Services Firms don’t need to become product-led organizations. They do need to become product friendly.
The innovation we have seen over the last few years has been truly awe-inspiring. For example, distilleries making hand sanitizer and software companies reconfiguring software to help hospitals track during COVID. More recently innovation has turned to supply chain and talent gaps; for example, companies like Lucid Motors, an electric vehicle manufacturer, and Boeing creating boot camps to quickly train up a whole new talent pool.
Productizing services firms can use well-crafted vision statements to galvanize support for profound organizational transformation.
“Our product review board meetings are less about improving the performance of the product portfolio and more about getting people to buy into our productization strategy. They allow people to come with ideas, source ideas, and get involved in the process. They give us a chance to see who is willing to raise their hand, come on board, become true believers, and take that back to their own teams."
The most successful productizing companies have a product organizational structure that is driven by and aligned with a well-articulated vision and goals for the productization strategy. A product org structure that is misaligned with the goals of the productization strategy puts great product ideas at risk of lackluster performance, racking up costs, or never making it to launch in the first place.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping people overcome fear. I help clients overcome the fear of uncertainty as they try to innovate and develop new products. I work with my team to overcome the fear of not being liked when they have to deliver unpleasant market feedback to a client. And my co-founder and I talk a lot about our own fears of failure as we try to grow, but also protect, our business.
I’ve also watched brave colleagues, friends and family stare down fears when the stakes are much higher - a cancer diagnosis or a sick child, for example. And I think of their ‘fearlessness’ when my smaller work-related fears can feel all-consuming.
This summer, I had the opportunity to practice fearlessness in a new way. On August 3, I summited Mount Kilimanjaro with my 16 year-old son, David.
Gratitude practices have been a mainstream personal improvement trend for almost 20 years, since psychologists began testing the role of gratitude to positively impact mental health and boost happiness. Science shows that consistent gratitude practice–taking time out to recognize and say thanks for the good things in our lives–has a host of personal benefits, including increased happiness and positive mood, less experience of burnout, better sleep, and more patience, humility, and wisdom.
I recently had a conversation with one of my CEO clients about how best to help the senior leadership team embrace a new product innovation idea. This CEO was frustrated that the team seemed resistant to the changes the innovation would require and was wondering how to proceed. We discussed two options: asking the team to collaborate on a business plan for the new product, or, providing them with a concrete plan and asking them to implement it.
Innovators know that expecting and embracing imperfection is a necessary ingredient of developing and launching a successful product. Recently, I was reminded of this while working with a client who was preparing to present their MVP to the sales team. Their main concern – was it ‘too basic’? Their demo, although lacking a visually interesting UI, was fully functional. Knowing that an MVP does not need slick aesthetics, we encouraged them to begin using the MVP in sales conversations to demonstrate the breadth of their offerings and to begin getting customer feedback. At the meeting, the CEO began the presentation with one of my favorite quotes by Reid Hoffman -
Fear accompanies business model transformation and product innovation because these activities introduce ambiguity into your normal business operations. But to productize successfully, organizations must learn to face fears associated with change. In this four-part series, we outline our LEAP method for overcoming the fear that gets in the way of successful productization. LEAP stands for:
- Listening to your intuition
- Expecting less than perfect
- Asking for help
- Practicing gratitude.
Informed by the neuroscience of mindfulness, the LEAP method has helped clients and our team find the courage they seek to innovate and transform.