9 Key Principles to Run a Successful Lean Product Team
1. The Product Team
Agile development methodology requires the development team to interact with a single “product owner”. This “role” is designated to decide what gets built, how it will behave, and whether it will be delivered to the specification. Also, the product owner represents the clients and external stakeholders, so that the developers can focus on building software.
If they want the developers can involve themselves deeper in the process taking the accountability for understanding why the thing is being built, and what will be the purpose of the product.
In order to create product that will satisfy clients’ requirements, the product owner must include several responsibilities, which are with equal importance:
- Developer: estimate what is possible considering the available technology.
- Product manager: make clear decisions that will serve the client and the business, despite priority’s conflicts and incomplete data.
- User experience: good understanding of client’s needs.
Teams that have shared responsibility for the product backlog will produce better solutions and will achieve the milestone faster, with less internal misunderstanding.
2. Make a routine
You should always define your methods of working, so that they can be repeated, and to make these methods a routine. Defining your usual steps, or working habits will accelerate your growing organization. If you perform routine, repeatable steps – it will make it easy to teach new employees and will allow you to focus on the important things: your customers, their problems, and the solution that you’re producing.
3. Share with others
If you work alone the outcome may be invisible to others. If you work in a startup team you have to produce ideas, concepts and conclusions and to broadcast them (on the wall), so the others can follow your progress. Lean teams will post on the walls all your work activities: they will announce the progress against goals, they will display deciding priorities, or designing new features. The Agile development and the User Experience have some common elements, like showing information and collaborating in common spaces, ideally in one single room.
4. Be goal-oriented
In every aspect, Lean UX is directed to achieve the goal: first – understanding the user, second – create alternatives, and finally – solve the problem. It is not enough to define the goal, we also have to examine the outcome and to decide – whether it satisfies the goal. And if not, we need to try again.
5. Keep the flow
Designers usually start their projects by thinking on it, rather than making it, and the software process should apply the same. User interaction experts start with research that’s equivalent to the customer development interview. The novelty with Lean user experience is that we choose small-size research methods, move on quickly to make a small prototype that will prove out the risky concepts, and then validate that through some sort of real-world test. One of the most important success metrics for all startups is the time spent to move through the cycle: think-make-check.
6. Generate many outcomes
The main concern in all startups is that entrepreneurs must create solutions despite conditions of large uncertainty. In this situation, the best approach would be to generate many ideas, and to apply your best vision, choose one or two ideas to move forward with. This process is sometimes called ‘flair and focus’. When your environment is team-oriented, you have many brains to contribute towards the creation of many outcomes. You can hold sessions where everyone creates multiple ideas and a set of options, so that you raise the quality of ideas to be move forward.
7. Solve the right problem
The simplest way to start designing is to turn on the computer and to create wireframes or mockups. The simplest way to create a product is to list out its features. Both starting points are full with risk. To create the desired product, you have to understand the problems that your customers have and to solve these problems, one by one, starting with the most important.
8. Validate hypotheses
If you consider things objectively, every decision we make is a hypothesis, and in most cases – your design is also a hypothesis. The backlog of items is also a hypothesis. The product schedule is a hypothesis too. To check whether your product decisions are fine and reasonable, make the smallest item possible and put it out in reality as a test. Apply quantitative and qualitative testing to check if you were right. If you are not, try again with other – fresh ideas. In reality, you will not be able to validate every hypothesis, so test those that are mission-critical.
9. Quick deciding
You should always thrive to discover where focus comes in. When deciding what to choose from a wide set of options, choose decisively but hold the decision lightly — be prepared to change it or try another solution if it doesn’t work. Skipping some portions of work is part of the invention process. In every Lean Startup the unit of progress for startups is “validated learning”, not a number of items developed.