A Product R&D Toolkit

Welcome. I'm Marc and this is a Toolkit to create things.

Research is the key - it might sound obvious, but something we all do is jump straight to solutions. Coming up with ideas to a pre-perceived problem that is littered with assumptions. This sometimes works, but usually leads to failure or a poorly crafted solution.

Part of this desire to skip the research phase is sometimes borne from the lack of faith in the process, the ability to feel truly confident that all the work required will help with the eventual solution and testing assumptions. This is the most resource intensive step, but also the most important - don't skip it.

Tool Sections

The problem comes to you - it could be something you've noticed, something you've experienced, something you've heard about and can often manifest itself as an idea of a solution to this imagined problem.

However, taking the time to fully understand the problem itself first will make the likelihood of finding the right solution much higher.

This section covers the discovery of that problem, and the various tools that can be used to frame, prioritise and define it further.

Problem Tools

Tool Description Template
Problem Log Keep track of problems to be further investigated.   PDF     Miro
Problem Workshop Bring a team together to discuss, analyse and prioritise problems to be solved. Multiple
Problem Interview Discover the problem from the source through an interview.   PDF     Miro
5 Whys Go deeper with understanding the problem.   PDF     Miro
Sailboat Discover future problems that may occur.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Priority Matrix Visually plot problems in order to prioritise which should be worked on.   PDF     Miro
SWOT Analysis Look inwards to help focus on the problems that are aligned with the business goals.   PDF     Miro
NUF Test Add some quantitative data to the problem to help prioritise the best problem to work on.   PDF     Miro
Priority Chart Weigh up effort vs reward as a means of prioritising problems.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Project Canvas Outline the scope of the project, including tools and resources.   PDF     Miro
Lean Canvas Have more focus on speed and efficiency when outlining the project.   PDF     Miro
Project Brief Clarify what the goals and processes that are expected from the project are.   PDF     Miro
Deliverables Document the exact things that are expected to be delivered during and at the end of the project.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Problem Statement Use to state the problem in a consistent and clear way.   PDF     Miro
Hypothesis Align why solving the problem will help the user achieve their goal and the business their goal.   PDF     Miro
Problem Framing Worksheet A method for framing the problem, what activities should be conducted and the goals, reducing crossover.   PDF     Miro
Problem Framing Sketch Visualise the problem as a means of removing assumptions that could affect the perception of the problem.   PDF     Miro
Proto-Persona Build empathy by creating a Persona of someone who could be experiencing the problem.   PDF     Miro

We've discovered problems, we've prioritised and framed them and now we need to validate that such a problem exists and test our assumptions.

We do this through investigative research, speaking to users and stakeholders, looking at data and observing competitors.

This section contains the tools to help guide and structure the validation process.

Empathise Tools

Tool Description Template
Research Canvas A single source of truth for how the Research phase will proceed.   PDF     Miro
Competitor Analysis Has anyone tackled this problem before? How? What products are users using to help solve the problem?   PDF     Miro
Stakeholder Interview Further understand the problem from those closest to the coal face.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Recruiting How to target and recruit the right users to interview.   PDF     Miro
Screener Survey A vital and lean method of finding target users and gathering general feedback data.   PDF     Miro
Interview Structure How to efficiently and thoroughly conduct an interview to maximise insight.   PDF     Miro
Question Structure Structure questions in a way that will help conversation flow and insights appear.   PDF     Miro
The Interview Conduct the interview and capture the output in a concise, digestible way.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Competitor Usability Observe and discover how uses solve their problem using competitor's products.   PDF     Miro
Contextual Inquiry Observe a user experience the problem in their context to understand what they go through.   PDF     Miro
Card Sorting Understand the best way to structure a product, and how users think whilst navigating.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Analytics Use existing products and usage data to uncover problems and opportunities.   PDF     Miro
A/B Testing Understand user's preferences and motivations by testing different options.   PDF     Miro
Questionnaire Gather large amounts of high level data to further understand trends and problems.   PDF     Miro

Once we've thoroughly interrogated the problem space and collated lots of research and now we need to understand it. We can do this by grouping similar themes, extracting insights, fully understanding our users and their needs and wants.

By visually mapping and linking insights, it helps to build a bigger picture of the problem space and like panning for gold, combing through all this data with a fine tooth comb will extract value constantly, and mapping this information will help immensely with the decision making process.

Mapping Tools

Tool Description Template
Summarising Research Efficiently collect, summarise and present research insights.   PDF     Miro
Affinity Map Spot trends and patterns by visual grouping of research insights and data.   PDF     Miro
Concept Mapping Combine existing and new knowledge to connect insights in a way that can lead to an idea or product feature.   PDF     Miro
Assumptions Map Map and test key assumptions by deconstructing and mapping them to check they are still valid.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Persona Build empathy and understanding by creating a typical user type.   PDF     Miro
Empathy Map Understand user's and their problems further by understanding what they are trying to accomplish and their experience doing it.   PDF     Miro
Customer Journey Map A visual way of showing what a user experiences whilst trying to reach their goal.   PDF     Miro
Experience Map Understand what a user goes through when trying to achieve their goal outside of a product.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Stakeholder Map Connect the various stakeholders in an organisation that could effect and influence the product development process.   PDF     Miro
Service Blueprint There are many other hidden functions that go in to a functional product and a Service Blueprint will help map these.   PDF     Miro

Taking the mapped insights we can begin to understand and define the problem in a way that moves us towards the ideation and solution phase.

Encouraging ourselves to interpret things in different ways is also important, and the tools in this phase allows us the opportunity for real innovation.

Synthesis Tools

Tool Description Template
Concept Look at the problem from a different perspective, helping with more diverse and leaner solutions.   PDF     Miro
Root Cause Analysis Dive deeper on the problem to come up with alternate ways of looking at the cause.   PDF     Miro
Reframing Matrix Bring people together from different perspectives to focus on 4 key areas to look at the problem in different ways.   PDF     Miro
Challenge Mapping Use 'How Might We' in a way that helps to dive deeper in to the problem from 2 different directions - 'Why' and 'What's Stopping Us'   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
5 Ws Use the 5 Whys as a method of interrogating, and ultimately defining the true problem.   PDF     Miro
Scenarios Small stories that help define the problem and understand the user goal.   PDF     Miro
Job Story Define what the user is trying to accomplish in a succinct way that a development team can fully understand.   PDF     Miro
User Story Tie a user persona to a specific task that a user would like to accomplish in a consistent format that the development team can follow.   PDF     Miro
How Might We Define a user need in an optimistic way that moves away from a problem and towards a solution.   PDF     Miro
Tool Description Template
Feature Log Keep track of features that could be used in current or future Product Development.   PDF     Miro
MoSCoW A prioritisation method that helps focus minds on the most vital elements and can also help define an MVP.   PDF     Miro
Weighted Scoring Build empathy across stakeholders and an organisation by prioritising features based on their impact on both the user and business.   PDF     Miro
Buy-a-Feature Involve stakeholders in the feature prioritisation process by allowing them to choose features based on a specific budget.   PDF     Miro