I recently had a chance to catch up with a product executive at Intuit to talk about innovation and how they continue to churn out great digital products. One of the secrets to their process is that they are well ahead on the product discovery and not just prototyping things that will be built next month or quarter but next year or even further out.
To build a repeatable process for discovery, they created (and share publicly) a system they call D4D or Design for Delight. There’s a lot to it but the gist of it can be summed up in 3 important parts.
- Deep Customer Empathy – This means having a real understanding of who your customer is. Knowing what a day in their life is like is critical to the ability to ideate on things you might build to create real value. I’ll share more about how they do this later but the key point here is to stay absolutely focused on a real problem your client faces.
- Go Broad To Go Narrow – Avoid the temptation to believe the first solution (or worse, your own idea) is the best one. If customer empathy is about tenacious focus on the problem, ideation is about wide-open mindedness on the solution. Collaboration where everyone is focused on the solving the problem will create the most ideas and increases the chances of a truly great idea emerging. Design Sprints are a great way execute on this concept. You can then take the best few ideas and validate with customers.
- Rapid Experiments With Customers – Testing the ideas with potential or existing customers is the best way to demonstrate the idea will work. Nothing beats seeing real customer reaction and behavior. In order to test with customers, start by making a hypothesis. “If we ______ then ______ will happen” type of statements and figure out the metrics you would use to measure success. If the metric is hit, push forward but if not, back to step 2. And it’s ok to go back to step 2. In fact a reality of innovation is that you “fail” far more ideas than you validate as worthwhile. But in each of those failures you learn something and the best organizations are great at failing bad ideas fast.
These concepts will help ensure you don’t fall victim to building something no one wants or won’t use. I’m aiming to unpack of each of these areas further this year and look forward to tweaking them gain even greater results.