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Product development strategy: How to create your product incrementally

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

There is something tricky about Scrum. It has this golden rule, which states that every single cycle, every Sprint, should produce visible and usable value for the product’s user. Mind-blowing, right? We’re so accustomed to extensive preparations — laying foundations, building structures, adding layers, piecing together various parts — before we can actually see results. And guess what? That is exactly what Scrum goes against.

Scrum challenges us to work differently in our product development strategy. Here’s the real art: first, we should look at things from a problem perspective, instead of starting with the solution. What problem are we trying to solve? What value are we aiming to create? It’s not about blindly developing the solution or the features that we were requested to create. No, we need to shift our focus. By taking the problem perspective, we are able to seek for the most important part of the most important part of it, “the core of the core of the problem.”

And here’s where the game changes. Instead of pre-creating a lot of things, we’ll proceed by creating only the necessary and sufficient tiny bits of each layer, of each technical portion to solve the next most important part of the problem for our product’s users. This is our next increment. We won’t be creating large structures, layers, or components BEFORE we can actually produce any value. Those will gradually emerge as our product evolves incrementally, always led by the user’s needs. It’s a challenge, no doubt, as it is very different from our conventional ways of working. And it requires a lot of discipline not to turn our product into a big mess. But that’s the beauty of it — it is incredibly effective when well understood and executed.

On one hand, we need to continuously identify the next most important problem to solve — or the next most important part of it for the product’s users. On the other hand, we will develop our product incrementally, always guided by the user’s actual needs. And we will only create what is strictly essential to fulfill them at every moment, and to integrate it with the rest. With this approach, we should be able to deliver visible value right from the first Sprint, and frequently.

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