Continuous Discovery

imageWhen Apple launched the iPod in 2002 it took a little over 22 months to ship the first 100 million units. The iPhone hit the same mark after a mere 16 months. The iPad did it in ten. In fact, within only 15 months of the tablet’s arrival, Apple was selling more iPads than any PC maker’s sales of desktop, laptop and netbook models combined.

Imagine creating a 3 or 5-year financial plan for a PC manufacturer just before the iPad launched in 2010 – you couldn’t have possibly predicted what was about to happen.

What’s clear is that disruptions are getting more disruptive and that the pace of change, and more importantly, the pace of adoption is getting quicker.

If we can’t predict such market changes, what we can do is get better at reacting to them.

Continuous Discovery is an agile management technique in which rather than have a dedicated research or discovery phase in a project, discovery happens in parallel with product development.

This is a concept we have embraced at CubeSocial as we continually review the market, assess users’ feature requests and evaluate feedback from product support to create prioritised product backlog items.

Traditionally in the software world you would have a “Product Discovery Phase” where you would come up with several weeks of validated product backlog items and deliver them to engineering. For CubeSocial, and our most recent product, HonestyBoxx, we are constantly identifying, validating and describing new product backlog items. Some discovery work takes a few hours and other things can take longer, but it is an on-going process of ideation, validation and description.

In fact the HonestyBoxx concept of a “micro-consulting” platform where the buyer gets to choose how much they pay came about through listening carefully to CubeSocial users’ requests and tracking services sector trends towards smaller, more targeted pieces of work.

The result of this is that we have products that are a good fit for both our customers’ requirements and the current market situation. And just as importantly, in the case of HonestyBoxx, because we we’ve been so laser focussed on getting discovery right, we were able to build and ship the entire product in just seven weeks.

One final point to note – continuous discovery isn’t only applicable to product development. It can be applied equally well to other business functions, such as sales or marketing. It’s just that in these cases the “product” being developed might be a new pitch deck, financial model or marketing campaign.