BottomUp - Skills for Innovators

Take the plunge into imagining what your product or service could be. Create inspiration design challenges you can use in a sprint or workshop to deliver fresh thinking and insights.

Show Notes

Hello, and welcome to the bottom up skills podcast. I might pass into the C E O of quality science, and we are so deep into our special edition. Our wide ranging a series on design. Thinking, and today we're getting into the idea of design challenges and these turn up at this really important moment when you're using design thinking to create a new product or service design challenges are all about the moment when you've done lots and lots of research.

You've got a clear map of the pains and the gains. You've got a value proposition, canvas. You can sort of match your face with the jobs to be done of your use, and you're ready to really get creative and what this product or service could be. And it's at this moment that you want to write design challenges.

And so what I want to do is I want to take you through the world of design challenges and explain how incredibly valuable they are and how they really bridge the gap. And this gap is. Sometimes people just want to jump straight into building their product or service, and they've never taken any sort of prototypes or test versions, uh, really, really light, uh, MVPs of their product.

To their user. And frankly, that's a jump that's too big for me. I would never want to do that. Having discovered not only design thinking, but also the practice of rapid prototyping. So these design challenges are bridge. You've done all your research. You've done quantum qual and we talked a lot about that in the last episode.

But before you go and build an engineering team of 10 people to go build a product first. Really explore these design challenges and put them into a design sprint. And we'll talk about that later and you'll be able to use your best rapid prototyping skills, and we'll have a whole episode on that. So let's talk about how we can use design thinking and particularly design challenges to create a product.

Now, the first thing is when you have design challenges, there's kind of two major ways. These can go. One can be a very early stage design thinking, a challenge that you might set yourself, which is particularly important when it's a first generation product, uh, you will have no idea of the sorts of. User behaviors, uh, that you're gonna have to understand, uh, all the blockers to switching and adopting a new behavior.

So that generally falls in the bucket of a, sort of a general more exploratory kind of design challenge. I'm all. What I call later stage a design challenge is when you already have a product and you might be sitting there saying, Hey, we need to build a next generation, a widget. Um, we need to, um, really, uh, take what we have and give it a major refresh, uh, significant, uh, version two, version three.

Uh, what we're not talking about is using this kind of approach for day to day, um, you know, product improvements we're talking about when you want a significant upgrade or as I said, Earlier, if it's a brand new product, you really need to experiment with all these sorts of possibilities and early stage product insights.

And the design challenge is the perfect thing. It's the perfect, I think, to give a small team of people and say, guys, go and ideate, go test and learn and validate around this design specific to our product. So what I'm going to do now, Is, I'm going to take you through these design challenges. I'm going to explain how to use, I'm going to give you an example of one.

I'm going to show you how this builds a bridge into the practice of rapid prototyping. So get ready, get all of your, uh, envision Adobe XDS already, because this will be your mission. Yeah. To go and prototype. Okay. So a design challenge is. Based on all the insights that you learnt from your research phase.

And if you'd like to know more about that, just go and grab one of our older episodes at bottom-up dot IO. And that's there that you'll find all the things you need to know about how to research and find out what customers actually might want. We're now moving into a challenge that will. Be based on the assumption that people are going to build a prototype and test it.

That's very important for the design challenge. And we'll talk more about that in a moment, but let's think what could a design challenge sound like? So what I've done is I've looked at all the disease challenges I've written and, um, I've kind of created a template. And I want you to imagine what I'm going to walk you through now is something you'd have maybe five or six people who are going to spend a day prototyping.

And what's also important is to remember that when they are prototyping, it's not a brainstorm. It's quite different. This is about iterative ideation and the. Key traffic light system is, did the user like enjoy, engage, comprehend this product. So remember anything that you build throughout the design thinking process, any insight should be tested and validated with real users.

So if your, if you're building a product for gym junkies, Go down to the gym and test it with gym guys and girls. If this is for master chefs, go into a kitchen and test it with chefs, do not. And I cannot stress this enough, do not get stuck, making beautiful PowerPoint decks that are all a fantasy land of your creation that has no basis of proof or evidence.

This design challenge is what you're going to take to the customer. You're going to build, create, learn, and it will be tough and it will be hard, but it will be so invaluable in giving you some signal on how to create a great product. Okay. Let me take you through a design challenge. So I want you to imagine that you're sitting there and you're about to receive a mission from me, and you're going to go prototype, sketch, build, uh, some sort of light form of prototype to test with your users.

So here we go. Our product is going to be called product X, Y, Z. I'm sorry that that's not the most creative name, but you'll kind of get the drift. All right, here we go. Imagine if product XYZ was your ultimate. Now it could be a guide or tool or inspiration for a particular activity, maybe it's to learn or to work out, to cook, whatever you're looking to discover about this given activity, product X, X, Y, Z will be your number one choice.

So, what we're doing here is we're saying we want you to do imagine if our product is the ultimate guide is the ultimate tool for getting a job done. So it can be any range of those. So it's going to be a comprehensive service that really frames. Really frames the activity and helps create value for the user.

Now you can be very specific. So maybe it could be, uh, an app about the ultimate pasta app, whatever past do you want to cook? This is the ultimate one. Imagine if is a really key framing of this. So what you're deliberately doing is saying, imagine this is just. Amazing in a given category and what you want to do.

And we'll talk about this in a moment as you follow it up with some inspiration, some references, some possible starting points for the team to go and build against that. Now it's really important that we use the word. Imagine if, because what you want to do is you want to encourage the team to discover not only best practices, but maybe some delightful, um, maybe some.

Uh, unexpected ways to approach the category. Now this first one that I gave you this, imagine if one was really sort of front end inspirational way that, uh, people come to the product. The next one, I'm going to give you as a, what if one? And this one is just imagining more of we've onboarded the customer, and now they're an active customer.

So this one is more about the support services experience. Here we go. What if contacting product XYZ support was like talking to an expert or a genius calling customer support and using support websites can be deeply frustrating. Let's turn that moment where they reach out into an aha moment for product X, Y, Z, and its customers.

So you'll see here. What we're doing is really trying to transform the product experience. Particularly I'm using the product or service, and now I've got questions I need help. This is a great moment to create value with customers. And this time we're saying, what if it was like talking to an expert or a genius.

Now you've given this a particular design challenge to a team and what's really important is you can also give them some inspiration. So here's a couple of great ones where I'm just taking companies that do a particular part of the customer journey really well. And using that as a benchmark. So the team can source inspiration and as they go about, uh, testing and building and bringing these design challenges to life.

Not only would I expect them to find best practices, but I'd really expect them to bring some different thinking into it. And I've got some tips on how we can do that in just a second. So they've got their design challenge, but let's give them some inspiration. Yeah. You could say to them, well, let's introduce our product and activate the customer like Nike does when it launches.

A pair of sneakers let's, uh, activate customers like Spotify does Spotify does such a great example, such a great a way of getting customers in at a zero charge on their free version, and then activating them into the paid version. They're actually masters at that. So it's a very elegant solution there.

Now we've introduced to the customer, we've activated the customer. Let's delight them. Now that they're a customer. So what you could do. And I use this one because I referenced it earlier in the design challenge. What if we delight customers like the Apple genius bar does. Okay. It's a classic example of amazing customer experience.

Let's, don't delight our customers and I'll give you an area like Applewood. So yeah, it's almost what you do here is imagine if Apple was launching your. Product for gym junkies or master chefs, how would they think about creating a version of their genius bar? That sort of great seamless, frictionless customer support you have with Apple and lastly, right at the end of this customer cycle, imagine if we created conversation patients with our customers like red bull, did.

Because red bull, without a doubt, and one of the best content and social marketing companies, which is rooted very much, not only in the product, but the greater product experience. And they generate all this conversation and importantly, they create advocacy. So you can actually design. A little bit of Nike, Spotify, Apple, and rebel into your product by referencing them as inspiration for your design challenge.

Now, whilst you're doing that and you're building prototypes and testing with the customer, you can look for what brings smiles. To people's faces. Um, you might discover in this journey of prototyping, what keeps people up at night? What are they missing? Uh, there's all sorts of, um, opportunities here to generate innovation insights, product insights.

As you start to shift from, Hey, we've got a value position, canvas with features and customer jobs to be done. Now, this design challenges is forcing us. To bring the idea, the product idea to life and to see how customers start responding. And there's some really interesting things you can do in that. You can start to, um, frame this, uh, as, as a product that you might deliberately try doing it opposite.

To the conventional wisdom in the category, uh, you might try introducing a product that has no instruction book. Um, there's all sorts of great creative constraints that you can use as you try and bring your design challenge to life. Now, as I'm taking you through true this, you might be thinking, uh, okay.

But then. How exactly should we rapid prototype? Well, the great news for you is that's going to be our next episode. I'm going to do a complete deep dive on rapid prototyping, but what you can see here is the design challenge frames, the mission. And the way to think about these design challenges is that they are something that we do in a workshop, in a design sprint, where we really want to test and learn with customers.

So it calls upon. The skill of rapid prototyping and understanding the user, which is classic design thinking. And what it also does, is it just as this idea of like what new technologies could we bring to the table to help customers get the job done? And lastly, it will be bringing this whole practice of picking, curious, open, and collaborative people to come and help you on these design challenges.

So there you have it. We have dived into the world of design challenges. It's this little bridge between your value proposition, canvas and rapid prototyping. It frames the mission. It gets specific. And once again, it's another step into creating a great product. I hope you've enjoyed this episode of our design thinking special series here on the bottom up skills podcast.

What is BottomUp - Skills for Innovators?

The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world we now live in makes it impossible to innovate from the top down. We must now take an empathic, experimental, and emergent approach to innovate from the BottomUp.

Mike Parsons breaks down all the components of what it takes to discover, build, test, and launch radical new products, services, and cultures. You'll get in-depth instruction on the most effective methodologies, interviews with experts, and case studies. All in under 15 minutes.