problem solution fit

Product Management: How to Test the problem-solution fit?

Today we are talking about how to test the problem solution fit. This is all part of our product management series called unstuck, where we dig into the toughest challenges that product managers face. 

There is a very good way of testing your problem solution fit BottomUp Skills Podcast . And before we get to testing it for real you’re going to need to have done this one thing. We covered this in an earlier episode where we discussed the value proposition canvas, which you can refresh with our Lean Masterclass. This is a great tool to frame the problem and the solution.

So you’ve got your world of the customer. You’ve got your world of your product. You’re really convinced that the customer has a problem. You’ve got a solution, but you want to make sure that they fit together. 

You may have tested some of these in isolation. You may have used some interviews and surveys to get the big picture together, but you need to test that this all comes together and we’ll now move into a framework that will help you define the most high fidelity and effective way of validating it. 

Rapid Prototyping 

And the answer is rapid prototyping. That’s right. Rapid prototyping is all about creating a light sketch, a model of the full product, but the beauty of rapid prototyping is you don’t have to build the full product, because if you think about the spirit of lean startup, it’s all about building and writing as little code as possible.

You don’t want to build anything that hasn’t been tested. So rapid prototyping is a really powerful way to do that. Step one is that you don’t want to fall into the trap of building the entire product until you’ve really tested it until you’re actually experiencing a high degree of confidence in this product.

The Lean Startup

Many times we see products that get built that are not worth building. In fact, this idea of rapid prototyping, is used a lot with design thinkers. Think about lean startup. The guy that wrote the book, Eric Reese spent five years, $40 million on a failed startup. And that’s why he wrote The Lean Startup.

He built a product that nobody wanted. They raised $40 million for a product that nobody wanted. And he wanted to stop that from happening to other people. So he wrote lean startup all around the idea of test and learn in small bite size pieces, rather than do the big, outrageous, huge investment, big product, no testing only to realize nobody wants the product.

And so rapid prototyping will give you that. So it’s all based in. You want to build just enough of a model or a sketch of the product that it stimulates a sufficient amount of your senses. 

So what are the different types of prototyping? How do we get high quality customer feedback and learn more and about your customers’ pains and problems. Join us as we build our product and we tackle some of those tough questions. 

So if you are interested in learning more about product management, how to test the problem solution fit and rapid prototyping join us at the BottomUp Skills Podcast for more bite sized product skills. 

And at BottomUp Skills for free courses on Design Thinking, Agile, Lean and much more. Free skill courses for product people and innovators.

TRANSCRIPT

Hello, and welcome to the bottom up skills podcast. I’m Mike Parsons, the CEO of Qualitance, and we are talking about problem solution fit today. This is all part of our product management series called unstuck, where we actually dig into the toughest challenges that product managers face. And today we’re going to talk about the problem solution fit now.

There is a very good way of testing the problem solution fit. And before we get to testing it. You’re going to need to have got one thing done. And we covered this in an earlier episode where we had the value proposition, canvas, and we were using that as a tool to frame the problem and the solution.

The value proposition canvas

So if you’re not familiar with that, I strongly suggest you jump over there and have your problem solution Matt, or said differently your value proposition, canvas. All right. So you’ve got a world of the customer. You’ve got a world of your product. You’re really convinced that the customer has a problem.

You’ve got a solution, but you want to make sure that they fit together. You may have tested some of these in isolation. You may have used some interviews and surveys to get the big picture together, but you kind of want to. Test that this all comes together and I’m going to propose the way that is the most effective high fidelity way of validating.

Rapid prototyping and the problem solution fit

And the answer is rapid prototyping. That’s right. Rapid prototyping is all about creating some sort of light sketch. Or model of the full product, but the, the beauty of rapid prototyping is you don’t have to build the full product, because if you think about the spirit of lean startup, it’s all about build and write as little code as possible.

you don’t want to build anything that hasn’t been tested. So rapid prototyping is. Bang on absolutely bang on. So it’s a really powerful way to do that. Testing and validating I was talking about. So step one here is that you don’t want to fall into the trap of building the entire product until you’ve really tested it until you’re actually experiencing a high degree of confidence in this product.

Test your product before you build

And so rapid prototyping will give you that. So it’s all based in. You want to build like just enough of a model or a sketch of the product and the way, you know, you’ve got enough, is that whether it’s a whiteboard or a sketch on some paper or some digital tool, like sketch Figma, Adobe XD envision that it.

Stimulates sufficient amount of your senses. And it really kind of suggests the product now. You know, you might be using paper. I mean, I’ve seen this work with paper, I’ve even seen it work with hula hoops. Ah, it’s crazy. The point here is that you will be amazed that when you give customers the context of the task or the job to be done, that they will go along with you when you say, okay, I want you to imagine it’s nine 30 in the morning and you want to order some groceries and.

Take your customers on a product journey

You have them sitting in a studio downtown. But if you give them the context and say, you want to order on your phone and you just pass them the prototype on the app, or you ask them to click on the paper and say, imagine this is an app, and I want you to click on the sketch. Where would you click?

Where would you tap to get going? The crazy thing here is it works so well. So users only require sometimes as little as 20% of the actual full product of the full stimulus to evoke what we call. The direct response. And once they have a direct response, they using it and it feels like the real thing feels like is the key key here that, and then the, if they have that, you can judge their ability to complete the task and then you can get some amazing feedback.

And the reason the feedback is amazing is this is completely different to focus groups. Focus groups, invariably will ask people, I want you to imagine you’ve got a grocery ordering app. Would you be interested in this, that or the other?

Life like experiences provide real feedback 

What happens is, you’ve got five people in a room with a facilitator and they have to imagine, well, the quality of that feedback is far less than if you say, I want you to actually conduct the task of ordering the groceries because once you see it you get a direct response, not an indirect response,  you actually put them in the situation.

And this is so powerful. So you can use a whiteboard. You can use paper. Or as I mentioned, there’s lots of digital tools. You’re trying to avoid building the whole product because you only want to do that once. You’re really, really confident that the product is the right product and it’s worth building.

A product worth building

And so many times we see products that get built that were not worth building. In fact, this idea of rapid prototyping, it’s used a lot with design thinkers and folks in lean startup. Think about lean startup. The guy that wrote the book, Eric Reese spent five years, $40 million on a failed startup. And that’s why he wrote lean startup.

He was like, I built a product that nobody wanted. They raised $40 million for a product that nobody wanted. And he was like, I want to stop. That from happening for other people. So he wrote lean startup all around the idea of test and learn in small bite size pieces, rather than do the big, outrageous, huge investment, big product, no testing only to realize nobody wants the product.

There are different types of prototyping

There are different types of prototyping. You can do a very light diagnostic prototyping. This is almost role-play if you will. This is how you find out the rule pains and problems they have in the current alternative, um, that they kind of use to get the job done.

Now before we get to using some light digital prototyping tools. There’s another important step you can take, which is you can create moments or journeys that describe your solution. You could have a journey on a whiteboard or with post-its and you can take these moments and validate, would this be.

Would this create sufficient value for you as a user? And this intermediate step is really good because maybe you see that the user journey is made up of five parts, which would really inform how you might build some of the digital prototypes.

How it looks and feels makes a difference in testing

So the trick is it looks and feels a lot like a finished app, but actually in the backend, there’s no database. It’s so fake data and it’s pretty restricted in what it can do and where you can click. But these sort of digital prototypes are great because if you’ve done the proceeding steps in the rapid prototyping, what you’ve really done is you’ve created something that looks and feels quite finished and can give you a lot of important.

High quality customer feedback, because you really propose to them. I want you to try ordering bananas with our new grocery app and you would, they would be able to click and order those bananas. And then you can find out.  Is it a product that they would pay for?

And the biggest test is would they recommend it to a friend and you can do all of this and no code got written. And that’s the beauty because it means it was quick. It was efficient. And let’s say you get really positive feedback from this. Then you can move to the next step, which is MVP. But we’re going to talk about that in the next show.

How to test the problem solution fit 

Back to our central question, so how do we test problem solution fit? Rapid prototyping is really good because you get much closer to the experience of a product without building the product that saves you time and money. And that’s really good when you’re at that problem solution fit stage. Okay. So we’ve dived into the world of problem solution fit.

There’s still a lot more to come. As we build our product and we tackle some of those tough questions. If you’ve still got more inspiration and energy head of it, BottomUp Skills Podcast , where you can get everything, you need to build a great product, lots of free courses and master classes. All right. That’s it.

For the bottom-up skills podcast, that’s a wrap.

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