Get it Out of my Head!

On Saturday morning I was in bed watching an interview with Thomas McInerery when an idea came to me. A(nother) new Social Network.

It soon became clear that I couldn’t focus on anything other than that idea. It plagued me.

I ran upstairs with notebook, post-its, and sharpies in hand. (None of which were acquired from my employer, promise…) And the idea dump began.

I scribbled down some notes, re-wrote them allowing for a key, and added some more. I ended up with some pretty good stuff, including an idea of how to monetise it. But it was all a bit closed and awkward to read.

So, I came up with this…

I was a bit stupid not to use a wall in the first place, really.

Initially this process started just to capture some feature ideas, but then it turned into something smarter.

One of the first things I did was come up with themes of functionality, for example Profile. Pretty basic, right? These are found at the top, left of the corner.

I then captured some ideas around each theme, these are underneath their respective, colour coded themes 😉

A simple example of this would be Theme: Profile and Idea: Skill level

There’s a lot of these, some of which are probably rubbish, unachievable and unnecessary at this point, but I thought they were worth getting on the wall.

Naturally, as I was coming up with these there were some questions that I thought I’d need to answer. After some consideration, I wrote these on blue stickies (left door). One of these was What information would users find useful to display on profiles?. These are things I need to answer. In the meantime, I’ve made some assumptions.

These are on the right of the door, on lime stickies.

When starting a new business, assumptions and (in)validating them is absolutely key. Before I can (in)validate them, I have to recognise them. My key assumption is my value assumption, that my product has value, that it solves a real problem. If this does not hold true, then my product is completely misplaced and probably won’t be useful. At least not as I currently envisage it.

Once I’ve got my assumptions out, I know some of the things I need to test. For me, the best way to do that is using an MVP (minimum viable product). I define this as the simplest product that would meet the goal. In this case, my goal is the learnings that come from testing my key assumptions.

The final set of stickies, the big pink ones on the right are how I can most easily test those assumptions, workaround candidates for my first MVP, things not to build. I’ve linked these to questions that need answering (Q1, Q2 etc. ) and assumptions that need (in)validating (A1, A2, etc. )

Looking back, I could have made understanding the assumptions my first priority. There may be little point in considering features before I’ve tested my assumptions. What happens if my assumptions are invalidated? Have I wasted my time thinking about all sorts of features? Possibly.

The lesson, here, is that although we may build before we measure and then learn, we should make a conscious effort to plan differently. First, we consider what we want to learn (Is A1 valid?). Then, think about how this would be measured (Expressed interest on the site). Then we can figure out what to build in order to achieve that learning. Then implement the Build-Measure-Learn framework.

So, there’s a little more thinking to do before Build, I might even come up with some hypotheses…

Speak soon


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