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Adam's Product Management Newsletter - Issue #7 - Should We Solve This Problem?

Adam Wintle
Adam Wintle
Hi there,
Finding problems to solve in product management is easy. But this is only the first step. Everyone can find problems in the product, and everyone has ideas (usually good ideas, sometimes bad) for improvements to make the product better. 
It’s actually likely more good ideas are incoming than the product team has bandwidth to properly address. It’s the product managers job to prioritise these so they work on the most important problems to fix at any given time. 
This week’s newsletter is not about a perfect way to find solutions, but it’s about something else - a guide to deciding if a problem or improvement should even be solved or looked at? 
Here’s the key areas to think about when deciding if a problem should even be worked on: 
  1. In my opinion, number one is the product team working things that will solve an important problem for customers? Is this something customers will pay for or add value to how they currently use the product? 
  2. When thinking about if a problem should be solved right now or not, I try and hypothesise what we really want to test in the market. For example there might be a specific idea for the product and you want to find out what outcome can be achieved. I try and form a hypothesise statement for every feature and major improvement which gets implemented into a product I’m managing. For example: We believe that [doing this] for [these customers] will achieve [this outcome]. We’ll know this is try when we see [this market feedback]. This process helps make sure the problems you’re solving are measurable. 
  3. Have you spoken to enough customers about this idea or problem yet? You must talk to a lot of people to truly understand a scenario or problem before committing to solving the problem. Quite often you’ll discover after having some conversations with customers that the problem is different than you originally imagined. Often you are don’t have a concrete sense of the problem and you must talk to a lot of people about their experiences with this particular problem before you start to get a good picture of what the solution might be. 
  4. Finally, avoid a “solution in search of a problem”. Quite often I find stakeholders will come to you with a solution for something without thinking carefully about the problem its trying to solve. There are a lot of methodologies for finding and validating customers problems, but the good ones involve speaking to customers and fundamentally trying to understand customer pain points, customer needs and desires. After these customer conversations try and synthesise all the feedback you’ve heard and see if it aligns with your product teams goals and also the overall organisation’s goals. 
Here’s also a few related articles on this topic: 

Ditch the Solution-First Mindset and Start by Defining the Problem
Great PMs don't spend their time on solutions
Problem Solving for Product Managers
Thank you!
Thank you for signing up and sticking with me through to the seventh issue!I very much hope you’ll enjoyed it! 
You can also help me shape the future of this newsletter. What product management topics are you curious about? Send me a note by replying to this email.
As always, if you know anyone that might enjoy my newsletter, please forward this email to them
Thanks again, 
Adam Wintle
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Adam Wintle
Adam Wintle @adamwintle

Focusing on People and Product: the intersection of psychology and product management.

After working in product for over a decade and speaking to many other product mangers (as well as UXers, growth people, marketers and techies) the number one struggle I heard again and again is that people are at the root of the majority of the problems.

Once you have mastered the basics of product management. Once you have read all the books. After you’ve been to all the conferences. You’ve seen all the YouTube videos; you’re a member of all the Slack communities. Then you are only left with learning how to lead, work with and manage other people, to get them all aligned and pointing in the same direction, so you can build your product vision and ultimately build a successful product.

This art of People & Product can take decades to master. I’m certainly not a master of this yet, but I thought you might enjoy following along on my journey. Want in?

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