You may remember the last time, I posted on selecting product management frameworks the big questions were which is the right one, how to implement a black and white concept in your team and what are the keys to getting a return on the investment?

Last time we determined that Frameworks can’t be implemented in in black and white; your team has been in place for years there are pre-existing processes that are not easy to change.

So, a successful product management implementation depends as much on defining “The What” as it depends on selecting “The How.”

The two companies I worked with each launched implementation efforts; they selected the same product management framework in part through an assessment .

These two companies have many things in common:

  • Same sector of the industry
  • Both had been in business for at least 20 years.
  • Both grown through acquisition and merger.
  • Senior leadership decided to make the product lifecycle a strategic priority
  • They were close in size; annual revenue, and number of employees.

What became very clear after some initial conversations is that these two companies needed to take  very different paths to solve a similar problem.

The first company we’ll call it FinTech opted for a classical implementation approach. They set several high level goals and objectives.

  1. Improve the speed of the product lifecycle
  2. Establish a more nimble  product management lifecycle
  3. Achieve a significant pack back or ROI for the project

This team assessed their business model, the skills and experience level of key roles in the organization. Then they got buy-in from stakeholders in development, marketing, and sales to adopt a new method of product management with sponsorship from key executives.  The Program Management Office (PMO) was brought in to the process to orchestrate the implementation and to identify key milestones.

The other company known as Platform chose a lean approach. They gained executive buy-in and significant budget to initiate a repeatable product management process, but opted to implement the new process with a single team to minimize the disruption to the overall business.

This team set the following goals and objectives.

  1. Implement and sustain  product management best practices
  2. Improve the effectiveness of the product  creation and Go-to-Market
  3. Prove the ROI by demonstrating a successful pilot project.

The initial product team adopted the principles of the framework quickly and began to use and document critical best practices for market discovery, persona development, win-loss, requirements planning, roadmaps and etc.  The rapid adoption and momentum gained by this team exceeded management’s expectations.

One company set a goal to change the success trajectory of several products in the portfolio.

The other company set out to change the market success trajectory of the entire organization.

Which implementation approach is preferred?

Which company will achieve their objectives including a meaningful payback?

If I someone had asked me to place bets I would take the company following the Lean approach.  Before you place your bet consider some of these factors…



Plan > Do > Check > Act


Classical vs. Lean Implementation Approach

The Classical implementation relies on a highly structured approach. It offers more predictability and it reduces risks. It also offers scalability, improved performance and new ways of running the business. The challenges however are the method can be expensive, time consuming, demands the continuous management focus and visible executive sponsorship.  Also a definitive payback or ROI will be elusive for some time.

The Lean approach gains   immediate traction. Change within a small team is efficient and results are easy to identify and quantify. The level of disruption to the organization are minimal. This approach also requires executive sponsorship and management focus but a much smaller commitment.  The payback and the ROI of the initial phase of the project will be easy to justify and dramatic.

The Challenge with this approach is that the size of the vision, the more tactical goals makes cross functional buy-in difficult. Also the overhead necessary to establish standard and repeatable processes is expensive when allocated to an initial phase of the implementation. In the long term the ROI of the overall implementation maybe lower than the classical approach.

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is quite simple, but extremely impactful. Both companies are in a long-haul cycle and moving forward, using different implementation approaches. Their respective budgets, resources, and success timelines will be very different.  Specific outcomes and results will vary by company even when they have similar businesses and use the —the same framework.

What they realized is that black and white concepts must be “customized” to fit into an existing product organization. Also how these concepts are implemented can be as important as the concepts.

What is your framework implementation experience?

Leave me a comment below.