The most important thing teams can do to ensure they’re solving real problems is to engage with their target audience. This includes one on one interviews to understand how your potential customers are currently solving the problems you’re hoping to help them with. But it also includes other activities like simple contextual observation — going out into the field and watching how people behave in a specific scenario — as well competitive analysis and primary market research and segmentation. The more your teams know about their audience and the problem space the more likely they are to build a solution that deals with real issues those folks face.
Outcome based roadmaps blend these two approaches effectively. Instead of listing a series of features in sequential (and hoped for) order, teams create quantified targets for specific changes in customer behavior they’d like to see. These should be positive measure of the impact your product/service is having on your customers (e.g., a reduction in the number of password reset requests or an increase in the amount purchased per visit). These goals should be set quarterly — not annually — with teams then setting out a series of assumptions about how they’ll achieve them. At the end of each quarter the teams take an honest look at their progress — how did we do towards our outcome goals? what did we learn? what should we continue doing? how should we adjust course?
Using outcome based roadmaps allows teams to ask questions instead of implement directives AND it gives them the organizational flexibility to shift tactics that don’t achieve the desired outcomes without lengthy investment cycles.
It cannot. Customer feedback, in other words real, market-based evidence (true facts!), provides the learning the teams need to determine if the directions they’ve chosen to pursue are the best ones and should be continued.
One of the WORST ways I’ve seen teams measure success when it comes to Lean UX is vanity metrics like “how many customers we’ve spoken to” , “how many ideas we’ve killed” or “how many experiments we’ve run.” Instead teams should focus on shifting customer behavior — achieving outcomes — to determine what impact they’ve had on their customers. The goal should be to have a long-term positive impact on our customer behavior because if we make them more successful, we drive loyalty and retention to our products and services.
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