Agile Product Discovery in a Non-Startup Environment

I mentioned here about my lean startup Experiment (phase 1 and phase 2). I’ll post an update on this topic soon.

Here I want to share another experiment I’m running. I’m trying to take the ideas I used in my lean startup experiment in a non-startup environment.

Locaweb has almost 700 employees now. We ended 2010 with approximately $100M in revenue. We have around 130 people in our engineering group which include software developers, system administrators, user experience designers and product managers. We decided to use the SaaS team – around 25 people – as the group who will be part of the experiment.

I presented to the group my lean startup experiment and proposed that we experimented doing the same.

So we now have 4 phases for the Agile Product Discovery:

  • Phase 1: figure out what to do
  • Phase 2: specify the product
  • Phase 3: implement the product
  • Phase 4: monitor the product performance

We decided to break phase 1 into 3 steps domes in 3 different days in small chunks of 3 hours each. However, we realized that it would be more beneficial to work on the 3 steps in one full day instead of breaking it into 3 separate sessions in different days.

Phase 1 – Step 1 – Product Ideas

First phase of the experiment was to brainstorm product ideas. We used 2.5 hours for this phase. We divided the group into 5 groups of 5 people each and the groups have to come up with product ideas or feature ideas for existing products. The only constraints were that the idea should be targeted to SMBs, the target segment for Locaweb. Should not be targeted to niche groups such as lawyers or medical doctors. Should be possible to develop an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) in 2 days with no interruptions.

Each group come up with 10+ ideas so we were able to generate a total of 50+ ideas. Each group had to filter the ideas down to 5. Then each group presented the ideas to the rest of the team, who made questions and decided what ideas to move to phase 2. At the end of the session we decided not to included any features of existing products, only new products should go to the next phase. We end up with 13 products in our list!

Phase 1 – Step 2 – What Is The Problem?

For phase 2 we got more 3 hours. During 2.5 hours the 25 people self organized to define for each product what was the problem that the product was solving, for the problem will be solved and why it is worth to solve this problem.

From the 13 products that came out from phase 1, we dropped 4 and kept 9.

Phase 1 – Step 3 – Creating Pages and Ads

In step 3 we created the pages using unbounce and the campaigns with Google AdWords.

Final remarks about phase 1

This is it for phase 1 – figuring out what to do.

It’s a bit harder to do product discovery in a non-startup environment. Even if you have full support from senior management, it’s difficult to get away from day-to-day tasks. For this reason, as I mentioned earlier, I suggest doing the phase 1 in a full day and not divided into 3 steps in different days as we did.

Other than that, the creative process from idea generation to single page plus ad implementation was quite fun and engaging. The team was really energized. 🙂

In future posts I’ll comment on the results of phase 1 and the work done in phases 2 and 3. Stay tuned!

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