How to reduce Product Development Risk

Reduce your Idea to its core function

Founders need to get their Product Development strategy right. Right from the word go. Getting it wrong means, having to pivot somewhere down the line. And this costs time and money. How can the founder reduce the risk of getting it wrong? The picture below says it all.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed, this one is. The problem here is to build a car.

The wrong way to go about it is, to build a car by putting the required parts together. In this case the founder is only looking at its form. He will end up with a costly process, before he realises he can’t do better than the Toyota’s and BMW’s. (This is only a metaphor).

To understand the right way to go about it, we need to look at the bottom process, from right to left. The car is a vehicle that transports people. We are reducing its functionality step by step.

  1. Reduce the number of people it can transport to one — motorcycle. (We will fix that problem later)
  2. Remove its self propelling capacity — bicycle. (We will fix that later)
  3. Remove its power transmission — we have something like a skateboard with steering now.
  4. Remove steering — skateboard.

You may a have noticed by now, that we reduced a car to a skateboard. Yet we retained the functionality. Transporting people. Which is indeed also the function of a car.

It is all about starting with the core function.

The founder has to start Product Development with the core function. This is the core of the founders idea, problem and solution. This is what the initial brainstorming of the team has to arrive at. Then it is a set of iterations of product development and market analysis until you have the minimum viable product.

To see an example on how to take this forward read Using the Minimum Viable Canvas.