The Big PictureHow can Lean Startup and Scrum fit together? I find it helpful to use the former to discover if there is a problem that's worthwhile addressing and to employ Scrum to develop the actual solution. Product discovery includes determining the product's value proposition, choosing the right market segment, and selecting its business goals and underlying business model. Product development means identifying the right user experience (UX) and main features, selecting key technologies and architecture patterns, and incrementally building a first product that is good enough to be launched. The following picture shows this approach. The process above tries to combine the strengths of the two models: Lean Startup is great in my opinion for testing out different ideas and discovering if there is a need for a new product; Scrum offers an effective framework for developing digital products including roles and responsibilities, artefacts, and coordination and planning practices—think of the product owner role, the product backlog, and the sprint review meeting. Note that there is an overlap between discovery and development in the picture above, as I find it helpful to start some of the development activities, such as, addressing key UX and technology risks, once the value proposition and market have been determined. Let's now look at the two parts in more detail.
Product Discovery with Lean StartupDiscovering if there is a real need for a new product requires creating a valid product strategy—figuring out the market or target group, the problem the product should solve or the benefit it should provide, the product's key features that create the desired value and make it stand out from the crowd, and the business goals--the desired business benefits it should offer. Start by creating an initial product strategy, for example, by using the Product Vision Board. Then select the biggest risk: the uncertainty that must be addressed now so that you don’t take the product in the wrong direction and experience late failure. Next, determine how you can best address the risk—for instance, by observing target users and interviewing customers. Carry out the necessary work and collect the relevant feedback or data. Then analyse the results and use the newly gained insights to decide if you should pivot, persevere, or stop—if you should stick with your strategy, change it, or no longer pursue your vision. Follow this process until no crucial risks are left—or until you have run out of time and money. The following picture summarises the process.
Discovery is a team sport. As the person in charge of the product, you hardly can identify and address all the risks and make the right decisions on your own. You will therefore benefit from the support of the stakeholders. These include development team members, and representatives from other business groups, such as marketing, sales, support, legal, and finance. You may also want to have a ScrumMaster or coach who facilitates and helps with the process. The dev team members help you assess the technical feasibility of the product, identify and address technical risks, and build prototypes. The picture below shows a sample discovery team. To determine the right discovery team members for your product, identify who the key stakeholders or players are.
Product Development with ScrumOnce you are confident that there is a problem that’s worthwhile addressing, the focus changes to developing the actual product. This includes understanding what the desired user experience should be, what functionality the product should provide, and how it should be built. Use the insights from the product discovery work to create an initial product backlog and bootstrap the Scrum process. The new focus requires adapting the team composition: The dev team members should stay and the marketer, sales and service representatives leave. But the latter should continue to participate in the development effort as stakeholders and regularly attend sprint review meetings. New developers, testers, and other people required to create a great product are added to the development team. Together, you test out UX and feature ideas and incrementally develop the product. The picture below shows this approach. Finally, as you make progress with your development work, don’t forget to prepare the product launch. Having a marketer present at the sprint review meetings should help, but you may find that you need to be actively involved in preparing and executing the launch.
Bringing It All TogetherThe following table summarises my recommendations for transforming an idea into a shippable product:
|Focus||Discovery with Lean Startup||Development with Scrum|
|Key questions to answer||What problem does the product solve? Who are the customers and users? What are the desired business benefits?||What is the right user experience? What functionality should the product provide? How is the product built?|
|Sample artefacts||Product Vision Board, Business Model Canvas, or Lean Canvas||Product backlog, product increments|
|Sample activities||Observation, problem interviews, competitor analysis||Designing, programming, testing, product demos, user tests, early releases, launch preparation|
|Team composition||Product owner, sales rep, marketer, service rep plus UX designer and developer||Product owner plus cross-functional development team|
You can learn more about product discovery and strategy development with the following: