By Roman Vuchtrl | 5/11/2021

Innovation Misconceptions: Debunking 4 myths about Scoping features and MVP

Innovation - 6 min read

Misconception 1: The more features you have, the better

Explanation:

In order to answer this correctly, it is important to ask yourself the most important question of all  -  what does your product do? This may seem to be a bit of a confusing question. It very much depends on what product you are building, whom it is for, and other contextual details. These are all very good points and might very well be pertinent in some respects, but the right answer is that your product solves a problem.

When you manage to solve a problem for someone, you inherently bring a great amount of value to them. When you are creating features that do not contribute to the problem-solving aspect or are not solving any other problem, they are usually no good at all. What do you do when you have many features that do not seem to create any value or solve any particular problem?

Remember to stick to the basics. Go back to your user research, and try to narrow it down. Try to define and focus on the minimal feature set that would be just enough to solve the biggest issue you have encountered and go for it. Many argue that their product will start to solve problems, bring value, or make sense to users only after it is completely developed with all the features that they have in mind. This is probably one of the most expensive and risky mistakes you can make as a founder.

The best advice we can give, here, is this: Innovation is always an experiment. Build something small but effective in dealing with the largest pain at hand, gather feedback from real users, and iterate. Come back stronger with a deeper understanding and empathy, enabling delivery of more precise and essential benefits and value to your customer.

Would you like to know more about the reality of a digital product creation? Join our free webinar taking place on Thursday, May 18th at 16:00 CET (3:00 PM GMT).

Misconception 2: Postponing decisions creates waste

Explanation:

Sometimes delaying decisions can lead to some negative consequences. When you are to make a very important decision, dictating the commitment of funds or resources to a design direction, it will do you no good if you rush it. In situations where you are faced with too much uncertainty, it is always better to pause. Validation, user research, testing, and other ways of connecting to the user are all about minimising the risk of uncertainty. If you do not feel like you know enough about the market, your users, or any other aspect of your product and business to make a decision you feel is the right one, take a few steps back.

Assemble your team, talk to them, go over all that you know so far, all that you have learned and found along the way. Try to uncover the holes and blind spots in your thinking or strategy. Focusing on other, unblocked work until the situation becomes more clear is also viable.  Sometimes all the situation really needs is time. As with many of these misconceptions, the truth is in the balance.

You may feel pressure from all sorts of places  -  your team, your partners, or even your users,  but that is just what is in the cards for founders. Talk to them, provide explanations, be transparent and honest with them. Most of all, hang in there. We’re here to help.

Misconception 3: More Research = better

Explanation: 

User research, market research, testing, desk research, and validation are all valuable tools to employ when you want to build your own product and business based on it. But too much of everything (anything) can easily make your head spin. 

When you spend your time and resources carelessly, you will find yourself having wasted most of them. It will not work in your favor if at the very beginning of your journey you devote all your time to research and gathering information just to stop at a certain moment, thinking you have learned everything there is to know.

There is nothing like the perfect piece of information. Information changes over time, and it does so very quickly (much like people and their problems, tastes, priorities, trends, etc.). Therefore, focus on keeping your knowledge and learnings up to date. Try to conduct research, testing, and validation regularly, whenever the situation calls for it. Make sure to pause when you feel you are lacking key information about your users, the market or when you find out that your work is based on assumptions, rather than actual learning.

Misconception 4: Asking users what they want is a good idea

Explanation: 

There is a quote, attributed to Henry Ford, that is often shared by those discussing Design Thinking and Product Design:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

This quote references the fact that people are often reacting to and expressing their wants, rather than their needs. The problem is that people very often do not know what they really want and therefore there is not much sense in asking them. Wants are often emotionally charged and vary between individuals, like fashion. Needs are most frequently based in logic and shared between anyone present in a given situation or environment, like clothing.
In human-centered Design, Design Thinking, and Product Development we put an emphasis on understanding the user struggle or pain to understand the core need from which the want emerges.Most users can vividly describe the challenge, pain or problem they face and you should definitely ask them about it. We highly recommend that you listen to them very carefully, delve deeper with your questions and aim to understand what is causing the issue.  

It is okay to ask questions such as "Where.../Why.../How...?", but the onus is always on you to capture the deepest cause or more profound meaning and interpret behaviour, emotions and opinions with a critical eye. Users can tell you what is wrong, so listen carefully - these are important insights. But do not ask them what you should build or how you should solve the problem - this is your job as a founder, designer or product developer.

Solving a problem for someone else could be a heavy burden if you want to do it right, but that is what it is all about, right? That is why you want to be a founder - to overcome challenges and help others. Take the time, then, to observe your users, to ask about their concerns, difficulties, or misunderstandings, and to note specific hesitations or confusions. Afterwards, gather all your notes and try to find patterns, articulate insights, then use your experience in this ethnography and empathy to build and improve your solution and their experience. 

Would you like to know more about the reality of a digital product creation? Join our free webinar taking place on Thursday, May 18th at 16:00 CET (3:00 PM GMT).

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