“Decades ago, Harvard professor Theodore Levitt popularized the rationale behind why people buy quarter-inch drill bits: ‘People don’t want quarter-inch bits. They want quarter-inch holes.’” Gordon Hui, 2014

About this Guide:

When people talk about innovation, what they often are talking about is new product development. Process automation and department best-practice may keep the business running but products are visible. Products get press. But most importantly, products are your window to the customer.

Digital products, in particular, have changed drastically over the past 20 years. The explosion in technology has put devices in our pockets, and these devices are holding our attention for an average of 12 hours a day, according to eMarketer. Now nearly every company is in the product business fighting for a piece of our attention.

The pace of change is astounding, which makes a seemingly simple question complex: “What are the best ways to innovate in a digital economy?” This may be the ultimate question for all businesses, but the answer depends on a company’s goals, capabilities, resources, and external factors. Nevertheless, there is room for a focused discussion on new product design models, trends, and technologies.

This set of four articles aims to shed light on best-practice for building products that customers love, with a focus on digital products.



An Exploration of Development Through Design Thinking

This first article on product delivery introduces activities of leading companies positioned at the forefront of design and product development. It explains the concept of user-centered design through an exploration of “design thinking” to illustrate the early stages of the product process, from empathetic research to ideation and prototyping.



The Lean Startup, MVPs, and Product-Market Fit

Design thinking and human-centered design will help you understand the consumer and will provide the foundation for bringing a product to market. This article will help you understand a similar but distinct framework called “The Lean Startup.”  Read on for insights on MVPs, product-market fit, and user growth.


Product Development Paradigms

The Pros and Cons of the Lean Startup and Design Thinking

The earlier two articles in this series, Product Design and Digital Products - MVPs and Product-Market fit, are built on the schools of design thinking and The Lean Startup, respectively. This article explores the pros and cons of relying on these methodologies.


Building Product Teams

Examples from Amazon, Google, Apple, Basecamp and Fog Creek

The final article in our series on product development deals with building product teams. Product teams may be highly subjective but there are general rules for building multifunctional teams that are both agile and creative. Explore the building blocks of successful teams alongside examples from Amazon, Google, Apple, Basecamp and Fog Creek.

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Follow the Experts

These experts have demonstrated expertise in the area. Explore their social profiles, personal blogs, and speaking engagements to better understand best practice in their domain.

Explore the raw research on Google Drive →