I appreciated Alex Cowan’s recent blog post called “Less Hostess, More Sushi. In this post, Cowan discusses providing more content for freelancers, so I took note. The post presents six ideas — he calls them “Freelancing Products” — that leverage Design Thinking, and Lean Startup. He writes that the six ideas are “highly a) sellable b) repeatable and c) valuable to the consultant’s progressive accumulation of relevant expertise.” Cowan is the author of this book: Starting a Tech Business: A Practical Guide for Anyone Creating or Designing Applications or Software. After a brief intro of good news vs bad news, he summarizes the Old (Hostess) Method and the New (Sushi) Method, about which he writes:
“These newer techniques require that everyone acknowledge the inherent uncertainty in creating a new product or market. Weaning yourself and everyone else off that sugary diet of fake certainties presents a challenge. Now you’re expecting me to say something like ‘challenge == opportunity’? Actually, what I think you should do is present a clear, actionable alternative. You should also make sure you have bite-sized starting points so you can hit doubles and make friends.”
His summary of the six ideas — aka Freelancing Products — is:
  1. Business Model Canvas: Sketch out the client’s business using the canvas. Identify the key linkages, strategic pivots, and, if applicable next steps.
  2. Personas & Problem Scenarios: Set the client up to ‘get outside the building’ and figure out who’s really using their product and why.
  3. User Stories: With the above as an input, make explicit the individual assumptions about what the user wants to do and how to make it happen with the product.
  4. Lean Strategy Management- Design: Lay out the client’s pivotal assumptions paired with an initial take on experimental design/means of vaildation.
  5. Lean Strategy Management- Maintenance: Set up checkpoints and workshops to shepherd implementation of the above.
  6. Lean Strategy Management- Financial Plan: Put together a working set of financials for the above.
For more information, read his intro to Product Development for the Non-Engineer and view his two videos about New Product Improv. In general, Cowan has great resources for Product Managers and Developers on his website, including video and presentation slides. It’s clear he really cares to help others be successful at product development. This is refreshing since most folks in his position really want to sell their own consulting services so they generally don’t provide quite so much helpful content online. Cowan is quite generous.