Product thinking
Building the right things in ways that solve real problems

Blocky, the Ad Hoc mascot, in the middle of a flow of ideas that leads to a finished product symbol.

Every software product begins with uncertainty. How can you know what will be the right solution months or years in advance?

Product thinking is a set of principles and methods that teams use to understand what’s needed and why, and then how to build that product through iterative delivery and feedback loops.

For government and non-profit organizations, product thinking helps create high-quality products while managing risks not accounted for in traditional IT project thinking, such as:

  • Usability risk
    Hard to use or doesn’t solve a user’s problem

  • Viability risk
    Products don’t work or aren’t needed

  • Feasibility risk
    Inaccurate requirements jeopardize functionality

  • Public value risk
    Poor experiences increase distrust and hinder policy outcomes

Case study

See how product thinking helped Ad Hoc and the General Services Administration meet user needs and business goals on

Product thinking combines elements of human-centered design with Lean methods to reduce uncertainty and increase learning.

Traditionally, government IT projects are based on predefined requirements passed to engineering-only development teams for implementation. Those teams optimize for budget and time-to-completion without a clear sense of the user problems they’re solving or the policy outcomes the technology is meant to enable.

Product thinking helps agencies think about technology in terms of the problems it can solve and the value it can create. It connects an agency’s high-level visions and goals down to individual product objectives, experiments, and iterations. At every level, teams prioritize the highest-value work for agencies and users.

Product thinking principles:

Start with the why
Deeply understand the problems to be solved
Measure success in outcomes
Relentlessly prioritize
Embrace uncertainty
Iterate, feedback, iterate.
Empower product ownership at the team level directed by a product person

Put our expertise to work for your agency

Find out how product thinking can change how you approach technology problems.

Talk to the team