We've been solving problems since the days we were born and implementing projects since our first days on the job. Pretty straightforward.
But building products?
The idea of a product is newer for most of us—though not something that is unfamiliar: imagine any store, imagine any shelf in that store, and then imagine a thing you take from that shelf to purchase. Voilà! A product.
Somewhat recently, the common understanding of "product" has expanded thanks to the digital tools we use everyday. The iPhone email app? Product. Your Outlook calendar? Product. EHR? Product. They're all products, if not to you, then certainly to the teams at Apple, Microsoft, and Epic supporting and improving (and securing) them.
So my assertion is this: we're in the product creation business (and didn't even know it).
Do you have responsibility for a standing meeting on the calendar? You "own" a product.
Have you organized an afternoon team development session? Or a strategy retreat? Products.
Do you have a prescribed way of completing a task (or series of tasks) that you'd like everyone to follow? I believe creating and supporting "How We Do Things Around Here" is a product job, too.
Is your role in HR, IT, project management office, finance, risk, legal, etc. providing internal support to operations teams? Then you're likely creating—and definitely supporting (hopefully not coercing)—products.
"Product responsibilities" come with any and every knowledge job. And so I think there are (at least) two very important considerations to think about when it comes to creating new products:
All that to say, a framework I've been using lately is the 3Ps: problem, project, or product. It's helping to determine and think through workload. A problem = solvable in the short term. Project = coordinated effort with an end/go-live date. Product = powerful and impactful possibilities (both negative and positive) with (if all goes well) no end date.
These are not clear boundaries, especially when time gets added to the equation, but they are good starting points when formulating how to do the work.
Future topics to explore in relation to 3Ps:
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