We keep hearing “customer is the king” but rarely actually listen to her. Listening should not end with merely collecting feedback. It is even more important to understand the real “pain point” of the customer. Just hearing the customer and doing what they ask, is a very bad way of solutioning and serving the customer. Product designers must probe deep underlying pain points of customers and come up with the most optimal solutions for a common pain point.
In a service-led model, the customer is the one who is creating and financing the product. The service provider is more into execution with little interest to innovate or productize.
In a product methodology, there is no client to begin with. You are the creator, early user and financier of the product. At Xoxoday, we have learnt over time and iterated with various methodologies, but this golden rule has worked very well for us. It is also important to understand who the stakeholders are and who are the final decision-makers in each step. A democratic decision-making leads to delays, poor ownership and directionless product design.
Start With Why
Every feature in the product is costly in terms of time and opportunity cost. Whenever taking one feature for production, there is some other feature which gets delayed. Hence, very thoughtful planning on feature prioritization is very important. The fundamental for any model starts with Why.
Plan The What
Once the Why is established, the planning for What is easier. In this step, the product and design teams should collaborate to define the nuts and bolts of the feature. It’s important to define the problem statement very clearly. A problem well stated is a problem well solved. It’s always important that the problem is directly heard from the source rather than through various layers of people leading to Chinese whispers and distorted problem statements.
Plan The How
This step is about executing the What. In this step, the technology teams should plan the execution of the features as defined in process 2. The How decisions should lie with the product and engineering teams together.
Identify The Who
Once the problem statement and the approach to a solution are stated, its time to identify the right person or team to execute it. The right combination of the team with the right skills for the problem and solution is important for optimal results. The Who decisions should lie with the engineering teams.
Plan The When
The deadlines are easy to predict when the first four steps are clear. Most of the times, project timelines are wrongly estimated due to lack of clarity in the first four steps. One should never jump to this step unless there is proper detailing of each of the other four steps. The When decisions should lie with the engineering teams.
This article is most relevant for software products. However, these learnings can be relevant to other industries too.