Transformation is a word that isn’t commonly favoured by the Product community because Transformation Programs rarely allow Product Teams to autonomously decide how they’ll achieve their mission. However, Transformation Programs incur significant costs. According to the CIO magazine, Global spending on digital transformation technologies and services was $1.3 trillion in 2020 of which 70% of that spend is wasted. That is approximately $900 billion.
Why Product Managers should care?
Great Product Management can, without a doubt do better with the $900 billion squandered on Transformation Programs. Great Product Management can apply the Transformation spend more effectively by creating desirable and valuable products for customers. Great Product Management can deliver a higher return on the companies Transformation investment.
Why be Product-Led?
Product-Led Transformation is more holistic than other Transformations because it begins with the customer. The outcome of a Product-Led Transformation is a company that is aligned first and foremost towards discovering and quantifying customer problems before designing solutions. Product-Led Transformation re-focuses the company on the fundamentals of real value creation while embracing the benefits of the faster engines that Digital and Agile practices deliver.
What are the 7Ts of Product-Led Transformation?
The 7Ts of Product-Led Transformation is a comprehensive framework using modern Product Management concepts and techniques. It embraces both the functional aspects of delivering and scaling products as well as the adaptive capabilities required to evolve mindsets and behaviours in companies. The 7Ts isn’t a simple checklist but is intended to facilitate deep thought and action. They have been developed to ignite our thinking and to ensure that Product concepts and principles are included in any type of change process.
1 – Triggers
How do we take action from the definitive market signals that require the organisation to transform its current way of operating?
Transformation is a necessary process in all organisations because technology and marketplaces are moving at an ever-increasing pace. It is no surprise that organisations have to keep up or perish.
As Product People, our role is to pay attention to internal and external triggers that may disrupt the way our organisation competes. More often than not, there are multiple triggers that indicate that we need to make a change in the way we interact and deliver value to the market.
As Product People, once we’ve identified the triggers, we have to deliberately prepare our response with a Portfolio or Product Vision and an implementable strategy, in order to galvanise the organisation with a convincing purpose for the necessary changes.
2 – Tactics
How can we imagine success, and participate in the design of the Transformation plan with a strategic focus on being Product-Led?
Every Product-Led Transformation Program requires a tactical plan outlining discrete steps and actions that will enable the team to achieve a ‘Target State’. In the case of a Product-Led Transformation, the ‘Target State’ must be aligned to the Portfolio or Product Vision; specifically how the organisation will change the way it orchestrates Product discovery, delivery and growth.
We focus on a tactical plan rather than a top-level strategy in our 7Ts because the details and the intricate steps of the program matter.
Each element of the Product-Led Transformation tactical plan is critical for continued success.
3 – Timeline
How can you craft a timeline with achievable milestones and metrics to measure and guide the team to success?
It is difficult not to consider transformation as a large, onerous project. The word “transformation” itself suggests that a significant effect is going to be needed.
But, the Product-Led Transformation approach should be an experimental, iterative, meaningful course of action, leading towards a lasting, impactful way of operating.
Transformation does not need to be a big project but it does need to make a big impact (and rightly so).
Engineering the timeline for a Product-Led Program should reduce the change fatigue that often sets in during any large change initiatives. Embedding the concept of adaptability and accomplishments through experiments and celebratory milestones should keep the program energised.
Change is uncomfortable and for most people, threatening, but for change to occur, there needs to be a sense of urgency to propel people to transition from their current state to a new, better way of operating.
We need to apply positive pressure and that according to Kotter, requires CEOs to communicate the vision by a factor of ten.
4 – Talent
How can we identify, recruit and onboard a high-performing product team to support the Product-Led Transformation journey?
During any transformation effort, it is common to get caught up in the technology. New tools, new systems, new infrastructure all promise to fundamentally change the organisation.
But you can’t transform without people.
Technology is the enabler that provides people with the tools to transform organisations.
When leaders think about investing in technology, they should first think about investing in the people who can make that technology useful.
The only way to transform is to identify and hire the right people with the right attitudes and skills and put them in the right seats.
5 – Tell Tales
How can you seek out, lean on and learn from Product People that have successfully navigate their Transformation mishaps?
Tell Tales is the learning component of the Transformation Program.
In reality, we all know that Tactical Plans change. Especially if we experiment and execute the tasks and activities in functioning environments. make every effort to corroborate our plans and investment made in the planning process.
One way to reduce the risk of failure is to create and run an “Outreach Plan” to learn from other organisations. The aim should be to help key stakeholders in your organisation to have realistic expectations about transformation and the process of transforming.
The old adage ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ really applies when the organisation is embarking on a transformation program. It is without a doubt, a significant expenditure and while mishaps will occur, we should try to avoid failure if possible.
6 – Transition
How can you highlight and zealously communicate the Transformation Transition period to your Product Teams to maintain their drive and commitment?
Change is perhaps the hardest part of any transformation program. Like all journeys, all programs begin with anticipation and a flurry of activity, but after a few heady weeks, it can feel like nothing has happened.
Unfortunately, the change process itself takes time. Important changes generally cannot be completed overnight. This means that the deliverables and the long term benefits described in the transformation program may not be evident for quite some time.
While the program Timeline and the Tell Tales outcomes can be used to educate people in the organisation about the transformation plan and potential pitfalls, during the transition period ongoing, visible internal publicity is required.
Keep in mind and plan for the fact that the transition period requires significant, ongoing conversations and presentations to drive the organisation towards its Target State, and to maintain alignment.
7 – Truths
How can you explain the difference to your peers that Product-Led Transformation delivers broader, more beneficial outcomes than an Agile or Digital Transformation alone?
The cost of not being one is too great as markets are hyper-competitive and aggressive. Economies are global and companies these days work broader, safer, better and faster to deliver targeted products that solve specific customer problems.
A Product-Led organisation will have teams that make independent decisions within the organisation’s strategic agenda and are able to identify and develop products that deliver optimal value for its customers and benefits for the organisation. Arriving at this destination is worth the effort because as Product People we are able to most effectively meet our promises to our customers.