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The Journey and The Struggle - An introduction to Productisation



Productisation is generating a lot of interest right now.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it describes an approach to product development that is customer-centric and value-based, rather than one that is functional or grounded in technology.

Value matters in 2017 because competition in digital (or ‘tech’) is increasing exponentially and 80% of people’s time is monopolised by a tiny number of products. Time is finite and choice is overwhelming, so new products that are unclear about the value they deliver have zero chance of making themselves heard above the noise.


The Struggle

Productisation obliges leadership teams to contemplate their product from the perspective of the user, the outcomes users seek to achieve and the progress they want to make in their lives.

Thanks to Daniel Kahneman, we know that product usage and new product adoption are emotional, not rational, and that we post-rationalise our choices afterwards.

People do not alter their situation without forcing functions or ‘push’ factors, so it’s essential for your user to be dissatisfied with the status quo. Productisation, therefore, starts with an understanding of what we call ‘the struggle.’ This requires insight into your ideal customer’s current situation and a clear view of their reasons for seeking change.

Whilst the utility of a product may seem clear, the forces of demand reduction are often overlooked. Habit and anxiety are your silent competitors. Or, as Whale’s Justin Kansuccinctly puts it:

“Startups mostly don’t compete against each other, they compete against no one giving a shit.”

As product developers, it’s natural to emphasise the benefits of the new products and services we are introducing. But we forget the extent to which people irrationally overvalue the benefits of their existing products. Loss aversion is more powerful than perceived gain.

Founders and product teams that understand the ‘4 forces’ of push/pull, habit/anxiety that act on us during ‘switching’ moments are better at communicating the real value of their product whilst neutralizing concerns about change.


The Journey

Productisation also means understanding ‘the journey’ that all users undertake as they progress from disinterested prospect to (ideally) committed advocate.

As Social Capital’s Chamath Palihipatiya brilliantly described it:

“Users are only ever in three states — they’ve never heard about it; they’ve tried it; and they use it. What you’re managing is state change.”

Product mastery means managing state change. If you want to think about your product, don’t think screens or features, think about it in terms of 4 pillars:

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