Product management has evolved significantly over recent years, with a growing emphasis on customer-centricity, outcome focus, and idea discovery. As this discovery is made, the importance of sharing those learnings cannot be overstated, and yet, many product teams still need to share the evidence they are gathering openly.
A recent survey uncovered that most product managers do not share knowledge or only share it with their immediate product team. Not sharing knowledge puts them in a position that inadvertently hinders transparency, trust, and innovation.
"8 out of 10 product teams don't share discovery learnings."
- RightToLeft Outcome Leader Survey
We introduce two powerful frameworks to address these issues: the Product Value Creation Plan (VCP) and the Product Problem Outline.
Unlocking potential with the Product VCP
Embracing experimentation is crucial in product management, as it enables teams to gain insights into what to build and, more importantly, what not to build. Experimentation helps prevent building the wrong thing, avoid incurring debt, and learn more about feasible solutions.
Sharing the learnings from experiments promotes a culture of innovation, supports psychological safety for the entire team, and encourages asking questions and challenging the status quo. This process helps teams to uncover better solutions and unearth problems that might have been previously overlooked.
The Product Value Creation Plan (VCP) is a framework that emphasises the importance of adding value to the customer rather than simply building solutions without a positive impact on user behaviour. It encourages teams to deliver meaningful customer outcomes, ensuring that their needs and desires are met through the products and services offered.
The Product VCP has four main principles:
- Target audience: Helps teams to understand customers and their use cases.
- Customer Value Explorer: Identifies user behaviours that create value for your customers.
- Value Assumption Builder: Articulates the valuable user behaviours for product teams to influence directly.
- Product Value Creation Tracker: Allows teams to monitor value indicators, tracking your product's impact on essential customer behaviours.
These principles help product teams focus on adding value to the customer instead of merely building solutions without positively impacting the user's behaviour.
The Product Problem Outline: A path to clarity and collaboration
The Product Problem Outline is an excellent tool for organising ideas, focusing on outcomes, and encouraging evidence sharing. It comprises problems definition, hypothesis, value for the company and customers, main action points, linked documentation, and measuring success.
This template helps teams shift from working on a predefined solution to understanding the problem, fostering product thinking throughout the organisation. As a result, teams can better engage in discovery and experimentation, moving ideas forward based on evidence and learning.
The Problem Outline consists of sections such as:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What value would this provide to the company?
- What value would it provide to our customers?
- Main Action Points
- Linked Documentation
- How do we measure success?
By reframing the entire discovery process to focus on a hypothesis supported by the VCP that adds a unique lens on value, product managers are better positioned to structure their learnings in a manner that is uniquely targeting customer value and outcomes.
Cultivating a culture of openness and continuous learning
An open and transparent culture is key to successful evidence-sharing and innovation. Encourage team members to share successes and failures, as both can offer valuable insights. Implement regular knowledge-sharing sessions where team members can present their findings, ask questions, and receive constructive feedback, creating a collaborative environment where everyone is committed to learning from each other.
Leveraging technology for effective knowledge sharing
Utilise technology to facilitate evidence-sharing and collaboration within the organisation. Implement tools and platforms that enable easy access to information, seamless communication, and efficient collaboration. This might include shared document repositories, internal wikis, or communication platforms that allow for easy sharing of insights, experiment results, and other valuable learnings.
I've been recently experimenting with a tool called Orbit that allows you to collect evidence through feedback and user interviews. All evidence can be highlighted and linked to opportunities connected through an opportunity solution tree and a roadmap. Each opportunity has an extensive template that can be used to collate all findings and easily share them with your team.
To understand the effectiveness of your evidence-sharing efforts, tracking the impact on product development and the organisation as a whole is essential. Outcome-focused product development is about understanding the value for the customer and identifying ways to make that happen. Many companies need help understanding and accurately articulating value, leading to product strategies falling apart. Too much emphasis on what to do without understanding how the product makes a difference can result in ill-informed decisions.
To address this issue, empower teams to gather evidence, present risks and benefits to leadership, and support their decision-making process. This approach promotes a sense of ownership and brings the entire team in the desired direction.
Product managers must make quick, educated decisions based on evidence. A solid foundation of data, research, and proper measurement gives the business the confidence that these decisions are well-informed, enabling the team to maintain an outcome-focused approach.
The importance of evidence-sharing in product management cannot be overstated. By embracing the Product Value Creation Plan, the Product Problem Outline, and embracing a culture of openness and continuous learning, product teams can unlock innovation, build trust and transparency, and ultimately deliver better products to their customers. By leveraging technology and measuring the impact of these efforts, organisations can ensure that they are effectively capitalising on the learnings and insights gathered throughout the product development process, driving growth and success for both the team and the company.