Make Products Great Again

Build the Right Thing, Build the Thing Right, Build it Fast (2/2)

In my previous article I shared a set of questions to help you boost the quality of your user stories and roadmaps. I used the 3 Forces of Product (Right Thing, Thing Right, Build it Fast) as a framework to classify the questions. Now let’s focus on how different stakeholders exercise their influence, often unconsciously, to push towards one force or the other, and how can you leverage that when needed.

1) Focus on the Right Thing. The order of the factors DOES alter the product

First things first, let’s make the customer happy again. Velocity or quality won’t solve a problem by themselves.

The solution bias

Focusing on solutions is the easy thing to do. We all think of solutions, because we see them everywhere. When you look at a competitor’s website, when you are using a certain product, you are interacting with solutions that have been created to solve problems. And unless we deal with a totally new and unexpected problem, we tend to set ourselves on automatic mode, trigger those previous experiences in our mind and look for known solutions. Familiarity makes us lean towards solution bias.

2) Find out who wants what and why

The Right Thing:

  • Product Manager: Their main job is to cure customer pains, facilitate jobs-to-be-done, answer needs, known or unknown, by means of their products. The challenge often is ensuring we are working on the right ones.
  • UX designer: Together with PMs, UX designers tend to focus both on discovery and delivery. In cases when the company has dedicated research resources, discovery could get a bit detached from designers. It is important to keep the involvement in discovery, as it will help create awareness and ownership of the customer challenges. By means of different techniques, UX should enable the Product team discovering what is that right thing.
  • BI / Analytics: Generally supporting Product teams from a data analysis perspective. Their input could be crucial to, first of all, understand what’s the right thing to work on, and second, to understand what’s the impact of our actions.
  • UX Designer: They are accountable for how your product looks and feels to the customer. They also want to ensure that customers get answers to their needs in a smooth and frictionless way.
  • Front end engineer: Pretty much between the two above, they are the ones who “make it happen”, they make products tangible. Front enders want to ensure that the customer does what it has to do, and that customer-product interaction runs as smooth as possible.
  • ‘Head of..’: Also under pressure, in this case by upper management layers, investors and business performance metrics in general. The luxury of time is very scarce at this level.
  • Customer: If you have a pain you want to cure it asap. No need to elaborate or illustrate it further, as day-to-day we are all customers of a myriad of products.

3) Find the balance

Note: As much as I try to please the analytical mini-me screaming in my head right now, this model is extremely subjective, as it not only depends on the kind and amount of stakeholders around your product, but on the power and influence you and each of them can exercise on product decisions.

  • Interests of your stakeholders. Described in the previous section. Defines the position of the stakeholder on the diagram.
  • Decision power of your stakeholders. Subjective and hard to quantify, usually (and unfortunately) guided by corporate rank or status, but also often (fortunately) guided by expertise and experience. Defines the size of the stakeholder on the diagram.
Always easier to explain it with kittens or puppies

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Creating cool products @ Revolut, formerly @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Creating cool products @ Revolut, formerly @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.