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The Four Necessary Focus Areas for Building Better Products

Alessio Symons

Alessio Symons

July 14, 2021

Building better products is an ongoing and increasingly important process. With traditional marketing channels eroding, captive audiences disappearing, and a sea of options available to customers, the quality of your products is the basis of everything your organization says, does and is. 

That’s where the Product Thinking approach comes in. Through Product Thinking, large organizations can work with the agility of a start-up, de-risking innovation and empowering their ambitious teams to experiment. It’s an approach based on four key focus areas:

1. Assemble best-in-class, cross-disciplinary product teams

Every great product team is designed to be cross-disciplinary and collaborative. Engineers, designers, researchers, and product strategists should work together as equal partners throughout the process. This diversity of thinking not only brings valuable, craft-specific insights to every product decision; the cross-disciplinary expertise of this mix of individuals also drives a unified approach to product development.

If you hire the best and make room for natural cross-disciplinary tension, you’ll soon discover that there’s extra space for genuinely innovative ideas. 

2. Commit to continuous discovery on every project

The aim of every project should be simple. You need to ensure not just that you’re building right but also that you’re building the right thing. The only way to do that is to commit to continuous discovery from first ideation through to launch and beyond with dedicated team members focused on testing and validating using the four product risk areas—desirability, usability, viability, and feasibility—throughout. 

In addition to testing and validating, your team should be set up to embed emerging customer, market and technical insights into your product-development efforts.

3. Use the Product Thinking playbook to align your team around a project plan

Every project is different, which is why we created the Product Thinking playbook as a guiding framework for navigating complexity and replicating impact. As a core system of success, the playbook serves as a powerful training and enablement tool, embedding best practices into your product-development process and elevating your efforts in every project. 

When creating a project plan, bring core members of the team together and set up a three-month schedule with tactics, activities and stakeholder check-ins to keep everyone on the same page.

4. Focus on the product and its customer to accelerate product development 

By focusing on the product and its customer, you can increase the speed at which a concept becomes a prototype and a prototype becomes a launch-ready product. With a market opportunity identified, the Product Thinking approach ensures that you don’t lag behind your competitors or miss the mark entirely. 

The three previous focus areas are crucial for realizing this final one. You can stay focused on the product and its customer more easily with a cross-disciplinary team, a commitment to continuous discovery and a Product Thinking project plan.

Product Thinking is a repeatable approach that ensures that you, your team and your organization are consistently progressing and genuinely building better products. Even with a sea of options and a complex product environment, there are massive opportunities for product builders committed to their craft and to impacting the lives of their customers.

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