Most business owners would agree that product innovation is important to their success in today's world.
History is full of companies that were initially very successful but failed to innovate when the market changed, says Jeremy Brandt, founder and CEO of We Buy Houses, an online service that connects home sellers with potential buyers. And that informs the way his company operates.
“At We Buy Houses, we continuously identify ways to improve our products, taking technology we've built internally for ourselves and turning it into a commercial product for our clients," says Brandt.
“Agile and similar methodologies are great for consistently moving the ball forward," he continues. "Innovation is about coming up with new ideas, processes and products to stay ahead of the competition and in line with what the market needs. Once the innovation happens, it's all about execution, and that's where agile plays a huge role."
Design thinking is an agile product innovation methodology traditionally used by designers to solve complex problems. It is a solution-focused and action-oriented way of creating a preferred future.
Over the years, design thinking has taken on many faces, but the Institute of Design at Stanford University proposed a groundbreaking and now frequently used series of steps, which are:
Empathize mode is the first step on your product innovation journey. Here you're trying to understand your customers' physical and emotional needs, how they think about the world and what is meaningful to them.
Observing what people do and how they interact with their environment can give you clues. You can engage your users by preparing some questions you'd like to ask, for instance:
- If you are standing in line at the grocery store, what app are you most likely to view first and why?