Once a month, we check in on our innovative team, Dude Labs, to see what they’re up to and what we can learn from their current experiments.
Since Dude Labs was established last year, they have been tasked with finding innovative ways to help us and our clients work smarter.
Learn more about their team principles in this blog.
As they approach the alpha testing phase of their first big project, they have some tips to share on how they've reached this point in their work.
Understand Your Focus
Dude Labs must be hyper-focused at all times, and it all comes back to solutions that will disrupt the market and push our innovative capabilities as a company. Think of the flip phone vs. the iPhone – there was a big disruptor in the market that took some out-of-the-box thinking.
They take what is risky to the company as a whole, test it and find a way to make it achievable and a safe bet for the organization.
How can an innovative project be most successful and how did Dude Labs get to the phase they’re in today?
There are three phases that lead up to the all-important alpha test:
1. Rough exploration
This phase includes exploring the problem from all sides.
For Dude Labs, this entails spending a month or so playing with each facet of the big issue and ways to solve it. Although nothing fits together in the beginning, with much trial and error, hypotheses and ideas start to emerge. To get to this point, they have to try many versions of ways to fix the problem.
One important part of this rough exploration phase is doing research across the team, with other employees and beginning to create a foundation of clients to gather feedback from.
2. Focused experiment
Once they have a theory and hypothesis from the first phase, they can start molding a focused experiment where they will put the product or fix into clients’ hands.
Getting to a satisfactory experiment with the right parts and pieces that resonate with clients is no easy feat. In fact, our Dude Labs team members like to refer to this process as putting targets/goals into the four circles of hell in order to prioritize them.
Here’s how they’re prioritized:
1st circle- If this is not done, then the client will say it’s not perfect.
2nd circle- If this is not done, the client will say this is rough.
3rd circle- If this is not done, the client will hate us, but the product can still go out the door.
4th circle- If this is not done, then the product doesn’t work.
The team takes each facet or step of the process and maps it out in each circle. This might include specific features or functionality or even client agreement packets. Then, they work each piece from the fourth circle out, ensuring that the product or feature is more and more ready to share with clients. This ensures that it's ready for the alpha testing phase.
As they move tasks into the third, second and first circle, they get closer and closer to releasing something to a select group for testing.
3. Test the Vision
Here is where the rubber meets the road in product innovation.
The team takes all the individual pieces they’ve been working on and testing and puts them together into what looks, acts and feels like a product. Although it may look automated, it still requires manual work on the backend for now.
After getting out of the fourth circle of hell, the goal is an alpha test where clients can use the product for several months while providing feedback and helping to design the final product.
The alpha testing begins with only a few clients at first.
Dude Labs employs lean alpha testing, which means giving clients the rough product and getting their feedback on how they would customize it. The goal is to come out with a minimal viable product or MVP.
This testing will continue to grow, adding more and more clients, until the project is close enough to be passed over to the product management and engineering departments.
This product innovation process can be a surprising journey, as the team learns more and discover nuances along the way, but the most important thing is coming up with a product that makes a difference for those we serve.
If you're a Dude client and interested in working with Dude Labs, you can sign up to be a part of our Facility Innovator group. Check back in next month for an update on how the alpha test is going and things we’ve learned along the way.