Want to build a product that doesn't suck? Welcome to Ideation

Jul 26, 2012 • Gabe Weaver

During the 12 years that we’ve been building web and mobile applications, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with dozens of clients from around the country. No matter what we are working on, we share ownership in both success and failure; but no amount of effort or hustle can guarantee success.

We want nothing more than to make our clients successful, but sadly this doesn’t always happen. We’ve spent the last year analyzing all the past projects we’ve worked on, identifying things that worked, things that didn’t work, and trying to figure out how to increase the probability that the products we build and the clients we serve in the future will succeed. Through all our analysis and questioning, we landed on one big realization: products rarely fail because of a few bugs or some hiccups with the user interface; products fail because they were never the right product to build in the first place.

Building the wrong product leaves stakeholders baffled as to why customers aren’t adopting the brilliant idea they had been dreaming up for months, distraught that the majority of their initial investment is gone with little to show for it, and quickly trying to find someone or something to blame for the failure.

The problem is, visionaries almost always have brilliant ideas that are capable of delivering wild success, but often times they aren’t given the proper framework to work within to enable their idea to flourish. More often than not, the stakeholders and development teams work in a closed loop with their noses to the grindstone trying to develop the vision with little context. They have have limited knowledge of what is happening in the market, how the customers will respond to the product, what the competition is doing, or how to effectively prioritize a development roadmap that will result in both quick wins and sustained success in a constantly evolving and competitive market.

Here at Cramer Dev, we’ve long been adopters of the concept of “Running Lean.” Originally pioneered by John Krafcik at Toyota, and later applied to the startup world by industry veterans such as Steve Blank and Eric Reis, the Lean movement has been steadily gaining steam over the last few years because it brings something to the table that a lot of other product development processes don’t: validated learning through constant hypothesis and testing of ideas. Having this kind of insight and feedback at an early stage in product development minimizes waste and maximizes the team’s ability to deliver a product that provides the most value to the end customer with the resources available.

This takes us back to our massive post-mortem we’ve been working on over the last year. How can we help our clients achieve the highest probable chances of success? With our own validated learning over the past year, we’ve developed a process we take our clients through before a single line of code is written or a wireframe is designed. It’s called Ideation, and it’s awesome because it utilizes Lean concepts to provide our clients with a proven framework to grow their idea.

If you want to learn more about our ideation process from start to finish including the breakdown of all the core components and activities, how to effectively test your idea and get validated learning, and what happens after you’ve iterated to a viable business model, get in touch with us! We live to talk about this kind of stuff with interested people.