New products may come along in awkward shapes. We might call them prototype, minimum viable product or beta. Imagine the first early version of automated gardening manager coming along on without a housing, with manually connected electrical panels and clearly no chance to weather the conditions it is meant to be deployed in. While it may be too early to gage customer acceptance through this prototype, it would be a great proof of concept for technical features.
We at Schmiede.ONE seek to build such functional prototypes, may they be for software or for hardware projects, with as little features as possible. Checking functionalities on an individual basis is a good start to achieve quick reinforcement, provide technical feedback to the team and it might even trigger new ideas and approaches we would not have envisioned if the project had remained on a sketchboard or a checklist for several months to come.
You would surely have to integrate several features into a more complex product at some point, but with prototypes it is more about how to start than it is about “how to wrap it up”. Therefore, it is also not about thinking what could go wrong rather than just starting off. The mentality to not get everything right at the start, but to provide some tangible feedback as soon as possible, can also help to avoid some costly mistakes.
Imagine the opposite of this functional prototype of a gardening manager – a nicely design housing without any functionality. Put a picture of this into a brochure, add some unique selling propositions and pitch this to a prospective customer. How long does it take to come up with that brochure ? It shouldn’t be more than a day. Is everything correct and exhaustively explained through this little product teaser? Probably not. Either way, it is a great way to gather useful customer feedback that can help to provide more insights into development needs. Also, this way of capturing customer feedback early on, will give your team fantastic reinforcement and motivation.
There is nothing to lose, by just giving things a start, instead of discussing everything that isn’t possible first.