Lean Product Development - Focusing on outcome vs. output

Straight to the point; If you are not focusing on value-based outcomes you are a feature factory! As such you are likely thinking inside-out, at a big risk of having a large empathy gap between the customer and your product. The economics behind not building products users do not want, need not be quantified. 

So, you build amazing things, but no users? 

You are likely not too early—it is more likely that your product is not addressing user pain-points in the most straight-forward manner. You should focus your efforts on outcome vs. the output. 

“But wait, we are agile!” 

One of the biggest reasons for organization failure is the sense of confidence in a process, not backed by factual reasoning, or people. Most sensible organizations trend towards the better and new ways — Waterfall is evil, all hail Agile, but wait, how about Agile 4.0 now? But underneath it all the teams tired or unwilling to learn don't change much other than the name of the process, and keep doing the same thing they did in years prior. Being agile by culture or by label-only aside, validating what to build can offset the cost or at least justify the spend. 

How do you know if you are a feature factory?

Do you validate product features with actual users? 

If you are not validating the product or feature hypotheses with actual humans, and instead rely on industry knowledge and subject matter expertise, you are a feature factory. Building solutions anticipating problems. Yes, the features may be influenced or suggested by a customer or two, but unless validated and built to scale, they become expensive one-of custom functions, alienating majority of users. 

Thankfully, there is a simple framework for cost efficient product development model

Modern technology environment with product-oriented culture

Becoming a modern product and technology environment is about fostering a culture of rapid development and experimentation to deliver value to the organization through great and scalable software. 


Because ultimately every organization should run like a tech company to ensure repeating wins in the digital world. Also, modern technology practices enable you to:

  • Adapt to rapidly changing customer expectations and needs

  • Reduce the risk of building the wrong thing

  • Focus on business value delivered through software solutions 

  • Move us ahead of our competitors who are becoming product-centric!

How to make the switch to lean product delivery model

First, learn to use Lean Product Canvas — A one-page tool used to quickly define the business/product/feature into key assumptions. Inspired by the ”Lean Startup” movement (build-measure-learn) with a big emphasis on finding customer problems that are worth solving. You can use Lean Canvas to define value of the Business/Product/Feature or to write the product strategy. 

Benefit: Focus on the problem-solution fit 

Lean product Canvas

Lean product Canvas

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.

Lean product framework

Next, build Outcome-Based Roadmaps— escape the Feature Factory! Focus the teams on outcome-oriented thinking — Instead of measuring outputs, try to measure outcomes. This shift in focus will help you eliminate the habit of quantifying feature production. In digital technology today we are constantly working under uncertainty —we simply don’t know what we are going to build in 9-12 months. 

Following a simple lean product framework helps keep product focus on the outcome across these 4 areas: 

1. Clear product vision

This is the long term and futuristic goal of where the product is heading:

2. Clearly validated and communicated challenges

In order to reach our VISION, we need to [ MEASURABLE OBJECTIVE ] by [ TIME FRAME ]”

3. Today’s status as it relates to the target conditions

“After measuring, we know our current state is: [ MEASUREMENT ]”

4. Product goal or target condition

Short term objective that teams can work towards today

“In order to reach our CHALLENGE, we need to: [ MEASURABLE OBJECTIVE ]”

Lean product development

Lean product development


A natural result is Outcome-Based Roadmap—An exercise of putting together a Problem-Oriented Roadmap that communicates customer value by experimenting on features and MVPs that are aligned with the company’s goals and KPIs.

Outcome-Based Roadmap Item

Outcome-Based Roadmap Item


An organization with strong product culture using Lean Product Development models shifts team focus to the following: 

  • Customer problems and needs over internal requirements.

  • Data driven experiments over preconceived solutions.

  • Outcome over Output 

  • Customer problem roadmaps over feature roadmaps.

  • Idea generation and collaboration over solution mandates.

  • Learning over Right & Wrong

  • Customers over Competitors

  • Culture over Process

Focusing on the above makes products and features more relatable to the users, thus closes the empathy gap.