Jul 3, 2014

2 principles behind successful products

I had the opportunity to attend a master class on Entrepreneurship couple of days back by Scott Cook, Founder of Intuit. It was fascinating to hear about his experiences of building Intuit in the 80s. He is an amazing speaker with perfect clarity of thoughts and words. He spoke about 2 principles of creating successful products.

1) Keep looking for insights from customers
If you are building products just for yourself and for your friends/family, insights may not be that relevant. But in most of the cases, we build products for a larger community. The only way to learn is through deriving insights. Insights can be obtained using data gathered on product usage. But the most useful source of insights is "observation". During the session, Scott demonstrated the power of observation through an airplane making exercise. You tend to gather a lot more insights and surprise elements by observing how people use your product rather than asking/interviewing them about how the product experience was. Surveys or focus group discussions falter because what people say may not be what they do. He brought up an interesting point - "Trust behaviors more than words".

During "observation" process, keep yourself open to surprises and note down the actions that weren't expected.  Don't go with a "validation" mindset as it would bias your thought process and you will eventually prove right what you had set out to validate in the first place. Instead, take a "discovery" approach and be open for surprises.

2) Engage in rapid experimentation
Scott stressed about the power of iteration through experimentation. He stressed the fact that decisions shouldn't be made through powerpoint, politics and persuasion (loved this phrase!). Rather, decisions ought to be taken through experimentation with real users. Experiments help you in understanding the actual behaviors.

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