Book Review – Radical Product Thinking – Radhika Dutt
Radical Product Thinking, the new book by Radhika Dutt, is published 28 September and we are delighted and honored she will by joining us for BoS Conference Online Fall 27-29 September to share some of the key messages that the book shares.
I’m also lucky to have been given a pre-publication copy and am sharing my thoughts on why we believe it is worth your time.
Why do we need Radical Product Thinking?
Radical Product Thinking is a clarion call for vision-driven product development over the iterative approach that has, for many, become the orthodox approach to product strategy and management. For Radhika, vision-driven product development embodies the power of long term thinking over short term. She explains why she believes this has come about, why a different approach is needed and most importantly, offers a highly engaging and practical step-by-step approach to adopting the philosophy.
The problem with iterative approaches
Iterative product development – perhaps most visibly in the rise of lean and agile development methodologies, has become widespread over the past couple of decades at a time when resources are relatively plentiful. They are powerful and useful. There is no questions that they are highly effective approaches to help your team get to the destination faster. However, they don’t necessarily get you to where you want to go.
Iterative techniques help you to optimize for local maxima rather than achieving the global maximum. If you want to climb Everest and your approach is to climb higher from where you are now, you’re very unlikely to summit. A different approach and plan is required.
Radical Product Thinking describes and explains the challenges that agile and lean techniques have and digs into what Radhika describes as product diseases that they can cause. Diseases because they are contagious, damaging and difficult to cure.
It is filled with examples of different approaches in action – the iteration towards electric vehicles taken by GM vs the vision-driven approach of Tesla – for example.
Radical Product Thinking is not a critique of agile or lean approaches, it recognizes their value, importance and place. It does however argue that if you want to build impactful, meaningful, products in a way that has long term impact on the world and your organization, you need to lead with an approach that accounts for the long term goals.
Where do you start?
Radical Product Thinking is particularly useful as a book as it doesn’t describe a problem in lots of detail and conclude that something has to be done. It has a very clear prescription for change. Not only that, the bulk of the book both describes an approach and offers engaging, practical and helpful thoughts on what you can do to incorporate the philosophy into your own work.
Three Pillars of Radical Product Thinking
- A product, your product, is a mechanism for creating change. You should be clear what change you want to see in the world.
- To build a product, you must be able to articulate the vision that you have for your product before you start engineering and building.
- Your vision must connect to your day-to-day activities.
Five Elements of the Radical Product Thinking Roadmap
Radical Product Thinking offers a roadmap to making this happen and Radhika steps you through five critical elements, offering examples, tools and exercises that will help bring the concepts alive.
- Execution and Measurement
- Culture and Change
I thoroughly recommend reading Radical Product Thinking. it’s a thoughtful synthesis of how we have got to where we are today but also a highly practical, interesting and well-structured handbook to changing our approaches.
We’re delighted Radhika will be joining us at BoS Conference Online Fall 27-29 September to tell us more, lead a discussion about how your thinking can change and also leading online masterclass sessions post event that will allow you to put the ideas to work and make a difference in your own businesses.
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