Iterative Product Development and its Role in the Innovation Process

Sending prototypes out into the world is a vital part of the innovation journey. It involves staying in tune with the customers, moving from one sample to the next seamlessly. 

The innovator says “How do you like this?” And the customer responds “Hmm, it could be easier to use.” The innovator, acknowledging the feedback, confidently guides the process towards the next iteration of the product.

This iterative "dance" of innovation mirrors the unique dynamics of the act of dancing itself. Unlike walking or running, dancing is a unique activity. You’re not going anywhere except around the space, you’re not achieving anything practical, it might seem. But the process of prototyping is very much like dancing, and learning to do it very well.

Mastering the product iteration dance

Is 10 000 hours still the suggested dose of practice to become a master? Practice scales and all the classics everyday to be a master pianist, right? A karate student must train for many years to have the chance to fight for his black belt. And one must read 10 thousand books about innovation to finally become an innovator? Wait, that one is definitely wrong… 

Reading, thinking and ideating will only take you so far on the journey to becoming a master innovator. A very important step in the process is to get on the dance floor; make a prototype and test it out. In theory, a car with floaties attached to the sides and a propeller could drive over water. Investors are far more likely to pay attention when the four wheels hit the water. 

This is what product iteration is for, to offer real, workable solutions to early adopters to try out, examine and potentially invest in. It offers low stakes opportunities for feedback; trial and error, to and fro, before validating or invalidating ideas.

Are you a writer if you never write? Are you a dancer if you never dance? Are you an innovator if you never prototype?


4 reasons to start iterating now


1. Iteration takes your solution from concept to reality

Samuel Perkins, Energy Lab Manager at the UNHR, explains it like this: “The process of prototyping bridges the gap between conceptual ideas and real, workable solutions. Prototyping allows solution developers to answer questions and validate or invalidate assumptions leading to the iterative testing, learning, and refinement of components and complete solutions.”

2. Customers can engage with a prototype

The UX design issues can only be highlighted once a customer has the product in their hands. They can feel the product, experience the solution in operation and give feedback on its pros and cons. 

This hands-on interaction is crucial in understanding how users truly perceive and interact with the product. It allows them to uncover any usability issues, identify areas of improvement, and provide valuable insights for further iterations.

By embracing this approach, companies can create solutions that are truly user-centric, leading to higher customer satisfaction and increased market success.

3. Convincing Investors is much easier

When it comes to attracting investors, showcasing your product or solution in action can make all the difference. Seeing is believing, and if an investor can witness firsthand how your idea translates into a tangible reality, they are much more likely to invest in your endeavors.

Imagine presenting a prototype that effectively demonstrates the functionality and potential of your product. By allowing investors to interact with it, they can experience the solution in operation, feel its benefits, and understand its value. This hands-on experience not only creates a stronger impression but also provides them with the opportunity to offer valuable feedback and insights.

4. Fast Iteration beats Analysis Paralysis

When you challenge yourself to iterate at a high speed, you open the door to a world of endless possibilities. By constantly pushing forward and making rapid iterations, you minimize the risk of getting stuck in analysis paralysis. This common pitfall occurs when you become too absorbed in analyzing every detail and overthinking every decision, ultimately hindering progress.

By embracing a fast iteration approach, you avoid falling into the trap of becoming too attached to your initial solution. Instead, you allow yourself the freedom to explore different paths and uncover innovative ideas along the way. This agile mindset enables you to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, respond to market demands, and stay ahead of the competition.

In the world of innovation, time is of the essence. The faster you iterate, the quicker you can gather valuable feedback, refine your ideas, and deliver tangible results. It's like a dance where you effortlessly glide from one step to another, seamlessly adjusting your movements to the rhythm of the music.


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