Stop! Validate and listen: Digital Transformation without the risk

If you haven't heard the term "Digital Transformation" I'm jealous. It's everywhere. In fact, it's almost lost all meaning and been relegated to just another buzzword. It's obvious that every organisation needs to transform in one way or another, just to keep their users happy and coming back for more.

We created Product & Service Innovation at Red Badger for exactly that reason - to help our clients come up with and validate new products and services, and stay ahead of their competitors. But being "transformational" comes with a level of risk, surely?

The following are the commonly asked questions by clients and new badgers alike. 

What is product and service innovation?

You can think of us as the “do the right thing” part of Red Badger’s purpose. Think of it as a Product Management function, or the upfront work that happens before a delivery project begins. The bringing together of strategy, innovation, user-centred design and technology to create and validate ideas that solve our clients' problems. In a nutshell - reducing risk by testing ideas before they're built.

Title aside, like everything at Red Badger this happens with a cross-functional team. After all, that’s how we deliver the best outcomes for our clients, bringing efficiencies and knowledge together from different disciplines. 

Crucially, we do this in collaboration with our clients rather than in a black box. They’re the ones that know their businesses inside out after all, and we don’t like delivering surprises*.

*unless they’re cupcakes.

Why did we create product and service innovation in the first place? 

This is the easiest question to answer. The best products and services are:

  • Desirable, from a user perspective
  • Feasible, from a technical perspective
  • Viable, from a business perspective

Overlooking one of these means the product or service is risky. It’s likely to underperform or even fail entirely. However, a lot of the time, at least one of these concepts is overlooked and un-validated products and services make it to market, causing unnecessary waste.

Venn Diagram of success

Our aim is to stop this from happening and ensure our clients “do the right thing”. Simple.

What does a typical engagement look like?

What I’m about to explain sounds complex and time-consuming. It isn’t. We aim to have a working prototype and a backlog for delivery in as little time as possible. We approach this in three phases.

Research

What happens when our client has a pretty big problem to solve, but they’re not quite sure how best to solve it? We need to gather information, not only from the business itself but also from end-users to frame the problem. Typically, there is no business case at this point, so this helps with providing data in order to get buy-in from the rest of the organisation.

From light-touch workshops with execs to understand the way the business works, to gaining end-user empathy through qualitative and quantitative research methods, to technical deep dives into existing services, the aim is to extract data for analysis. This allows us to define the problem. 

Ideation

Now we’ve defined the problem in more detail, it’s time to come up with some possible new solutions or additional features for existing services. But first, we need to define what success looks like - after all, there’s no point coming up with ideas that aren’t going to address the problem head-on.

We use design sprints to generate ideas and data generated from the first phase to narrow the scope, discarding the bad ideas and creating a list of things to test. Does this idea actually solve the problem the user has? Can the business build and run this product or service, long-term? Is the idea even technically feasible? These are the sorts of questions we have to answer.

Validation & Evaluation

Now the fun begins. Test, test, test. We believe the only way to prove something is to get it into the hands of the end-users, fast. This involves creating a list of hypotheses that must be true in order for the solution to be a good fit. It could be a user-driven hypothesis (will 10% of users click on this?), a business-driven hypothesis (will users pay £3.60/month for this?), or a technical hypothesis (can we add new functionality to this API within 3 months?). This is why we use multi-disciplined teams to craft prototypes and test these hypotheses.

We’re continually learning as we go, taking stock of what we’ve learnt from the last experiment, adjusting prototypes and creating new experiments. Validated ideas are immediately transitioned into delivery. Anything that fails goes back around the cycle until we have something that fits.

How do these products and services get delivered?

Our product and service innovation teams know how delivery works - it’s our background - and this is what differentiates us from other strategic agencies. Whether our client decides to deliver the product or service themselves, or have Red Badger deliver it on their behalf, everything we validate throughout the product and service innovation process is deliverable.

Refinement

Although we’re fulfilling the roles required in validating ideas, we work with the delivery teams on the ground, helping validate new features the business might want and making sure everything on the backlog is prioritised to maximise value delivered to the user.

We believe validation should never finish. If you imagine a project as a ship, occasionally you might end up drifting off course due to factors outside of your control. We’re here to continually refine and check the project is delivering value with every feature. We keep the ship sailing in the right direction.

So, what’s the benefit?

Solutions that are designed and built to solve the problem. Less waste, more efficiency, better products and services.

Beyond the product or service itself though, we're bedding in a new, transformational approach with our clients. Throwing out the business case rule book and guesswork, and enabling them to evaluate new ideas with minimal effort and investment. This is true Digital Transformation.

Does every project have to have Product and Service Innovation?

No - we know that every client, every problem, and every project is different. We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all so we always start by understanding exactly what our client needs before we propose how we’d begin.

 

If you’d like to understand how we can help you take a lean approach to digital transformation, you can get in touch here.
 

Harriet Adams

Strategy Lead

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