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Know how to test a product by measuring risk through desirability, viability, and feasibility.
I’m someone who enjoys learning from books. I often find great tips I can apply from a good book, and that is just what I have for you. We are discussing a valuable new book titled Testing Business Ideas. It is full of practical experiments we can do as product managers to help us with problem-solution fit. These are experiments to find evidence for the hypotheses we have made and help us think more deeply about the assumptions surrounding a product concept. The book describes 44 different experiments along with why each is used and how to use it. It will be a very important book to be on your bookshelf and refer to when you need an experiment.
The lead author is David Bland. He helps companies all over the world find problem-solution fit using lean startup, design thinking, and business model innovation.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:28] How does Testing Business Ideas apply to products?
If a product does not exist in a functioning business model, it will not live on. We have 44 experiments in the book, and a lot of them sound like product experiments, but there are also things that will allow people to expand their skill sets.
[7:53] How do you think about risk and preparation?
This book picks up after you already have an idea. You need to create a team that can move the idea forward. When it comes to risk, I look to design thinking. You have to have desirability, viability, and feasibility in a broad sense. Something might work technically, but there might be regulatory or other risks associated with a product. We layer desirability, viability, and feasibility on top of the canvases to thoroughly map risks in each area. This makes it less overwhelming and easier for teams to talk about.
[12:16] How do you map these risks?
We create a 2×2 with axes of unimportant-important and have evidence-no evidence. People are often certain about something, but have no evidence for it. Once you start putting ideas up, you can move through them pretty quickly. It becomes a reference point for a team to work through. I can never predict where a team is going to end up. What comes out is a map of where risk is. The book gives some options for how to address those risks and pay them down over time.
[17:39] What happens next?
Then it’s time to run your first experiment and make it a repeatable process that your whole company can buy into. You do not need to experiment on everything; that’s where the 2×2 comes into play. I help people figure out which experiments to run and how to leverage their existing expertise. It’s important to work experiments into your existing processes — standup, reviews, etc. If you don’t integrate them to your existing workflows, they’re more likely to be pushed off and not happen.
[23:20] Can you give us an example of this process in action?
One of the case studies in the book is a startup called Topology. It measures your face and custom makes glasses to fit it. People have to trust the app works when they upload a selfie and pay for glasses from them. They decided to mitigate risk by opening a pop up store. They went up to people on the street and started talking to them about glasses. That led to people coming into the store and trying the app, all while people were taking notes and gathering voice of the customer materials.
[29:20] How did they analyze and use the data?
They did multiple rounds of pop up stores and used the qualitative data on their website and in marketing materials. So often, you can increase conversation by using the words of the customer instead of your own. We sometimes overthink things when the most effective answer is the most simple.
- Testing Business Ideas information on the Strategyzer website
- Order on Amazon, Testing Business Ideas
- David’s personal website, Precoil
“In most organizations, the bottleneck is at the top of the bottle.” -Peter Drucker
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it on your favorite social network.