At the beginning of the year, I’ve seen some people make predictions for the coming year(s). Predictions like trends in technology, which will, in turn, impact the job market. There were also predictions on how company cultures will lean towards now with remote work. And along with these predictions, new frameworks came along as well.
Trends will come and then they will go. Sometimes they even come back. In my years of building products, I’ve also seen the same trend, rearranged a bit, and then called by a different name. 😂
But at the bottom of all these shiny, new, things - there are principles to product development that will always be around. Foundations that will hold up regardless of any trend. And fundamentals that will always be true regardless of the technologies, trends, and situations we might find ourselves neck-deep in.
So let me share with you 8 fundamentals of Product Development that I have learned, and have guided my ways of doing Product Management over the years.
Having a “Learning Mindset” is one of the most important things to have when building products regardless of your role in it. The ability to reflect, understand, and improve any situation and relationship will have such a profound impact on one’s growth (and maybe even mental health).
Always define how you would measure success (or failure). Having this clear for yourself, your teams, and your stakeholders, will make it so much easier to decide how to move forward. Should you continue? Should you pivot? What have you learned? Your definition of success will help you with that. Without it, you always risk making decisions that will have the least impact, or even the biggest cost. Or worse, you risk indecision.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, use Jira or Monday for tracking, or whatever it is that’s hot on Product Hunt these days. What matters most is that you’re working as a team in the best way that’s possible for you as a group. That your process opens your communication lines, keeps your team productive, and empowers people to be proactive. Your processes and tools should enable you, not make things more difficult.
“Product Development is not linear”. We don’t always start with a problem, a goal, or a mission. Most of the time we start in the middle - with an idea, or an insight, or even a directive from above. It’s ok. We cannot force the process to be followed especially by other people who are not familiar with it. Sometimes we have to work backwards or skip some steps. The world will not end when don’t follow the rules. What’s important is that we always know if we’re delivering value.
Build relationships, confidence, and effectively trust between yourself, the teams, the stakeholders, and everybody involved in building the product. It makes things so much easier to influence decisions, manage conflicts, and get the help and support necessary to be successful.
Effective communication is more than just being transparent and consistent with your information. It’s knowing who your audience is and understanding what they need to know to make them feel confident to be part of the conversation and comfortable to make a decision that goes beyond their personal benefit and really focus on what’s important to be able to deliver maximum value. Arm yourself with data and empathy.
At the end of the day, we do what we do always to deliver value. And that we deliver value to the people we are building our products for. We do that by prioritizing and solving problems that, when solved, will have the highest positive impact on the people we are solving them for. They can be your target users, your team, or even your stakeholders. Everything else in between is just preference.
“It depends” is and will always be the one answer to rule them all. Which tool should we use? Which option should we go with? How should we approach the situation? They all depend on the different contexts that we are all part of. It depends on what is available, accessible, possible, and viable. There is no silver bullet framework or methodology that will solve your problem. Instead, understand your situation and your problems to solve - and then try different things until you find a solution that fits. Be prepared to change your mind. Because that means you’ve learned.
Which brings us back to #1.
Whenever I get asked for advice on whether one should use Scrum or Kanban, best practices on building a roadmap, or managing difficult stakeholders, I find myself looking back on these fundamentals and responding with:
“It depends. What problem are you to solve and who are you solving it for? Talk to them and try to find out what can bring the biggest value to their lives. And iterate from there.”
Which fundamentals have remained with you for as long as you’ve done Product Building? Can you share in the comments?
Got questions, feedback, violent reactions? Or other learnings you want to share with other human beings? Leave them in the comments below👇
Dear Product Managers, Engineers, Designers, and aspiring product builders,
If you’re looking for support in navigating this crazy beautiful world of Product Building, you're welcome to book a call with me. And let's do some discovery, shall we?
You can also write me at email@example.com 👋
If you found this story valuable, how about passing it on to a friend?
Or how about subscribing to my newsletter if you haven’t already?
Oh Kax, thank you for sharing these fundamentals that have guided your product management over the years. They serve as valuable reminders for anyone involved in product development.
This inspired me a lot. Really applicable to redefining sales processes, too. Learning mindset and focus on delivering value FTW! Thank you , Kax.