Product Discovery Techniques #2: Ideation
This is the second article of Product Discovery Techniques series. (Here is the first article on Inspiration)
Let’s, first remember what Discovery was about. Discovery has three major parts.
- Inspiration: Learn as much as possible as fast as possible.
- Ideation: Generate as many ideas as possible as fast as possible.
- Testing: Iterate as much as possible as fast as possible.
The main purpose of Discovery to make sure that we are going to be Defining & Designing the right thing. Discovery ensures (as much as possible) we’re working on the right thing because it;
- Provides us with a 360 view on the problem
- Helps us consider as many solution alternatives as possible
- Enables us to remove biases through collaboration and testing
Is that what Jared Spool calls “Executive Swoop and Poop”?
Why Ideation Matters
There are many good teams producing mediocre products. They have talented, knowledgeable, smart people but still end up with mediocrity. Why? One of the main reasons I see is that hey don’t have good ideas in the first place.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: ”If, we (the creative product people) were given enough time to think then we’d come up with the best ideas! But we don’t have enough time/resources/tools.” That is a common misconception and we, the problem solvers, should do something about it.
Creativity is Something We Do, Not Something We Possess by Nature
Without a doubt, we take idea generation for granted. We all know that “let’s have a brainstorming session” doesn’t work but still hesitate going beyond that. We need structure to be creative. Yeah, that sounds like an oxymoron but I urge you to remember the last time you brainstormed without any clear structure. Did you, too, think “Damn! I have no good ideas 😕” ?
So, in order not to waste all that precious Inspiration effort, we better have some structure. It’s not difficult to facilitate creativity if we rely on methods but otherwise it’s really difficult. Because there is a lot of misconception about creativity which turned it into a myth. James Clear has a very good summary here which I believe capture the essence very well.
Hidden Benefits of Ideation
Ideation shouldn’t be kept reserved to only product people. That’s against the idea of Ideation. We need diversity (given the participants have a level of attachment to the case at hand and willingness to participate in Ideation)in order to gain several perspectives at once and get more dots to connect.
When done as a team, Ideation strengthens team bonds. Since it is a fun thing to do and happens in a collaborative and constructive manner, colleagues develop much more positive perspectives on each other.
On an individual level, Ideation increases self confidence and motivation because we get to be creative and autonomous during the whole process.
And finally, having a chance to voice their ideas and see which ideas gets chosen why help them internalize the final decisions much better.
Ideation in A Nutshell
- Make Inspiration Data Usable
- Generate Ideas
- Prioritize Ideas
Make Inspiration Data Usable
From Research to Design with Pen & Paper — Power of pen and paper proven once again.
Communicating User Research Findings — A comprehensive guide including deliverables from simple photos to Findings and Recommendations Matrix.
How to Turn User Research into Usable Data — A simple guide to turn messy research results into usable data.
7 Rules of Ideation — This page is for brainstorming but I’d suggest you to focus on the 7 Rules. They hold true for the whole Ideation process.
Ideation Methods — Well categorised and described Ideation Methods. Filter using Generate Ideas category.
Gamestorming — Many, many tools for almost any kind of activity you can imagine.
Using Brainwriting For Rapid Idea Generation — Brainwriting is an easy alternative to face-to-face brainstorming, which often yields more ideas in less time than group brainstorming.
Ideation Tools by Innowiz — This site is looking a bit ugly but very rich and simple content wise.
Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques — I love this book. Very well structured, fun to read and apply, really empowering. I use a couple techniques like Cherry Split almost daily.
Product Strategy Means Saying No — When building a product you have to be great at saying No. Not ‘maybe’ or ‘later’. ‘No’ is the strategy for delivering a cohesive, well defined product.
The Simple Rule for Feature Prioritization — Ask these questions at every stage of product management.
What is a Good Product Idea? — How can we understand if an idea is good or not? This is a good guide to evaluate on the spot.
How to Pick Winning Product Features — This method looks at choosing product ideas from a user and market perspective which is a unique and insightful way to pick ideas.
20 Product Prioritization Techniques — An in-depth overview of 20 product prioritization techniques and a periodic table to make sense of them all.
RICE: Simple prioritization for product managers — Prioritization is a challenge for any product manager. How do you decide what to work on first? Intercom created a simple scoring system to help.
Ideation is one of my favorite parts of product design. It is the part which doesn’t feel like work at all because it’s a lot of fun. However, successful product design and development requires more than good ideas. It requires principles, and a framework covering the whole product development and design process, from strategy to development and optimization.
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