Ghislaine Guerin

UX Consultant | User and Design Researcher

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Fast Feature Delivery While 'Innovating like a Startup'

The Role of Co-creation in Reducing Time to Market for New Features

Delays in feature delivery and market fit are often the most significant factors limiting innovation. When reacting to market trends, startups often fall into activities that absorb resources but create no value or competitive advantage in users' eyes. To understand just how much of an impact this has in a real-world context, consider the following examples.

A Tale of Two Startups

A startup has an idea for a feature that could earn them new business due to a new growing need in their market that no competitor has yet addressed. They meet and draft a plan, write requirements for the new feature, begin to work on wireframes, and hold several discussions with development teams on the right way to implement it. After a couple of weeks, they release the feature to their customers. But almost no one is using it. Some are even complaining since it is way too complex and messy. They've failed to solve the user problem, wasting valuable development time in the process.

Another startup in the same industry has a similar idea, so they gather around a whiteboard and think about the problem. They don't stop to ponder about how the feature would look or even work at this point; instead, they focus on finding out whether users are interested in it and if they could make it worth their time to build it. Once they understand the problem, they reach out to some users and ask them to experiment with a barebones version of the new potential feature. They get some feedback, the teams make some changes and reach out to a larger audience of potential users to know if they are on the right path. When all the pieces are in place, they start development and launch it. The feature is well received and gains traction rapidly. Their secret to success relies on co-creating with users. They have figured out how to build up a community of users to establish partnerships. It seems like a win-win scenario for all stakeholders: the customers, developers, and marketers.

How Does Co-creation Work?

Co-creation, in the context of a business, refers to the process in which stakeholders (both small and large) are invited to take an active role in the product development process. It means that stakeholders can contribute, identify needed improvements, and communicate their ideas with each other.

A typical co-creation process requires:

Research versus assumptions

Throughout the innovation funnel, teams move back and forth between research and assumption validation. In the case of Co-creation, both can coincide. This can make a big difference for startups as teams can bring potential solutions to market with increased confidence in less time.

How Would We Work Together to Implement a Co-creation Process?

Co-creation is a very adaptable and flexible process. For that reason can be used as a bridge between existing processes, meaning it won't be disruptive or impossible to transition. Stakeholder participation offers value at any stage of product development, so as long as there is support for it, teams can adapt the overall process to meet those needs. The benefits far outweigh the initial costs, and once co-creation is in place, rapid product development can occur.

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Ghislaine Guerin 2021