Front end of product development

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Fall is a glorious time for baseball fans, with the regular season wrapping up in September and a month of post-season play in October.

But every season is high-stakes season for product developers, who need to deliver consistently or risk disappointing customers and falling behind competitors. We offer some lessons that the product development world can take from baseball.

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It’s no longer headline news that emotion plays a role in decision making, even in business. How can you take advantage of this fact to help people in your organization understand customers at a deep, intuitive level?

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Just as your house sale may fall flat if you don’t replace the ratty carpet before showing it to prospective buyers, or you risk pulling a hamstring if you take off at a sprint before warming up, you can sabotage your VOC success if you don’t do at least a little preparation. Once you can answer three fairly straightforward questions about your market, the customer data you collect will become much more useful for product definition.

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You probably have a good idea about what makes product development innovative. You may already have a plan to create a culture of innovation in your development organization. But are you overlooking a key part of the business that could contribute substantially to product development innovation?

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The biggest payoff in product design lies not in solving a known problem in a new way, but in discovering a completely new problem. Design thinking can be a great tool in that regard, but sometimes you need to extend your view a bit.

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Does your company have a Facebook page? Are you tweeting? Is someone in your marketing department monitoring social media sites? Just ten years ago, these questions would have sounded like nonsense. Now social media is a part of the marketing mix you can’t afford to ignore.

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