"90% of the startups fail" a recent Fortune review tells us. The biggest reason for this, based on the same study, is that startups create products or services that nobody wants.

It often starts that the team has this great product idea, spends rather long time to make the features and all, and then tries to put it out "to be found" by the customers. But the channel to sell and promote seems to be the problem. Some interest arises but not substantially enough to raise the user base for the product or the service. One tries to improve the situation by changing the product by adding more helpful features into it, but no real big change seems to take place. "If customers just would be sensible and see how good this product is".

Our Agile operation might not differ so much, in fact. We have learnt from the agile books and seminars that the way to do it, is to have a backlog driven tight agile/scrum based product creation where the order of the items are the order of importance that we believe customers want their functionality. And of course if you are making a product to a specific customer order, you can validate this with them by asking.

But in many cases customers are nowhere to be seen, and if one searches truly new things, the customers do not know what they want. Horseback riders did not know they needed the T-Ford before it was there. So therefore the development teams need to follow their intuition on what is important and which kind of a product to create. See the analogy with the failing startups?

Lean startup methodology was developed originally for the startups few years back, but recently it has been applied into many other cases as well. Companies like GE use it to improve their innovation and radical product concept capability (you can google FastWorks).

But it can and in the opinion of the writer, should be used in agile. The logic goes so that companies should more and more find innovative new things. New things that create value are such that customers are willing to pay a premium, and no competition exists. So why would you want to market follower and do me-too-products with low margins?

We will examine in the following blog posts how you can easily improve process capability and create innovative new products just by enhancing it with lean startup methods.

 Some keywords will be: MVP, Vanity metrics and Pivot.

Jukka

Internal start-ups are an interesting new possibility where the well known start-up concept is transferred into corporate setting. Why would you do it?

First of all, many bigger corporations have the problem that how to keep innovation culture virile enough and on people's agenda. Many have corporate innovation tools where ideas are collected and then further processed. Based on my experience this process needs constant re-vitalization to keep active enough. It somehow needs additional elements to succeed.

Portfolio management - here: products and services portfolio management - is an activity where company creates a portfolios of it's products and services. There should be at least two portfolios: the current ones under sales, and the future ones: the products and services that are under development and entering the sales later.

The purpose of the portfolio management is to optimize the profit ie. directing the investments so that the company gets the maximum return of the investments.

What to measure when one has agile/ scrum based product development? Many we have met, measure burn down charts, but not really that much else. What should you?

Requirements Engineering is often overlooked. But the right requirements actually mean both how well you are able to meet customer expectations and select the right work for your team. So they are the key for a successful product development and high customer experience. 

Textbook divides Requirements Engineering into Requirements development and Requirements Management. 

We discuss these and many others under this topic.