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When startups begin their tenure inside our SMALL COMPANY Innovation Program, we typically provide them with a “Sprint Kit.” Included is a couple of exercises from the favorite Design Sprint framework, which requires a critical look at a company’s service or product.
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The Sprint Kit helps gauge whether a startup comes with an actual problem-solution fit and, ultimately, a product-market fit. In a nutshell, it answers the question of whether a proposed business is actually of value to its intended customers — or, as the word goes, a solution searching for a problem.
A design sprint has five phases, and the Sprint Kit carries a set of exercises for every. These phases are: Define, Understand, Ideate, Make and Test.
Here, I’ll concentrate on two activities in the Define phase: Job Stories and Validation Boards. Both explore the problem that you as a business owner are trying to solve, which is crucial for delivering something of value to your visitors. Ultimately, the Define phase can help you answer: “What’s the problem we want to solve?”
The problem is, Job Stories could be deceptively difficult. Taking into consideration the "job" their service or product performs often eludes entrepreneurs, because they can become overly centered on the perfect solution is. So we ask startups which come to us to complete the next sentence from the perspective of their customer:
“When ___ <>___happens, I want/need___<>___so that I can___<>___.”
For example: In the event that you were seeking to validate a contact sign-up form notification product for smaller businesses (email is always on our minds), employment Story might read something similar to:
“Whenever a new customer joins my email list, I would like to be notified in order that I can take up a conversation with them.”
Afterward you use your task Story to begin with your Validation Board, a fitness that converts your task Story into an easily test-able hypothesis.
In the Validation Board exercise, you first take the work Story sentence and break it into three parts:
- Context, or the problem whenever your customer is taking action, (“Whenever a new customer joins my email list. . ”)
- Motivation, or what the client really wants to happen (". I would like to be notified. . ”)
- Outcome or the required result (“. . to start out a conversation with them. . ”)
To determine whether your position, Motivation and Outcomes exist, it is advisable to set up ways to test them. There are numerous ways to ensure that you learn if your task Story is real or not. You will have to put your scientist hat on for an instant and consider hypotheses, assumptions and validation. What’s the overarching hypothesis you have? What assumptions underlie that hypothesis?
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Among our mostly used methods to test is to have conversations with customers (usually between five and ten). We say conversations because we usually do not want our customers to feel as if they are being placed on the location. Further, the conversational nature could keep them at ease and in addition enlighten us on areas we might not even have considered before.
However, this is still a test. You’ll have to have pointed questions to ask which will determine if this Job Story is real for them.
Their answers provide us the clarity we’re seeking. If it’s obvious that the client must "hire" something or service because of this Job Story, after that you can put a big, bold “yes!” in the Validated panel of your Validation Board. If it’s unclear, you might like to reconsider, as there is no need validation that your task Story is real. And if it’s clearly not real, caution discourages further efforts along his path, as you risk learning to be a solution searching for a problem.
The best thing about Job Stories and Validation Boards is they are a quick way to come back to your goal as a business owner. Even the busiest of startups may take the few minutes it needs to fill out the work Story and discover a few customers for a conversation.
Finally, with these exercises, you can form better relationships together with your customer base and find out about its members’ problems and wants. You might have the opportunity to learn that you are, actually, heading down your path with the merchandise your business offers.
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