Leading with business problems within a context

I believe that most modern Product Leaders will agree that leading with business problems within a context is the way forward. Or rephrased – ask empowered Product Teams to find solutions to business problems – do not tell them what solution to implement.

This seemingly modern product thinking is not new at all. General Patton knew exactly the wisdom behind not telling people how to solve a problem.

Never tell people how to do things.

Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. General Patton

Product Mindset

Ask for Outcome and trust the Team to find the right solution: Cross the river!.


Project Mindset

Ask for Output and give the Team a solution to provide: Build a bridge!

The need to nurture innovation and experimentation to achieve product / market fit

That is exactly what we want and need when hiring intelligent people:  create space for innovation and have these guys tell us what solutions to a problem work best.

For these innovative guys to thrive in a way best serving our customers, they need literally to innovate in front of our (real!) customers.  This is done repeatedly by setting-up hypotheses and testing these hypotheses with the customers in a disciplined way. Our holy grail is to ensure – and maintain – a strong product / market fit.   

Product-market fit

Inspired by Dan Olsen’s The Lean Product Playbook

You do not achieve this holy grail without a strong customer dialogue. If you fail to interact with your customers, then the only thing you’re left with are your assumptions

What do you do then?

The puzzling thing is that most “Agile Teams” today are measured on their ability to produce Output measured by metrics like “velocity“.  

Sure – it is important to have solid engineering practices and tool-chains in place enabling an efficient flow in your team’s delivery. You could label that as being efficient.

But – what is far more important is the teams ability to deliver the right thing to the market. You could label that as being effective. What good is it being efficient producing tons of features, if you fail to achieve product / market fit?

This is exactly why the modern Product Team needs (also) to have a strong Product Management competence. And no – being a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) does not make you a strong Product Manager. A Product Manager is a job description. A Product Owner is just a role in an Agile framework.

The modern Product Team needs to be effective and efficient. You might want to visit my article on Product Discovery.