The Product Chasm — Failure Is Part of the Game vs. Failure Is Not an Option

Why do so many top executives don’t seem to get “product”? This is the third post of the The Product Chasm series that introduces 9 different mental models that separate “modern product management” from “the business”. I found these models when reading through the responses to my question on product twitter.

Failure Is Part of the Game vs. Failure Is Not an Option

Screw ups can affect reputation publicly, and any exec would like to stay away from that.
Rajesh Mathur

This is specifically true for top executives at public companies. Over time, they become more risk averse because they know that product innovation is extremely risky.

While product people see value in failure, execs usually don't. One product innovation failure might be okay, but the next one might get them fired.

Alright, what now?

There’s obviously no easy way to just overcome fundamental differences in how to think about product and business, and the relationship between these domains.

In our experience, it all comes down to establishing a shared frame of reference, a common vocabulary, a grammar even, a shared language that allows for better communication and understanding of each other's perspectives and motivations.

And because human beings are very good at processing information and sharing thoughts in a visual way, it certainly helps to use a visual form to make that shared frame of reference accessible and usable for everyone.

Once we start using such a visual framework to make different perspectives explicit, and to explore the connections between everything business-related with everything product-related, we’ll see new shared mental models evolve. Such ones that will lead to new insights, and to new shared narratives, and to new shared stories, to memes even. Because that is how mental models spread and connect.

That is why we have created The Product Field many years ago, and why we are building Field today — providing a shared frame of reference for everyone who contributes to product outcomes (including executives!), and helping product leaders facilitate the process of connecting the mental models at play. Not just to cross the chasm, but to make it a little smaller every day.

Recent Posts
All Posts

The Product Chasm — How It Works vs. How It Looks

Continue Reading

The Product Chasm — Long-Term Thinking vs. Short-Termism

Continue Reading

The Product Chasm — These Mental Models Separate “Product” and “The Business”

Continue Reading