Prospect to Customer Part 3: For Product Development, Put The Kid in Charge


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Nothing sounds duller than terms like “product development life cycle”. There is a lot of talk about being innovative and delivering for your customers the greatest thing since sliced bread. But originality is difficult, and attention spans are short. You need a new plan. It’s time to go back. Way back.

Kids are natural product developers. Their imaginations have no boundaries. They aren’t all tied up in reality like gravity, money, physics, or the fact that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and magic don’t exist.

They’ll spend days, even weeks, trying to piece together a perfect master plan to fly to the moon or turn invisible. They’ll try to enlist your help, but quickly forgo it because they realize you don’t get it.

As we grow older, we forget what it’s like to create with that kind of wild abandon and belief. We get all adult-ified. As soon as we lose that sense of adventure, our products quickly become just like everyone else’s, and that isn’t good for anybody, especially our customers.

We have to recapture our Inner Kid.

Dream big

Doodle. Daydream. Go someplace you’ve never gone before with a piece of paper and pen. There is no pressure here. Empty your mind and then let your hand go. Think as big as you possible can for ten minutes. Then take a break, and think bigger. Ask yourself this question: “And then?”

You will have to push through several iterations of this before you start hitting the vein of gold. Turn your old ideas on their head. No one is judging here. The Inner Critic is gone. In fact, he didn’t even exist when you were a kid.

Use trusted sources

Kids bounce ideas off other kids all the time. There are no secrets and no worrying about what other kids are going to think about them. There’s usually debate, but it’s not to squash the dreams. It’s about how to make the dreams better. Go faster. Get more of whatever it is that they are seeking so that everyone can benefit.

Surround yourself with people that you trust want to help make your product better. These may be current customers. It may be a small group of friends. Whoever it is, don’t let anyone tell you why your dream widget can’t be a reality. This is just about getting useful feedback.

Design it

It is amazing to me how kids can fill notebooks galore. Hand them a box of crayons and a blank pad of paper and they’ll draw for hours. You watch them and can almost feel the intensity of their focus on making sure that each line is just where it needs to be.

This is the fun part. Your big idea is about to take shape. You don’t need to be a skilled artist. You just need a sketch or a mind map. This picture breathes life into your creation. It makes it real. It’s a lot harder to ignore something that’s real rather than something that only exists in your head.

The Act of Creation

The time has come. The dreams and hopes are going to collide with the physical world. If you are writing something, this is where you write. If you are building something, this is where you build. But there is still not judgment.

First drafts area meant to be toyed with- it’s playtime for your inner kid.

Test It

Kids beat the holy hell out of just about anything they get their hands on. Their creations are no exception. They love them. They carry them everywhere. They show it to everyone. In fact, they can’t stop talking about it and asking other people what they think about it.

It’s your bragging time, but with caution. You want to let others take a test drive with your prototype. Likely you will be talking to the same people who helped you earlier in the process. This is also your chance to get the bugs out before too many people know about it.

Rinse. Repeat.

It’s been a long process for your inner kid. He’s exhausted and he knows he’s got a hard day of playing ahead of him tomorrow. He’s konked out by the time it hits 10pm.

You are equally spent. You’ve toyed and tweaked and tested, and it’s time to let your product go. Tomorrow you will launch it. But today you savor it. Creation is not unlike birth. It takes a lot out of you.

Launch it to the Moon

Your product speaks for you. If it’s a great product that solves real problems, it’s going to fly away from you. Quickly. But your inner kid knows that it’s only a matter of time before you create another great product just like it.

Your product is a key lever in the customer’s buying decision because it has to make their life better and it has to be memorable enough that they will want to recommend it to everyone they know. Don’t take any chances. Let your Inner Kid run wild.

If you missed the previous posts in the Prospect to Customer series:

(photo credit: Jordanhill School D&T Dept)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christy Smith
ThinkBlot Communications
I have over a decade of experience in client account management and satisfaction, and I have helped large organizations develop products strategies that gain maximum buy-in during implementation. In my previous roles, my client portfolio has included Fortune 500 companies in the Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, IT, and Telecommunications industries.


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