How to test your ideas with consumers all throughout your innovation journey to make sure they embrace your product or service
When you are developing a new type of cookstove, you do not want to risk manufacturing thousands of cookstoves that your consumers ultimately do not want. Unfortunately, this happens all too often and usually for the wrong reasons: innovators having neglected to validate their ideas with their consumers, either because they think they already know what their consumers want, or sometimes because they are simply too occupied with the technicalities of their product or service.
As described in module 1, a good inclusive innovator should show agility and not cling on to his/her ideas. New ideas should be prototyped and tested as early as possible in the development process. In the end, failure and learnings are a lot cheaper when you have not yet invested a lot of your time and resources in the development of your product or service. If you wait too long, the costs of correcting unvalidated assumptions are much higher. This is particularly true when developing solutions for under-developed markets such as the BoP where much is unknown or uncertain.
In this module, we show you how you can build in cycles of testing and refining your ideas, all throughout your innovation process; from your very first rough idea to a functional prototype to your first production series ready for sales. These continued validation efforts increase not only the Feasibility of your ideas, but also – and most importantly – the Desirability of your idea for your target group. With each design iteration, not only does your confidence about a successful and timely market launch grows, but you also build relationships with communities that can become your launching consumers and/or ambassadors. Traditionally entrepreneurs would separate their product and business design activities from their market launch. Today, however, more entrepreneurs follow the Lean Start approach and launch their product much earlier, acknowledging that the most important lessons only come when you leave the office, and enter the market.
Complete this module and you will understand why:
- The point of prototyping is to capture feedback without having to make the entire product. The design process becomes much faster and cheaper when you offer working versions of the product before the final one (“fake it until you make it”).
- Prototypes can take on many different forms and can be used in different phases of your inclusive innovation trajectory.
- Much more than a one-off exercise in your product development cycle, innovation validation is a way of working that help you to continuously gather insights and iterate on your offering, enabling you to offer a product or service that remains relevant to your target group.
- Where prototyping stops, piloting starts. This is a crucial activity to decide whether to go for a full launch with/without product refinements and how best to scale.