Synchronous Product and Customer Development
SyncDev is the first formalized, lean process for developing new products, markets and businesses. Since 1984, its adopters have reversed their traditional process: design, build, sell. By putting sell-design (and vice versa) first, objections and complaints surface early when product and business-model pivots are easy. As results stabilize you build.
In 2001, SyncDev, Inc. developed the concept Minimum Viable ProductTM (MVPTM): the product with the highest return-on-risk. Except for lucky guesses, it’s impossible to build the MVP with design, build, sell; objections don’t surface until beta when it’s too late to pivot. SyncDev, Inc. coaches cross-functional development teams to determine their MVP, develop a strong business case, or if they can’t, to fold early.
With a 30-year track record of success with Fortune 500 companies, startups, and VCs, SyncDev is the go-to firm for proven process for development, market entry, fixing pre-SyncDev mistakes, and, when fit is in question, acquisition due diligence and integration.
From 10,000 Feet
SyncDev reverses the traditional development process from “Design, Build, Sell” to “Sell, Design, Build”. This fixes the problem of a “long, fuzzy front-end of development” by getting your team, product, and business model on the right track in 90 days, providing they meet certain starting prerequisites. This makes SyncDev the fastest path to success for most new products and markets.
SyncDev is intensely interpersonal. A senior cross-functional, core team operates under a business unit general manager (or with a startup CEO) within a prescribed product and business-model envelop. They meet in wave-like rhythm with prospective customers’ decision-making teams on their premises, face to face. Like a jury who has a shared experience by hearing from all witnesses, the core team of typically four to six people attend all first customer meetings.
Customer meetings start with a James-Bond-like movie opening to quickly establish the team’s relevance to the customer and pave the way for asking customers questions about their business, what they’re doing, why and how, what problems they’re having, and what they’re doing to address them.
The team conducts a deep design review of their product: mission, use cases, benefits, advantages, limitations, and product roadmap. The last quarter of the meeting is about the path-to-purchase to test purchase intent.
Meetings produce product and business news and a shared team experience. Good news is good news: keep doing what you’re doing. No news is bad news: fix you’re engagement model. Bad news is there; dig it out. Bad news early is good news; it triggers pivots. The team experience triggers fast action.
SyncDev runs from concept design through early scale-up to be sure the ‘dog is eating the dog food.’
Lean Since Before Lean Was Cool
SyncDev is a metaphor to lean manufacturing, i.e., when auto parts from Japan arrive in Detroit at exactly the right place and time. It’s a walk-the-talk version of what Eric Ries advocates in his popular book The Lean Startup, something we’ve done for 30 years 400 products at 250 public and private tech companies, often under the sponsorship of investors.
Steve Blank, author, Four Steps to the Epiphany, says, “Frank Robinson independently came up with many of the concepts in Customer Discovery and Validation long before I wrote about them.”
SyncDev is For CEOs, General Managers, and Capital Sources
SyncDev is a capital allocation tool for CEOs, GMs, and investors. It’s an execution tool for cross-functional teams of marketers, designers, and engineers. In thirty years, virtually no one but a GM in a large company or a CEO in a small one ever adopted SyncDev because it is primarily they who:
- Can form a cross-functional team whose members must leave their ‘day job’
- Feel the heat of risk and return and have a holistic, hilltop view of issues
- Have the authority to press on through a jungle of issues or call it quits early
SyncDev is For Big Opportunities
If you want to open a lemonade stand, just do it. Capital requirements and risks are low. But if your idea is big, you’ll need a team, time, and money which entail risk.
Risky ideas are new products, new markets, acquisitions and mergers. If you say, “We’ll succeed. I know exactly what to do,” but you’ve never done exactly that before, that’s risk. SyncDev will help. If an idea is new to the world or your company, risk is high. SyncDev will help. If it’s a next-generation product, risk may be low or medium. SyncDev may help. If you want to take an existing product to a new market or to a new department at existing customers, risk is medium to high. SyncDev will help. If a new product that wasn’t synced has disappointing financial results, SyncDev will help fix it. If you’re looking at an acquisition and you’re uncertain about market, organizational, or cultural fit, SyncDev will help you decide and, as appropriate, accelerate integration.