DisciplinesProduct Management, Product Design, Product Strategy, UX, User Research, Market Research, Writing, Speaking
I was the Product & Design Lead on a five-person team within Brightidea’s own innovation lab. We were challenged to unlock new growth potential for the company by expanding down-market. This involved developing new innovation methodologies, products, services, and PLG approaches.
Distanced from the core business and reporting to the CEO, our lab team truly was a startup-within-a-startup. We borrowed heavily from Y Combinator and Paul Graham for our approach:
- Launch fast and let ideas evolve, aka “action produces information”
- Aim for 5-7% week-over-week growth (WOW)
- “Do things that don’t scale”
- Talk to customers!
Moving down-market implied lower cost, faster onboarding, simplified setup, and self-guided learning. Over about a year our team:
- Developed a new methodology to jumpstart employee innovation, Innovation Program Management (IPM)
- Launched & iterated a product founded in this methodology, Programs Pro, that eventually evolved into what Brightidea Programs is today
- Prototyped a product-led growth (PLG) motion that directly informed our approach with subsequent Idea Box and Whiteboard products
Check out our CEO’s article on productled.org for more behind the scenes on how our innovation lab paved the path to PLG.
Working closely with our GM and the Sales & Marketing Lead, I was responsible for integrating our insights into a product strategy & roadmap, and then executing on that with our Engineering Lead. I did the design work, including wireframes and mockups for new features and functionality. Together we ended up developing and packing a new product called Brightidea Programs Pro.
New Homepage Experience
Being small, fast, and close to the customer our rate of learning was rapid. First insight: deployment of our legacy products took too long, required training, and was error-prone. We developed an “app-like” experience out of the box, as opposed to the heavy site-builder and content management system that was typical. This offered admins a much simpler way to configure, brand, theme, and onboard users while those end-users received a personalized, easy-to-use experience.
A New Innovation App
We also observed that customers were bending our templated problem-solving and optimization crowd-sourcing challenges to facilitate open-ended exploration of market opportunities. We developed an innovation app around this use case called Explore, and packaged it in the product alongside the existing Solve & Optimize apps.
Always-on, Personal Idea Management
The innovation programs recommended in IPM are timebound by design, with start & end dates as opposed to being always-on. This keeps them focused, manageable, and impactful with clear milestones defined upfront. We had previously watched new, small customers fail under always-on suggestion boxes so our methodology intentionally avoided these pitfalls. However, this was a common point of friction in sales.
We developed a new concept called “My Ideas” to allow employees to capture & manage ideas in a personal repository, and later submit them to programs when an opportunity arises (e.g. for a biannual hackathon). This solves the problem of “anytime anywhere” ideas while avoiding unnecessary burdens on program managers. With objections neutralized, sales efficiency & success improved drastically, and we filled a longtime product gap.
The Pitch Program
Finally, we conceived a general-purpose recurring program to ensure ongoing customer success that we named The Pitch Program. This is a scalable competition in the style of Shark Tank, great for engaging employees in order to find the most impactful ideas. I presented “How To Run a Successful Pitch Program” at Synthesize 2018, and we also developed the content into an ebook for customers and prospects. The existing Pitch app was refined to support a programmatic approach, and a roadmap was developed for future updates.