Product Development

Product Development and Chess

Wonder how it is related, basically we can learn a lot of things from the Game of Chess.

  • This was in my high school and we had to play chess which was in the final round. I was thinking it would be a easy game,but my opponent turned out to be very difficult, we played 3 games all drawn in 2 days, I finally won the 4th game, I still remember how I was waiting for one wrong move to draw the game as I was in a very bad shape.

    We learn to stay focused, have patience, endurance and never give up, these characteristics are very important in a startup product development.

    Just like we prepare before every match on who is our opponent, how are we going to play what will be our likely moves, we have to pretty much begin Product Development only after knowing the problem we are solving, understand what we need to do and break down the problem into achievable goals.

    There is a saying “Customer is King” , in chess once you capture the opponent King you win, but we have to navigate through all the opponent pawn(Queen, Rook, Knight..) win over them before we reach the King, much the same way for a product team knowing a customer alone is not enough, but also know the factors that influences the customer, the entire eco-system has to be understood, all the customer stakeholders however big or small matter to the success of the product.

    Getting to the opponent King can be done in multiple ways, but we have to plan how we get there. Similarly when we are solving a particular problem in the product development there will be multiple solutions on our way, we need to evaluate each of these options and identify the right one. This can be the one which is easy or it can be one which can be solved quickly or something designed to never fail. We need to pick the right one and track it through every step.

    Chess has many pawns which make a team, these are of different types, each play different roles in achieving goals and have their own capabilities, also limitations. The same can be said of product teams, each team member have different skill sets, each team player do different roles and all of them work to a common goal

    In a chess game we try to protect each pawn and this is not based on importance or on their strengths (like Queen, Rook, Knight),drawing a parallel in a product team it is imperative to retain all product team members, this should be done irrespective of the role played by team member, the more people we loose the bigger the impact.

    While playing chess we would have got OMG situations, it could happen when we commit mistake and hoping opponent will overlook the same or the opponent has done a mind blowing move. This can put you off gear but never too late, what you do is to re-strategies, in product development also we get into OMG moments it is very important for us to re-prioritize and re-plan during such moments.

    Finally chess or any other game will always give you opportunities to bounce back just wait for such moments and grab them, same hold good for Products also

    I will be putting a few more thoughts on what are the important parameters for a successful product and how we can evaluate product development with scorecard very soon…

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