Continuous Visible Customer Validation: Using Do, Doing Done to Customer Development

There are multiple methods to keep track of your projects and priorities. Here is one technique I used when trying to keep track of customer validation. This approach works best when teams are in one single location since it is visually appealing and easy to update.

It is called the Kanban method of Do, Doing and Done. A visual dashboard, which I used colored post it notes for, comprises of 3 buckets of work:

1. Do – has all the items that need to be still done.

2. Doing – what you are currently working on

3. Done – what’s finished

Typically we update and refresh the items each week – sometimes daily if there are enough changes, but a week is ideal.

Do Doing Done Kanban Method
Do Doing Done Kanban Method

Some folks have mentioned using Trello or Kanbanize. I have not, so I cant recommend them.

Once you understand how to segment your startups customers and you understand the 3 most important steps to segmenting your customers, most people start to put a framework for validating customer segments.

As I mentioned previously, the elapsed time for these 5 steps, in my experience lasts from a 4 weeks to 3 months on average.

The most important item to remember is that the method works best for discrete, defined tasks that take a short period of time. If your item takes many weeks or months, you have to break it down into simpler steps. Customer validation or pricing strategy cant be a step. Pricing strategy has to broken up into price tiers, price testing, pricing validation, pricing research etc.

When validating customer problems, you are trying to understand the following questions:

  • Is this a real problem? Is is a big enough problem for them to look for a solution?
  • What will it take for them to adopt a solution? Adopt my solution?
  • How much will they be willing to pay to adopt?

I have used post-it notes as a great way to segment the steps in the process and use colors to validate different items I need to:

In the customer validation I put forth a process comprised of 5 steps:

1. Secondary research

2. Primary research with insiders

3. Proxy market sizing

4. Online validation

5. Customer interviews

The best way to use color is to put these various “sources” into different colors. So, influencers may be blue, proxy sizing sources may be yellow, etc.

When you get to the customer interview step, you are likely finished with the previous steps, so you can color code segments of your customer with different colors.

So “Segment A” will be yellow and “Segment B” will be green and so on.

The reason for colors is then you can put them all into a board at the end and find a way to look for patterns that correlate.

The big advantage of the visible productivity map is that everyone is motivated to make changes to the charts so you can see progress daily. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

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3 thoughts on “Continuous Visible Customer Validation: Using Do, Doing Done to Customer Development”

  1. Mukund,

    A lovely blog post. I really liked the Kanban method that you referenced. I really wanted to tweet this post, but couldn’t find a way. Could you please look at including a tweet button in your blog posts sent through email?

    Thanks, Arun Blog:*http://arunjm.wordpress.com *

  2. Great blog post Mukund! I can definitely recommend Kanbanize for personal as well as professional projects. It has really grown in functionality and user experience as a product so only good things ahead from them. It falls right in the niche between simple enough to learn quickly but powerful enough to handle really big projects as well. The website link you have in the article is broken, I think, so I’m adding it here http://www.kanbanize.com.

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