All related (12)
Kie Watanabe
Group Product Manager, Payments & Commerce, HubSpotOctober 9

This is a two-part question. Let me first articulate how I like coming up with ideas for new opportunities, followed by how I like to make decisions about what to build. Hopefully, you don’t mind that I’m thinking about “opportunities” because it might not always be a feature that’s the right solution.

I should start by saying that there isn’t one right approach to coming up with ideas. In my experience, I’ve had success ensuring that there are:

  1. Insights from the four lenses: Customer, Business, Market, Technology
  2. Effective methods to facilitate ideation

At the core, you have to have a deep understanding of the underlying user pain point you’re trying to solve through a thorough investigation of the Customer by talking to customers and product usage. You might actually learn very quickly that the user problem is around discoverability or activation, not necessarily a feature gap. Ideally, the customer impact is so deep that it translates effectively into Business impact. The Market context is critical to help understand how your user will experience the product within the broader competitive landscape and the direction an industry is headed. Finally, the Technology lens offers insight into what capabilities could be used as part of a solution.

Preferably, these four lenses come together through cross-functional ideation that has the right participants (e.g. PM, UX, Eng, and even folks go-to-market teams). In a hybrid world where we’re working across time zones, I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to ideate together synchronously and asynchronously.

In terms of decision-making, the ideation process should lend itself to initial layers of prioritization. I won’t go into prioritization frameworks here, but there are many out there. They do tend to distill back to impact and effort and sequencing. At HubSpot, depending on the type of decision we are trying to make, we may use a “driver, approver, contributor, informed” DACI model used by other companies we admire like Atlassian.

Brandon Green
Director of Product, Fulfillment, ezCater | Formerly Wayfair, Abstract, CustomMade, SonicbidsAugust 14

Everywhere! Users themselves, colleagues, market research, competitors, randomly in the shower. Generally, I like to consider each idea seriously and work through a few questions to help decide if they are worth building:

  1. What, fundamentally is the problem this idea is meant to solve? How worth it is solving that problem vs. others I know about? Does solving this problem create opportunities or risks in any form that I should think about?
  2. Is this a problem I need to solve now, in 6 months, in 2 years, etc.? What's the risk of just putting it off?
  3. Has this idea been validated in some form already? What's the "why" behind this being an idea? Is there a good hypothesis around it?
  4. If it hasn't been tested yet, is there a low-cost iteration of this idea that my team could build and test quickly? What (rough swag) impact or learnings could a low-cost iteration yield?

This feels like a lot of questions, but I've gotten good at answering them quickly with a few driving assumptions to help keep myself moving. This is really hard early in one's product career, and potentially when you're working in a very new job or problem space - but as you ramp up, you start to be able to answer them faster.