In the dynamic world of product management, structuring user feedback is a crucial part of the product management process. It helps us understand user needs, identify opportunities for improvement, and ultimately, drive our product forward. In this article, we'll explore three powerful frameworks for structuring user feedback: the Product Hierarchy, the Job Tree, and the Opportunity Solution Tree. Each of these trees offers a unique perspective and approach to handling user feedback, and understanding how and when to use each can greatly improve your ability to identify customer needs and drive impactful change to your product.
The Product Hierarchy: Your Reactive Response Tool
The first tree we'll look into is the Product Hierarchy. This is a tree that is suitable for teams who are managing an existing product, and that are receiving feedback on said product. It allows us to categorize feedback and understand how it relates to different part, or components, of our product.
In the simplified example with the Zlack messaging app above, the components of the product are Messages, File Sharing, and Team Admin. A structure like this helps us categorize incoming feedback, as we can add new feedback underneath the corresponding component. We can also adapt the tree by adding new components or sub-components as we receive more feedback points.
The Product Hierarchy is particularly useful for teams that have a live product and are receiving a steady stream of user feedback. It allows you to categorize and prioritize feedback based on the components of your product, making it easier to identify areas that need improvement. However, while the Product Hierarchy is excellent for managing received feedback, it's not as effective when it comes to proactive product discovery. Proactive discovery is often needed in order to truly innovate. A famous saying in product is that Henry Ford didn’t ask his customers what they wanted because he knew they would have told him they wanted a faster horse. Instead he innovated, and ended up delivering a completely different means of transportation which way surpassed that of the existing horse and carriage. This is where the Job Tree and the Opportunity Solution Tree come into play.
The Job Tree: Making Things Better for Users
Next we have the Job Tree, a tool that helps us understand what jobs our users are trying to achieve, and how we can help them do those jobs. In the early phases of a product’s lifecycle, when our goal is to make certain key actions (or jobs) better for our users, this is by far the most relevant tree to use, but it remains relevant throughout.
For instance, this simplified Job Tree for the job "Share documents with team for collaboration" includes steps like "Find and prepare document", "Share the document", and "Confirm team received document". By structuring feedback around these steps, we can identify areas for improving the usefulness of the app for our users.
The Job Tree is based on the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework, which focuses on the tasks that users are trying to accomplish with a product. By understanding these tasks, we can design and improve our product to better meet our users' needs. The Job Tree is especially useful in the early stages of a product, where the goal is often to improve the user experience and make the product better for users. However, while the Job Tree is excellent for improving the user experience, it doesn't focus on specific business metrics, which is where the Opportunity Solution Tree comes in.
The Opportunity Solution Tree: Driving Specific Business Metrics
The Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) is a powerful tool for proactive discovery (you can read more about how to start working with OSTs here). Unlike the Job Tree, the OST is focused on driving specific business metrics.
In the above example, a simplified OST for the outcome "Increase visit to signup completion ratio" could include steps like "Browse website", "Goes through onboarding flow", and "Lands in app". While the OST can be challenging to work with due to the cognitive complexity of separating out and working with business metrics, user problems, and solutions at the same time, it's an excellent tool for teams looking to increase conversion in a funnel or activate a certain feature.
The OST is a more complex tool compared to the Job Tree and the Product Hierarchy. It requires a clear understanding of the business metrics you're trying to move and a systematic approach to exploring opportunities and potential solutions. However, when implemented correctly, the OST can drive significant improvements in your key business metrics and help you achieve your product goals.
Choosing the Right Tree: When and How to Use Each Tree
Choosing the right tree depends on your team's goals and the stage of your product.The Product Hierarchy is great for reacting to feedback, the Job Tree is excellent for improving user experience, and the OST is ideal for driving specific business metrics. Remember, these trees are not mutually exclusive; they can be used in combination to provide a comprehensive approach to structuring user feedback.
The Product Hierarchy is the go-to tree for teams with a live product receiving a steady stream of user feedback. It allows you to categorize and prioritize feedback based on the components of your product, making it easier to identify areas that need improvement. However, while the Product Hierarchy is excellent for managing received feedback, it's not as effective when it comes to proactive discovery. This is where the Job Tree and the Opportunity Solution Tree come into play.
The Job Tree is particularly useful in the early phases of a product when the primary goal is to improve the user experience. It helps you understand what your users are trying to achieve and how they're going about it, allowing you to design and improve your product to better meet their needs. However, while the Job Tree is excellent for improving the user experience, it doesn't focus on specific business metrics, which is where the Opportunity Solution Tree comes in.
The Opportunity Solution Tree is a more complex and strategic tool. It requires a clear understanding of the business metrics you're trying to move and a systematic approach to exploring opportunities and potential solutions. However, when implemented correctly, the OST can drive significant improvements in your key business metrics and help you achieve your product goals.
Tooling to Support the Three Trees
When it comes to tooling, Delibr offers built-in support for working with all three types of trees, making it an excellent choice for product managers. Productboard also offers good support for the Product Hierarchy. However, it's worth noting that a tool focused solely on the Product Hierarchy may nudge teams to be more reactive and less focused on proactive discovery than ideal.
In conclusion, the Product Hierarchy, Job Tree, and OST are powerful tools for structuring user feedback. By understanding and implementing these trees, product managers can gain valuable insights, drive their product forward, and ultimately, create better experiences for their users. So, why not give these trees a try and see the difference they can make in your product management process?
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