July 21, 2017

Embrace the Product Mindset

Our first public Product Mindset Workshop was rife with interesting conversations and discussions. One common theme that emerged from these was a pretty basic question: “how do we start the cultural shift required to embrace the Product Mindset?”

While the specifics will depend on the organization, I have a few brief recommendations on where you can start to move toward a Product Mindset.

Top down, bottom up

As with any cultural shift in an organization, it must have champions at many levels. From the top executives to the boots on the ground, you need servant leaders who will shepherd the adoption process through influence and coaching.

Involve Everyone

This is a mindset shift. It’s something you want everyone to buy into and adopt. The easiest way to achieve this shift is to make sure everyone has a voice (which differs from making sure everyone “feels” like they have a voice). Involve them in the process, take their suggestions, and implement the ones that make sense in your organization. We have whole sections of our Product Mindset that came from software engineers in the trenches.

Make it Visible

Because this is a cultural shift, it needs to be visible and talked about frequently. Put the core values in a place that people see them often (for example, we have Product Mindset stickers on all of our laptops). Make sure your product vision and business outcomes are loud and proud in a prominent place. Everyone in your organization should be able to tell you who your target customer is and what problem your product is trying to solve for them.

Make Small Changes

Change doesn’t happen overnight. You need to find those small keystone habits to begin your transformation. For example, ensuring there is a value statement in every user story, or creating a life-sized bust of your persona that has an actual chair at the planning table. Find the small habits that reinforce the good behaviors, and build on those.

Transformation in Action

We were recently brought in to implement change in a top tier organization. Their operations group was as agile as they come. They were cranking out high volumes of story points with every iteration. However, over time they noticed they weren’t actually making any progress. Their NPS scores were still just satisfactory. Their users were using their product because they had to, not because they wanted to. They knew they needed a change.

Every team member was trained in the Product Mindset, including their executive team. We worked with their senior level employees to empower them to push the mindset down into their teams. At the same time, we identified a few core servant leaders inside the teams themselves. We even elected “value captains” for every sprint to be the person on point to facilitate the value conversation if it didn’t happen naturally.

Over time we saw the value conversation happening more often, and the teams starting to ask questions and make suggestions around how to make a particular feature fit the user better. The teams knew their efforts were making a difference when the feedback from their end user shifted from “solve my problem” type of comments to accolades around how well the features fit what they needed.

While it’s still a little early to see a full NPS shift, the feedback shift is a leading indicator that tells us that we can expect that NPS shift to being to occur soon.

Do you think that implementing the Product Mindset could make a positive change in your organization? Would you like guidance on how to start adding this value? Join us for our next Product Mindset event on Friday, August, 25th! Registration is now open, so claim your spot today. We hope to see you there!