Creating customers = not simply making your customers happy.

Product-market fit

Creating customers means finding a sustainable product-market fit. When found, the product is a solution for the customers who in turn create a market by their willingness to pay for it. It entails not just making a user happy, but turning a mere user into a paying customer. Turning a random person’s need addressed into a person who is willing to compensate for the need addressed.

How do you achieve this? There are a lot of tools out there to help you Inspect & Adapt on whether your Product serves the right customer’s needs. To keep things lightweight I recommend using a Canvas.

Explore the product-market fit with a canvas

Start with the Value Proposition Canvas ; a very simple & powerful tool to discuss a customer’s actions, pains & gains and connect them to a potential Products & Services, pain relievers & gain creators. Start with the customer and work your way towards Product/service ideas and how they may connect.

From there it can be very useful to explore a Lean Canvas which helps you build on the previous insights by adding more detail and helping you discuss more key points of your potential Product strategy. It may also be helpful to explore Empathy Maps to gain deeper insight in the customer’s needs.

Top tip: revisit these steps regularly to see if you are still on the right track. Any and all of the things you discover using these tools can be volatile and change over time. Some change will be subtle, but often you will be surprised by greater change that has large impact on your Product/Service and the way you are addressing the Customer need.

Sustaining the Product

After finding this first match, we enter into a never ending cycle of keeping the customer, creating more customers, etc. To do this we are continuously re-evaluating product-market fit (product quality), as well as stability (technical quality). The trick is to find a balance, always experimenting how to optimize the value of the Product in a sustainable way. This means distributing our efforts between serving customer needs (building the right thing) and creating a high quality product (building the thing right). In Scrum and some other agile settings, this is one of the main challenges for a Product Owner. Luckily, they don’t perform this hard task on their own. To maintain a valuable, sustainable Product, Product Owners work in close collaboration with the Development Team & their Stakeholders.

Product Owners and their teams apply various practices to help maintain a good balance that builds a marketable, valuable and sustainable product.

Practices that help minimize technical debt

One area of potential concern is Technical Debt. The people involved all strive for delivering new, valuable features with the best quality. But working with complex adaptive problems, we must be fair and admit that sometimes, or even many times, we gain new insights only after we delivered something. So even the best teams create Technical Debt. And we all benefit from practices to be conscious about this problem and make it and our approach to it visible & transparent.

Some practices to help:
– Backlog Prioritization Quadrant
– metrics like innovation rate or defect count
– applying a boy scout rule in your product development
– allotting a minimum amount of every sprint to repaying or investing to minimize debt

what tools and practices have you used and would you recommend?


More ideas on this topic in previous post: Purpose of a Product? Serve Customer Needs!

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