Product vision can be seductive, I imagine a polished user interface that behaves exactly the way I would like users to interact with it. It addresses all my imagined customer behaviour scenarios brilliantly.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson
This is all well and good until you put it in front of customer and it doesn’t work. It’s not that it doesn’t work as you had planned, it’s that it doesn’t work as they need it to. My imagined scenarios didn’t capture the real life use cases; they never will. The only way to know if your product works is to get it in front of real users and ask them to use it. Illusions shattered, you can now start to build something of real value.
At ShareIn we work with amazing clients. They challenge us to build tools that work for them. They regularly feedback on what is and isn’t working. This feedback is invaluable for us. It’s our reality check, our punch in the mouth. We still try to create solutions as best we can perceive the problem, but crucially these get molded and honed by contact with reality. It’s not static. Our clients operate in a regulatory framework that is also rapidly evolving. What worked last week might not work next week – we need to respond to that and we’ve put in place software development practices to help us stay responsive.
A punch in the mouth normally hurts! It can be difficult to hear that your product isn’t working, especially when building it takes a lot of hard work. Negative feedback can rock your perception of the problem domain, but only through real world tests will you get a better understanding of the problem. If you are lucky you’ll also find other problems that can be fixed by extending your product.
Until you have real world users you’re just looking at shadows in the cave. So get your product in the hands of real users (ideally with something at stake) as soon as you can.