Shifting your mindset can be a game-changer for both personal growth and team success. In this article, we’re going to explore how the way we think affects the products we build and the tasks we tackle.
Specifically, we’ll dive into the concept of a “product mindset,” discussing its advantages and how it stacks up against the project-focused approach that’s currently all the rage in the business world. By the end, I’ll share some practical tips and insights that have helped the team at Linkup Studio make this mindset shift, along with the impressive results we’ve seen.
Whether you’re a CEO at a large corporation or a trainee at a small outsourcing firm, this advice can help you excel in everything from company building to everyday tasks.
Same Tasks + Different Mindsets = Different Outcomes
Since founding Linkup Studio a decade ago, our central mission has always been to excel in the products we deliver. Over the years, we’ve continuously honed our craft, and with every client and project, it became increasingly clear that the secret to success wasn’t just in an approach but in the deep-rooted mindset and culture that go beyond mere processes.
The approach provides a structured roadmap, guiding a product from idea to launch, and encompasses well-known stages like research, planning, development, testing, and right up-to-market release. However, the mindset works differently. It’s a culture that constantly pushes us to elevate the quality of our work and results. It emphasizes user focus, promotes continuous improvement, and ensures we’re always in tune with market trends.
Here’s an illustrative example: A potential client approached us to redesign their platform. They were torn between our Linkup Studio team and another equally skilled team from a different company. The other team provided an estimate of hours and cost for the redesign. At our team, we took another approach. After thorough research, we found that the client’s platform had satisfying flows and appealing visuals. However, users were likely to drop out because of an unclear value proposition that didn’t match their needs and expectations. The client greatly appreciated our holistic approach, and now we are doing a comprehensive audit of their whole system while they are changing market positioning and adjusting marketing campaigns.
What is Mindset
Let’s take a moment to dive into what “mindset” means. Simply put, your mindset is your way of thinking — it’s the lens through which you see the world. Let’s say you’re walking through a forest and come across a wounded deer in pain. If you’ve been a hunter all your life, you’d likely react differently than if you’ve spent your career in animal protection. The mindset shapes one’s actions in all aspects of life.
In the second half of the 20th century, the term became popular due to the contributions of Carol Dweck, an American psychologist. Her research has profoundly impacted various fields, such as education, leadership, and business. Dweck emphasized the crucial role that mindset and beliefs play in achieving success.
The concept of a “product mindset” has gained traction in the business and tech sectors as well in recent decades. This strategic approach entails a cultural transformation within an organization and includes a commitment to ongoing improvement, as well as a focus on delivering value to users.
Why Does a Product Mindset Elevate Digital Products?
When it comes to making digital products, the team’s mindset is a game-changer. A team equipped with a product mindset zeroes in on crafting a product that not only meets users’ needs but also evolves alongside them. The outcome is that a business becomes more competitive, flexible, and sustains its market position over time.
At Linkup Studio, we’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of embracing a product mindset. Here are the benefits:
- Meeting User Needs: When the team adopts a product mindset, they are more in tune with what the users want and expect. This outlook encourages every team member to prioritize user experience, leading to stronger customer loyalty.
- Boosting Profits: The natural result of adding more value to the users is an increase in business profits. A product that resonates with its audience usually translates into higher revenue and a more robust market standing.
- Driving Innovation: Having a product mindset means the team is always looking for ways to make the product better. No longer are revisions, changes, or feedback seen as problems. Instead, in this new laid-back environment, everyone’s creativity shines. This helps to make the product even better and encourages new ideas.
- Cutting Costs: Concentrating on essential features and functions can sidestep the extra costs associated with unnecessary development, improper marketing, or other needs. Plus, a team in sync with the product mindset tends to be more self-organized, eliminating the need for extra managerial oversight and thus further reducing costs.
- Enhanced Communication: A shared product mindset wipes out misunderstandings about objectives and priorities within the team and with the client. It also streamlines the integration of new team members, making the onboarding process smoother. Now, it’s not just the product manager holding all the knowledge and directives. Every team member is on the same page and moves in the exact direction.
- Boosting Team Morale: A product mindset empowers team members, giving them a voice and a sense of involvement in the project. We’ve noticed that motivation and job satisfaction have noticeably increased within Linkup Studio over the past 2 years. As a result, employee retention is growing, which clearly indicates that they value this approach.
In summary, fostering a product mindset doesn’t just benefit the end product — it enriches the entire creation process. It enables teams to develop digital products that are more valuable, competitive, and aligned with both business goals and customer needs.
Project Approach vs. Product Mindset: What Makes the Difference?
In 2020, McKinsey & Company released a study with an eye-opening conclusion: Companies operating with a product mindset are 3.5 times more likely to have above-average financial performance than those stuck in a project mindset. That’s a pretty big deal, yet a surprising number of businesses still approach their work from a project standpoint.
So, what’s the difference? The project approach is all about start and finish lines. The focus often centers on tasks, deadlines, and budgets rather than on what users really need. This approach tends to be rigid, sticking to original plans even when new requirements pop up or market conditions change. In essence, it boils down to three main pillars: timelines, budgets, and scope.
At Linkup Studio, we’ve switched gears and embraced a product mindset. For us, it means creating value for users and the business. We’ve crossed out the whole idea of “project completion” as a milestone. Today, we perceive every product or service as a dynamic organism that continuously changes and adjusts in response to unstable market demands. We’re all about iterative improvement, regularly circling back to gather user feedback and make tweaks. This approach has made our team more agile and responsive to market shifts. So much so that we even updated our brand slogan to reflect this change. Now, it’s “The Result that Matters.”
Here’s a peek at the canvas that captures our product mindset:
To highlight the differences between a project approach and a product mindset, let’s put them side by side in a table.
This change in mindset has had a tangible impact on our Linkup Studio. The stats speak volumes: we experienced an impressive 192.5% growth between 2021 and 2022. Moreover, this growth propelled us onto the list of “Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the World” by Clutch.co.
How to Integrate a New Mindset for Effective Team Performance
Now that we’ve explored what a product mindset is and why it’s worth implementing, let’s dive into some actionable steps to help you integrate this approach into your company.
Step 1: Reflect on your Team Thinking
To instill a product mindset in your team, the first step is to identify how your team members think. Who among your members are analytical thinkers, and who are creative thinkers? Depending on the nature of the project, it’s crucial to match the right tasks to the right people. When people work on tasks that match their strengths, they’re more likely to find out-of-the-box solutions, stay motivated, and show their best performance.
Step 2: Offer Team Support
Become a passionate individual and learner yourself, and identify the enthusiasts within the team who share your objectives and can also offer support. Exchange new ideas and insights with them. Consistently discuss the team’s challenges and how you aim to overcome them.
Foster a habit of continuous learning and development within the team, and then encourage people to share their expertise with other specialists. You can accomplish this through workshops, recurring knowledge exchange meetings, etc. For example, at Linkup Studio, we have planned regular training sessions throughout the year to ensure each team member continues to grow. Twice a month, we also conduct creative workshops. Playful activities like Lego workshops facilitate a team’s ability to look at the bigger picture and strategize accordingly.
Creating a supportive culture within the team empowers the adoption of new methods and more rapid integration of new workers.
Step 3: Put it into Action
Teach the team to work with a product approach. It is very helpful to begin with use cases and delve into user stories. Everyone needs to understand that what they’re creating will impact people’s everyday lives. At Linkup Studio, we make it a habit to ask “Why?” to clarify our approach and provide the best solutions for customers.
For example, we once designed a quiz game for improving pronunciation. We discovered that a common scenario of the time when users played quizzes was when they were commuting on the subway home. They were frequently holding onto a handrail with one hand while using the app with the other. Armed with this insight, we optimized the button placement, added offline dictionaries for times when the internet might be spotty, and increased the font size for easier reading. This user-focused approach can be applied to any project in any field.
To give that broader vision of the task for your team, you can put such goals and stories into your existing task planning space.
Step 4: Work Together and Get Feedback
Never underestimate the power of teamwork. Make it a habit to connect not just with your immediate teammates but also with people beyond your project to swap ideas and insights. You can even hold quick brainstorming sessions with team members from other projects to gain fresh perspectives on what you’re working on.
Embrace reviews and constructive criticism as tools to refine your work. I strongly recommend speaking with your team and explaining that feedback is not a personal attack. Teach them to view it as an opportunity to improve, achieve shared goals, and deliver strong results. Adopting this approach establishes trust and fosters a culture of “healthy” feedback within the team.
Step 5: Assess your Team’s Progress
Before starting a project, it’s a good idea to establish some key performance indicators (KPIs) for the team. As you work through various stages, make it a habit to pause and assess how things are going periodically. Evaluate what you’ve achieved and what could be improved.
These assessments can draw on various factors like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the project team’s seniority level, feedback from various team members, input from other departments, measurable outcomes from the product itself, etc.
For a well-rounded view of team performance, it’s best to use a mix of qualitative and quantitative indicators.
Step 6: Merge Product Approach and Mindset
In the world of product development, it’s key to have both a structured plan from what is called a “product approach” and a focus on constant improvement and knowledge of user needs, known as a “product mindset.” When you put them together, you get a complete recipe for creating a product that not only exists but thrives.
The Impact of a Product Mindset at Linkup Studio
This approach has clearly paid off. Client feedback consistently highlights increased satisfaction with our team since we adopted a product mindset. Our average project collaboration period has extended from 1 to over 2.5 years. The quality of our work has been recognized by prestigious awards such as the Red Dot Design Awards for two years in a row, Apple’s “App of the Day,” and other global accolades.
As for our team, we’ve seen the average tenure of our specialists lengthen over the past 2 years, reaching a retention rate of nearly 80%. Moreover, based on rankings from Dou, a leading platform in Ukraine’s IT industry, Linkup Studio has been listed among the TOP 5 IT employers in the country. All these positive changes have occurred since we embraced the product mindset.
I genuinely wish your team every success. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn.
Also, welcome to read about digital product redesign, a guide for the stress-free selection of an outsourcing UI/UX designer, a list of the top 20 UI/UX agencies to work with and the new product development process.
Product Mindset: The New Wonder for the Business World was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.