Continuing the discussion around how to approach developing a new to the world / industry product (that started off over in the Ask A Good Product Manager post) I wanted to point to a great post and developing conversation that Saeed Khan kicked off over on the blog On Product Management. Saeed tackles this question admirably and offers thoughts about why sometimes you just have to proceed in developing since consumers might have no idea they have a problem until they are presented with the solution. I think the discussion that ensues in the Comments section, where I’ve added my own two cents, pretty thoroughly explores the space and helps clarify thinking in how to approach developing a novel solution.
I personally believe the framework for new product development remains highly relevant even for novel solutions where a real world context is hard to identify. It just requires flexibility in how you approach it and a willingness to proceed based on your own personal convictions while seeking additional data to support your belief that there is a pony in there somewhere.