Quintessential Product Development
In my most recent book “Quintessence” I map out the details of what makes for highly effective software development organisations.
As fas as software development organisations are concerned, it’s a bit of a moot point – as software is generally something to be avoided, rather than sought (see also: #NoSoftware).
“The way you get programmer productivity is by eliminating lines of code you have to write. The line of code that’s the fastest to write, that never breaks, that doesn’t need maintenance, is the line you never had to write.”
~ Steve Jobs
There are just a few complementary concepts that mark out the quintessential product development company. These are:
- Whole Product.
- Systematic Product Management.
- Whole Organisation (systems thinking).
The quintessential product development organisation embraces the concept of “whole product”. Which is to say, these organisations emphasise the need to have every element of a product i.e. core product elements plus a range of “intangibles” – everything that is needed for the customer to have a compelling reason to buy (Mckenna 1986).
Systematic Product Management
Quintessential product development organisations take a systematic approach to flowing new product ideas and features through a number of stages – often in parallel (Ward 1999) – to predictably arrive at a successful new product in the market:
- Inception – spotting a gap in the market, a.k.a. some (potential customer) needs going unmet, interesting enough to do some discovery.
- Discovery – uncovering and proving the real needs of customers, the things they value, the likely usability of possible solutions, the feasibility of meeting everyone’s needs, and the viability of a product as a means to these ends. In essence, the key risks facing the proposed product.
- Implementation – building a whole product solution, i.e. both core elements and “intangibles”.
- Launch – Placing the product on sale (or otherwise making it available to customers).
- Feedback – Seeing how the market responds.
- Pivot or Augmentation – Acting on feedback to either reposition the solution (in response to unfavourable feedback) or to incrementally update / extend the “whole product” offering to continually strengthen the product’s value proposition and appeal.
- Cash Cow – Reap the commercial rewards of a strong product and market share.
- Sunsetting – Wind down the product in a way that meets the ongoing needs of all the Folks That Matter™️ (e.g. continued support, spare parts, etc.; easing customers’ transition to newer products; etc.).
It’s common for organisations to think in terms of silos. A Product Management or Product Development silo being but one more silo in a long and ever-lengthening list.
In the quintessential organisation, the whole organisation is geared around – amongst other things – the task of regularly and predictably getting new products and new product features/updates out the door and into the hands of customers. In the longer term, new products are the life blood of most organisations, especially in the technology industries.
We only have to look e.g. Toyota and their TPDS (Toyota Product Development System) to see both an example of how this works in practice, and the huge benefits of the whole-organisation approach.
Quintessential product development organisations embrace a range of progressive ideas such as Prod•gnosis and Flow•gnosis.
Marshall, R.W. (2013). Product Aikido. [online] Think Different Available at: https://flowchainsensei.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/productaikido041016.pdf [Accessed 13 Jan. 2022].
Mckenna, R. (1986). The Regis Touch: New Marketing Strategies for Uncertain Times. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
Perri, M. (2019). Escaping The Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value. O’Reilly.
Ward, A.C. (1999). Toyota’s Principles of Set-Based Concurrent Engineering. [online] MIT Sloan Management Review. Available at: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/toyotas-principles-of-setbased-concurrent-engineering/. [Accessed 13 Jan. 2022].