Spend More Time in Problem Space

21st May 2015

Andrea Darabos

Enterprise Lean Startup | Growth | Innovation | Agile Coach

Founder of Lean Advantage

In my work as a business improvement mentor, I see more and more decision-makers compromise the time spent to collect and learn from customer feedback under the pressure of tight deadlines and delivering on-time. To me, this is a chicken-egg problem. Without close collaboration with our customers, how can we make sure we are building relevant solutions – not waste – to our customers?

While product management culture in established companies is heavily delivery focused, in today’s highly competitive world, learning about customer needs and adjusting existing solutions, services needs to be the equally part of the product management process. You need to think of all 4 steps of Steve Blank’s 4 steps to epiphany to happen at the same time. We need to start behaving like an established product and a lean startup at the same time.

For companies, teams with an existing product portfolio, they need to spend equal time in “Problem space” – exploring and validating customer needs, problems, pains with current customer experiences and in “Solution space” – efficiently delivering the next minimum viable set of features (or sometimes called MVP) to the customer.

The importance and urgency of this problem inspired me to design a workshop on lean startup and customer experience focus for established companies. Those of you in London, will have a chance to experience a short version of it on the 12th June on theAgile in a Bag conference. This will be a day packed with hands-on workshops on customer feedback loops, trust, effective prioritisation and agility.

The call-out of the workshop:

In true spirit of the Travel in Problem Space workshop, let’s start the problem: how many times have you worked in a development team, where you were working hard to implement the next killer solution imagined by your head of product team or CTO during their ski holiday…, your team spending great amount of effort on meeting deadlines and crunching out the killer features to the market only to find out that the customer feedback is less than “lukewarm” on the product? Successful companies like 3M, IDEO, IKEA etc innovate and develop solutions in a way that values learning about the problem space at least as much as delivering features, that continuously seeks out interaction and co-design with your customers.

Not yet working in one of the above companies? Let’s turn your team’s and manager’s attitude around! Come to this workshop to pick up practical tools and design thinking methods to help all your stakeholders, managers travel back to problem space. Explore, empathize with the people living in the problem space, telltheir story and learn to draft different types of cheap, rapid experiments to explore the problem galaxy!”

Want to learn more? Get in touch with me at www.leanadvantage.co.uk or via Twitter @Adarabos.

Join us for the workshop by register for the Agile in a Bag mini-conference here:www.agileinabag.co.uk

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