Daniel Zacarias’s Moving from Solutions to Problems is a must-read for all product managers, and anyone who’s involved in product prioritization. Daniel’s main thesis is that prioritizing problems results in much better products than prioritizing features—and I wholeheartedly agree with him. He addresses many issues with focusing on features, but the one that really resonated with me is that it’s much harder to prioritize features:
Products and features are versions of a solution to a problem. What this means is that by thinking in terms of the former, the problem they’re solving gets more difficult to grasp. Either because it’s a non obvious problem, or the product/feature are poor solutions for it.
In practical terms, this makes it much harder to prioritize a list of features than a list of problems. There are added layers of indirection that make us evaluate priorities in a different way. It gets difficult to determine the intent and expected impact from a feature. On the other hand, a problem (“low number of transactions”) can more easily lead to an objective (“increasing number of transactions per customer per month by 30%”).