Product review process at Opendoor
At Opendoor, we want Product Review meetings to focus on fostering debate, curiosity, and rigorous product thinking. They are a tool for driving innovation, strategic alignment, and debating trade offs. They do not have to be a decision making meeting to be effective, and – in fact – often it’s better to not try to make decisions in a product review. The mindset you should have going into a Product Review is one of high conviction but willing to be convinced that you are wrong or at least partially off course. You’d rather learn that now than after you spend the time and effort to launch whatever it is you are planning.
Product Review meetings should focus on the following dimensions. These can serve as a general outline for the pre-read you send out and for the meeting time together.
- The customer problems to be solved, or Jobs to be done. We as PMs spend too little time on the problem space and instead tend to focus on solutions. Solutions are more fun but as Einstein supposedly said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” The same should be true of Product Reviews. We should focus them on the key customer problems to be solved and drive debate and alignment around that.
- The hypotheses you have for solving the problem. Once we’ve defined the problem space, it is important to then explore the range of hypotheses for why a particular solution might solve the problems you’ve identified (or Jobs to be done). Hypotheses are typically if-then statements, e.g. if we build xyz then qrs will happen and should be mapped to the core problems already identified.
- The strategic alignment and differentiation. The PM needs to show why this particular problem/solution is worth spending resources on now given all the other competing priorities and how solving this problem will further differentiate the company and product from competitors, if at all.
- The phase of the project you are talking about. There are multiple phases to a project from early to late stage and can be thought of on a spectrum from the “Understand/Define stage” to the “Explore stage” and finally the “Refine/Ship stage”. Each of these stages require different feedback and from different people.
- The key success metrics. It is critical to explain - up front - how you will know if the project is successful, and importantly, what is planned next given a few different possible outcomes.