Product development or product evolvement. Potato or potata? Right? Perhaps. Maybe it is just me and I need a new word for the same thing.

In software development, the phrase “product development” has become so associated with the actual development phase of the product, where someone sits down and actually writes code, that it lost some of the extents of its intended meaning.

Even going beyond that, where companies apply the full extent of the meaning, product development is narrowing in playing “The Infinite Game. It implies that once a product/service no longer fulfilles the job it set out to do, as good as its competitors, it has reached the end of its life. If you target the right customer job or problem you are playing an infinite game, not a finite one.

Product development typically refers to all stages involved in bringing a product from concept or idea through market release and beyond. In other words, product development incorporates a product’s entire journey.

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As in nature, in order to survive and cater to the customer’s job, the product (or service) must evolve into something else, something that does the job better. Otherwise, it will be outcompeted by better-adjusted solutions.

product evolvement or evolution
Example of how Home Audio Systems have evolved to do the job better over time. (Image Credit: Core77.com)

Evolve to handle unpredictability

Todays business environment is extremely complex and unpredictable. Meanwhile “Development – The process of developing; growth, directed change”, somehow implies that we can predict and control it according to our will, when in reality we can not. (We can be disruptive but can’t control it in the long run).
Therefore, as organisations we must do the “Evolution – A progression of change, often branching and diversifying in the process“, in order to adapt to and enhance the environment.

So perhaps the individual Product Manager should think in terms of Product Development. But Product Organisations need to think in the line of Product Evolvement.

And yes, many organisations probably does this without calling it that, however I also see a lot of organisation that is stuck in the thinking of just growing the existing product and maximizing the profit. (Then they run the occational “innovation” workshop in order to feel good about them selfs.)

Instead teams and organisations must be able to constantly evolve along with the environment in terms of business model, skills, resources, technology etc.. In other words, the very definition of an “Agile organisation”

In short, to evolve in the right direction, you probe different solutions to the problem and see which survives and thrives in your environment (how to is another article).

But the first step i to be aware of why this is important and talk about it in the right terms.

While we sure don’t need more C-suite roles I think I am going for the eqvivalent of Chief Product Evolvement Officer 🙂

*Yes, I did google it… And I am aware that Evolvement is not a commonly used word in the English language. Perhaps I should use Evolution instead, but in direct comparison to the noun Development, I just liked it better…