As someone who plays in both agile and mobile worlds, I follow a ton of startup people on Twitter. Not only do I get to feel like one of the cool kids, but I can keep up with what other tech companies have coming that we can use at Bottle Rocket. They are fellow creators, passionate about changing a small part of the world around them.
Some of you in the enterprise realm may be tired of hearing about all the sexy small companies getting all the press, but there is a wealth of information available for free on how to improve your own projects. With billions of acquisition dollars being tossed around San Francisco these days, you don’t have time to plan and research product ideas before you need to put it out there.
Their attitude: just build it.
Having sat in several large conference rooms with AT&T, Vonage, T-Mobile, and Rackspace, I know the trepidation in that statement. Even without taking money into consideration, it’s impossible to ignore the possibilities surrounding instant validation.
Posts by Ev Williams at Medium, Victor Lombardi at Rosenfeld Media, and Ryan Hoover at Product Hunt all discuss this idea in some way. That’s just in the past week or so, as you can produce a much larger yield of content on the subject if you look over all of 2013. Hoover states very explicitly how his company started with minimal ideation, a blog post and message board announcement. That’s it.
So, what do you get with this tactic?
Quite simply, you get conversation.
Ideas are validated with data and research, but not entirely. Everything compiled into a slide deck can’t validate itself because it’s not put into context. That’s where the genius of Ryan’s strategy comes into play. He could speak with other startup product leaders to discuss how Product Hunt could and would be used. Three things immediately happened:
- His ideas were either validated or re-structured on the fly.
- New users were being created before one line of code was written.
- Buzz was being generated. We like buzz right?!?
So what problems will you run into?
If you sit down in executive-level presentations and state that you validated ideas the same as Ryan, you might be getting a reprimand (if not more). Which is why you need to understand the audience for your ideas while you are creating them. Product Hunt is designed for product managers and owners, so shared his announcement on Quibb (an invite-only site for startups). Conversation was controlled.
Your idea can still accomplish all three items above regardless of the red tape or control it has wrapped around it. It might take some coordination with biz dev, sales and management, but you can start validating product concepts as soon it’s ready to share.
Here’s where we talk about executive buy in. Only this time, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.
Agile enthusiasts love to talk about the projects that fell flat because they didn’t get the support they needed to execute. Unfortunately, waiting for presentation preparation and opportunity is often too long. It takes passionate people willing to put themselves out there for real innovation to occur. A client once told me they ask co-workers what idea they would be willing to be fired for. As sadistic as that sounds, the freedom to express risky notions with that understanding allows for people to really speak their minds.
You may not have that freedom in your office, of course. You may need to just pester people long enough with your idea, or have the right stakeholder engaged. You may need to be willing to be fired.
I challenge you to look at your attitude regarding your next big idea. It maybe a small feature in your company’s flagship product or the next Twitter. Regardless of the scope, start getting your idea out there. Talk about it, briefly, then build it. Your users, and your company, thank you.