The Big O’s of Product Management

Outcomes, Outputs and OKRs, what do these mean? Internalizing the difference between Output and Outcome distinguishes a project management mindset from a product management mindset. Chapter 3 of Continuous Discovery Habits is a great primer. Let’s continue with the premise that we are product managers at a video streaming service, like Netflix.

Outcome is a change in human behavior, that drive business results.
  • Outcomes require you to define a customer and have a nuanced understanding of your customer.
  • There are layers to outcomes and it is helpful to scope an outcome to who can drive it.
  • A product team focuses on a Product Outcome, which is within their control. A Product Outcome is a leading indicator that drives a Business Outcome. For example: increase number of monthly 20+ minute viewing sessions by sports fans.
  • A Business Outcome is the business result from changes in customer behavior. It is a lagging indicator and not typically a daily focus of a product team. For example: increase recurring revenue.
OKRs are a flavor of managing by outcome.
  • Objective is the qualitative direction and Key Result is the quantitative measure.
  • Objective Example: become the best platform for sports fans to watch their game.
  • Key Result Example: increase median number of 20+ minute viewing sessions per month for sports fan by 1 session.
Opportunity is a customer need, pain point or desire.
  • Opportunity is the step between Outcome and Output.
  • The opportunity space is your nuanced understanding of your customer.
  • Example opportunity: I can’t find anything to watch.
Output is what is built; hopefully a solution.
  • An output may solve an opportunity that may change human behavior that may drive business results. As a product manager, you want to increase the chance of the mays.
  • Example solution: Live Sports is viewable on the platform from partnering with local sport networks.
Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) charts the best path to your Desired Outcome; it gives you options.
  • It takes significant critical thought to understand how opportunities relate to: each other, solutions, and your desired outcome.
  • The OST gives you that structure: the root of the OST is your desired outcome, its children are opportunities and solutions are children of the leaf opportunities.
  • The desired outcome is typically a product outcome.
  • In color is an example OST.
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