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Why regular and early testing is important - an example from Andy Grove’s High Output Management book


Zsolt is our design founder with a background in UX design & research. He's behind most of what happens at PingPong. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

As a Hungarian entrepreneur, I have a genuine interest in other Hungarian entrepreneurs. Andy Grove is a Hungarian born businessman who escaped the communist regime in 1956. He was the 1st hire of Intel and led the company as CEO for a decade. He wrote a phenomenal book called High-output Management.

One of his little lessons I’ve always loved is about process, in which he uses the example of the “breakfast factory. In the breakfast factory, our customers all want our most popular menu item: a 3-minute boiled egg, French toast and a cup of piping hot coffee. To deliver everything at just the right time and keep our customers happy, we must work around bottlenecks and other limitations.

Without going into too much detail, here’s the key takeaway:

He explains that you want to package processes as "black boxes". You design your process as efficiently as possible. You input raw materials, labor and time and produce an output. Waiting until the very end to test your product is too risky. What if something goes wrong in your well-designed process and you get a faulty product? You want to make sure your product hits certain standards during production and not at delivery.

The solution? Cut windows into your box to see what's going on. This way you can test your products and know exactly what's going on. As a result, testing ensures high quality and avoids faulty products, so customers will get exactly what they ordered: a perfect 3-minute boiled egg, a French toast and a cup of hot coffee.

What’s amazing in this example is that you can embrace the same idea in today's digital product development. The process of building digital products is no different than Intel's factory production lines. We are working through a well designed process to build great products for people. User testing only at the end of the process is just too risky.

So how can we make a difference and eliminate the risk of building poor and not-so-great digital products? You'll need to add user research into your product development and monitor the quality of your product in the process with real user feedback. This is the only way to build high quality products that solves real problems for your customers.

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