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Think Like a Startup: 4 Steps to Agile Innovation

October 25, 2019

More than 25% of total revenue and profits across industries are generated by the launch of new products.

Yet launching a new product or concept is often difficult and even unsuccessful, with less than half of all product launches meeting their target goals.

How to implement agile innovation

With this in mind, how can brands improve their product innovation to help themselves quickly reach a favorable outcome? Agile innovation is the answer.  

1. Choose a product lifecycle stage to conduct concept testing

Concept testing can take place during a number of product development and innovation phases. While it’s preferable that concept testing happens before the maturity of a product, it can occur at any stage of the life cycle.

For example, a unique place in the life cycle for testing is during saturation, during which new products might develop out of a brand’s legacy offering. Finally, if a product or market is on the decline, fire drill concept testing may need to take place.

Agile in action

Cisco wanted to transition from waterfall to agile methodologies, and implement new features as needed rather than launching major updates in siloed batches. By implementing SAFe (a framework for scaling agile methodology), Cisco was able to decrease major defects by 40% and eliminate the need for after-hours work from employees, among other benefits.

2. Choose a research method

There are a number of agile research methodologies. Some of the most common are below.

Behavior-driven development (BDD)

The goal of behavior-driven development (BDD) is to guide development, decrease rework, and increase workflow. This method is also inherently collaborative, as multiple stakeholders must work together to first define appropriate behavior before driving methodology behind it.

To move forward, three types of perspectives on behavior must be confirmed: 

Customer-centric stakeholders must understand the desirability and viability of a behavior.
Development-centric stakeholders must understand the market for the solution and the behavior’s feasibility.
Test-centric stakeholders must consider the parameters and boundaries for the behavior.

Then, this methodology can move through three phases: discovery, formulation, and automation.

Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD)

Acceptance test-driven development (ADTT) methodology is driven by the user experience and encourages collaboration by involving the customer perspective, the development perspective, and the testing perspective. This test-driven combination is referred to as the “three amigos.” The end goal of this approach is to verify the function of the system (or product) as intended.

Exploratory testing

Exploratory testing is done with a workflow in mind. Instead of occurring in steps, this type of testing runs multiple steps in tandem: learning, test design, and test execution. This approach values individuals and interactions over tools and processes.

3. Turn data into actionable insights

There is no shortage of data in the world, the challenge is deciding how to act on it . While a brand can obviously implement data to improve a product offering, there are a number of other uses for data. 

Exploitation of asymmetries (using data to one-up competitors without it)
Knowledge share as a service (sharing data with customers to add value)
Implementing data sales in the business model (selling data output that’s relevant to other businesses)

4. Identify the best possible sample

Traditionally, finding samples is the bain of market researchers’ existence. Vendors act as a middle man between researchers and the community they need to access, and .project management teams are tasked with mediating this process.

However, new types of sample strategies are starting to emerge that are more accessible and faster to identify. 

Facebook recruitment (sing Facebook ads to recruit users for surveys or focus groups)
Synthetic sampling (panel made up of both real human participants and past participant data)
Online or maintained panel (an in-house community maintained for use in research purposes)

Next steps in agile innovation

What does it take to move like a startup? Agile thinking and action. Aim to better understand your consumer needs, improve your brand’s new product development, optimize your marketing strategy, reduce your time to market, and always keep your customers coming back for more when you set your brand on the path to agile thinking.

Agile innovation is a fascinating project management strategy. To learn more about project management as a whole, check out G2's hub with over 40 useful project management resources for your needs. 

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