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02. The MRD

Introduction to the MRD and Customer Discovery Research Techniques
Monday, September 8th, 2014: 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM 
Hawes 203

  1. Seven Lessons I Learned from Dinnr's Failure by Michal Bohanes (focus on Lesson #1; you can skim/skip the rest)
  2. Customer Development for Product Managers by Cindy Alvarez
  3. Case Study: Customer Interview Questions by LIFFFT
  4. PM101 MRD outline
  5. Campus Map MRD by Irem Metin (PM101 '12)
  6. The following notes were assigned for TEM/FIELD 3 last year: Hypothesis-Driven Entrepreneurship, HBS 812-095, Customer Discovery & Validation for Entrepreneurs, HBS 812-097, and Customer Visits for Entrepreneurs, HBS 812-098. (These notes are available for download under the Learning Hub's entry for today's session for students registered in PM 101; via the Baker Library Case Request Form for other current HBS students; and via the HBR Store for others, with a $7 charge for each PDF: sorry!) (OPTIONAL)
  7. Compilation #1: Readings on UX Research Techniques (OPTIONAL)
  8. Compilation #2: Readings on the Lean Startup Approach (OPTIONAL)
  9. Notes on Concepts/Techniques (OPTIONAL; note that this document will be updated frequently, so don't assume your download is the final version!)
  1. Review our outline for an MRD. Bring to class any questions you have about its topic areas. What do see as the pros and cons of preparing an MRD? 
    Can you suggest alternative approaches for systematically assessing market need for an application?
  2. Read the MRD that Irem Metin wrote in PM101 '12 for a new campus map application. Does the MRD provide the information you'd want to decide whether to proceed with development? Can you think of ways to improve the MRD, in particular, additional research that could be conducted?
  3. Our MRD asks you to identify customer segments and customer needs. To practice doing this, imagine you are Drew Houston planning to develop Dropbox in 2007. What are the key customer segments that Dropbox could target and the most important customer needs that your envisioned product could meet for these customers? Create a grid that arrays segments as rows and needs as columns, and use "moons" inside the cells (full, half, quarter, new) to indicate whether you think a given need is of high/medium/low/no importance to a given segment.
  4. With respect to the optional readings listed above, if you don't feel that you have a good understanding of hypothesis testing and user experience research techniques, re-read the three HBS notes that were assigned in TEM/FIELD 3 last year. If you do have a good grasp of this material, you should: 1) skim the notes, or if you prefer, read the relevant sections of the document "Notes on Concepts/Techniques" (i.e., the sections "Design Thinking," "Customer Discovery," "Solution Generation," and "Solution Validation/MVP Testing"); and then also 2) selectively read some items from Compilations #1 and #2 that seem relevant to your research plans. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the contents of these compilations -- they include lots of blog posts that could provide insights and practical guidance as you develop your app.
  5. Contrast the process of developing an MRD with the design thinking approach you studied in FIELD 2. Are these approaches compatible?
  6. Contrast the process of developing an MRD with the lean startup approach you studied in TEM and FIELD 3, i.e., formulating business model hypotheses then testing them with minimum viable products. Are these approaches compatible?
Purchase Suggestions 
  • Inspired by Marty Cagan: an excellent overview of the PM role, how it relates to other functions (engineering, marketing, etc.), and the tools and processes employed by PMs.
  • Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann: discusses PM role and how it differs at big tech companies; explores career planning issues for PMs; presents lots of interview questions and advice on how to approach them
  • Don't Make me Think by Steve Krug: Short, sweet introduction to user experience design for web applications
  • hoodie: for street cred!