It is common to hear comments from people who are getting to know about digital product management and development and even those who have been working in this area for a few years that this area is full of frameworks and tools.
Product vision, value exchange map, product strategy, team structure, tribe, squad, chapter, OKR (Objectives and Key Results), roadmap, backlog, design sprint, scrum, sprint, retrospective, design thinking, persona, ICP (ideal customer profile), empathy map, agile methodologies, kanban, daily review, lean startup, user story mapping, jobs to be done, a/b test, product analytics, customer development, growth, product-led growth, AARRR (acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and recommendation), MVP (Minimum Viable Product), business model canvas, customer journey maps, continuous delivery, kano model, value vs. effort matrix, BCG matrix, product life cycle, SWOT analysis, RASCI (responsible, accountable, support, communicated, informed), power-interest grid, and so on.
No wonder people are scared. The number of tools and frameworks is huge!
It is important to know these tools and know how to use them. Some are used more often, some less often, but they are all useful when used for the most appropriate problems and situations. Making an analogy with physical tools, even to fix a screw, there is screwdriver, Philips screwdriver. Allen key, and so on.
However, before getting to know the tools, it is very important to understand the principles that guide digital product development and management, as these are the principles that justify using this or that tool.
A principle is a proposition or value that guides behavior or an assessment.
That is, principles are what guide the behavior we should have when dealing with a situation. It is a concept that goes hand in hand with the concept of values that make up the culture of a company or a group of people. I have been approaching this subject for a long time, to the point that in my last book, I dedicated 12 chapters to the subject.
And what are the principles behind successful digital product development? Here they are:
The sooner we present the product to our users, the better, as we can receive feedback from real users who can use the product in their context. In this article, I explain the 4 reasons why it is so important to release early and often.
As explained in this article, a very important step in creating a good solution is understanding the problem. When we hear about a problem, we immediately start thinking about solutions. However, the more time we spend learning about the problem, the easier it will be to find a solution, and chances are good that this solution will be simpler and faster to implement than the first solution we thought of. And that’s how innovations are created.
Besides being able to deliver early and often and be focused on problems, the product development team has to deliver results. Business results and results for the client and user of the product. I discussed this value in this article, clarifying that delivering features is not a result. All features are a means that serves an end, the achievement of a business objective. We must have clear business objectives.
This principle means making decisions that create value for all actors in the ecosystem where the business operates. These decisions cannot harm any of the participants of the ecosystem. I explained it at length in this article with an example from Gympass. If the company is a platform or a marketplace, this principle is quite easy to understand. Still, it also applies if the business does not operate as a platform or marketplace. If you are a business with one type of customer, the ecosystem is formed by the customer and the business, and this principle means that you cannot make decisions that benefit the business but harm the customer or vice-versa. You can make decisions that benefit that business and don’t affect the customer, but you cannot harm the customer. And vice-versa, you cannot harm the business for the customer’s benefit. This principle builds on top of the customer-centric concept but expands it to include all different customers and the business in this mindset.
For example, Continuous delivery is an excellent tool to help us deliver fast and often, just like agile methodologies. Design thinking is a great tool to help us focus on the problem and think of possible solutions. Jobs to be done is also a great tool for focusing on the problem. I really like using OKRs to help with the delivery of results and also to focus on the problem (what problem do we need to solve = what goals do we want to achieve). Plus, weekly check-in OKRs help you deliver fast and often. Product analytics is also very useful for delivering results. Product vision with a value exchange map is my tool of choice to help visualize the need for an ecosystem mindset.
However, they are not the only ones. By understanding digital product development and management principles, you can find other tools and even create your own tool. You will also be able to discern whether you should use a tool “by the book” or whether tweaks to the tool are necessary for your scenario.
I’ve been helping companies and their leaders (CPOs, heads of product, CTOs, CEOs, tech founders, and heads of digital transformation) bridge the gap between business and technology through workshops, coaching, and advisory services on product management and digital transformation.
I write regularly about product management, product development, digital product leadership, and digital transformation. You can receive a notification whenever I publish a new article without depending on any social network algorithms to notify you! Just subscribe to my newsletter.
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