What keeps you up at night? Whether it’s launching a new product, building a new website, or moving into a new market, Daniel Burka (Design Partner of Google Venture and former Creative Director for Digg) shows us how we can level-up our effectiveness by answering the right questions and bring more certainty to the ideas that prevent us from sleeping.
If there’s one thing Daniel Burka learned after a career in design, it’s to get ideas to the testing phase faster and that conventional testing methods take too long and start at the wrong spot. Conventional business processes are lengthy, clunky, involves lots of meetings, and if we’re honest, there’s usually a sunk cost fallacy (feeling that you’ve already invested too much and deciding to proceed, even if that’s the wrong decision) happening behind the scenes.
Working for Google Venture gave Daniel the opportunity to team up with around 300 startups (think Medium, Uber, Slack) which helped him better analyze business patterns and come up with some stellar insights on how to get your product in front of real customers and get credible evidence.
- Get the right people in the room – Involve a diverse group of experts from all areas of the business, to research at the right speed, and ensure you’re all on the same page. Help your team see their own inklings and give shape to their ideas so you’re all talking about the same thing.
- Find the scale of testing that works for you – Whether you are working alone, involving a small team, or have the dedicated resources to implement a full-on design sprint, testing allows you to learn as quickly as you can and answer the questions keeping people up at night.
- Try ZANY things – There’s nothing safe about the middle ground, and it doesn’t provide the data you want anyway. Test risky ideas instead of the safe and obvious ones.
- Finally – Get ideas in front of customers for real data and credible evidence.
The true strength of prototyping comes from the cultural shift that occurs when teams are encouraged to leverage testing and experimentation into the very core of your company’s decision-making process. When you incorporate this type of thinking into your company culture, it not only gives you a framework for improvement, but it gives employees the tactics and tools they need to drive projects forward in a meaningful and more importantly, testable way. Prototyping gives us the framework to be wrong faster. We recommend using a prototype or a quick design to ensure everyone is on the same page and to test your bigger, more uncertain concepts.
Daniel’s approach to collaboration through prototyping is a reminder that the main focus of improvement should be on the customer experience—and not the end product. We challenge you to have an open mind and find ways to experiment in your own office, whether it is testing out new ideas for your email newsletter, sending out a survey to your clients to see how you can improve something, or start experimenting with your social posts.
“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 1,000 meetings,” says Daniel and we couldn’t agree more. It’s time we stop guessing what customers want and instead experiment in the real-world or with user testing to see what really works.