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The Power of Product Principles

Introduction

Sophie Harpur


The Power of Product Principles

Posted by Sophie Harpur on .
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The Power of Product Principles

Posted by Sophie Harpur on .

Like any product team, the product team at OVO Home Services was faced with more and more decisions to be made every day as we continued to rapidly grow as a team. With this rapid growth we needed to make sure we were aligned with our decision making and had a clear understanding of what we deemed important. One way to achieve this and to ensure OVO Home Services continued to develop in being a product-led organisation was through the creation of our own product principles.

What are Product Principles?
Product principles are a set of beliefs and intentions that reflect your team’s values and vision for the product. These principles can be used in providing direction to the team, serve as a base for inspiring product features and overall as a way to make faster and more consistent product design decisions. These can also be used to align and galvanise decisions within the tech team and at the exec level too.

Some of the best product led companies in the world credit their success on the development of product principles and their everyday implementation. These companies include Intercom, BuzzFeed, Hotjar and Pay.com.

How to Create Them
Creating your own product principles is an ever-evolving process but there are some things to remember to help you get started :

  • no more than 5 so they are easy to remember
  • keep them short and snappy with added context
  • create questions to ask yourself that help you implement the product principle
  • decide and work on them as a team.

There are 2 main approaches you can use when creating your product principles.

Approach 1:
The first approach is to connect a particular principle with an attribute and user experience, in the structure as follows :

“Our product should aspire to achieve Principle (A) because when the product has attribute (B), users benefit from desired user experience (C).”

For example: Our design should aspire to be streamlined because when our products are  simple and easy to use, customers feel that things work the way they expect.

Approach 2:
The second approach is to prioritising a principle over another, stating clearly the one thing that is more important.

Quality we want, over another quality.

For example:

  • Less, but better
  • Appropriate over consistent
  • Accuracy over speed
  • Evolving over finalized

Both of these approaches can be used in tandem. At OVO Home Services we created ours after a team retro, when the issues that were important to the team were fresh in people’s minds and patterns in the key themes began to emerge.

Product Principles at OVO Home Services
One of the product principles we developed at OVO Home Services is peace of mind for all our customers. It was clear that facilitating a user-centred approach to our decision making  was important to us as a team and keeping our customers safe and warm is at the heart of what we do. We wanted to create peace of mind for our customer service team and network of gas engineers through the product we build, as well as our end customers through the solutions we build to make their lives easier and simpler.

An example of practicing this product principle was when we focused on building notifications for our call centre staff in the systems they use every day. When a customer service agent takes an action we provide a notification to confirm that this action has been taken and an audit trail of this action being taken, so other parts of their team can confirm and provide peace of mind that the right steps have been taken.

Our  Product Principles :

Principle 

Context 

Questions to ask ourselves 

Peace of mind for all our customers 

We want all our customers to have peace of mind that the solutions we build will make their lives easier and simpler.

Has this made a customer’s work flow easier ? 

Make evidence-based decisions

We measure what is important to us, in a meaningful way and make sure the insights we gather are actionable. 

Have we tested this prototype with a real user? What data do we have to support this hypothesis ? 

Drive simplicity 



We invest in making the complex simple. 

Does this solution have longevity? Will this continue to be fit for purpose?

Question the norm 

We have confidence to question the status quo and challenge each other when we have concerns. 

Is this way of working, still working for us ? 

We are still early on our journey in using product principles but I am excited to see how they can help up with our decision making and developing our product strategy in a consistent way and ensuring we are prioritising the right things. If you have experience of any highlights or lowlights of using product principles we would love you to share them in the comments!

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