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Getting to Product Market
Fit Quickly
Sam McAfee
@sammcafee
Tonight’s Agenda
Solving the Right Problem
Building Your Product Quickly
Managing Competition
Q & A
About me…
Started making software in 1999/2000. Survived the
Dot-Com crash.
Lots of consulting + “actual experience” ;-)
Early adopter of Agile, Kanban, and Lean
Currently CTO at POPVOX
Writing a book about startup patterns.
Product Market Fit
Product Market Fit
Solve a really painful problem for a real customer.
Do it as fast as humanly possible.
Make it difficult for anyone to catch up with you.
A brief word on product
strategy…
Solving the Right Problem
Solving the Right Problem
Understand the customer using personas.
Conduct problem interviews.
Conduct solution interviews.
Iterate, as needed.
Customer
Personas
Lightweight personas
capture your
assumptions about
customer behavior,
goals, and
demographics.
Persona Tips
Use paper and sharpies.
Always include a sketch.
Don’t model real people.
Demographics should inform behaviors.
Behaviors should inform problems.
Problem
Interviews
Validate that the
customer has the
problems you think they
do. And find ones you
didn’t think of!
Problem Interview Tips
Be nice and friendly.
You’re not selling something. Call it research.
Listen more than you talk.
Have someone else take notes for you.
Say, “tell me more about that” when you hear something
interesting.
Count things to add up later.
Solution Interviews
Don’t combine with problem interviews.
Use the lowest fidelity solution possible. Start with your face,
then paper, then maybe software.
Don’t tell them how to use your solution. Give them a
scenario. Then observe and listen.
This is a test of your idea! Not your actual product. Don’t get
caught up in the details.
Get their email address for later.
Solving the Right Problem
Understand the customer using personas. √
Conduct problem interviews. √
Conduct solution interviews. √
Iterate, as needed. √
Building Products Quickly
Building Products Quickly
Define the work with user stories.
Visualize the work with a Kanban system.
Use cross-functional, dedicated, co-located teams.
Optimize time and space.
User Stories
Simple format.
Include lo-fi visuals.
Definition of “done”.
Don’t make user stories too detailed.
Rely instead on frequent communication.
Avoid high-fidelity mock-ups.
Use a design framework and sketches instead.
“Definition of done” criteria for user stories should be
testable with automation, wherever possible.
Kanban Systems
It’s all about flow.
Model current process.
Visualize all the work.
Limit work-in-progress.
Measure cycle time.
The Kanban board is always a work in progress.
It should be designed by the team doing the work,
and modified as needed.
If you don’t measure your cycle time, you cannot
see if your team is improving.
Limiting work-in-progress reduces your batch size.
It is the best way to increase your cycle time.
Stop measuring individual productivity.
Watch the work, not the worker.
Cross-functional Teams
Everyone sits together.
Work on a few related
things at a time.
Together.
Reduce the number of
hand-offs between
functions.
Separating design work from development work
creates larger batches.
Larger batches increase cycle time.
Working on too many stories at the same time
increases the number of dependencies.
More dependencies increases cycle time.
Hand-offs between work functions results in longer
queues of unfinished work.
Longer queues increases cycle time.
Optimize Space and Time
No substitute for co-
location (sorry, Slack!)
Co-location builds trust.
Remote work should
respect Conway’s Law.
Co-location reduces the number and frequency of
meetings required to coordinate work.
Fewer meetings decreases cycle time.
Working in the same physical space results in
casual, social behaviors that build trust.
Trust helps teams move faster. Trust also helps
reduce turnover.
Remote teams requires more communication, and
results in slower feedback loops.
Slower feedback loops increase cycle time.
Building Products Quickly
Define the work with user stories. √
Visualize the work with a Kanban system. √
Use cross-functional, dedicated, co-located teams. √
Optimize time and space. √
Managing Competition
Managing Competition
Don’t worry too much, or too little, about competition.
If there is no competition, you’re probably in trouble.
Competition helps you focus.
Worry Just Enough
Competition means there is an actual business
problem, and someone is already solving it.
Don’t bend your whole strategy around what others are
doing. Use your vision.
Use WIP limits for your competitive strategy, too. You
can’t build everything for everyone.
Understand the Competition
Your problem interviews tell you how customers solve
their problem now. That is your competition.
There is always competition or there is no business.
Do not compete with everyone. Integration can be a
great distribution strategy.
You should only compete on features that are in
alignment with your product strategy.
How Competition Helps
Understand your customer better.
Differentiate your solution.
Clarify your long-term strategy.
Prioritize your work according to your strategy.
Product Market Fit
Solve a really painful problem for a real customer. √
Do it as fast as humanly possible. √
Make it difficult for anyone to catch up with you. √
Thank You!

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Getting To Product Market Fit Quickly

  • 1. Getting to Product Market Fit Quickly Sam McAfee @sammcafee
  • 2. Tonight’s Agenda Solving the Right Problem Building Your Product Quickly Managing Competition Q & A
  • 3. About me… Started making software in 1999/2000. Survived the Dot-Com crash. Lots of consulting + “actual experience” ;-) Early adopter of Agile, Kanban, and Lean Currently CTO at POPVOX Writing a book about startup patterns.
  • 5. Product Market Fit Solve a really painful problem for a real customer. Do it as fast as humanly possible. Make it difficult for anyone to catch up with you.
  • 6. A brief word on product strategy…
  • 8. Solving the Right Problem Understand the customer using personas. Conduct problem interviews. Conduct solution interviews. Iterate, as needed.
  • 9. Customer Personas Lightweight personas capture your assumptions about customer behavior, goals, and demographics.
  • 10. Persona Tips Use paper and sharpies. Always include a sketch. Don’t model real people. Demographics should inform behaviors. Behaviors should inform problems.
  • 11. Problem Interviews Validate that the customer has the problems you think they do. And find ones you didn’t think of!
  • 12. Problem Interview Tips Be nice and friendly. You’re not selling something. Call it research. Listen more than you talk. Have someone else take notes for you. Say, “tell me more about that” when you hear something interesting. Count things to add up later.
  • 13. Solution Interviews Don’t combine with problem interviews. Use the lowest fidelity solution possible. Start with your face, then paper, then maybe software. Don’t tell them how to use your solution. Give them a scenario. Then observe and listen. This is a test of your idea! Not your actual product. Don’t get caught up in the details. Get their email address for later.
  • 14. Solving the Right Problem Understand the customer using personas. √ Conduct problem interviews. √ Conduct solution interviews. √ Iterate, as needed. √
  • 16. Building Products Quickly Define the work with user stories. Visualize the work with a Kanban system. Use cross-functional, dedicated, co-located teams. Optimize time and space.
  • 17. User Stories Simple format. Include lo-fi visuals. Definition of “done”.
  • 18. Don’t make user stories too detailed. Rely instead on frequent communication.
  • 19. Avoid high-fidelity mock-ups. Use a design framework and sketches instead.
  • 20. “Definition of done” criteria for user stories should be testable with automation, wherever possible.
  • 21. Kanban Systems It’s all about flow. Model current process. Visualize all the work. Limit work-in-progress. Measure cycle time.
  • 22. The Kanban board is always a work in progress. It should be designed by the team doing the work, and modified as needed.
  • 23. If you don’t measure your cycle time, you cannot see if your team is improving.
  • 24. Limiting work-in-progress reduces your batch size. It is the best way to increase your cycle time.
  • 25. Stop measuring individual productivity. Watch the work, not the worker.
  • 26. Cross-functional Teams Everyone sits together. Work on a few related things at a time. Together. Reduce the number of hand-offs between functions.
  • 27. Separating design work from development work creates larger batches. Larger batches increase cycle time.
  • 28. Working on too many stories at the same time increases the number of dependencies. More dependencies increases cycle time.
  • 29. Hand-offs between work functions results in longer queues of unfinished work. Longer queues increases cycle time.
  • 30. Optimize Space and Time No substitute for co- location (sorry, Slack!) Co-location builds trust. Remote work should respect Conway’s Law.
  • 31. Co-location reduces the number and frequency of meetings required to coordinate work. Fewer meetings decreases cycle time.
  • 32. Working in the same physical space results in casual, social behaviors that build trust. Trust helps teams move faster. Trust also helps reduce turnover.
  • 33. Remote teams requires more communication, and results in slower feedback loops. Slower feedback loops increase cycle time.
  • 34. Building Products Quickly Define the work with user stories. √ Visualize the work with a Kanban system. √ Use cross-functional, dedicated, co-located teams. √ Optimize time and space. √
  • 36. Managing Competition Don’t worry too much, or too little, about competition. If there is no competition, you’re probably in trouble. Competition helps you focus.
  • 37. Worry Just Enough Competition means there is an actual business problem, and someone is already solving it. Don’t bend your whole strategy around what others are doing. Use your vision. Use WIP limits for your competitive strategy, too. You can’t build everything for everyone.
  • 38. Understand the Competition Your problem interviews tell you how customers solve their problem now. That is your competition. There is always competition or there is no business. Do not compete with everyone. Integration can be a great distribution strategy. You should only compete on features that are in alignment with your product strategy.
  • 39. How Competition Helps Understand your customer better. Differentiate your solution. Clarify your long-term strategy. Prioritize your work according to your strategy.
  • 40. Product Market Fit Solve a really painful problem for a real customer. √ Do it as fast as humanly possible. √ Make it difficult for anyone to catch up with you. √