How to Lead Your Product: Navigating The Problem Space (Part 2) | Hacker Noon

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@defmethodDef Method

Def Method is a software consultancy that provides product management, design, and engineering services.

I recently covered the first part of how to lead your product, with a focus on how to bring others along in uncovering insights from your User Research. You can do this with activities like affinity mapping, where you and your team work together to identify common themes emerging from your research, rather than giving them a fully baked user research report to read about your findings. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, you can read How to Lead Your Product: User Research.

The next part of the series discusses how to lead your product by keeping calm in the problem space, before jumping to solutions. 

How to Keep Calm in the Problem Space

There is an opportunity to lead your product in how you handle requests. One approach is to spend time transforming those requests into user stories and features (should it make it on your roadmap?). A better approach is to pause and spend time understanding the problem behind the request. Perhaps there is a more effective solution out there, or perhaps the problem isn’t that problematic and doesn’t need to be solved. 

This questioning piece is leading your product: you are getting at the real problem statement behind that request. You are driving to uncover assumptions that need to be validated to prove that it’s a real problem and that the solution brought to you is indeed the best approach to solving the problem. 

You can help your team spend more time in the problem space by conducting a molecule map exercise. This forces a list of features to instead become a group of molecules, each feature linked to a specific problem for a specific type of user. This makes it easy to visualize when a solution is disconnected from an actual problem experienced by an actual user. 

Let’s return back to our Chefs on Demand product that we covered in How to Lead Your Product: User Research. This is a mobile app that enables users to find a professional chef in their area to come to their home to cook a meal. We have a ton of feature requests coming in, but it’s unclear who they are for — the chef? The person booking the chef? And it’s unclear what problems are being solved, and if they are even real problems

By going through this exercise, you can start to determine the problem, see if there is another problem behind it, or come up with alternative solutions. You do this by connecting the persona to the problem to the solution. 

Here, we’ve turned the chef profile feature request into the following molecule map, where our chef profile solution addresses the problem of clients wanting to learn more about the chef before booking. With this, we can start to ideate different solutions to that problem. We can also start to explore deeper root problems – maybe it’s actually that clients don’t feel comfortable with a stranger in their home, so how could we make them more comfortable? 

This helps us slow down a bit, and not become an assembly line pushing out features from every request that comes in.

Do you have any questions about how to lead your product effectively? Sign up for a free Product Consult, which is an hour-long session where our Product Manager will help you with any product, team, or process-related challenges you’re facing. Product Consults are free for you and fun for us to do.

Previously published at https://www.defmethod.com/resources/how-to-lead-your-product-part-2

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