From Project to Product to Problem-Solving

From Project to Product to Problem-Solving

Cross-Product Management and Cross-Product Prioritization

Ross Clanton, Amy Walters, David Silverman, Heather Mickman, Lucas Rettig, Pat Birkeland, Paula Thrasher, Rosalind Radcliffe, and Jeffrey Snover


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As businesses become increasingly digital and product driven, companies are pivoting to product-centric operating models. The backbone of such models is a network of teams aligned to a set of value streams and empowered to set their own objectives and paths to achieving them. Unlike project-driven companies, which are driven by temporary endeavors with predefined scopes, product-centric companies organize people and goals around products that continuously deliver value to customers.

While much more agile than their project-based predecessors, product-based organizations face two common execution challenges. First, maintaining continuous alignment among multiple autonomous product teams is a daunting task. Leaders’ perspectives on what is important is likely to vary based on the products they lead. To their teams, it can be very frustrating when a corporate-level initiative disrupts their local prioritization processes, causing them to pull focus from what is most important for the product to what is most important for the business.
Second, even with the most thoughtfully designed value streams, some dependencies between products typically remain. When dependencies cannot be decoupled, product teams must negotiate whose roadmap will be compromised, which is a challenging exercise in the absence of a larger, global prioritization framework