The Product Field’s exploratory model offers a formal grammar for product innovation to describe and analyse the relations between its aspects, to check the consistency of specific descriptions, and to validate the practicability of concrete innovations.
The model and its representation are defined on the following levels:
RELATIONS – The foundation of the model is a conceptual space in which the interactions of a product innovation’s agents, strategies, artifacts and conditions can be understood. This space is visually represented as a canvas.
VALIDATION – These relations can be used to form sentence templates that connect related aspects and are completed with descriptions of the corresponding components. For these, empirical evidence confirming the resulting statement can be collected.
Thus, one can validate and improve upon ...:
- the consistency and completeness of an innovation’s description: When relations that lack empirical evidence are identified, more evidence can be gathered, the mapping can be extended, and the innovation‘s description can be completed. This enhances self-awareness, understanding and thus the system‘s capacity for aligned action.
- the coherence and thus practicability of the innovation itself: When empirically empty relations, i.e. unsuccessful interactions, transitions or connections, are identified, the causes can be analyzed, missing components can be added to the system, and gaps can be closed. This enhances the innovation itself.
In particular, a product innovation’s core/context fit can be validated and improved upon.
Relations Between Context Apects
Relations between context aspects represent either interactions or transitions: On the one hand, agents, strategies, artifacts and conditions interact with each other, generating feedback loops, complex interaction patterns and nonlinear system behaviour.
On the other hand, as can been seen in the Product Field’s canvas, the distinctions between goals and motivations, users and customers, production and distribution, drivers and enablers are somewhat blurry: components corresponding to these aspects can sometimes be classified as belonging to either or both of them, or they can de facto transition between them, adding to the dynamics of the system.
Relations Between Context and Core Apects
Relations between context and core aspects represent either direct or indirect interactions: On the one hand, causally effective agents, strategies, artifacts and conditions act directly on the components of the value proposition of a product, e.g. shape, build or replace them.
On the other hand, abstract entities and product attributes become causally effective only through agents, strategies, artifacts or conditions that mediate, pursue or embody them, e.g. when they guide, require or influence other entities.
Relations Between Core and Center Apects
The core aspects represent the value proposition embodied by a product, which is itself represented by the Product Field’s center. Hence, the relations between core and center aspects explicate the embodiment of the value proposition in a product.
This embodiment of abstract entities and attributes in a product explains how they gain (indirect) causal efficacy.
A product innovation is successful if its means and objectives support the realization of the value proposition in a concrete product and if the product is successfully introduced to users and customers. In other words, a successful product innovation has a fit between core and context.
This fit is usually captured in three qualities of successful innovation: desirability (human value), viability (business value), and feasibility (technological practicability). Since Product Thinking treats users and customers as possibly different stakeholders, the Product Field differentiates between desirability for users and marketability to customers.
The resulting four qualities correspond to the four elements of product innovation described in the Product Field’s model.
The core/context fit is validated using the Product Field’s grammar: From the relations described in the model, four sentence templates are constructed that each connect four aspects and capture one quality or element. Then these templates are completed with descriptions of agents, strategies, artifacts or conditions corresponding to the aspects.
If the resulting statements make sense, the description of the innovation is consistent. If the statements can be confirmed empirically, the innovation itself is coherent: It has (partial) core/context fit.
A product innovation is viable if it expresses a practical business idea: if the product and the uniqueness it exhibits meet the goals the organisation’s drivers pursue.
A product innovation is feasible if it can be realized given the available resources: if the organization’s enablers allow production forces to build the solution realized in the actual product.
A product innovation is marketable if there is a sufficiently large and address- able market for the product: if the organization’s distribution is able to reach enough customers willing to replace an existing alternative with the new product.
A product innovation is desirable if it creates real user value: if the product solves a problem that hinders users in pursuing their motivation.
When completing the validation templates, systematically try out all facts corresponding to an aspect.
You should get at least one meaningful statement for each fact you are checking, and the statements you get should at least be loosely related to each other.
If not, several things might have happened:
- If you get meaningful, but completely unrelated statements, you might have spotted a product convolution.
- If no statement makes sense, you have either identified an inconsistency or incompleteness in the description or a substantial mismatch or deficiency in the innovation itself.
- If you discover “orphan” facts that are missing their counterparts, you have either detected a component alien to your product innovation, or identified some missing ones, either in the description of your innovation or in the innovation itself.
To rework or complete your innovation’s description, analyze its deficiencies, and influence or change its components, use methods to gather data, generate ideas, validate assumptions, facilitate collaboration and support decision-making.