The product mindset is not just about whether you ship commercial software products like Microsoft and Google, it is about treating the results of what you do as a consumer grade product! This is just as relevant to Enterprise IT delivering change to the business as it is to Microsoft delivering commercial product to its fee paying customers.
Achieving a product mindset in typical Enterprise IT organisations often requires a fundamental change in culture and attitudes that needs to start at the top.
Enterprise IT needs to start somewhere, so a good first step to achieving this is to consider the use of temporary project specific identities so that team members see themselves more as being part of a product team that has a common purpose and distinct identity and less as individuals working to their own agenda, goals and timeline.
Using interesting code names (not just acronyms for what the project is doing or delivering) helps to establish an identify for the project, the team, it will increase the sense of purpose and serve as a mechanism for increasing team morale.
Re-enforcing the team identity by using the code name in documents, presentations, team communications, project plans, e/mail signatures etc are simple ways to create and maintain team identity and spirit.
Using a code name is especially useful on projects with “virtual teams,” comprising elements from several different groups and/or locations within an organisation.
Once you establish a sense of identity and purpose around a project, it’s an easy next step to recognise that whatever the final deliverable is, it should be considered a product. Principles and techniques that apply to creating products, like those advocated in Agile Methods and Systems Thinking, should still be used, but, the will be more effective in ensuring your project’s successful design, build and delivery.
Having a product mindset also creates more of a team focus on execution and what is being delivered at the end of the project and less focused on the process individuals need to follow in getting there. That doesn’t mean process is bad or unimportant, just that processes should be used to accomplish the end goal and not just for the sake of it.
With the adoption of the product mindset, everyone on the team should feel responsible for the delivery of that product, feeling that they have a share in the risk, responsibility and rewards in delivering a product.