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Six Thinking Hats & the “Right thing” for Product Management

A lot of articles have addressed the question of “When to decline a feature request”, or “When to accept a feature request”. However, may be this decision is more than either accepting or rejecting a proposed set of features. Sometimes it is important to propose something of your own. It is important to figure out the “Right thing”.

The “right thing” can be a roadmap, a new set of features, a set of realignments, a re-architecturing activity, or simply a specific feature. The “right thing” is something that helps your product in the best way.

Also figuring out the “right thing” is not just about prioritizing a set of requests. It’s a brainstorming activity with multiple thinking hats. I am summarizing a set of thinking hats along with their “point of caution”. They are not listed in any specific order, for good!

Thinking Hat 1 – Operations & Sales

The “right thing” is to address their pain points and provide them something they would vouch for. The point of caution here is – What we do today, or what could immediately sell might not be the “right thing”.

Thinking Hat 2 – Leadership Vision

The “right thing” would be to align the product based on the vision of the company. It is important that the product proceeds in-line with the company goals. The point of caution here is – Vision is long term, but your product needs to work today!

Thinking Hat 3 – User/Customer

The “right thing” would be to give the user what he would want. To address the real user needs. To think like the user and understand the target audience. The point of caution here is – If you follow the user you are a laggard, the “right thing” might be something that the user would not immediately think of.

Thinking Hat 4 – Competition

The “right thing” would be to learn from your Competitors and incorporate what is working out well for them. The point of caution here is – Your Unique selling proposition, your vision, your differentiation strategy needs to be honoured.

Thinking Hat 5 – Technical Complexity

It is important to do the “right thing” in a cost effective way and also manage a short time to market. It is also important to manage changes while maintaining schedule commitments. The point of caution here is – This can make you do the “easy thing” rather than the “right thing”.

Thinking Hat 6 – New Technology trends

It is important to be updated with new technology trends in order to provide a superior experience. It can also help in doing the “right thing” in an effective manner. The point of caution here is – New Technology might not be a Proven Technology; it can also take you too far beyond of what the user actually wants; or it could simply be too expensive at the moment.

Balancing the thinking hats to come up with the “right thing” is the art of decision making. It requires experience, instincts, proven data, reasoning, and most importantly to be at the center of all the thinking hats.

I hope you agree with my summarization of these points. Please feel free to leave your comments and feedback. Cheers!

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Originally posted on my LinkedIn Profile –

Mohammed Jamil Nasir
Nasir manages Products, by providing business oriented technology solutions. He is at the center of discussions ranging from a long-term vision or competitive strategy, or improving business processes, or a client demo, or the right marketing strategy, to, project delivery commitments, or improving UX, or technical architecture, or recruiting developers. He has a Global MBA from S P Jain, Engineering in Computer Science, 6 years of work experience and a flair for writing & poetry.