Tom Hulme of IDEO talks about launching the product or service as idea before the actual release of it in the market. In the software parlance it would saying launch your product in beta state or may be even Alpha state when it is still an idea.
He talks about a simple 3 step process: Skip the focus group, take the idea / product to the real users and take their feedback
- You get the pulse of the real customers before you invest too much.
- Know the real target group for the product based on the response
- Customers get to participate in building up the product / service
- Ideas are there in the open and can be picked up by potential competition
- Launching work-in-progress products can lead to legal and operational issues
- If the idea is rejected before it is perceived correctly by the public, you may not get the second chance
Like everything else, I think this approach can be used for certain type of products and may be for some range of services. I would say may be for absolutely new ideas that have no precedents and you may wonder if it would be accepted at all, or products where you roughly know the idea but may want to fine tune it based on the customer feedback and their experience. Universally applying this would lead to more chaos than what can be handled by most entrepreneurs.