A new idea pad for a new (purpose-driven) world

Natalie Yan-Chatonsky

COVID-19 has changed the world. It’s having an impact on pretty much every person, company and country around the world. It’s also provoking conversations about how markets and business might change, in both the short and long term.

One positive thing which I’ve seen come out of this horrible time is communities pulling together. Businesses looking after their people, countries placing people’s health above the economy (mostly) and people helping each other. Whether this is with grocery shopping (hunting down toilet paper!), running errands or just checking their neighbours are ok.

What does this have to do with Product Management?

This rise in charity and goodwill has me feeling positive about how we’ll bounce back after the coronacrisis is over. It also makes me think that the movement towards mission-driven businesses will continue to gain momentum. As Product Managers, it’s our job to be looking long-term, to examine changing market dynamics and adapt our Products to suit our customers’ changing needs. That means that we should be using any extra time we gain from our self-isolation to think about what it means to build Products that are mission-driven, ethical and sustainable for the long term.

Many companies will be hurting after this coronacrisis is over. Their profit margins pounded and no doubt many budgets will be slashed. As Product People we need to be the gatekeeper for new Product ideas, but also realise it’s going to get harder to get the backing for new ideas. Very little new product development is likely to happen with most big companies in the near future. So, to get your Product idea backed you’ll need to show how your Product will serve a customer need and make money – not just now but for the long-term. You’ll need a great story to sell your Product idea.

Creating a purpose-driven Product

We’ve been using the Brainmates Idea Pad for many years. It’s remained incredibly popular for so long because it helps you find out, very quickly, whether your Product idea will both solve a customer problem AND turn a profit. But what it doesn’t do is show what the social and environmental impact of your Product will be.

We’re in a world where social and environmental impact is of increasing importance. If you can show what the social and environmental impact of your Product is, it will help you sell your Product (to both your company and your customers) and also reduce risk and reduce the likelihood of wasted resource. In the typical Product development cycle, you usually consider the wider impact later on. But if you wait til then it’s much more difficult and expensive to change. If you consider the wider impact earlier, it gives you far greater flexibility. You have a much better chance to iterate and either mitigate the effects or think about how you can do things differently.

The Brainmates Purpose-Driven Idea Pad

We have adapted the original Brainmates Idea Pad to help Product Managers consider the environmental and social impact at the ‘Ideation’ stage of new Product Development.

We are getting great feedback on our new ‘Purpose-Driven Idea Pad’. In our latest NFP roundtable discussion one of our clients, who is the Head of Product and Sales at a disability service provider, liked it so much that we used it in a  co-design workshop to help come up with services ideas for their students with disabilities.

Natalie Yan-Chatonsky

Natalie Yan-Chatonsky | Author

Nat is our resident dreamer, who loves to wax lyrical on better ways of creating companies, culture and award-winning products. Nat has been working in Product since 1999, across various stages of the product lifecycle, including new product development and growing existing products and services. She worked at IBM and Yahoo! in the early days of digital, and has worked alongside numerous brands, including Cochlear, Fairfax Digital, and News Ltd. More recently she worked on the rollout of the New Payments Platform (NPP) and applies product management practices to her startup. Nat is expert at gathering customer insights and facilitating teams to generate product ideas from those customer insights. She loves helping build things that links the unmet needs of customers with design and business capability to create value, and make a positive difference in the world. When not consulting with clients, Nat loves rolling out her yoga mat or rolling on the Brazilian Jiujitsu mats.

Product Management Training