This is the second in a series of three posts on products and innovation in the New Normal, focusing on businesses. The first post focuses on users and society, and the third on teams.
They are derived from a workshop I ran in June to look at what Covid-19 (and the future thereafter) means for products, users, teams and society.
The resulting How Might We… questions are designed to be a stimulus for others to come up with solutions in their own context.
We’re going to be building a new everything. So we might as well build it right.
Obviously there are lots of issues here. And so many resolve around uncertainty.
What should our businesses adapt to? What should we strive to reach for? What is the most pressing problem to be solved and where should businesses place their resources?
In short, we’re not confident about our direction and our next steps. This lack of certainty can be passed on to our users.
- How might we… acknowledge the uncertainty around information we are providing to engender trust?
- How might we…better understand our industry and how the pandemic could affect it?
- How might we…document solutions to problems to better prepare for next time?
- How might we… instil a sense of certainty/credibility in our supporter so that they in turn believe in us?
Meanwhile users have a lack of patience around tools that can be used for multiple purposes. This can affect those of us whose core products are tools rich with features and flexibility.
Our users are urgently looking for “one tool for one job”. (See also: Users are going with what they know and trust, even if it’s not necessarily the best tool for the job.)
- How might we… communicate our value proposition clearly to users?
- How might we… diversify our products?
- How might we… design/make a product that’s as easy-to-use and reliable as a fridge or a microwave?
And of course we are losing customers. Sales are being delayed. Users and clients are worried about their income and cancelling their accounts. So…
- How might we… offer incentives to new customers, but protect our brand and perceived value?
- How might we… maintain (or increase) retention of existing customers?
- How might we… help them understand the value they’re receiving?
In response to a potential loss of income, there’s a drive to adapt and find new income streams. However it’s hard to know how much we should experiment and innovate vs. shut down and wait it out.
- How might we… understand what’s realistically and financially possible when it comes to innovation right now?
- How might we… we diversify to protect income streams?
- How might we… encourage risk taking from our senior teams?
And our roadmaps are being thrown out of the window.
- How might we… best roadmap and plan in a time of uncertainty?
- How might we… do away with roadmapping entirely, and adopt a development process that focuses on rapid iteration, experimentation and alternatives?
Hopefully some of those will have inspired you.
The questions continue in the third and final post in this series, on teams and team-building.