April 21, 2021

Ideas Don’t Fail – But the Products Generated From Them Often Do

The real art (and challenge) of creating a product that is going to succeed in digital health is creating something that is usable, useful, and desirable. That was the theme of “Great Ideas Don’t Always Make Great Products,” the talk 3Pillar CTO Jonathan Rivers gave recently at the Dev4Health conference. As a career product person at a developer conference, I was thrilled by the extent to which that message resonated with the audience in Cleveland.

We all know that healthcare has been among the final frontiers when it comes to putting the user at the center of the product conversation and building a solution that fixes a problem (as opposed to building a solution that’s seeking a problem.) Too often people lead with technology and thrust it upon the intended users without thinking about the implications of how that technology will fit into the user’s world.

Thankfully, throughout the conference, we heard speaker after speaker talk about the intent to flip things on their head and put the patient, the doctor, and the administrator back at the center of the conversation and focus on solving the problems they’re facing, not the other way around.

Enter the Product Mindset

At 3Pillar, we use a proprietary approach called the Product Mindset to help teams do just that. In developing digital products for hundreds of client companies in digital health, security, financial services, and many other industries, we have evolved an approach that guides our approximately 1000 developers, designers, and engineers in everything they do. The core tenets of the Product Mindset are:

  • Build for Outcomes
  • Excel at Change
  • Minimize Time to Value

These three tenets help us to be much more successful in transforming great ideas into products that are chosen by their intended audiences time and time again – always creating something that is usable, useful, and desirable.

Putting the Product Mindset into Practice

We share this approach in the hopes that some or all of it might benefit you and your team(s).

Building for Outcomes – this means pulling the user and the business goals back to the center of the conversation. Take time to truly, fully understand who is going to use the product and how their actions impact business goals. That information guides every decision around what, when, and how.

Excelling at Change is simply embracing the fact that change happens.  Rather than push against it, accept change and work as a team to reduce its impact on progress.  This means working in a way that keeps the cost of change low – learning and adapting, optimizing and automating where possible, and being willing to change direction when/if feedback so dictates.

Lastly – and most importantly, Minimize Time to Value. Build it small and iterate quickly. Short feedback loops mean checking in with the intended audience to validate you’re working in the right direction to solve their problems. Don’t be afraid to fail or change directions. If you’re validating your ideas, you’ll find that some of them are terrible and fail miserably. That’s ok – pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move where the data and your users are telling you to go.

Wrapping it Up – Start Small, But Start

Most products fail simply because we build something nobody wants. By truly understanding your users and your business, continually validating your ideas, making it small and getting it into their hands, and not being afraid to change, we believe you’re on the best path forward to building something they want to use.