Product Thinking: Shifting from Project to a Product Mindset
Making a shift in your organization to focus on products rather than projects can be a seismic shift.
Therefore stop thinking in terms of individual projects (outputs) and make the shift towards product thinking or an outcome-focused mindset.
Many companies kick off individual projects with specific goals, timelines, budgets, and resources. These teams are tasked with a singular focus – clear the backlog and finish the project. They rely heavily on the Product Owner to work with the stakeholders to determine features and priorities. The team trusts that the Product Owner is making the right decisions and follows their lead.
Scrum indicates that the Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value delivered by the product and that the team is responsible for the execution.
The Product Owner controls the ‘What,’ and the Team develops the ‘How.’
A project is a planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.
This thinking is quickly becoming a limiting factor for organizations that are in highly competitive markets or industries. Furthermore, companies are finding that thinking in terms of a bunch of horizontal projects instead of vertical products is hindering their ability to adjust to ever-shifting customer demands or to drive innovation.
Individual project teams are normally chartered to work on a set of deliverables or outputs. Often these teams work in a vacuum, blissfully unaware of other projects or company objectives. This approach creates silos that make it difficult to track and coordinate dependencies. Furthermore, these silos generate gaps in knowledge, skills, and architecture platforms. Making it difficult for companies to shift projects between teams without huge retooling and education costs.
Check out our video webinar on this topic.
The business dictionary has an interesting definition for a product under its marketing category:
A product is a good or service that most closely meets the requirements of a particular market and yields enough profit to justify its continued existence.
Building a product-focused company required a shift in strategic and tactical thinking across the organization. Consequently, companies must begin to empower teams to build products and services that meet current customer demand. Accordingly, teams must be allowed to shift priorities and begin to innovate to drive customer retention and acquisition.
As a result this requires a new product thinking mindset that allows Product Owners and teams to identify what customer really want, and will retain and attract new customers, what they are will they will pay for.
Allowing a team to become Product focused required a change in team dynamics. The Team and Product Owner must begin developing approaches that allow them to identify what customers want, what will retain and attract new customers, and what they will pay for. Only when a company shifts in this thinking can it start leveraging the software to build a true competitive advantage.
Benefits to product Thinking:
- Focus on Customer
- System Scalability – efficiencies of scale (services, web components, hardware…)
- Modern software development practice
- Building a better, more innovative product
- Understand the customer – likes and dislikes, needs, wants, what they are willing to pay for, nice to haves, must-haves…