The basics of Product Thinking

Product innovation is the creation and market introduction of new, redesigned or substantially improved products. Share This

Product Innovation

Product innovation is the creation and market introduction of new, redesigned or substantially improved products.

It can be understood as:

  1. the practice of creating and introducing these products,
  2. the process that structures this practice,
  3. the system the practice takes place in.

Most popular accounts of product innovation focus on the first or the second interpretation, offering either a list of best practices or a set of process rules as guidelines to innovate successfully.

When understood as a system, product innovation is complex: it is not an aggregate of individual behaviour, but a dynamic network of interacting agents, strategies, artifacts and conditions. The agents and their strategies are not static, but adaptive: they constantly change in response to each other, to aggregate properties of the system and to external events. Thus, the practice and process of innovation are only part of, and highly dependent on, the system they take place in.

Product Thinking is a design and management mindset and methodology for working on product innovation. Share This

Product Thinking

Product Thinking is a a mindset and a methodology for the design and management of product innovations. It treats product innovation as a complex adaptive system and seeks to maximize the sustainable impact of product innovations on all of their stakeholders.

Due to feedback loops and the resulting nonlinear change, however, complex adaptive systems cannot be effectively steered in the way linear systems can. This rules out the use of simple normative methods which would be suited to practice or process approaches to product innovation. At the same time, mathematical or computational models of innovation as a complex adaptive system have limited predictive power and are not easily used by non-specialists.

Instead, Product Thinking uses cognitive media to support and enable thinking about product innovation and thus facilitates systematic exploration and effective steering.

Cognitive media:

  1. provide useful abstractions and models,
  2. map complex structures and data to visual or otherwise easily accessible representations that can be directly modified,
  3. introduce formal, automated or algorithmic computation and inference,
  4. make these features available for exploration, discovery, and/or explanation.

Well-known examples for cognitive media are written music, logical notation, image editing software, and game engines.

The Product Field is a cognitive
medium for product innovation. Share This

The Product Field

The Product Field is a cognitive medium for product innovation.

In order to maximize stakeholder’s impact, it helps to:

  1. frame thinking about product innovation with abstractions, models and visual representations that provide a shared vocabulary,
  2. map the facts about product innovations to these models and representations to provide a shared “big picture”,
  3. check the validity and consistency of product innovations using a formalized grammar for innovation,
  4. find particular patterns of strengths and weaknesses using dynamic visualizations, and thus enables a systematic exploration of their potential.
The Product Field Reference Guide · CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · K.P. Frahm, M. Schieben, W. Wopperer-Beholz ·

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