The Process of Creation
Look around you, there is a system of things everywhere you look—the TV in front of you and the phone in your hands. The laptop that you use daily or the smartwatch you wear. Everything you see or use in your daily life is a system and part of a system.
Everything is connected, and everything is smart in this digital age and this is called being part of the internet of things.
All these smart products have something in common, it is an application that controls them, store data and then further analyzes them for improvement. But having an application to control the product doesn't mean it is easy for the consumer. There is a need for organization. When you look at the digital world it is all about what the product can do and what it is capable of but with organization, it will be less about the product and more about the individual. It becomes easy for the consumer to interact with the products when there is an organization of devices.
An example of a system could be the smartwatch you are wearing right now. There are tracking sensors on the body; the hardware is one of the main elements of the product. The design may have gone through so many changes before it was finally decided, is the watch too heavy, is it slippery, does it house all the software components, does it feel good to wear, is it stylish enough for the time and so many other things? There is tracking hardware that needs to be put in and algorithms that need to be made for the device to run properly. Since the watch is smart it will have an application that controls it and stores data for it. The application is engaging for the consumer as they can track the different things in their body and that data is used by the app. Tracking your blood pressure, your sleep patterns, or your mood, this data can be very helpful and from this, the app can conclude that, if your BP is high then maybe you are angry if you're sweating more than usual maybe you are scared. There is a large network of other developers and applications that use such data to improve the performance of the application. Thus signals and API networks are used for the same. This is a brief on what it takes to build a product. There is a particular way to get these results and that is called the process of creation.
The process of creation is a compilation of multiple stages in the life of the product. Each stage has its features and importance in the creation of the product. Not only will these steps help you in reaching your goal faster but also give you direction and motivation to keep going. The process of creation has the following steps, Exploration stage — Early validation — Concept Phase — Planning — Development Phase, and Continuous Innovation. I will be talking about each stage in detail and how it can help your hardware start-up get on top of the competition. To better understand the working of the stages you have to answer the following questions throughout the journey.
What are you doing?
What drives the product in this stage
The tool we need to use
Who is involved in the stages
What is required from the executive staff
This is the first stage of your product and it is still in the ideation stage, there is no concrete evidence for the product and you are just firing in the dark here. Dreaming about what the product can be, usually, startup owners are thinking futuristically, about how will it solve the problem. It might feel like a high school science project but believe me all companies start like this. What you have to do in this stage is build and tinker with the idea of a product in your mind, try to write it down, and explain what the idea is. The major thing that drives this stage is your passion for the product. A good idea to get started with your team is a brainstorming session. Monthly show and tell session with your team to further develop this idea into an actual product. Hackathons and fairs could be a possible way to explain it and expand the idea. Empirical data and feedback is the tool for this stage. You want to have some data and some sort of insights into what your idea is and how it might be consumed by the customer.
Data could be anything, for example, how the market reacts to new hardware products, is your idea has ever been tried before, are you bringing in a product that already has competition in the market. The point of this stage is to explore and maybe while exploring you discover things that you never thought of. The main players in the stage are your research and development team. They are lead at this stage, other teams are more like-sounding boards here. Your executive staff is here to provide direction and ask the right questions to dig deeper into the exploration process. For you to move to the next stage you need to cross a threshold where you can seek investment and have something that can be worth developing. You need to progress and your investment threshold should be near 20 lakh rupees.
Early Validation Stage:
Your idea is ready for investment and this stage is more like a phase where you are trying to prove your thesis statement like in a Ph.D. You are still exploring the system. For example, if you are making a hardware product then you are trying to understand the system of making the product, where to get the raw material from, what will you do with the raw material, and what will your product need for it to be built and things like that. You are trying to outline a simple story with all the information you can gather in this stage and then you can draw various conclusions with the data and see if it will be a success or a failure. Your main goal in this stage is to check the robustness of the idea that you have come up with. The idea is to be strong enough to withstand any kind of setbacks and there should be a direction to what you are doing. One of the major drivers of the stage is the developmental leadership meetings. These are meetings where everyone related to the development of the early stages comes together.
Here the product idea is looked at in a very objective manner to further refine the developmental process. The discussions in this meeting will revolve around the tools that you use like scientific methods to draw conclusions, high-level feasibility documents, data, and insights from that data. In this stage, the Lead will be still with the research and development team. They look into various things like fusing human factors and ID considerations, Product experience - customer value and ask interrogative questions about the product. Top-level management is needed to prioritize the product, give insights and approve the budget for the product. To move to the next stage we must have everything fit into the strategic vision of the company, the product should be feasible to make and the business is viable. We must also look into the early experience benefits of the product.
In this stage, the focus lies on the human-centric design of the product. Big changes are seen in these stages, as the ideas are slowly developing into your vision. It is the start of a big journey and there is a lot of excitement about the possibilities of the future. Here the idea is to sell the experience and ask a lot of big questions about the product and the future of the product. In this stage, you have to start defining the product and have your ‘WHY’ questions ready. Why is your product doing a certain thing, why are certain materials used and why not something else? Why is the design in this particular way, and why is the product the way it is? The major drivers of this stage are the Research and Development concepts that need to be looked into. Another major driver of this stage is external tech opportunities. What is it that will make the product better and make the experience of the customer better, can we use external technology that is already available in the market? If it is possible to collaborate with others to get their tech into your product, will this make my product better than what is there in the market?
This stage focuses on the product experience, so there are so many people who can and techniques that can help you improve the product experience, hence the Lead for this stage is the product experience team. Everything that is remotely related to the experience part of the product is looked into in this stage. May it be the software experience or the hardware experience or even the feel of the product, the ergonomics of the design are looked into.
Some of the tools that can be used to create a better product experience are, storyboarding, interaction models, UI/UX feedback, pitching practice, hero experiences, and insight from data.
In this stage, the top-level management is required to help in determining if the idea is actually worth all the effort and if it is feasible, they also look into the possible application of the product. The transition to the next stage is rather easy. You only have to make sure that all the WHY questions are answered and that there are differentiation strategies for the product in place. Differentiating from peers, and other similar products. There has to be a product roadmap in place.
This stage is also called the emergence stage as the product begins to emerge here. Now that you have entered this stage, there is no looking back, you have to work with what you have and make the best possible outcomes. You have to solve your major creator problems and also have trade-off conversations with your team. You are trying to build belief in the product and might also encounter major breakthroughs in this stage. You need to have a mature plan in place so that you can take it forward into the developmental stage. You are trying to validate the feasibility of the product and how it can be made cheaper but also get high quality out of it. Here in this stage, you have to start building your product story. How are you going to enter the market? What will be the impact of the product? You make a story that makes your product look better than the rest. The major driving forces of this stage are quarterly forecasting, AOP ( Annual Operations Planning), and your retail calendar. A retail calendar is important as it gives you a vision for the coming months and also helps in the quarterly forecasting which will give data that can be analyzed later.
Here you also take into account when the product will launch when the updates will roll out when the software will be changed when the sale will go up, and when the next order will be placed, everything needs to have a plan and a date next to it. One of the most used and best tools on the stage is your prototype. The more you let the market interact with the prototype the more information and feedback you get to make your product better. You have feasibility documents that will help you in this process. Apart from the data and the insights from the data you will also have functional and inspirational beliefs that will play an important role as a tool for this stage. These tools will shape the product and help you understand the market sentiment since this area would be like dark water to you right now. The lead is not shifted to the product management team. This team is responsible for looking into things like product experience, sales and marketing insights, and finance and capital needs for the product. Sales and marketing are one of the most important departments a company has to focus on. Even if the product is great you need a sales team to help it reach its potential. A great product without sales like a computer with no motherboard is USELESS. The top-tier management is required to make the key decision regarding the tradeoff that you will be making to have a better user experience. For example, some products need to make a tradeoff between the weight of the product with more features, these are some things only the top tier management can decide and they are also required to give a green light for the plan to move forward.
To jump into the next stage you need to have already prioritized your features of the product, Minimize the business risks, have a business plan in place, and update the product roadmap.
This is a rather simple stage and not a lot of new things need to be done here. This stage is like the anchor leg of a relay race. The most experienced and the best player is given the anchor leg in the race. Similarly, the developmental stage involves the most experience and the best people in the workforce to refine and make the product the best. In this stage you will have to know the WHAT, WHY, and WHEN of the product. For example, What is the problem with the product, why is the problem happening and when is the problem occurring? If we have a clear understanding of the 3W of all the possible components of the product then we can safely see that development is happening. If this is a problem then in this stage you are supposed to have laser focus problem solving as after this stage, you launch your product, and changing things later is not possible. Being so close to the goal, it is very important that you are proud of what you have made and you take pride in your craftsmanship. The lead in this stage is everyone involved. This is the final stage before the product is launched and it becomes a real product born from an idea in the office.
To go to the next stage, your product should be ready for launch and the retail calendar should be in place. Sale and marketing teams are formed and product road maps need to be updated.
Continued Innovation Stage:
This is the stage after your product is launched in the market. As they say, your work only starts when the product is launched. You have created a fire and now it's time to feed the fire to make it bigger and hotter. You went from imagination to implementation and that is a huge success on its own. Here you are creating a dialogue with the world with your product. You develop specific strategies to achieve focused goals and you must leverage what you have created. Your main goal for this stage is to deepen and broaden the engagement of the product. Try to create more value for the consumer. New updates, security patches, add-on hardware, anything that will make the user happy and use your product more often. Now that you have made a story for your product, here you need to find new ways to tell the same story or you need to find a new story to tell. Whatever works for the product. Drivers of this stage would be your retail calendar and sprint cycles. The tools that you use on stage are typically the UI/UX feedback, Data, insights from that, and feature feedback. The lead still rhymes with the product management team as now what is left is to manage the product well to see success. Sales and marketing will also play an important role in the future of the product, Engineering will be there for backhand support and the product experience team will work on making the product better with future updates or the next generations of the products. The top-tier management is required to give guidance on goals and strategies and also be the final approvals of the worthiness of the product.
Just like this, the process of creation is done. Creation is such a wonderful thing that every creation has a purpose and nothing created can be useless. We as a company support such innovations and are willing to guide you through your process of creation. Always remember where there is a will there's a way and giving up too soon is not an option. You never know what is in store for you in the future, so just keep building and developing, and success will eventually come to you.
We at Exclusive Magnesium design and manufacture parts using Magnesium Alloys & other Advanced Lightweight Materials for Mechanical Engineering teams who are obsessed with developing the next performance-leading product in their sector and category. We have been part of hundreds of product stories all over the world, ranging from Indian drone startups like IdeaForge to convertibles at Mercedes Benz.
We help mechanical teams understand how the use of such materials can unlock a new level of performance in their product to solve their end users’ problems better while saving time, effort, and money for their end users.
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