Incremental UX

Becoming successful is one thing, while staying successful is another thing. A quick survey of modern business makes it clear that many companies became irrelevant soon after launching successful products.

Almost every technology company follows lean-startup concepts to validate their product hypotheses in the early stages of customer discovery and product validation. However, they lose the momentum once their product is live and customers start seeing the same age-old behavior of unpredictable and inconsistent non-value creating product development practices.

Let’s see how technology companies can apply the core lean manufacturing principles to radically transform and reinvent themselves.

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” — Max DePree

Define value

According to Lean thinking, the critical starting point for lean is value and it can be only defined by the customer. Similarly, product development companies in technology market need to continuously understand how customers perceive value from their product.

What to avoid:

  • Building features by applying the mousetrap theory — we will build it and customer will fall for it
  • Measuring customer engagement only in clicks, or transactions

What to follow:

  • Build customer empathy e.g. One quick google search will show how Snowboarding giant Burton used a picture of a snowboarder’s bruised calf to redesign their product
  • Think like a user to continuously review and refine key value proposition
  • “Voice of customer” calls to understand what success or desired outcome looks like from customers point of view

“If user is having a problem, it’s our problem.” — Steve Jobs

Create value stream with continuous flow

According to Lean methodology, the value stream is all actions required to build a product or deliver a capability. One key area where lean practitioners emphasize is eliminating any steps that add no value.

Many technology product companies struggle as they fail to create continuous incremental value due to too many unwanted check gates or processes.

What to avoid:

  • Specialized teams that work in silos e.g. sales team focusing only on getting a new lead, product management focusing on new capabilities and engineering teams frantically building features by applying latest frameworks

What to follow:

  • Create continuous flow team with autonomy to recommend or change any existing process
  • Focus on building a solid alliance so that all teams can participate in every value creating steps e.g. Lean recommends arrangement of workers and machines in a way that provides clear visibility of the entire production chain
  • Encourage teams to be transparent and work collaboratively outside their team/function

“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi


Once a company starts focusing on creating value stream with flow, they can drastically reduce their time-to-market. These steps also help in delivering products as needed by the customers.

To apply the same Pull concepts in technology market, companies need to change their way of creating road-map and feature prioritization.

What to avoid:

  • Limit customer research just as a post release activity
  • Feature prioritization based on inputs (escalations!!) from only a few key customers

What to follow:

  • Include customers as part of overall planning and prioritization

“There is no point in building keys for the doors that nobody wants to unlock.”

  • Perform customer research activities like lead-user research or open innovation
  • Include customers in the product advisory board to solicit ideas for improvement. e.g. General Electric has a well-defined group of customers that they call as Luminaries. This group provides ideas and inputs on a periodic basis and many have resulted in new product features.
  • Schedule customer visits, send frequent surveys to identify product gaps or deficiencies


Lean methodologies have been widely considered as breakthrough ‘must- have’ for industries to banish waste and source of delivering value consistently. There is no reason why technology companies cannot adapt the same while consistently delivering values to their customers even after achieving product/market fit.

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