What definition do we mean when we talk about product? Like being a “product company” or working in “product management”?
A few things spring to my mind — creating something for use by a customer that can be packaged and sold to many customers in a generalized form, done repeatably and sustainably in a process.
Marty Cagan has a cogent definition here that I really liked:
When I was being coached on the tech lead role, my engineering manager needed me to understand that when creating products for the real world, engineering was not enough. He drew on the whiteboard a very simple but important equation:
Product = Customer x Business x Technology
He went on to explain that a successful tech product has to solve for the customer, has to solve for our business, and has to solve for the technology.
This equation maps to our four big risks in tech products: addressing usability risk is part of solving for the customer; addressing feasibility risk is part of solving for the technology; and addressing business viability risk is part of solving for the business. And value risk is a function of all three.
In my decade of experience doing this, I’ve come to discover that there’s a “special sauce” to the talent combination that makes a person thrive in working on a product. If core members of your product development team don’t have an understanding of (or at least a respect for) their adjacent areas, they won’t make it:
It’s absolutely critical that your company’s leaders in product management, user experience design, and engineering all have a deep understanding of this fundamental equation of product, and they need to actively coach their product managers, designers and engineers on this as well.