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Why outcome thinking beats technology and problem thinking?

Published in Agile

Written by

Ari Koli
Senior Lean-Agile Coach

Ari is a business-oriented lean-agile coach with a passion for creating compelling value propositions and customer experiences with design thinking. Over 25 years of experience leading service creation with a proven track record over a period of 15 years using agile methodologies.

Article

October 8, 2021 · 3 min read time

Daily challenges like dealing with a large backlog and having decision fatigue from making choices between countless possibilities, may get you exhausted. This blog examines why outcome orientation can help you make the choices that create the most value for your customer and your business.

Why is the job of a product owner such an important yet challenging one? Being the link between business, user, and technology in a way that maximizes value both for the customer and the company is definitely not the easiest. Let’s first investigate different types of product owners and then focus on why outcome orientation has so much to offer.  

According to Max Bennet, there are three types of product owners: 

  • The technology thinker whose primary focus is on the technological offer of their own organization.

  • The problem thinker who often orientates towards solving the visible technological challenges, but does not dive deeper to fix the root causes of why these problems arise in the first place
.

  • The outcome thinker whose primary focus is to create value for the customer by taking into account many different needs the customer may have


The technology thinker has many ideas, but the focus on how to apply these in the market may be difficult to crystallize. Prioritization is often tricky, and there can be a lack of objectivity on which idea is the best one for all parties. There is a danger of a "Launch and Pray" -scenario if the customer is not included in the feedback loop early in the process. When there is no clear focus on the value promise of the product, it’s also challenging to evaluate afterward how the product performed once launched. 

The problem thinker includes the customer right away by asking what their main problem is. However, this can be a challenging approach because the answer can vary depending on the day and on who you ask. Unclear definition of who leads to many challenges, and nobody can say which is the most important one. A specific problem is selected, and a solution is created to solve this particular problem. There is a danger of "Launch and Pray", which is a situation you never want to be in as a product owner. 

The outcome thinker aims at understanding where the customer wants to go and wants to find the root causes of the challenges the customer faces along the way. The outcome thinker aims at developing a product in close cooperation with the customer, gathering feedback from the user from the beginning. The outcome thinker has a clear idea of what they are doing and why this is relevant to the customer. They positively impact their customer’s life by creating genuinely valuable solutions that make their life easier. 

Outcome orientation is a practical way of creating long-lasting, genuine partnerships with your customers. Partnerships, which are not built on your customer’s dependency on you, but rather on a joint growth journey. You can invent and develop new solutions together, creating the future in cooperation. The solutions born from this kind of collaboration often simultaneously meet multiple needs the customer may have.  Probably finding far better solutions than you ever could have come up with just inside your own organization. 

In our next blog on product management, we will discuss and give some tips on how you can shift your thinking into becoming outcome-oriented. Subscribe to Nitor's Agile newsletter below and stay tuned to upcoming blogs and other Agile news!

Are you interested in learning more? See our upcoming Agile Product Owner -course, or the advanced course for Product Management: The Product Thinking Masterclass.

We’d also be happy to discuss tailored solutions for your company.

Written by

Ari Koli
Senior Lean-Agile Coach

Ari is a business-oriented lean-agile coach with a passion for creating compelling value propositions and customer experiences with design thinking. Over 25 years of experience leading service creation with a proven track record over a period of 15 years using agile methodologies.

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