The Art of Customer-Led Software Design (Part II)

The Toyota Prius defined a new market and has sold over 10 million units since its launch

Note: this is the second part of a discussion of product management, following The Science of Customer-Led Software Design.

Our goal is build software that is insightful.

The work product of a disciplined customer discovery process, in the hands of a talented and creative product lead, can both re-frame the problem and create a solution that is both novel, but also appears surprisingly obvious.

Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Co-founder (and expectant father) described this phenomenon:

“entrepreneurs [often] try to solve problems people don’t realize they have. It’s not until you present most people…with a better alternative that they realize how bad things used to be.”

The best product teams gather and distill customer data around pain points and current processes, apply the context of the possibilities created by a new approach, iterate on their design alongside pilot customers, and (hopefully) arrive at an elegant solution.

This requires making mental connections of data within and across target customers, as well as interpretation and intuition. Done well, this piece of the process is creative; the degree of success of the outcome is proportional to the amount of innate talent.

What does a high degree of success look like? Simply put, a good product team makes it look easy (and obvious).

The best response for a product manager when showing the product is along the lines of:

“I can’t believe that no one has built this before.”

Transcending the expected to create an insightful solution — this requires not just adhering to a process (the science), but also talent (the art).

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