Single-Product and Multi-Product Thinking
Learn the Difference
The way we think about products, their development and management, sets the approaches for how our company operates. It forms the rules and assumptions we follow. The problem is that sticking to old-school Single-Product thinking can hamper the performance we gain from products and product lines, regardless of how smart we might be. And the reason is simple.
Multi-product thinking is far more impactful than single-product thinking.
When we coordinate a plan across many products, we can gain notable synergies. Brands, platforms, and support services can scale, while positioning can block competitors. Purposely orchestrating a multi-product orientation can have an enormous impact on an organization’s performance.
Seeing The Difference
The table below shares a few of the many differences between the two mindsets.
Single vs Multi-Product Thinking
|Orientation||A focus on one product or one concept at a time||A focus on sets of products, most often a product line|
|Future View||Seeking the next great product… relying on creative discovery, intrapreneurs and lean startups||A focus on advancing the full Product Line as a System (PLaaS).|
|Portfolio||Portfolio Management covers development projects only; seeks resource use optimization||Portfolio Management at the product line level includes front-end projects and other product line system projects; seeking greater Product Line Velocity|
|Development Focus||Fast development of MVP (minimum viable product),||Focused on the maximally synergistic platform-levers and multi-generation strategy moves
|Concepts||Front end concept generation defines one potential product at a time, loose targeting||Front end driven by coherent Jobs-to-be-Done market segmentation; purposeful concept targeting|
|Speed||Focus on a single product’s “Time to Market”||Focus on Product Line Velocity - Continually seeking improvement|
An expanded table is found HERE.
Once you see a few single-product practices happening within your company, my hope is you’ll see how pervasive they’ve become. This insight is important because it also suggests how difficult it is to move from the single to the multiple product mindset. And that’s what you need to do to make notable advances with your products. You’ll need to rid your organization of moribund single product thinking if you want more.
But because some experts refer to single product practice as “best-in-class,” many of us don’t see the problem they cause.
Spotting Single Product Thinking
It’s essential to look at each practice within your company and question whether they orient toward single or multi-product paradigm. Does the practice seek to advance one product at a time, or does it seek to do the best for just one product at a time?
Learning Multi-Product Thinking
If you don’t already embrace multi-product thinking, this blog is unlikely to get you to make the leap. But I do hope to make you aware that these two mindsets are real. The next time you’re in a meeting or attending by Zoom, ask yourself two straightforward questions. First, is the topic on the table coming from single or multi-product thinking? And second, does it matter to the health and well-being of our business?
To learn more, consider these references:
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