). However, upon launch, users struggle with the product's usability issues, leading to low adoption rates and negative reviews. Despite prioritising innovative features, neglecting fundamental usability results in poor user experience and project setbacks. This is why AI is not to replace human perception and intuition, but to be used as a tool to speed up your development efforts.


 

Is it worth the time to create Proof of Concepts and Prototyping?


Prototype and Test: Fail Fast, Learn Faster once you have a basic concept in hand, it's time to create a prototype. This could be a physical model, a digital mock-up, or even a simple video demonstration. The important thing is to get something tangible that you can test with real users. Release your prototype to a small group of beta testers or early adopters and gather feedback. Embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and iterate quickly. The Lean approach encourages rapid experimentation and adaptation based on user insights. Let's see some real-life examples now:


  • Airbnb provides a compelling example of prototyping and rapid iteration. In its early stages, their founders created a simple website offering air mattresses in their apartment to conference attendees. This makeshift prototype allowed them to quickly test their concept with real users, gathering feedback on user experience and pricing. Embracing failure as an opportunity to learn, they iterated rapidly based on insights, experimenting with marketing strategies and pricing models. This Lean approach of rapid experimentation and adaptation based on user feedback played a pivotal role in Airbnb's evolution from a simple idea to a global platform, demonstrating the power of failing fast and learning faster in product development.


  • Juicero, a start-up founded in 2013, serves as a cautionary tale of the potential pitfalls of prototyping and rapid iteration. Despite extensive testing and refinement of its high-tech juicer and subscription-based juice packets, Juicero faced widespread criticism upon its 2016 launch. Users discovered that the proprietary juice packets could be squeezed by hand, rendering the expensive juicer essentially unnecessary. Despite efforts to iterate and refine the product, Juicero's failure highlights the importance of ensuring that a product addresses a genuine need and offers a clear value proposition, as simply iterating on a flawed concept without addressing fundamental issues can lead to failure.


Noteworthy: Even without an existing user base, finding beta testers is essential for product development. Explore avenues like social media, online communities, and networking events to connect with potential testers. Engage in relevant discussions, join forums, and reach out to individuals who may be interested in testing your product. Additionally, consider leveraging beta testing platforms and offering incentives to attract testers. By actively seeking out testers through these channels, you can gather valuable feedback to refine your product before its official launch.


 

How can I prepare a Soft Launch with a Pilot Programme?


Test in the Real World With feedback from your improved prototype in hand: it's time to take the next step with a pilot soft launch. This involves releasing your product to a limited audience or market segment on a small scale. Use this opportunity to gather real-world feedback, validate your assumptions, and refine your product and marketing strategy. The pilot soft launch allows you to test the waters without committing to a costly full-scale launch, giving you the flexibility to adjust course as needed. Let's have a look at this real-life examples based on general knowledge and common understanding of the history and reception of these products:


  • Fitbit, a prominent player in the health and fitness industry, exemplifies the strategy of testing in the real world through pilot soft launches. In the development of its first wearable fitness tracker, Fitbit initiated a limited release to a select group of users, allowing for invaluable feedback and insights. By closely monitoring user responses and usage data during this pilot phase, Fitbit was able to refine its product design, incorporate new features, and enhance its marketing strategy based on real-world observations. This iterative approach proved instrumental in aligning the product with user needs and preferences before scaling up production and launching to a wider market, contributing significantly to Fitbit's success as a leader in wearable fitness technology.


  • Google Glass, a wearable smart device developed by Google, serves as a cautionary tale regarding pilot soft launches. Despite conducting a pilot program called the "Explorer Program" to gather feedback from a select group of individuals before its public release, Google Glass faced mixed reception and failed to address key concerns such as privacy, social acceptance, and practicality. The device ultimately encountered significant backlash and limited adoption upon its public launch in 2013 due to unresolved issues and misconceptions. This example underscores the importance of not only conducting pilot soft launches but also effectively addressing critical concerns raised during the testing phase to ensure the success of a product in the market.


In a nutshell, plan for a Soft Launch, also named a Pilot Programme in some industries.


 

Feeling great about the Product, let's launch it commercially!


Full-Scale Launch: Go Big or Go Home Finally, the moment arrives for the official launch of your product to the broader market. Drawing on principles from marketing and brand management, create buzz and excitement around your launch. Leverage social media, influencer partnerships, and other channels to generate awareness and drive adoption. The Lean approach encourages a bias towards action – don't wait for everything to be perfect, just get out there and start making waves!


Why preparing your full-scale launch should happen only at the end of your Lean Product Development Approach:


  • When Apple launched the iPhone X, it executed a full-scale launch strategy to generate excitement and drive adoption. Leveraging its strong brand presence and loyal customer base, Apple teased the iPhone X's innovative features and design through targeted marketing campaigns and press releases. Leading up to the launch date, Apple hosted special events and keynote presentations to unveil the iPhone X to the public, garnering media attention and consumer interest. Additionally, Apple collaborated with influencers and celebrities to create buzz on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. The company also initiated pre-order campaigns, allowing customers to reserve their devices ahead of time, leading to record-breaking sales numbers upon release. Despite initial production challenges, Apple's comprehensive launch strategy exemplifies the Lean principle of bias towards action, emphasizing the importance of creating excitement and momentum in the market.


  • When Microsoft launched its Windows Vista operating system, it faced significant challenges and backlash from consumers and businesses alike. Despite extensive marketing efforts and anticipation surrounding the release, Windows Vista was plagued by performance issues, compatibility problems, and a lack of compelling features compared to its predecessor, Windows XP. Many users experienced frustrations with system crashes, slow performance, and software incompatibility, leading to widespread dissatisfaction and reluctance to upgrade. Microsoft's rushed approach to the launch without adequately addressing these issues resulted in a negative perception of Windows Vista and contributed to its poor adoption rates in the market. This example highlights the importance of thorough testing and refinement before executing a full-scale launch to avoid potential setbacks and consumer backlash.


Obviously, resources from companies such as Apple or Microsoft are not available to everyone. Yet, these examples illustrate how good and how bad things can go without an iterative process in which your product is developed progressively and in front of an audience. Not only will it help you get feedback at early stages to make necessary adjustments, but it will also help you with promoting the product and generate publicity for its launch.



 

What's next?


Turning your ideas into reality doesn't have to be an intimidating journey. By embracing the Lean Product Development Approach, you can navigate the process with confidence and creativity. From sketching your initial concept to launching your product to the broader market, the key is to iterate quickly, gather feedback, and adapt based on real-world insights. Remember, it's all about learning by doing and making progress with each small step forward. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, this framework provides a practical roadmap for bringing your ideas to life. So, are you ready to dive in and start building?

 

Key Takeaways


  1. Embrace the Lean Product Development Approach: Inspired by Lean Start-up and agile methodologies, this framework emphasises quick experimentation, iterative learning, and a bias toward action.

  2. Start with Sketching and Ideation: Begin by sketching your ideas or using tools like Word or AI assistants to explore possibilities. The goal is to get your creative juices flowing and start visualising your concept.

  3. Prototype and Test: Create a prototype of your product, whether it's physical, digital, or a simple video demonstration. Release it to a small group of beta testers to gather feedback and iterate quickly based on real-world insights.

  4. Pilot Soft Launch: Test your product in the real world with a pilot soft launch to a limited audience or market segment. Use this opportunity to validate assumptions, refine your product, and adjust your marketing strategy as needed.

  5. Full-Scale Launch: When the time comes for the official launch of your product, create buzz and excitement around it. Leverage marketing channels like social media and influencer partnerships to generate awareness and drive adoption.

  6. Prioritize Features with MoSCoW: Use the MoSCoW technique to prioritise features and requirements for your product, focusing on must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won't-haves, which should give you the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

  7. Don't Fear Failure, Embrace Learning: Throughout the product development process, embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and iterate quickly. Adopt a mindset of continuous improvement and adaptation based on user feedback.

  8. Seek Feedback and Collaboration: Engage with beta testers, early adopters, and stakeholders to gather feedback and collaborate on refining your product. Leverage online communities, networking events, and beta testing platforms to connect with potential testers.

  9. Promote Transparency and Innovation: Share your ideas and progress openly, recognising that the true value lies in brand trust and execution. Embrace tools like rich pictures and product management canvases to streamline your approach and foster innovation.

  10. Iterate, Iterate, Iterate: Finally, remember that product development is an iterative process. Stay agile, flexible, and open to change as you navigate the journey from idea to reality. Each iteration brings you one step closer to success.


 

Excited to transform your ideas into reality? Share your entrepreneurial journey with us and be part of the Linkifico community! We're here to provide a platform for sharing insights, experiences, and tips on product development and entrepreneurship. Let your voice be heard and inspire others on their entrepreneurial path. Join us in building a community of innovators and changemakers. Share your story with Linkifico today!


Leave your comments and questions below and I will personally answer your doubts.



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