How to find that hidden value

Too much time and money is spent on technology that falls short of its goals. Projects flounder, products miss the mark, and leaders become risk averse. The good news is that success rates can be increased with two simple tweaks ...

  1. Challenging ourselves on the value proposition to identify untested assumptions early and often.

  2. Recruiting Customers (buyers and subject matter experts) to the project team to help ensure that value is delivered.

Business Technology investment is a process of selective construction. We combine technologies, software and information with the intent of solving a problem.

But the discovery of value calls for a measure of sculpting, chipping away at a solution as we elicit feedback from our target user to form the best outcome.

Every technology solution starts with a concept, an idea of what to build, and an assumption of value. The vital question is when and how to test that assumption.

Test early and we will find the right path. Wait until the product is built and we run the risk of launching to crickets; wait until our business system is 'complete' and we may face a protracted rollout that delays the benefit to our business.

To gain confidence that we're building the right thing at the right time, we simply need to engage customers to test our assumptions - early and often. Start before a line of code has been written, even before a design has been finalized. Consider that ...

  • If we are building to solve a future customer's problem, we need to find a group of ten customers who care enough to participate and engage them from day one. If we can't find customers, let's find ten prospects. And if we can't find interested prospects, our assumption of value may be flawed.

  • If we're changing our own business systems, we begin with crystal clear goals for the value that must accrue. How will we improve the condition of our business and the service we provide? What complexities can we remove from our current operation? Will we enrich the flow of information? Can we leapfrog our competition? How important is this to our customers?

It's all about recognizing uncertainty, then removing it by building learning into our plans. Distinguishing between what we DO and DON'T know at each step, and constructing in short, agile sprints. And engaging all the right people to make this happen.

The earlier we start, the better.


Think of a time when you launched a new product or service to your customer base.

Or you when you made a major change to your business systems.

  1. Did you fully realize the benefits envisioned at the concept stage?

  2. What percentage of the project budget did you invest before receiving your first customer and user insights?

  3. What did you learn in the process? Did you learn by accident or through planned consultation? What information could you have used earlier in the process to improve the outcome?

Send your results to me at and I'll give you my thoughts. I'm sure that together, we can come up with ways to improve the success of future initiatives.

... and if you missed these posts, go back and take a look for inspiration.

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