11 Frameworks for Product Innovation

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Who doesn’t wish to be revolutionary? Should you requested a room stuffed with CTOs… not a single hand would go up.

However what’s product innovation within the first place?

The Wikipedia contributors outline product innovation as “the creation and subsequent introduction of a superb or service that’s both new, or an improved model of earlier items or providers.”

I suppose that fairly nicely sums it up, but it surely nonetheless begs the query, how do you really do product innovation? And the way does it play out in actual life?

Not too way back — and possibly even nonetheless at present — it appeared like all you needed to do was name your product “disruptive” and VCs would line as much as write you checks.

There’s way more to being revolutionary than simply utilizing the phrase disruptive.

“When each innovation claims to be disruptive, disruptive loses its which means. That is significantly the case in startups, the place the phrase ‘disruption’ is nearly a enterprise pitch requirement these days. We’ve got to watch out of the echo chamber in innovation. Most of what’s claimed to be disruptive is absolutely simply an incremental innovation with a big dose of hubris. Typically it’s simply the hubris.” — Tom Fishburne

However we shouldn’t discredit disruption altogether. Sure, it’s overdone and brought out of context, however possibly it’s simply one of many methods you may be revolutionary along with your merchandise.

Most consider innovation as considering of and creating one thing totally new, however innovation is definitely extra iterative than it’s creative. It builds on one thing else. 

In actual fact, it could possibly be argued that there’s nothing totally new. 

Filmmaker Kirby Ferguson goes as far to say that nothing is unique and that our most celebrated creators steal concepts and rework them into one thing new. He even created a well-liked video collection referred to as Every thing is a Remix that explores how most of the concepts and issues we love are literally derivatives, and that these “unique” concepts had been derivatives, and so forth.

In an identical vein, Austin Kleon wrote a e-book referred to as Steal Like An Artist about tips on how to provide you with artistic concepts. And it has nothing to do with sitting in an remoted room for hours brainstorming fully unique ideas.

I’d wish to suggest an identical concept that product innovation is achieved by means of remixing, “stealing,” and iterating on different concepts. 

There’s a typical false impression that in case your product isn’t “100% unique,” it doesn’t stand an opportunity. Firstly, we’ve already debunked the parable of being 100% unique as a result of the whole lot is constructed on or an iteration of one thing else. Secondly, it’s not a zero-sum recreation. In different phrases, there may be a number of winners.

Fb, Instagram, and Twitter are all winners. Salesforce and HubSpot are each winners. Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are all winners. And every serve totally different sorts of individuals (and companies) with totally different wants.

Particularly for “product individuals,” it’s straightforward to overthink what makes a product revolutionary. There are numerous alternatives and methods you should use to make your merchandise and options extra revolutionary with out having to reinvent the wheel.

Listed below are the 11 frameworks you should use to consider your individual product improvements and examples for every.

And for every framework, consider how one can:

  1. Ship extra worth to the person
  2. Cut back friction to obtain that worth

Notice: These are written with SaaS and software program merchandise in thoughts, though most of the rules apply to different varieties of merchandise as nicely.

1. Disrupt

Disrupt: New expertise, mannequin, or model for a market dominated by outdated, massive incumbents.

True disruption occurs in a market the place the incumbents have stopped innovating and there’s pent up demand for one thing new. This pent up demand causes each a shift in notion and a shift in market share from the incumbents to the brand new challengers. 

Disruption Examples

Greenback Shave Membership confirmed that extraordinarily reasonably priced razors, viral advertising and marketing techniques, and recent new model appeals to a youthful demographic and will finally problem bigger firms like Gilette.

Intercom exemplified this with their CRM and messaging device for the next-generation of SaaS and software program firms. Salesforce simply didn’t reduce it anymore for this new breed of firms.

Webflow determined to construct for the designer and solid a imaginative and prescient to democratize creation on the web with a totally visible workflow interface when everybody was used to modifying code and asking for assist in WordPress.

2. Program

Program: Change a spreadsheet, doc, or digital document.

Ross Simmonds talks in regards to the unbundling of excel — which was additionally initially coined by Tomasz Tunguz — and the way they’re a goldmine of alternative.

Spreadsheets are utilized in each trade, have near-unlimited use-cases, may be tailor-made to particular wants, and have just about no onboarding due to a long time of utilization and training in educational environments.

They’re extensively adopted, usually what firms swap from, and generally what firms even swap to

The identical holds true for paperwork. Phrase and Google Docs have an enormous number of templates and are additionally extensively adopted and utilized by companies of all differing types.

And the program framework can be utilized in any kind of standardized digital document that has been personalized and templatized to fulfill the particular wants of somebody.

Programming Examples

NomadList began as a shared spreadsheet for digital nomads. Now it’s a one-man worthwhile enterprise reaching tens of millions.

Airtable is basically a glorified spreadsheet. Now, it’s rather more. However individuals swap from their boring outdated stale spreadsheets to Airtable for its flexibility, ease of use, integrations, and templates.

Additionally take into consideration how your clients could also be utilizing spreadsheets of their workflow along with your product and how one can program that right into a function to speed up how they use spreadsheets along with your product and even remove it altogether.

three. Automate

Automate: Change an individual or guide course of.

Positioning skilled April Dunford as soon as stated, “your product is perhaps straightforward to make use of, however not simpler than having an intern do it.”

There’s usually a giant distinction between “opponents” and “aggressive options.” A aggressive various isn’t unique to spreadsheets and standardized paperwork. It additionally contains individuals.

There are numerous jobs which have arisen due to tech: social media coordinator, knowledge entry, digital assistant, simply to call a number of.

Automation Examples

Any repetitive duties an individual has to do is in jeopardy of being changed by a machine or pc program:

  • Buffer: Importing and scheduling social media posts
  • Workable: Gathering and organizing job functions
  • Baremetrics Recuperate: Notifying clients that their fee has failed and ask to make use of a brand new fee technique
  • Zapier & IFTTT: Just about something at this level

Ask, “may a pc do that sooner than me if it had the proper directions?”

Search for and ask your clients what they’re nonetheless doing manually.

four. Productize

Productize: Flip customized software program into one thing turnkey and managed

Companies each massive and small construct customized software program to save cash or accomplish one thing that isn’t potential with an out-of-the-box product.

If it’s closely used or others ask to get their palms it, there’s possible a possibility to productize it into its personal standalone product or function. 

Productization Examples

RightMessage began as customized code to personalize the location expertise, then was shared to different websites to extend conversions and person expertise, after which was productized into what we now know as a rising enterprise.

The 37Alerts group didn’t just like the undertaking administration software program on the market so that they determined to construct their very own. Ultimately the software program income began to look extra promising than providers income, so the group doubled down on it and finally launched as Basecamp — utilized by over 100,000 firms.

5. Specialize

Specialize: Modify and differentiate basic software program for a particular underserved subset of the market.

Whereas everybody’s attempting to construct the subsequent billion-dollar market-dominating software program large, specialised software program providers are quietly carving out worthwhile corners of the market.

These are the CRM for ___, Advertising Automation for ___, Undertaking Administration for ___ merchandise.

Right here’s a recap of a few of Tyler’s different ideas and add some extra about the benefits of constructing specialised software program:

  • Utilizing the proper labels and language to speak clearly with the proper market
  • Construct experience and rapport with an viewers
  • Deal with the issues, pains, and desires of some as a substitute of many
  • Advertising and gross sales aren’t unfold throughout a number of industries and buyer sorts
  • Place your product in the most effective gentle towards generalist software program that may’t serve your area of interest the identical manner a specialised software program can

Specialization Examples

UpLaunch was launched by Matt Verlaque and Jake Johnson — each former firefighters and in addition CrossFit health club house owners. As they started to develop their health enterprise they quickly realized that there was no software program platform accessible that made it straightforward to deploy superior advertising and marketing automation methods and techniques with out organising third get together instruments. Each device that already existed was both costly or extraordinarily difficult and that was simply not adequate. In the present day, UpLaunch offers an unparalleled advertising and marketing automation platform only for health entrepreneurs.

Copper is the CRM for G-Suite. It’s even advisable by Google themselves. They deal with deep integrations with Google merchandise and expertise firms on the lookout for a CRM that works nicely with the G-Suite merchandise they already know and love.

Clubhouse is the undertaking administration software program only for software program growth groups. It ties into your present instruments, providers, and workflow: get notifications or create a Story in Slack, connect commits, branches and PRs with Tales, construct your individual integration with our API, and extra.

6. Bundle

Bundle: Develop a product providing or function set to exchange complementary instruments.

These are the all-in-one’s, end-to-end’s, and multi-product suites.

Bundling has a number of distinctive benefits:

  • Progressively changing complementary instruments makes your product extra “sticky” as the worth is tied to not only one core operate, however maybe a number of
  • Expanded options permit for elevated costs 
  • Expanded product choices permit for increased ARPU, further growth income, and upsell paths
  • “All-in-one” is a worth proposition as many customers desire a single device that encompasses the overwhelming majority of what they want

Bundling closely focuses on turning into an increasing number of entrenched with the client’s workflow and desires. 

Bundling Examples

Notion has a lofty objective to take over many of the instruments you employ to do your work: spreadsheets, paperwork, undertaking administration, calendars, storage, and extra. They imagine we’ve duct-taped the instruments we use at present and that there’s a greater, extra unified, approach to work. 

Intercom offers merchandise for lead era, buyer engagement, and buyer help, in addition to an all-in-one bundle that mixes the three collectively. On high of these, in addition they supply add-on options like customized bots, product excursions, a solution bot, and assist middle articles every for a further subscription cost.

Housecall Professional provides an all-in-one answer to run your own home providers enterprise, with options like an internet site builder, on-line reserving, scheduling, estimates, invoicing, evaluate administration, and cash administration. 

7. Unbundle

Unbundle: Cut back or simplify a product providing or function set to higher swimsuit the wants of a market.

Reverse of bundling, unbundled merchandise deal with and construct an unmatched expertise round a single core operate. 

And generally, much less is extra. When a software program product tries to do an excessive amount of, it sacrifices in different areas: pace, person expertise, intuitiveness, function bloat, and so forth.

Unbundling Examples

Balsamiq focuses on constructing “fast, efficient and enjoyable wireframing software program” so anybody can design nice interfaces. By focusing totally on low-fidelity wireframes, they’re in a position to lead the software program class and make investments the whole lot into this one core worth proposition.

Yoast develops widespread WordPress plugins to assist web site house owners optimize for search engine site visitors. Their flagship Yoast search engine optimisation plugin reportedly has over 5 million energetic installations. 

eight. Join

Join: Deliver two events collectively who couldn’t beforehand transact or contact one another simply.

That is the traditional market mannequin, but it surely isn’t unique to market fashions. These are the methods connection normally performs out in a function or product:

  • Market mannequin connecting demand-side to supply-side
  • Syndication of knowledge or entry to info
  • Facilitating demand for the advantage of clients
  • Constructing group between individuals

Connection Examples

Substack’s homepage options the highest posts, paid newsletters, and free newsletters of their clients. Not solely does it assist Substack illustrate the success of their product, it additionally amplifies the success of their clients by driving subscriptions to their newsletters.

Udemy is each a spot to promote your on-line course and a spot for course-seekers to find programs to enroll in. Udemy will usually promote programs for the course creators, function them on the homepage, and suggest them to college students who’ve enrolled in related programs. This helps Udemy ship extra worth to the course-seeker in addition to to the course-creator.

Seamless aggregates lead info, provides you all their contact info, after which offers the instruments it is advisable interact in a dialog. 

Learn extra on Andrew Chen’s recommendation on marketplaces.

Reddit is a community of communities primarily based on individuals’s pursuits. Search and be a part of subreddits to submit, remark, and get to know others such as you.

Indie Hackers is a group of builders who’re sharing the methods and income quantity behind their firms and facet tasks. 

MegaMaker is a personal group for builders, designers, and product individuals to make higher stuff on the internet and earn a greater dwelling from what they make.

9. Democratize

Democratize: Make one thing that’s technically difficult or requires unique data extra accessible or gratifying.

It’s usually a lofty, dreamy objective. Nevertheless it doesn’t make it unimaginable.

In actual fact, it may be a defensive moat for firms who can sort out arduous issues that aren’t accessible to firms simply beginning out.

Democratization Examples

Zapier permits anybody to attach the instruments they use with customizable integrations to ship knowledge backwards and forwards with none code. With over 1500+ integrations and an intensive listing of guidelines and automations to select from, Zapier has democratized software program integrations for tens of hundreds of customers.

Atrium offers authorized providers for startups and tech firms with a deal with transparency, pace, and predictable costs. A part of the “secret sauce” to democratizing entry to authorized providers is constructing machine studying software program to know authorized paperwork and automate repeatable processes, permitting authorized professionals to spend extra time advising and fixing issues for shoppers.

Webflow lately raised a $72M Collection A funding spherical to propel them into the subsequent chapter of the enterprise to empower extra individuals to construct for the online — with out code. “For much too lengthy, when you needed to construct really distinctive and complicated options for the online, you needed to know tips on how to write code, a talent held by lower than one half of 1 p.c of the world. Consequently, we’re left with an web — a world of apps, web sites, and software program — that’s miles behind its true potential. So, we intend to push the thought of no-code ahead as a lot as humanly potential.” — Vlad Magdalin, CEO and co-founder.

MonkeyLearn primarily offers machine studying fashions and evaluation with out having to program and implement them your self. Practice customized machine studying fashions to get subject, sentiment, intent, key phrases and extra for buyer help, product insights, and software program growth workflows.

Glide turns spreadsheets into lovely, easy-to-use apps, with out code. Choose a spreadsheet or begin with a template, customise your app, then share it immediately. 

10. Complement

Complement: Constructing on another person’s product or buyer base.

When a product turns into a platform and opens up growth to outdoors sources, new merchandise can complement the platform with further options and performance.

Constructing on high of a platform permits a product to faucet into that person base, develop with the platform, and affiliate themselves with the platform’s reputability and model.

Supplementation Examples

Listed below are a number of locations yow will discover supplemental apps:

  • Shopify Apps
  • Chrome Extensions
  • WordPress Plugins
  • iOS Apps
  • Android Apps
  • Slack Apps
  • Salesforce Apps

Merchandise can complement a number of platforms as nicely:

  • Merchandise that begin as a standalone app after which increase to complement different platforms
  • Merchandise that begin as a supplemental app after which evolve to be a standalone app as nicely
  • Merchandise that begin as a supplemental app after which increase to complement different platforms as nicely.

These sorts of developments can open up new market alternatives, cut back the work vital to begin utilizing your product, and may even be a advertising and marketing channel. 

11. Platformize

Platformize: Open up entry for others to develop on and increase your product.

There are a lot of “platforms” on the market that aren’t actually platforms. Calling a product a platform hints at some deeper worth, however merely calling it a platform doesn’t make it a platform.

“A platform is when the financial worth of everyone that makes use of it exceeds the worth of the corporate that creates it.” — Invoice Gates

A product turns right into a platform when it has a mixture of product choices, integrations, and ecosystem of customers, builders, and operators to keep up it.

Reworking your product right into a platform has a number of distinct benefits:

  • The ecosystem of apps, extensions, and providers in your platform turns into a aggressive moat
  • The product roadmap is just about accelerated with others now filling in most of the gaps you had earlier than
  • The worth of your platform embodies the complete ecosystem, not simply the core product

Platformization Examples

Launched in 2009, the primary iteration of the Shopify App Retailer had lower than a dozen apps, a lot of which resulted in “-ify” to match Shopify’s identify. Builders had been telling the Shopify group that they had been doing most of the similar issues again and again, and requested if there was a approach to construct it as soon as after which promote it to retailers. Since then, over 2000 apps have been constructed for the Shopify App Retailer.

In late 2015, Slack introduced an app listing alongside an $80 million fund to put money into firms who construct Slack apps and different merchandise that depend on integration with the corporate.

Figma only in the near past launched plugins and now has over 40 publicly accessible to make use of by clients. 

The fantastic thing about innovation

The fact is that there’s a variety of overlap between the frameworks. No function or product is meant to squarely slot in one framework or the opposite.

These frameworks can be utilized to combine and match as you please. Consider them as a place to begin slightly than an end-result.

So what is going to you innovate?

What’s going to you create?

And possibly most significantly: What’s going to you remix, “steal,” and iterate on?



Corey Haines

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