Product Leaders are committed to setting the standard in their industry or discipline for products or service. An organisation pursuing product leadership continually pushes its products into the realm of the unknown, the untried, or the highly desirable. Its practitioners concentrate on offering customers products or services that expand existing performance boundaries. A Product Leader's proposition to customers is "Best product," period.
- A Product Leader consistently strives to provide its market with leading-edge products or useful new applications of existing products or services. Reaching that goal requires that they challenge themselves in three ways:
- They must be creative. More than anything else, being creative means recognising and embracing ideas that may originate anywhere-inside the company or out.
- They must commercialise their ideas quickly. To do so, all their business and management processes are engineered for speed.
- Most important, they must relentlessly pursue ways to leapfrog their own latest product or service. If anyone is going to render their technology obsolete, they prefer to do it themselves. Product leaders do not stop for self-congratulation; they are too busy raising the bar.
Not surprisingly, the operating model of the Product Leader is very different from that of Operational Excellence. Its main features include:
- A focus on the core processes of invention, product development, and market exploitation.
- A business structure that is loosely knit, ad hoc, and ever-changing to adjust to the entrepreneurial initiatives and redirection that characterise working in unexplored territory.
- Management systems that are results-driven, that measure and reward new product success, and don't punish the experimentation needed to get there.
- A culture that encourages individual imagination, accomplishment, out-of-the-box thinking, and a mindset driven by the desire to create the future.
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