|checklist, not steps|
The next post (here) pointed out that, although they are navigate the same territory, the maps used by Engineers, Marketing, and Design, are qualitatively different; and that, although these different views of the world lead to misunderstandings, they were fundamentally complementary. The different views are summarised in this table:
This post lays out an approach intended to orient Engineers, Marketers, and Designers to each other. The approach -- mashup of tools from Agile Engineering, Lean Startup, and Design Thinking -- is intended for use at the beginning of greenfield projects, i.e., projects without constraints imposed by prior work.
In Agile terms, the approach might be called "Sprint Zero". At AVG Innovation, we call it "App Lab".
Given enough iterations, a basic Agile process would no doubt cover the same ground; but the checklist is more efficient. It puts the first proper development cycle on solid ground.
solid groundThe App Lab approach was refined over the course of 9 greenfields projects to develop new products or service propositions (including Family Center and the Carefree Patient Record concept). It was developed to ensure multi-disciplinary teams start new projects with a clear and shared set of priorities. Basically, it's a checklist.
scanning the horizonThe App Lab checklist encourages a 360° view of the project, including User, Business, and Technical considerations. Working through the checklist leads team members from different disciplines to discuss what they already know about the problem, to develop a shared understanding, helping the rest of the project go faster. By the end of the checklist, the team has a set of working hypotheses on what it will take to make a product that is Desirable, Viable, and Feasible.
natural orderIn principle, there is a natural order to the checklist, with items relating to Desirability first, then Viability, then Feasibility. Because Why we sell a product determines How we sell it, which determines What we sell. Customers drive Business drives Technology. So the natural order would be Design, then Marketing, then Engineering.
In practice however, it's not possible to address either Design, Marketing, or Engineering in isolation. An award-winning design that can't be built, an incredible technology patent no one needs, or a fast-selling product that loses money ...all failures. Successful Design, Marketing, and Engineering are inextricable from one another.
Innovation projects commonly start with a compelling inspiration from Design, Marketing, or Engineering; but usually 2 out of these 3 perspectives are only vaguely outlined. In these cases, you have to start with what you have, so we've found it's better to approach App Lab as a checklist rather than an ordered set of steps.
Use the App Lab checklist to surface what you already know, and to fill in any gaps. Be prepared to revisit items on the list as your understanding of the problem evolves.
timingHow long does it take to go through the list? It's possible to go from inspiration to coherent, validated product/service proposition in 4 weeks, but we plan for six weeks because i) team members are working on other projects in parallel, and ii) the extra gestation time improves the quality of thinking. The process is time constrained, so deliverables must be tailored to fit time and resources available. This encourages a mindset of practicality over perfection.
deliverablesThe checklist validates that an idea has been considered from Design, Marketing, and Engineering angles, and confirms that the core proposition is coherent and acceptable to users. It validates that an idea is worthy of further investigation. The final deliverable is a pitch to budget holders for funds to proceed to the first iteration of development.
Below is an overview of the App Lab list. In the next posts, I'll walk through a case study, item-by-item, based on our experience with the Carefree Patient Record concept). The next post describes Inspiration.
|Inspiration||Champion (product owner)||Draft statement of scope||Project Brief|
|User Research||Project Brief||User visits, |
Consumer review analysis
|Experience Flow w/ pains & gains|
|Jobs-to-be-Done||Pains & Gains||Analysis (workshop)||Jobs-to-be-done. (Social, Emotional, Functional|
|Competitive Landscape||Jobs-to-be-done||Desk Research||Ranked feature list (Kano model)|
|Business Model Canvas||Customer description |
|Desk Research (Workshop)||Selected (provisional) Business Model Business Case|
|Design Sketching||Business Model Canvas |
|User Scenario sketching, |
Screen concept sketching
|Key User Stories Design |
Principles Screen Concept sketches
|System Concept||Business Model Canvas |
User Stories Jobs-to-be-Done
|System Design Review||Minimum Viable Product , Use Cases System Concept Document|
|Lo-Fi Prototype||User Stories Design Principles||Sketching (workshop)||Lo-Fi Prototype (Wireframes)|
|User Validation||Prototype User Description||Define Hypotheses, User Test||Findings Presentation|
|Pitch||Business Requirements (Business Model Canvas & Business Case), |
User Requirements (Job-to-be-done & Design Principles),
Technical Requirements (System Concept Document)
|Presentation creation||Request for resources to continue development.|
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My other blog is full of esoteric rants.