Creative Product Development Process

Published on: July 16, 2011

An interesting topic, as this means a lot to me and my every instances of life. Product is far more different then Service, in terms of engagement with customers and expectations. I find it similar to animated movies versus actor- acted movies. There are certain freedoms in making animated movies, due to freedom of choice of characters, whereas in case of actor-acted movies you have to deal with the personality of the actor before you even go to explore the character of the story. I chuckle every time I remember one of the statement from George Lucas, “I like working with animated characters as I hate dealing with people.” Off course, that cannot be the only reason for making animated series, because at the end it’s about great story telling. In case of products and services, it’s all about solving problems and adding value. What differentiates is how you want to approach it.

[![]( content/uploads/2009/04/pureprocess2.png)]( content/uploads/2009/04/pureprocess2.png)

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So let me dwell into the aspect of product development process. It starts, I think, with etch. Etch, is important because it definitely shows you the area of problem and a point where value can be added. The greater the ETCH, the great the value the product can add.

Once that is identified, the whole system starts to reveal itself in terms of system variables and controls variables. And this whole process is gratifying in its own terms. But I am not going go through all these process of identifying variables and implementing them as a form and function in terms of software or hardware. What I want to explore is this development process, where the product is still not matured but is on its way of becoming the required solutions.

Imagine, designing a building (building structure is the perfect example for me in terms of creativity and engineering solutions). It has aspect of aesthetics and ingenuity of engineered solutions, making a perfect combo for any kind of analysis. And the variable becomes the flow of nature, resources and humans in and out. But there is one aspect missing and that’s the mass production. Unlike products, building becomes the defining aspect of itself attracting visitors to marvel its engineering feet. But product on the other hand, reaches to mass through calculated production and supply chain. It has aspect of packaging, pricing, distribution, sales and so on. On the contrary, modern web solutions or products are much like designing buildings rather than products. It’s about attracting visitors and maintaining their flow in the system. Traditionally software products were too packaged and distributed, but now it’s much simpler to reach out to mass. Today, internet is a platform where you need to build a software or solution, similar to constructing a house. It has to be aesthetically appealing, functionally simple and lot of value addition.

Difference between buildings and software lies in the risk that you can take on, which means you cannot afford to do lots of trial and error tests with building as with web platforms. In case of buildings, the evolution happens in slow and steady way, encouraged with lots of off shore research and testing. So I would like to see, web product design as more than just designing a building, but designing a community and a society. Because in case of designing landscapes and community you have lot more flexibility, in terms of experimenting with elements of society. It has to have every aspect of a community, especially after the social media revolution.

Now, why is it that it’s a creative process and not just stacking of functionality? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Back to my saying, that it depend how you approach and the vision behind it. But I am more inclined into taking it as a creative process, as that happens to be my passion.

So, can I say it’s like movie making experience? Hmm may be not entirely. But there are certain aspect of film making that can be implemented into the product development cycle, especially the scripting part. Script writing is certainly the blue print of films, so I think even a good product would have more benefit if a basic script can be formed in terms of actors, plots and functionality. Lately, I have tried to go through some of the standard scripts of movies, I found them expressive in terms of scene description and how that helps to take the story forward. In similar, way a good description of a product feature in terms of user perspective and system perspective would be great. May be characters could be users, interaction and system services. Ahh... ya it’s all so interesting to feel about this creative process of dealing with lot of variables, but it’s better not to get into process so much that you forget the main pictures, that solving the problem.

Don't forget to see the post on [GOD COMPLEX]( complex.html), its a great talk on trial and error process.