Creating products that improve people’s lives is a powerful experience. That Is why, whenever I enter a product manager role, I embrace the product from the customer’s perspective. All the time keeping in mind that people are not interested in how their needs are met or how long it takes. They are interested in knowing that you know what their needs are.I have heard that the best product manager falls in love with the problems their products are trying to solve. But, how do we know what those problems are?
The main vision
I will probably repeat myself, but the key to everything is the vision of the product which deals with what is possible and what is required, cultivating harmony between strategy and skill. By vision, I mean a clear understanding of what the market needs, not solely what the customer requests.
To begin, it's worth asking those questions:
- What customer needs do we have in mind?
- What do customers expect?
- What would it take to get customers interested in the product and make them willing to tell their friends about it?
- What product improvements will make customers' lives easier?
When answering those questions, describe what is the user’s aim, not the overall solution. Then, quantify how valuable this is to your user. Why? Because, if you can measure value, you can regulate how much value is created. And of course, keep in mind that needs are usually stable. They tend to last much longer than a solution.
There is no fixed template for the answer here, but a sentence starting with “Minimize the time it takes to...” Is a really good start. You will have the needs identified before you realize.
Customers need a statement trick
A completed statement explaining the needs of your client or problems to solve may look like this:
Example: minimize the time it takes to …. (Example of the problems of an online store)
- Minimize the time it takes to facilitate the process of purchasing clothes
- Minimize the time it takes to present products, based on personalized user parameters
- Minimize the time it takes to increase the customer satisfaction rate through profiled purchases
- Minimize the time it takes to handle returns
and so on, and so on.
The basic principle of this approach is that You must not talk about your product, but about the problem. This opens your mind to other solutions that could solve the issue.
Another thing to remember are the must-haves, or basic needs. Users usually forget about them because those needs are so obvious we just assume they are there.
Preliminarily prepared, share your findings with key stakeholders and your product team. It would also be a good idea to hold a brainstorming session to get more insight.
Then you can tell everyone about your wonderful invention – your product. Explain how your product gives the unique opportunity to change the world and make it clear how this fits with the company’s strategy. Use analogy if possible, since it activates a familiar line of neurons in your brain, leading to a comparable conclusion. That is how the human brain functions.
What is your main area of focus?
It’s a product lifecycle question. If the product is mature, then lean out. If not, focus on achieving product market fit. Early optimization is a waste.
The business canvas model works well but focuses on already running or existing products, so use the business model canvas only if you are fine-tuning an existing product.
What if you are in a startup phase, developing a new product or entering a new market? In such cases, customers are not guaranteed, partners may come and go, and your value proposition continually shifts. Then use the lean canvas to accommodate these uncertainties. The lean canvas focuses on the unique value proposition and forces you to think about metrics. Define the customer’s problem/needs and the solution. You can find more info about Lean Canvas here.
If you are interested in this topic, I recommend reading Chris Lukassen’s book: “The Product Samurai: A Product Manager’s Guide to Continuous Innovation “