Gathering empirical facts about a product innovation and collaboratively mapping them to the corresponding aspects makes knowledge about the innovation explicit and generates a structured, comprehensive, and shared big picture of it.
The facts are mapped to the aspects by considering their roles in the introduction and realization processes of product innovation.
This mapping can happen visually in the areas of the Product Field’s canvas or more abstractly in data structures that can be represented in different visualizations.
A shared view of the facts is the basis for shared commitment and aligned action. Share This
Goals describe what the drivers of a product innovation want to achieve with it. They are the strategic or business objectives behind all innovation efforts. Making them explicit provides strategic orientation, makes stakeholder impact verifiable and helps detect a potential conflict of goals.
Why does the organization want to invest in a product innovation?
What is leading the people who drive a product innovation forward?
What shall be accomplished?
Drivers are the people or teams accountable for the outcome of a product innovation. They are responsible for steering and shaping the innovation process in pursuit of the organization’s strategic goals. To do that, they need certain powers and qualities. Describing them helps clarify decision-making processes and detect leadership deficits.
- decision-making powers
Who are the people or teams that are driving the product innovation?
Which qualities do they possess, and which are required to successfully pursue the strategic goals?
Is there a lack of competence, decision-making powers or leadership?
Enablers are the resources and assets that make a product innovation possible in the first place. Thus, their availability is critical to innovation success. Describing available and missing enablers helps identify risks and potential for a specific innovation and size an organizations’s general capability for innovation.
What resources and competences are required to create the product?
What resources and competences are available?
Which are missing? Are there any opportunities to exploit?
Production is how the solution gets built. It can include physical and virtual, manual and automated, individual, team and industrial activities. Describing them helps understand which means, skills and prerequisites are required for production and what its cost structure looks like.
What activities are required to build the solution?
What kind of production assets are available?
Are they suited to build the solution?
What skills, processes and partners are needed?
Distribution is about getting the product to the customer. This encompasses customer attention and acquisition as well as product logistics. Describing the details of distribution informs the go-to-market strategy and the calculation of customer acquisition costs. They are key to growth and return on investment.
What channels, technologies and partners can you use to get the product into the minds and hands of users and customers?
What will it take to convert users or prospects into customers?
Customers are people or organizations who pay for benefitting from a product. They can, but do not have to be users of the product. Describing them helps understand how buying decisions are made, where and when they can be reached, and how much potential for revenue or lifetime value they represent.
Who are the people or organizations that will actually pay for the product?
Why will they pay for the product?
How do they make buying decisions?
Users are people who adopt and use a product to overcome a specific problem while pursuing their motivations. Describing who they are and what sets them apart helps understand their motivations and problems, distinguish between different groups and their perspectives, and discuss how to handle them.
Who are the people that will use the product?
How do they behave?
What are their traits?
What makes them special compared to other people?
Motivations describe what the users of a product innovation want to achieve. They are the needs or wants to be addressed with the innovation. Making them explicit helps understand a product innovation’s users, provides a conceptual guideline for design and development, and helps track the innovation’s impact on users.
What do the users want to achieve?
What gains do they long for?
What pains are they suffering from?
What impact should the innovation have on them?
The problem hinders the users’ pursuit of their motivations; it’s what keeps them from fulfilling their needs and wants. Addressing a real problem is the very raison d’être of a product innovation. A detailed description of the problem serves as a requirement list for the solution.
What problems do potential users encounter when pursuing their motivation?
Which of those problems is worth solving?
How painful is it for prospects to have this problem?
The solution is how a product tackles the users’ problem. It removes obstacles, relieves pains or opens up new possibilities. A solution can be anything from a service to a physical product or a marketable process. Describing it in detail helps get a clear first picture of the product and determine the required production resources.
How will/does your solution solve the problem?
What type of product, service or process is it?
What are its key components?
Its uniqueness differentiates a product innovation from alternative solutions. A clear uniqueness compels users to choose your product instead of others and helps break their habits. Describing it in detail encourages you to check the strength of your value proposition and assess your product’s prospects for widespread adoption.
Compared to alternative solutions, what makes your product unique and superior?
What features or special qualities will compel future users to break with their habits?
Alternatives are solutions or behaviors currently used to address or circumvent the problem in question. They range from competing products and services to simple laziness. Making them explicit helps set a benchmark for the uniqueness of the innovation and develop a realistic outlook on the anticipated product adoption.
- other products
- entrenched behavior
- DIY solutions
What are alternative solutions that tackle or alleviate the problem?
What are users doing right now to solve their problem?
What are they doing to ignore or circumvent it?
When gathering data, it is useful to start with diverging (gathering as many facts and ideas as possible) before converging (narrowing them down by removing less important items). You should be left with 3-4 consolidated facts and ideas per area after converging. Try to locate them in a way that represents their relation to each other.
Use the guiding questions to go through the canvas area by area, write down the relevant facts and ideas about your product on sticky notes, and map them onto the canvas. Use different colors to show how different aspects of the value proposition relate to different stakeholders, e.g. in a product that is used by individuals but paid for by companies through ads. Get all participants involved in the process.
There is no single correct order for mapping:
- If your context is fixed and you’re looking for a fitting value proposition, start by describing the context and then brainstorm the core.
- If your core is fixed and you’re looking for a fitting context, start by describing the value proposition and then brainstorm the context.
- If core and context are (more or less) fixed, start describing your situation where it feels most natural.