How to use the Lean Hypothesis to develop a product idea
People often struggle to explain what their product idea is. They often talk about it in terms of some of the technology behind it. But if you can’t start the conversation with a clear value of your product and idea and make it inspiring, everything that comes after that loses its impact.
The good news is, there is a really powerful best practice to help you describe your product and the solution and results you can expect.
We recommend the Lean Hypothesis, from our Lean Startup Masterclass series. With an idea called the Lean Hypothesis you can create a simple structure, and it’s a really great way to share your product idea.
Join us in our series on product management, where we’ll talk about how to do this, put this into context, show you some of the variations of how to share your product idea. Then we’ll make the case for why this is so important.
We’ll learn the 3 Part Formula to the Lean Hypothesis and how it works:
- Always start with a problem
- Discover your value solution
- And the results you can expect
First we frame it as a problem. Then a solution and then the results that we would expect. At its core, if you’ve got a product, you need to go out into the world and say, here’s the problem.
We’ll discuss examples and go on a journey to extend that into a full venture hypothesis, beyond the product itself.
If you’ve written your hypothesis, the good news is you’re on track for going out into the world and testing and learning and validating your product and ideas.
From this, we can develop a high concept and elevator pitch and executive summary. All the variations of ways of telling the story that you might need, but at the core, framing what is actually your product idea!
Creating a Lean Hypothesis not only will get people excited, which is critical as you start a new company or start a new product. But it will also give you something that you can come back to and test time over time.
Whether you’re recruiting staff, customers or partners, you want to have a concise, powerful way of communicating your product idea. And concise problem solutions with a result.
Want to learn more about product management and how to discover and tell your product story?. Join us at the BottomUp Skills Podcast for more bite sized product skills. And at BottomUp Skills to learn Design Thinking, Agile, Lean and much more. Free skill courses for product people and innovators.
Hello, welcome to the bottom-up skills podcast, I’m Mike Parsons and I’m the CEO of Qualitance and we continue the getting unstuck series, where we dive into some of the greatest product challenges.
Today we’re starting with this question. What’s the product idea?
Now I know you’re thinking that sounds like a pretty simple question, Mike, but actually the real truth of things is that a lot of time people really struggle to explain their product.
They often will talk about it in terms of what other people are doing. They might talk about it in terms of some of the technology behind it.
But really what you see is that if you can’t start the conversation with a clear and let’s hopefully guess that it’s going to be a bit inspiring and it’s going to have some value in it.
If you can’t share the product idea, pretty much everything else that comes after that, it’s a bit of a mess.
So having traveled the world of marketing and products. I believe that there is a really powerful best way to describe your product. And I would recommend the lean hypothesis.
The Lean Hypothesis
That’s right. So from lean startup, there’s this idea called the lean hypothesis and it’s really simple structure, and it’s a really great way to share your Product idea.
I’m going to talk about how to do this and then I’m going to put this into context, show you some of the variations of how to share your product idea. And I’ll make the case for why this is so important.
But let’s get into telling a product story, like telling the idea, and there’s a three part formula to the lean hypothesis and here’s how it works. So what you do is you frame it as a problem.
Then a solution and then the results that we would expect, and you can actually add a few things to it. If it’s a full venture hypothesis, it’s a full business explanation.
But at its core, if you’ve got a product, you need to go out into the world and say, here’s the problem.
Here’s my solution and here’s the expected results. So let me throw one at you and let’s see if this all makes sense. So classic example, here is a lemonade stand because we know our customers prefer colder lemonade in warmer weather.
If we add ice to each cup of lemonade, we sell, we can expect higher customer satisfaction and more sales.
Okay so let’s just break that down. So you’ve got this idea in this case, you’re actually improving a product. So let’s, uh, break it down. The problem was because we know our customers prefer colder lemonade in warmer weather. It’s hot.
People need something to refresh them. Well, good job that we have a solution. We’re going to add ice to each cup of lemonade we sell, and that’s the solution part. So now we’ve got this simple structure of problem solution, and then we can propose the result.
We expect, higher customer satisfaction and more sales. Now this is a great way to present your product idea in a really clear way.
Testing and Learning
What I’ll do is I’ll go on and extend that into a full venture hypothesis. So it’s beyond the product itself, but the entire venture, but there’s a key thing. If you’ve written your hypothesis, the good news is you’re on track for going out into the world and testing and learning and validating.
If this hypothesis is in fact, correct. And I want to do a little build on this so that you can be one step ahead. So if you have your hypothesis, it’s a great way of explaining your idea. And if everybody says, well, look, what’s next. It’s, you know, it’s early stages. It sounds like a good idea.
Well, you would say something like this, and this is where you start thinking about what you’re going to learn. What you’re going to test.
You’d say if we are correct, we’d also expect that customer surveys. Would validate a preference for us that we might be able to run tests. To find them quantity of ice that maximize sales and that our net promoter score crease.
That was if we were correct, but if we’re wrong, it might indicate that customer preference for cold lemonade might be influenced by other factors. Such as the precise ratio of ice to lemonade.
The exact temperature outside the quantity of sugar, lemon juice and water in our recipe, or the price of the trip. I think from your competitor down the street, who knew that lemonade could get so complex.
But the point here is this is how you would take your hypothesis into next step. So you say, Hey, listen, I don’t have all the answers.
I’ve got this idea. And what’s really good is that you are now presenting. Your hypothesis, you have a vision, but you also have sort of the next steps as well.
Now, if we expand this approach and we think about it from a venture perspective. What we do is we actually just kind of frame the context a little bit more.
We’ve talked about problem solution result. So now what we do is we talk about, um, a formula that presents the.
The customer or the persona or the segment that’s part one, and then their problem situation. That’s part two. Now what’s really interesting is you then propose the current alternatives that people look to to solve the problem.
And this is really important with the venture, because then you can ask yourself, when I go to get refreshing drinks in warmer weather, that that option is not really there best.
I can see some problems with it. So this adds a little bit more validity to a full venture hypothesis and also indicates some of the market possibilities as well.
Then you obviously have your value proposition. So we propose to offer this solution to solve this problem. And then we’ll observe particular metrics in the product.
What’s really fun about having these ideas framed this way is they can become the simplest way of tracking the growth and the learning that you have.
With your product or venture, because any good product or business is the sum of its learning. So this idea, or in this case, there’s a lean hypothesis that you have at the start. It should change a lot. So over time you should iterate and iterate because you’re learning.
And so maybe one part of your hypothesis, perhaps the problem or the solution or the customer segment.
That’s actually proven to be incorrect, but that’s okay. You’ve learned and then you’ve tweaked it. So here’s another idea for a podcasting service that I think would be really useful.
Here’s the first variation and we’re going to use the venture hypothesis, which just has that bit more context. Here we go.So here is an idea for a podcast service.
Podcast fans find it hard to discover new podcasts. Currently they talk to friends, you search and randomly sample shows. But if we offer the Google of podcasts, we’ll observe success through metrics such as virality and referral conversions.
So people are finding it hard to find new podcasts.
Now let’s just play with a variation of this. What we’re going to do is we’re going to change up the problem solution. Um, and we’re going to keep the other variables the same. So he is variation.
Number two, podcast fans, find it hard to review and share their favourite podcasts. Currently they use messaging or Apple podcasts app, but if we offer authority for reviews of podcasts, Like it being the TripAdvisor of podcasts, then we’ll observe success through metrics such as user registration and the volume of reviews.
So what you can see here is that we changed the problem solution set, and this might be a great example of how your product idea changes over time. So I really recommend that you use this lean hypothesis because it really not only helps you simply communicate your idea.
But actually presents some really clear testing, um, uh, variables inside of this formula. And from this, you can get things such as a high concept and elevator pitch and executive summary.
All the variations of ways of telling the story that you might like, but at the core, at the most powerful way of framing, what is actually your product idea? I really recommend the idea of a lean hypothesis because not only will it.
Get people excited. Which is obviously going to be a critical thing as you start a new company or start a new product. But what it’s also going to do is it’s going to give you something that you can come back to and test time over time.
Don’t forget that this should not be beyond the estimated this idea of communicating your product idea, because whether you’re recruiting staff, Or customers or partners.
You want to have a concise, powerful way of communicating your product idea so you don’t get lost in all the details. Because frankly, people just don’t care, a clean, crisp, short, and concise problem solution with a result.
That’s the way to telling your product story. All right. That’s it for the bottom up skills podcast. That’s a wrap.