The need for new ideas and products has consistently grown over time with the progression of technology. Simultaneously, the lifespan of these new products being launched has also significantly decreased. For the survival of corporate markets, it has become vital that relevant new products be released more rapidly now than ever. This persistent increase in demand and supply, calls for a greater need for innovation and creativity in the process of product development.
Unfortunately, the lack of creativity is a major problem that plagues the business world these days. There are many driving factors behind this deficiency, one of the most common being the practice of risk avoidance by not only young startups but also big companies. The strict and rigid rules of corporations lead to a redundant pattern of production and do not give teams the space for experimentation and incorporating innovation. The senior decision-makers of firms are usually isolated from the feelings and motivations of their customers and their lives, which further kills all attempts at breaching this gap in creativity for product development.
The constantly changing trends, lifestyle practices, technological advances, fashion choices, etc. are a great opportunity to bring about new ideas and products. These frequent transitions are also a great source to get the creative juices flowing and implement imagination in the procedures of product development these days.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Most companies usually have a product development team in place, since new product development is essential for any company to stay strong in the market nowadays. Staying strong in a competition, however, is just not enough, it is equally important to stay relevant. Times are changing and so are priorities. These fluctuations and transformations constantly demand new concepts and new ideas to birth new products. Products that not only help keep businesses upright but also meet the public requirements and necessities. The process of new product development also helps companies build better relations with their customer base by satisfying their needs.
Some crucial peculiarities need to be considered when it comes to product development and its launch. Ensuring that your company is the first to identify the need for a product and is among the first ones to satisfy that need by bringing its product to the market is one main principle around which revolves around the entire process of new product development.
THE PROCESS OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Product development is a process that begins with observation. Analyzing the changes in your environment and then identifying the new needs that arise with that change is almost always the first step.
Analysis and identification of a need lead to ideation and ideas are what eventually end up as products. Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall in their book, The Universal Traveller, break down the process of product development in essentially seven basic steps.
These 7 steps can broadly be divided into two categories; from the birth of a new idea until the birth of a new product. Product development is a creative process and there is a need to implement creativity in almost each of these steps. A creative culture encourages companies to spend time on new ideas, new concepts, and new strategies. Creative ideas, concepts, and strategies eventually result in new, more widely accepted and appraised products and services.
UNLOCKING CREATIVITY IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Ideas are available everywhere, how effectively your team recognizes and filters them to suit your cause, is what defines expertise. Picking up on a concept is just the beginning, how you incorporate creativity in your strategies to not only develop but also market your product is the real challenge. This creativity can be unlocked with motivation and expertise, says Dr. Tina Seelig of Stanford University.
Part of your expertise is reflected in the kind of team you put together to encourage more creativity in your product building process. However, a greater part of it is reflected in how you motivate these individuals and the incentives you provide to extract their maximum potential.
Innovations are usually described as continuous or discontinuous. While continuous innovations are those that are working on the already existing product, a discontinuous or radical innovation is usually what brings about a revolution within a company. This happens when innovation teams combine knowledge with creativity under the supervision of leadership that is focused on fostering creativity.
A leader’s behavior has massive influence over the productivity of its employees and for a product to be inventive; an individual’s capability only goes so far. The techniques that you adopt to stimulate creativity within your organization have a colossal role to play.
Rewarding creativity is as equally important as facilitating it. Many companies might be hampering their creativity by not sufficiently appreciating the efforts their employees go to, to come up with a unique solution. Your creative team should be provided with adequate means to get important insight into your customer’s life and necessities. This knowledge allows them to come up with ideas that better satisfy your market along with confidence in making a distinct suggestion.
LIMITATIONS TO CREATIVITY
There are many practices among companies that limit their creativity and these need to be identified. Companies where the different groups within a product development team are not well synced and coordinated among themselves and with their leaderships frequently face creativity blocks. Communication gaps within the hierarchy of an organization also lead to missing on ideas and worthy suggestions. Almost every idea has some potential and just needs to be molded with experience and expertise to obtain maximum results.
Big corporates are usually doing well with some long-standing products in their market that help them generate most of the revenue for their companies. When companies start relying on these products they stop branching out and taking risks. This habit of shying away from trying out new products to avoid risks is another factor that keeps creativity at short because it discourages the teams from working on new concepts.
Although lots of companies have all of the ideas on how to collect feedback from their customers, the actual struggle is knowing how to build diverse feedback loops that will provide both actionable and valuable information.
You may be wondering what feedback loops have and why is it that some product teams must make use of them.
What Are Product Feedbacks?
According to Eric Ries. author of Lean Startup, the fundamental activity of a startup simply centers on tuning, ideas, and concepts into products, measure just how the customers will react and then learn if at all to persevere or to pivot.
However, bear in mind that the product feedback loop is referred to as the process of taking customer feedback from time to time and improving that product but it will be based on the opinion of the customer.
The creation of early-stage ideas can assist in creating product feedback. According to Ben Garner, there are some cost-effective ways to go through this and they include the use of brochures, UI mockups, and even datasheets.
Furthermore, if your goal is simply to test out the functionality, you will have to create just enough in a bid to deliver the sort of outcome that your users can react to.
Nonetheless, if your goal is to test the product’s fit and finish, you need to create the product to be close to its intended design.
At the end of the day, the goal is practically to build something to place at the front of users.
Measuring Your Product Feedback
There are ways in which you can successfully collect customer feedback and start your feedback loop on your product. They include:
However, the actual value of all these interviews simply lies in the difficulty of the feedback you will get to receive.
Additionally, there are diverse types of customer surveys you can make use of. They include:
1. NPS SurveyAlso known as the Net-Promoter score, this survey is used in measuring the loyalty of customers. It is, however, the most popular survey type.
2. CSAT SurveyKnown as the customer satisfaction score survey, it is used in measuring nothing else but customer satisfaction.
Nonetheless, in creating the best product for your consumers, you will need to verify diverse solutions based on your feedback. At the end of the day, you are brought right back to your feedback loop. The process is non stop.
But if surveys are too official and costly for your startup, consider adding a feature request option. Many startups now offer their customers an option to send in a feature request. Your customers should be the ones who know what features you need to add to your product. After all, they probably spend more time with your product than you do.
At the end of the day, feedback loops are very vital for your product development. Also, feedback loops that are well developed will help you in storing highly valuable information, administering important changes and even building a product that consumers will utilize and love.