1. How much can you afford to lose?
Turning any idea into an innovation will cost some combination of time and money. Even if the resources and time are free or already paid for, consuming them in pursuit of any idea represents an opportunity cost. Could those same investments be made elsewhere for greater benefit?
Both design thinking and lean startup strategies emphasize making the absolute minimum investment to validate early assumptions.
2. Will that investment yield feedback?
Design thinking invites the production of a mockup, a prototype, a model, that embodies your current thinking. This in turn can be used to gather feedback from potential customers, allowing an informed iteration of the design.
Design thinking, emerging from the world of architecture and physical product design, will for example invest in cardboard or foam core, or 3D visualizations of the building being considered.
Lean startup thinking explicitly defines a minimum viable product (MVP) as the the most pared down version of a product that can still be sold and provide feedback to guide future development.
The lean startup approach emerges from the world of online business, where viable services can be produced at low cost. Thus it can afford its assertion that there is no value to feedback unless it is from an actual paying customer.
Using the feedback
The primary goal of feedback is to determine if the customer is enthusiastic about your intended product. In the case of lean startup, paying customers are a clear indication you have a business and not just an idea.
If the feedback is not positive, then some open ended questions need to be examined with a goal toward making a decision to pivot (abandon the idea) or persist (improve the idea based on feedback).
- Have you identified the right customers?
- Do the changes you would need to make to the product align to your organization’s strengths and strategy?