Radhika Dutt is a co-founder of the Radical Product Thinking movement. She shares the story of how this new way of thinking began in her upcoming book scheduled to be published in September 2021:
The economy was on an upswing during the dot com bubble when I founded my first startup, Lobby7. Like many other startups with funding, we iterated on different models to see what worked. In the end, we developed an interesting technology but we didn’t survive the downturn. We had caught the product disease I now call Pivotitis, and our iterations had burnt through the funding we had.
It turns out that product diseases are common and contagious. Too many good products become bloated, fragmented, directionless, and driven by irrelevant metrics. They catch product diseases in the absence of a clear vision and strategy to drive prioritization and execution.
The need for a new way of thinking
Lean Startup and Agile taught us to test ideas in the market to discover what customers want, and then to refine our products iteratively. In a growing economy where credit was plentiful, we often had the luxury of trying one idea after another in the market. For many companies iteration evolved into an overused crutch to compensate for the lack of a clear vision and strategy.
I found that without a clear vision for the world we want to create, our iterations may help us optimize for financial KPI in the short term, but in the process, our products create collateral damage to society through digital pollution just as unchecked industrial growth led to environmental pollution.
In 2017, I was sharing my frustrations about product development with two product leaders, Geordie Kaytes and Nidhi Aggarwal. Though they came from different backgrounds, they echoed these frustrations — both had also learned to build products through trial and error. Among the three of us, we had built innumerable products over the years, and we saw the need for a methodology for building successful products that help us make the world a little more like the one we want to live in.
The result was Radical Product Thinking.
Radical Product Thinking means being inspired by a change you want to bring to the world and thinking about your product comprehensively as a mechanism for creating that change. We designed the Radical Product Toolkit as a clear, repeatable methodology for creating game-changing products — step by step from envisioning a change, to translating your vision into daily activities, to delivering a final product.
Since we launched the free Toolkit, Radical Product Thinking has grown into a movement - product managers, CEOs, founders, enterprise innovators, and civil servants around the world are using Radical Product Thinking to create purpose-driven change through their products. We hope you will too.
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