Why You Still Failed After 17 Iterations

I don’t understand. My team has iterated 17 times. Why is our product still not succeeding?

We followed Lean Startup principles (Build-Measure-Learn) but our product still failed and we don’t understand why!

Front-end research

Research, research, research. Or in these cases, lack-of.

It bothers me how many teams decide to lock themselves up in a room to innovate. The logic goes something like this:

We have a problem on hand. Let’s use innovation to solve it!

First, let’s throw around crazy ideas. Quantity over quality at this stage, right?

Then let’s pick the ones we like the most and start prototyping!

After that, we build, measure, learn and iterate our way to magical innovation.

That’s not how innovation works

Allow me to gladly burst the little bubble you’ve encapsulated yourself in. You see, iteration is great. Prototyping fast and cheap. Learning from your prototypes, and rebuilding. But you know what’s even better? Doing proper design research to start with. You may be wondering why so many people miss design research if it’s that obvious.

Because it’s the hard part. (Also because people falsely believe that their assumptions are facts).

This is the part where you conduct extensive research. This is the part where you get frustrated because you can’t get to the root of the problem. This is the part where you think you’ve gotten close to figuring out a problem statement to work on but then find yourself back to square one.

I honestly feel sorry for the teams that follow the course of rapid iteration without conducting research beforehand. But I also blame literature and the media as well. How many articles about innovation have you read that stressed prototyping? The Lean Startup? Design sprinting? In comparison, how many articles have you read that advised proper design research? How to uncover problems? How to validate the magnitude of the problem? How to validate insight?

You get the point. Research before you decide on a problem statement to solve for. Spend time understanding the problem before formulating solutions.

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