Why do so many Product Centricity transformations fail ?

A simple framework to succeed in your transformation

A simple framework to guide your transformation

Why do so many Product Centricity transformations fail ?

Why do we fail ?
  • Our company is not fitted for Product Centricity
  • Product Centricity is a myth that only works in GAFAs
  • We lack the right talents to support a Product Centricity transformation (especially the right CPO 😇)

Step 1: Aligning on the Current State

1.1 Understand “Why” Product Centricity is on your CEO’s agenda

1.2 Validate a shared diagnosis about the Current State

  • Why tech delivery has slowed down ? Perhaps because there are more bugs in every sprint, slowing down the velocity…
  • Why do we have more bugs ? Perhaps because we develop too much features, preventing the tech team to ship quality code because of the delivery pressure…
  • Why do we develop too much features ? Perhaps because we need to ship 10 features to have at least one that succeeds…
  • Why do we need to ship 10 features to have at least one successful ? Perhaps because we don’t really understand the needs of our users
  • Why don’t we understand the needs of our users ? Perhaps because no one in the company really talks (or better: listens) to them…

1.3 Keep in mind what Kinds of CEO is your CEO as regards to Product Centricity (context)

  • Command and control: think they know exactly what (feature) to do
  • Sales driven: consider Product and Tech as pure enablers
  • Product fooled: think they know about product but doesn’t
  • Product obsessed: validate every Product decision, no delegation of trust or empowerment

Step 2 : Aligning on the Desired State

2.1 Define a common vocabulary around Product Centricity for the company

  • Mission (and Principles) are at the top of the pyramid. If your company doesn’t have a clear mission and principles, focus on defining them.
  • Context is the second level of the pyramid. Every company has a specific context even if it evolves in a common space that other competitors. For instance Zalando is an e-commerce company but “shoes” are very different from “groceries” within the e-commerce space.
  • Needs are related to the context. In Zalando’s context, a need might be “easy returns” while in a grocery e-commerce company, “delivery speed” might be a need.
  • Problems are related to a need, they can be seen as opportunities for the company. For instance, as regards to the “returns” need, cost can be a problem for the customer. If you were in DIY e-commerce, convenience could be a problem (for instance if you ordered a very heavy item that you needed to return…).
  • Solution is the final step. A solution is the answer to a problem, for instance “free returns”, “home pick-up” or “don’t pay your article if you return it”.

2.2 Explain the activities that will enable Product Centricity

  • Discovery: perfectly understanding the needs of your users in the context in which you operate.
  • Strategy: once the needs are clear, you have to prioritize the solutions you will develop because, remember, tech resources are not enough to build every idea you have.
  • Delivery: once what you need to do is clear, you just need to deliver these features in time and quality

2.3 Agree on the role of Product Centricity Agents (aka Product Managers) and the principles

Step 3: Start implementing changes

3.1 Make it progressive

  • Most motivated people: you will always find some people in the company willing to embrace Product Centricity, for instance people having experienced working in a real Product company. Find them and start with them.
  • Customer facing teams: starting with very technical teams would be a mistake as sometimes, a Project Management style might do the job pretty well. Besides it might undermine the most motivated PMs.
  • Low hanging fruit: start with the team for which you see the highest potential based on your experience or your first discovery efforts.

3.2 Make clear what role the CEO could play to ease product centricity

  • Challenging the teams on outcomes, not outputs (”what impact did you have over the last weeks” against “how many features did you ship”)
  • Focusing the company on a very limited set of objectives so that PMs and teams can prioritize on their own without resorting to the CEO at the very end (#empowerment)
  • Fostering collaboration by not praising/blaming only the PM if things go right/wrong, instead favoring always product teams overs individuals and business units

Conclusion

  • Understand “Why” Product Centricity is on your CEO’s agenda
  • Validate a shared diagnosis about the Current State
  • Keep in mind what Kinds of CEO is your CEO as regards to Product Centricity
  • Define a common vocabulary around Product Centricity for the company
  • Explain the activities that will enable Product Centricity
  • Agree on the role of Product Centricity Agents (aka Product Managers) and the principles
  • Make it progressive
  • Make clear what role the CEO could play to ease product centricity

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Tech entrepreneur, Coach, Trainer | Founder @WILL, ex-CPO (Chief Product Officer) at ManoMano, ex Founding Partner at Artefact

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Pierre FOURNIER

Pierre FOURNIER

Tech entrepreneur, Coach, Trainer | Founder @WILL, ex-CPO (Chief Product Officer) at ManoMano, ex Founding Partner at Artefact

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