Even in agile environments that encourage collaboration, product definition can become a siloed activity. In the day-to-day grind, with project teams focused on their particular tasks, the product owner bears the brunt of mapping out the product vision, often with little input from other members of the team.
While good product owners have a natural ability to guide product vision, failing to use the unique experiences and insights of other team members is an opportunity wasted; it’s a common enough issue that it’s included as one of the eight wastes in agile development.
"While good product owners have a natural ability to guide product vision, failing to use the unique experiences and insights of other team members is an opportunity wasted"
We hate waste, particularly when it comes to talent. So we came up with an idea to avoid it that could be replicated for every project: Product Ideation. This post is going to describe what it is, why it’s important, and how you can build it into your development process.
What is Product Ideation?
Product Ideation is essentially a strategy session (or sessions) that is a formalized part of the development process. It brings together the entire squad in order to leverage the insights, experiences, and ideas of product owners, designers, developers, QA, and architects. The logic behind it is simple; collectively, a team has more knowledge, experience, and insight than an individual. Product ideation channels this and applies it to a particular product.
"Collectively, a team has more knowledge, experience, and insight than an individual. Product ideation channels this and applies it to a particular product"
There are rules of engagement. The product owner is ultimately responsible for the product and ensuring that development efforts align with business goals. He or she still has ownership over the product vision. But, instead of trying to build a product roadmap and suggest features and functionalities by themselves, they are leveraging the knowledge of their entire team.
Why is Product Ideation Important?
There are 4 key benefits of product ideation:
- It helps to eliminate the waste of non-utilized talent by leveraging the unique creative input of every team member
- It sparks innovation by drawing from diverse experiences and perspectives
- It aligns the entire project team around a common objective
- It generates fresh ideas and results in better products
Ideas are born organically from collaboration, rather than the top-down “this is what we’re doing, make it happen” approach.
Adding Product Ideation Into Your Development Process
Product ideation is only effective when it becomes a part of the process itself. Informal brainstorm sessions can be great springboards for ideas, but unless you formalize ideation into productive sessions, you end up with a bunch of high-level ideas that aren’t actionable.
"Informal brainstorm sessions can be great springboards for ideas, but unless you formalize ideation into productive sessions, you end up with a bunch of high-level ideas that aren’t actionable"
While every team will have its own way of doing things, we’ve found that including product ideation in product definition is most effective.
Our approach to product definition includes:
- Analysis of insights and mobile trends pertinent to client industries
- Engagement with clients to determine goals and challenges
- Initial assessment of needs and requirements using user and stakeholder perspectives
- Formalized product ideation based on goals and objectives
- Determination of business logic
- Mobile strategy and goal setting
Product ideation provides a unique spin on the way product definition is typically practiced, allowing us to think differently, identify opportunities, and leverage team creativity to create better, more innovative products. By building ideation into the process, you can reap the benefits it offers for every product you deliver.