Co-creation and workshops - why two heads are better than one for Product Discovery

Seweryn Olek
06 June 2022
5 min read

There are many different ways of working on a product and developing new ideas. Some of them, however, like waking up in the morning with the brilliant idea that bestows you instant, entrepreneurial stardom, for example, are well behind us. 

The same goes with outsourcing all work and decision-making to someone else. Of course, you can do it; for some, it might be even quite tempting. But that’s not really what being a founder is about, something you probably feel in your bones already. 

Although we use our skills and experience to support startups in many different fields, there is still no substitute for a founder with vision. No replacing his or her motivation, continuing desire to learn and commitment to teamwork for the sake of creating a truly desirable product.

When it comes to teamwork, Startup Development House prioritizes workshops and co-creation as a crucial means of effective collaboration, rather than stray emails and endless, unstructured meetings. 

With co-creation, we prioritize an inputting process that requires a clearly structured, well-thought approach for all parties involved. This means remote, pre-planned, goal-oriented, workshops that are set with a clear agenda. 

Given our ultimate goal is the development of awesome products and then bringing them to market, it’s crucial that we lay solid foundations for a solution before writing even the first line of code. This is what the Product Discovery Phase is for. 

Here, we aim to be acquainted with the specifics of the given field and its business context. We challenge basic assumptions about a solution and product vision. We also fill any gaps that may exist in the research, and finally, create and validate possible answers to customer needs via prototyping and user testing.*

*(Delete as appropriate: every startup has its own story)

Here’s why we believe it’s best to do it through workshops and co-creation:

Two heads still better than one 

Innovation rarely happens on its own. That’s why at Startup Development House we approach each project with a solid structure in mind. Each is to be delivered by an interdisciplinary team consisting of startup founders, their teams, product designers, and project and product managers.

By simultaneously harnessing diverse perspectives, experiences, and ways of understanding things, we create better, more complete products.  It is therefore crucial that we ensure a properly democratic, well structured and motivating environment. Workshops are just that. 

Workshops encourage dialogue and give room for brainstorming new ideas, personal concerns and free discussions about all product-related matters. And to do so, it’s not enough to have a proper mindset, but also crucial for workshops to be pre-prepared with all appropriate exercises and tools.

Effectiveness through a timer/results ratio

Workshops during the discovery phase aren’t just any old workshops. They are designed for getting the best possible results by the most effective means while sustaining healthy energy and motivation levels among participants. 

At the same time, they are not the universal answer to all possible needs. In many situations, I've seen workshops treated as an ultimate solution per se, rather than as a means to achieving a goal. I can tell you this should not be the case. Rather, they should be considered as specific tools to suit a specific purpose and are to be used with caution.

When preparing a workshop, it’s best to start by defining goals and selecting the right exercises and techniques to achieve them. And whichever those may be, the workshop facilitator should ensure the quick capacity for agile working for when circumstances change – as often they do. 

However, as workshops can take many hours, those hours must be focused on formulating potential solutions and then testing those solutions. By working together in real-time, we push forward the creation of superior products whilst avoiding the restraints that distractions and delays in communication can cause. 

All hands on deck

For many, more important than the idea itself is the level of commitment that a team will show. Workshops are designed to realize the team’s full potential in order to create a product that is aligned with customer and business needs. 

On the one hand, it is a matter of personal dedication of participants, whereas, on the other, it is the facilitators’ responsibility to stimulate the team to a more motivated level of engagement. It is the combination of these two factors that give us high-quality results. 

We’ve worked on many different projects, and if there’s one thing we recognize they share, it is the supreme awareness of field-specific nuance and vision that the founders possess. That’s why among participants, it is typically this founder who will make all key decisions. Of course, input from all participants is extremely important. In the end, though, someone has to be in power to give green light to proceed with, for example, the development of some feature. 

Source of feedback

A lot has already been said and written with regards to feedback; how important it is and how to give it. However, the workshops provide an opportunity to continually discuss the value of what we are doing and adjust our actions to the current situation and needs. There is usually enough flexibility and openness among participants and facilitators to promptly react to changing circumstances and any improvements suggested by the team.

It often happens that workshops are exhausting and quite intense. My personal view is that often they should be because this signifies that both minds and hearts are working toward discovering what’s best for the product we are working on. 

The Product Discovery phase is precisely the point where happens, together with a founder to create a product that is feasible, viable, and above all, desirable. There are pretty solid arguments in favor of getting this work done right via workshops. At Startup Development house we’re fully suited to working remotely and offer the option to do any of our workshops online. 

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