Table of Contents
This sprint’s about making sure the team understands their customer (buyers, users) intimately and is working on a problem that’s important to them. The goal is to avoid building something no one wants.
It’s good to get married to a problem scenario that you validate is important because it will always want new solutions. It’s bad to get married to a solution too soon because you may be solving for the problem in a way no one wants.
The best thing you can do for yourself in this sprint is to stay curious, energetic, but highly unassuming.
Your goal is to exit this sprint with field-validated personas and problem scenarios so you know who you’re building for and what you’re doing for them.
1. Working Idea
You should have a fully articulated working idea. Be ready to change it, but make sure you’re starting from someplace. I like to use Geoff Moore’s take on the positioning statement, which has this syntax:
For (target customer) who (statement of the need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (statement of key benefit – that is, compelling reason to buy). Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (statement of primary differentiation).
Here’s an example from ‘Enable Quiz‘ a fictional company I use in a lot of the examples here, [brackets added to help you connect it with the syntax above]:
For [hiring managers] who [need to evaluate technical talent], [Enable Quiz] is a [talent assessment system] that [allows for quick and easy assessment of topical understanding in key engineering topics]. Unlike [formal certifications or ad hoc questions], our product [allows for lightweight but consistent assessments of technical talent].
This sprint focuses on the first two items in the Venture Design process:
The subsections below list target outputs for this sprint:
1. Validated Personas
Personas, are vivid, humanized descriptions of your customer, be they buyers or users. You should draft personas for all your key customer types, then go forth and conduct interviews and observations to validate them. In the resources section, you’ll find a personas workshop, personas tutorial (with examples), and a personas template.
Here’s a checklist for you to use in evaluating where you are on this:
|This persona exists (in non-trivial numbers) and you can identify them.||Can you think of 5-10 examples?
Can you set up discovery interviews with them?
Can you connect with them in the market at large?
|✔︎||You understand this persona well.||What kind of shoes do they wear?Are you hearing, seeing the same things across your discovery interviews?|
|✔︎||Do you understand what they Think in your area of interest?||What do you they mention as important? Difficult? Rewarding?
Do they see the work (or habit) as you do?What would they like to do better? To be better?
|Do you understand what they See in your area of interest?||Where do they get their information? Peers? Publications?
How do they decide what’s OK? What’s aspirational?
|How do they Feel about your area of interest?||What are their triggers for this area? Motivations?
What rewards do they seek? How do they view past actions?
|Do you understand what they Do in your area of interest?||What do you actually observe them doing?
How can you directly or indirectly validate that’s what they do?
2. Validated Problem Scenarios
Problem scenarios are fundamental jobs that need doing (business) or desires that want fulfilling (consumer). Instead of just building something, you’ll increase your odds of success by first making sure you understand the problem scenario(s) you’re delivering on for you personas. Are they important? What are the current alternatives? How will you know if your value propositions are better enough than those alternatives?
All the materials above are applicable here- the material on personas is closely integrated with the material on problem scenarios. Here’s a checklist so you can evaluate where you are on this:
CHECKLIST: PROBLEM HYPOTHESIS
|You’ve identified at least one discrete problem (job, desire, etc.)||Can you describe it in a sentence?
Do others get it?
Can you identify current alternatives?
|✔︎||The problem is important||Do subjects mention it unprompted in discovery interviews?
Do they respond to solicitation (see also value and customer creation hypotheses)?
|✔︎||You understand current alternatives||Have you seen them in action?
Do you have ‘artifacts’ (spreadsheets, photos, posts, notes, whiteboard scribbles, screen shots)?
There are ‘1.5’ applicable workshops here. You’ll learn about design thinking and the use of personas in Venture Design I. The first half of Venture Design II covers research and validation of personas and problems scenarios (the 2nd half covers evidence-based innovation/Lean Startup, which is the focus of the next sprint). The tables below provide a quick description. I’ve posted the slides and screencasts below in an attempt to catch your interest, but the full set of materials and workshop agenda are on the workshop pages themselves, which you can reach through the preceding links (or those below in the table).
|VENTURE DESIGN I: ‘ACHIEVING CUSTOMER RELEVANCE’
DAY IN THE LIFE EXERCISE
|These workshops will introduce you to applied concepts in design thinking, including the development of personas and problem scenarios.|
VENTURE DESIGN II: ‘ITERATING TO SUCCESS’
|The first half of this workshop (up to slide 53) will walk you through research and observation.|
Venture Design I
This is a video of yours truly delivering the explanatory portions of the workshop.
Venture Design II
Resources- Tutorials, Examples, Templates
PERSONAS, PROBLEM SCENARIOS
|If you’re new to doing this or want a perspective on how it’s organized here, this page will help you get started and stay on track.|
PERSONAS & PROBLEM SCENARIOS
|This page has example personas, problem scenarios, and user stories from a fictitious company, ‘Enable Quiz’.|
CUSTOMER DISCOVERY QUESTIONS
|This links to a ‘Venture Design Template’ which you can use as a ready-made starting point for creating the items you see on the left. The item itself is a Google Doc which you can download in MS Word format or copy it to your Google App’s domain if you use Google App’s.|
VENTURE DESIGN I: ‘ACHIEVING CUSTOMER RELEVANCE’
DAY IN THE LIFE EXERCISE
|These workshops will help you step through the content and templates, completing a working set of materials that operationalize a best practice view of your customer and what they want.|