Product Definition and Requirements Prioritization

Once we’ve got a good picture of list of potential use cases a product should go-to-market with, I’ve used Anthony Ulwick’s Outcome-driven Innovation framework to help with the Product Definition and Requirements Prioritization:

  • Visualizing the impact of user experience of any given use case based on its opportunity score;
  • Helping in the decision making process by providing a better sense of priorities;

This approach was used in 2 (two) projects I’ve managed: AutoCAD Map3D and AutoCAD Utility Design.

Outcome-driven Innovation

Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) is a strategy and innovation process built around the theory that people buy products and services to get jobs done. It links a company’s value creation activities to customer-defined metrics. Ulwick found that previous innovation practices were ineffective because they were incomplete, overlapping, or unnecessary.

Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) is a strategy and innovation process that enables a company to create and market winning product and service offerings with a success rate that is 5-times the industry average

Anthony Ulwick

Clayton Christensen credits Ulwick and Richard Pedi of Gage Foods with the way of thinking about market structure used in the chapter “What Products Will Customers Want to Buy?” in his Innovator’s Solution and called Jobs-to-be-Done or “outcomes that customers are seeking.”

Use Cases List: Pugh Matrix

Based on the work of Jon Innes and James McElroy, I’ve created Use Cases Lists (or Pugh Matrix), which are decision matrices to help evaluate and prioritize a list of options. I’ve worked with Product Management and Software Architecture teams in both AutoCAD Map3D and AutoCAD Utility Design projects first to establish a list of weighted criteria and then evaluate each use case against those criteria, trying to take the input from the different stakeholders of the team into account (user experience, business values, etc).

Using the Outcome-driven Innovation Framework above, you can prioritize the Use Cases based on their Opportunities Scores.

Opportunity Scores

Ulwick’s “opportunity algorithm” measures and ranks innovation opportunities. Standard gap analysis looks at the simple difference between importance and satisfaction metrics; Ulwick’s formula gives twice as much weight to importance as to satisfaction, where importance and satisfaction are the proportion of high survey responses.

You’re probably asking yourself, “where do these values come from?” That’s where User Research comes in handy: once you’ve got the List of Use Cases, you go back to your users and probe on how important each use case is and how satisfied with the product they are with regards to each use case.

Once you’ve obtained the opportunity scores for each use case, what comes next? There are two complementary pieces of information that the scores reveal: where the market is underserved and where the it is overserved. We can use this information to make some important targeting and resource-related decisions.

Facilitating Investment and Priorities Discussions

I’ve seen too many teams that a lot of their decisions seem to be driven by the question “What can we implement with least effort” or “What are we able to implement”, not by the question “what brings value to the user”.

From a user-centered perspective, the most crucial pivot that needs to happen in the conversation between designers and business stakeholders is the framing of value:

  • Business value
  • User value
  • Value to designers (sense of self-realisation? Did I impact someone’s life in a positive way?)

The mistake I’ve seen many designers make is to look at prioritisation discussion as a zero-sum game: our user centered design tools set may have focused too much on needs of the user, at the expense of business needs and technological constraints.

That said, there is a case to be made that designers should worry about strategy because it helps shape the decisions that not only create value for users, but value for employees.

Companies that achieve enduring financial success create substantial value for their customers, their employees, and their suppliers.

Oberholzer-Gee, F. (2021). Better, simpler strategy (2021)

For such conversation pivot to focus on value to happen, designers will need to get better at influencing the strategy of their design project. However, some designers lack the vocabulary, tools, and frameworks to influence it in ways that drive user experience vision forward. Advocating for how can we inform the decisions that increase our customer’s Willingness to Pay (WTS) by — for example — increasing customer’s delight.

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Strategy and Prioritisation

Learn more how to help teams with facilitating investment discussions with Alignment Diagrams in Strategy and Prioritisation (Photo by Breakingpic on

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