Article: Design learning for business transformation – Lessons from Product Management

Learning & Development

Design learning for business transformation – Lessons from Product Management

Learn to use a principled approach to business alignment, instructional design and use of technologies.
Design learning for business transformation – Lessons from Product Management

According to a survey conducted by Gartner, only 34% of leaders think L&D impacts business outcomes, 23% think L&D is timely in addressing the business challenge, and only 31% think L&D provides learning solutions that are relevant to their needs.  These are three critical aspects to consider; impact, timeliness, and relevance. So as per statistics, there is clearly a disconnect between L&D professionals and executive managers regarding thinking and approach.  

Evidently, there are severe disconnects between execution and perspectives, solutions to this can be found through understanding product management. Product management as a discipline creates immense business clarity. The earlier focus in product management was on product design but as it kept growing a lot of sub-disciplines were built. Product Marketing started coming out and formed a discipline as its own that was used to get significantly profited by Amazon, Facebook, Apple, etc. 

The ones looking into product management are getting profitable while companies like Nokia who failed to do so are going into losses. Here are some facets of product management that help in scaling: 

• Obsessed about creating immense business value 

• Rigorously measures business benefits 

• Identifies unsolved customer problems 

• Focuses on user experience 

• Plans and develops a competitive edge 

• Focuses on solutions that scale 

If you look closely one side is entirely about business while the other side majorly covers user experience. Product management brings about the whole nature of thinking holistically, rigorously and formally. But to learn from this, you need a tool, and that’s where a lean canvas comes in. Most of the organizations have been just familiarized with a business model canvas, but you need a lean canvas for better growth and development. 

Ash Maurya created the lean canvas to bring about simplicity in planning. The first part of the lean canvas focuses on problems and solutions. Begin by identifying the customer problems; product managers first start by stating the issues and then looking for answers rather than jumping into it right away. The second part looks into customer segments. To develop a solution, you need first to understand your customer. It’s essential to think of customers in a practical sense, and thus the term early adopters have been highlighted. Your product need not work for everyone in the first go. 

Once the solutions have been curated, it’s time to look at different channels. Channels are nothing but getting access to an aligned stakeholder. While it’s important to think about the users, it’s incredibly crucial to think about who are the buyers? Buyers and users in every product are not necessarily the same. Orient the business leadership on the targeted benefits and the supporting custom design. 

The last piece focuses on business benefits and cost structure. Executing all the solutions have a cost to it and not just concerning finances but other resources as well. After the costs have been listed, it’s time to think about key metrics. When you think about key metrics, think measurement. Identifying the right problem, then the right solution, the right segments, alignment, etc all need to be measured. After all, this is done, you can identify the unfair advantage that serves as a secret sauce for all profitable companies. 

There are three main reasons to use this lean canvas; one being the canvas does not see it as a product but rather a business, giving you a holistic approach. Secondly, it’s an easy model, and in business, easy equates to fast. Thirdly, it’s an iteration model. There is a constant iteration that allows pivoting in a structured way to bring about more business and scale up at a faster pace. 

(The article is based on keynote session by Hariraj Vijayakumar, Founder & CEO, Designs in Change on Design learning for Business Transformation from People Matters L&D Conference 2018)

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Topics: Learning & Development, Technology, #PMLnD

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