Optimal Product Process™ Phase One: Conceive
This post describes the first phase in the Optimal Product Process: Conceive. Download the entire Optimal Product Process 2.0 book: CLICK HERE
By applying ideation exercises and using prioritization techniques, Product Management can lead the company to identify and focus on new and innovative ideas that can become the engine for future company growth and success.
During the Conceive Phase a Company or Team Is Generating New Ideas
Then evaluating and prioritizing these ideas to determine whether to move forward with them and spend time and resources. This may be done formally (or accidentally) through observing customers and identifying latent needs. It may also be done by executives, engineers, product managers, salespeople or others coming up with potential products and/or new features. Make sure you have a simple system in place for capturing all of the needs and ideas that you hear over time – these will prove to be very useful when it is time to determine what the next thing is to focus on.
There Are Many Ways of Generating Ideas
Surveys, in-person interviews and observation, custom councils and phone interviews can all be used to find out what problems customers are facing. The key in all of these techniques is to dig deep into what the problem is that needs to be solved first. By discovering the deeper needs and challenges they face, you and your team can then come up with solutions that are out-of-the-box and innovative.
Once you have probed for the underlying problems you can (and should) also ask the customer what products or features they specifically think would solve their problem and that they would be willing to pay for. Some of the time all you will get is a blank stare. Some of the time you’ll get the obvious answers that you already know. And some of the time (rarely but it does happen), a customer will give you a billion dollar idea for your next product line.
The Result of All of These Activities Is a Master List of Customer Problems to Be Solved, Ideas from the Team and Ideas from Customers
You can then engage the entire team in additional brainstorming (mindmapping is particularly useful) to expand the list until you have all of the possibilities. From there you apply prioritization techniques to determine which ideas are most viable, have the best competitive and company fit for you and have the largest market opportunity. From this work comes your prioritized list of the efforts that have the highest likelihood of success for your company.
In startups the conceive work is usually done by the founders, in technology companies by the engineers and in truly market-driven companies by the Product Management and Product Marketing staff.
In All Cases Product Management and Product Marketing Can Play a KEY Role in This Phase
They aren’t necessarily responsible for coming up with creative new ideas (though they should articulate the needs of the customers and the problems that can be solved), but they should be held accountable for leading their teams in the effort. By applying ideation exercises and using prioritization techniques Product Management can lead the company to identify and focus on new and innovative ideas that can become the engine for future company growth and success.