What is a Product Mindset?
A Product Mindset is a set of beliefs, skills, qualities and techniques that successful product makers possess, that allows them to learn, push through challenges and setbacks, master new skills and tap into the success of their peers and others.
(Download the Product Mindset Primer – Scroll to the end of this article.)
Why Explore the Product Mindset?
Every company today is into the business of making products. These companies, big and small, hire product managers, designers, developers, marketers and salesmen to build, market and sell products. Smaller product companies and startups have taken advantage of their size to learn faster, stay nimble, execute and scale.
The last few years even big companies have adopted strategies to build and launch products faster and more effectively – from organizational structures, leadership to staffing and execution. (Also refer Product vs IT Mindset by Marty Cagan. In that he describes the stifling of innovation in established companies in 10 different areas.)
Products today look and feel different. The cloud, smartphones, Internet-of-Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), etcetera has changed the definition of products with the likes of Apps, Interfaces, Bots and more. These trends will continue and they, in-turn will continue to change the way products are made and used.
In light of the above I would like to draw your attention to the mindset of the maker.
- Can product skills be learnt?
- If yes, what are those product skills that are most relevant today?
- Can this knowledge be acquired and applied every day?
It turns out that you can learn any skill if you have or develop a growth mindset.
Mindset is a simple idea that was discovered through research and later documented by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset. She describes a growth mindset as follows:
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
Dweck calls the other mindset as the fixed mindset, which she describes as follows:
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.
Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. So you can substitute the word “intelligence” with “artistic talent”, “sports ability” or “product / business skill”.
In the book, Carol Dweck explores the growth mindset in sportsmen, businessmen, relationships, parents and teachers. She profiles the mindsets of champions like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, business executives like Lou Gerstner, Albert Dunlap, Kenneth Lay, Jack Welch and many more. I recommend this book, if you haven’t already.
Now that we understand that we can indeed develop a growth mindset, how do we develop a product mindset?
Becoming is better than being
– a popular saying from the ’60s
Exploring the Product Mindset
The question that remains unanswered is – what are those “beliefs, skills, qualities and techniques” that successful product makers think and practice?
Product mindset is the mindset of a product maker who has been repeatedly successful. How do we know what constitutes the mindset of a successful product maker? How can we learn from peers and experts to evolve as a better maker of products?
Product Mindset Primer
I have been coaching and mentoring product makers for a long time and it seemed like I could create something that can help scale one important aspect of my coaching – the mindset exercise. I took the mindset exercise and created the Product Mindset Primer to help you trigger your learning in the right direction.
You can now download the Product Mindset Primer now to:
- Evaluate and plan learning new product skills
- Assess your product mindset
- Aid focused learning
But this is just the beginning. Once subscribed, you will receive updates to the Product Mindset Primer as we talk to more product makers in our upcoming podcast. (I truly appreciate your feedback about the Product Mindset Primer – just reply to any of my emails to let me know)
Design Your Thinking Podcast
The Design Your Thinking Podcast is a show where we think, learn and explore the product mindset, so you can design better products every day. The podcast will attempt to decode and deconstruct the minds of product makers, entrepreneurs and influencers.
The podcast will also bring insights and untold stories from successful product makers, so you can get inspired and learn from their successes and learnings. Design Your Thinking Podcast is for people who are interested in learning and taking action.
Update: You can download the Tiny Book Of Triggers, in place of the Product Mindset Primer to get started. Also, signup for DYT Insider to stay updated on the latest on the Product Mindset and making human-centered products.