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Industria 4.0, Big Data Analytics, emprendimiento digital y nuevos modelos de negocio

How to plan Customer Development interviews when exploring a business idea: the "rule of the three pros"

When planning a business exploration process based on Customer Development, we should take into account that the focus in these interviews must change as we advance throughout the exploration process with the customer, evolving from more global and abstract goals (linked to problem exploration) to much more specific aspects in order to validate a value proposition and a specific solution or product implementing it. In that sense, we should think of different phases (that could correspond to one or more interviews, depending on the gathered feedback and the validated conclusions) with a different exploration and analysis focus.

In order to organize this process I tend to use what I call "the rule of the three pros" (if it has that many pros it must be very useful :-) ), which are: problem, proposition and product (or prototype), and which identify a different exploration focus at different moments. The first phase of this exploration interacting with customers, therefore, would aim at searching problems inside the exploration focus that we have defined. During this phase we should not present any specific value proposition, but try to identify and characterize the problems expressed by the customer and filter them depending on our assessment of their business potential in order to center our work on them.

During the second phase of this exploration we should elaborate specific value propositions, dealing with those problems identified as interesting, and that somehow include those elements that make them better candidates among the alternative solutions that the customer may have already analyzed and used to solve those problems (elements that we will have identified during the previous phase). It must be clear that in this phase we are still working with value propositions, that is, those elements that would characterize the solution to build and that would deal directly with those "jobs to be done", pains to relief and gains to obtain that are part of that characterization of the customer and the problems to work with. During this phase we could use those tactics that allow us to verify our proposal with the customer, but we would not be investing resources that imply creating our first products or prototypes yet (not until we validate our value proposition).

It would be in a third phase when we begin to think in terms of product or prototype, or at least in terms of an approximation of a more "tangible" solution, or more "perceivable" by the customer. It is then when we could use those "MVP tactics" that allow us to build contrasting experiments on some specific elements of our solution, for the customer to interact with them and for us to obtain validated learning of that interaction.

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