Beyond Features: Chapter III - Focus on What Matters

David Pereira
David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker
Posted on
Jun 13, 2022
Updated on
Jul 17, 2022
Table of Content

Want to read the full Series? See here for the link to: Chapter 1, Chapter 2

Time pressures everyone, especially Ecbert, who feels the burden. Odin Enterprises has only one shot left, and if they miss the target, it’s game over. 

Ecbert got impatient during the last workshop and caused tension among the participants; they were worried that the CEO would return to his old command and control pattern. Nevertheless, Lagertha showed her strength to slow Ecbert down.

After reviewing and sharpening Odin Enterprises Business Model Canvas, it was time to understand their audiences in-depth. As their business model is a marketplace, they have sellers and buyers, and the question is if they have a shared understanding of their audiences. The story continues, and Lagertha guides them through a reorganization process to avoid a tragic fate.

Who are the customers?

The atmosphere was tense; the employees doubted Ecbert would empower them as promised. Lagertha noticed that but decided to progress and act according to Ecbert’s reaction. She walked to the board and wrote: “Who are our customers?” then asked, “Who can answer that?

Haraldson: “That’s an easy one, tourists in Scandinavia and Viking fans interested in virtual tours. That’s it.

Olaf: “Yes, they are our customers, but they are not the only ones. Without tour agencies, we are irrelevant. I see both as customers.

Ecbert: “That’s true! Our customers are tourists and agencies. We are a marketplace; the more offers we have, the more attractive we are for tourists.

Haraldson: “I used to see agencies as partners rather than customers. I think it depends on the perspectives, but I’d agree that without them, we are nothing.

Lagertha: “I like this discussion. Now let’s hone our understanding. Shall we create a customer profile for each of them? I want to ensure we see their jobs to be done, pains, and gains from the same lenses.

Everyone nodded, and Lagherta went to the board and drew a circle representing the customers’ profiles. She named them buyers and sellers, then invited the participants to provide more details. “Let’s start with the buyers. What jobs do they do?

Björn: “They search for tours, evaluate the offerings, and eventually book something. After that, they get the details of the tour.

Ivar: “Plus, they cancel and bug us about the refund taking too long.

Olaf: “On the emotional side, they want to discover places that words cannot describe and pictures cannot capture.

Lagertha added these points to the profile and asked, “What kind of pains do they get while doing these tasks?

Olaf: “They get mad when the agency cancels the tour. Also, they hate our refund policies. For them, a month is too long to get their money back.

Ivar: “I read some customer feedback, and they dislike taking tours alone. They would like to get to know the other tour participants beforehand. Maybe we could even do something about it.

Lagertha: “What else causes pain?

Ecbert: “They complain about expectations and bash some tours, saying that the agencies lied to them.

Haraldson: “Another issue I encountered is related to delays. Tourists have airtight plans and when tours start or end late is a problem for them.

Lagertha enriched the customer profile and said, “Now, let’s look into gains. What do they get from tasks they do?

Olaf: “Excitement. Unforgettable memories from unique experiences.

Haraldson: “And many stories to share with their friends and family!

Lagertha: “It seems we got it! Have a look at this profile. Does it reflect our buyers’ audience?

Ecbert stared at it for a few seconds and said, “Yes, it does, and we may not address all pains well enough. This is definitely a point to talk about later today.

 Buyers’ Profile
Author’s courtesy — Buyers’ Profile

The atmosphere shifted from tense to energetic. Participants started to engage again, and it seems that they got ideas on how to improve their customer experience. Ecbert seems open and more patient than before; he tried to take the lead now and asked, “Should we move to our seller’s profile? I’m eager to create this one as well.

Haraldson: “Sure. I want to start with their tasks, as I often talk to many of them. The agencies have to create, advertise, manage, and sell tours. Also, they need to communicate with the tour participants to provide relevant information and tour details.

Olaf: “Don’t forget they also have to handle refunds, which is a nightmare. They often call us because they misunderstand our policies and don’t know how to do it independently.

Ecbert: “Misunderstand our policies? What do you mean by that?

Olaf: “We have conflicting rules, and the experience within our platform doesn’t make it clear enough for them.

Ecbert: “Okay, one more thing to change then. What else bothers them?

Haraldson: “They complain that customers take too long to reply to their messages. Sometimes they need to reschedule or merge tours, and customers need to confirm, but it takes days, and some reject the offer, leaving the agencies with little time to acquire new participants.

Ecbert: “Hum. Another one that we should improve. And do they get any good experience from our services?

Olaf: “Sure. I learned that many of our agencies benefit from steady business growth because of us. Also, even during Covid-19, they offered frequent virtual tours.

Ivar: “When I looked at our analytics, I noticed continuous growth from recommendations that contributes to business growth.

Ecbert: “Nice to hear that. Here is what we got; does that reflect our sellers’ profile?

Everyone nodded in agreement.

Seller’s profile
Author’s Courtesy — Seller’s profile

How do we serve our customers?

It seems Lagertha reached her goal of having a shared understanding of the target audience, but she waited until this moment to ask a tricky question. Again, she went to the board and wrote, “How do we serve our customers?

Without waiting, Ecbert said, “We have well-designed customer service teams to serve our customers as well as an outstanding team to keep evolving our platform.

Lagertha: “How satisfied are you with the achieved results?

Ecbert: “Well, I’d be lying if I say I’m satisfied. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this room. I know everyone here worked hard to reach what we’ve achieved. Our team is small, but we are dynamic and ambitious.

Björn: “Okay. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. We suck! We lack focus, and team Jorvik tries to do everything for everyone. At the end of the day, we deliver a lot of crap. Nothing is outstanding, and we are continuously confused with prioritization.

Olaf: “Björn, I feel your pain. Our customer service agents also try to serve everyone, sellers and buyers. No wonder that we often have complaints from both sides.

Haraldson: “Let me join you guys. Marketing is no different. We lack prioritization and try to do everything for everyone.

Ecbert: “That’s shocking news to me. My head is spinning now. As much as I want to know why you never addressed that to me, it’d be pointless having this talk at this moment. My question is, how could we serve our audiences better?

Lagertha: “Focus is the answer. Teams should have a clear focus and be empowered to make decisions. The current scenario doesn’t allow them to do so. For example, team Jorvik has eleven developers, a Product Owner, and a Scrum Master. They try to do everything and get frustrated.

Ecbert: “I understood that. But how do we solve this situation?

Björn: “We can solve this situation by breaking our team into two smaller ones. One team focuses on sellers and the other on buyers. I guess the same should happen with all other departments. I know we would overlap, but we can solve that with clear alignments, but we don’t have to work together day in and day out. We need to focus on improving the experience for each one of our audiences.

Ecbert: “It makes sense what you say, Björn. Let’s explore this and evaluate the options.

Björn: “Explore and evaluate? We’ve got one last shot, and it’s now or never. Have you forgotten that we have no time for analysis paralysis? Time isn’t on our side.

Ivar: “Björn is right. We have to split our team. Beyond a lack of focus, we still produce the same output as we used to have when we were a smaller team.

Focus vs. Distractions

Björn was on fire and pushed Ecbert for a massive change. Odin Enterprises could no longer afford to waste time; teams couldn’t try to meet the needs of both audiences, and they had to become laser-focused on a single audience. 

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Ecbert felt pressured by Björn and Ivar, and while he wanted to invest more time in analyzing options, he knew they had none to spare. He said, “We will split our teams and ensure we provide a delightful experience for each audience. However, I won’t make all the decisions. I empower you to do what’s best for us.

Björn looked surprised by Ecbert’s words and decided to take responsibility; he said, “Thanks for empowering us, Ecbert. Better late than never. Given my experience, I want to be the Product Owner for one of the teams, and I’d prefer Buyers, which I would name Kattegat.

Ivar: “Björn, it’s too early to say that. I feel like you’re backstabbing me. I can be the Product Owner for both teams. Your hands-on skills are precious.

Lagertha: “Ivar, we need focus. You cannot do an outstanding job for both teams. At best, you can do a good job.

Ecbert: “We’re done accepting a ‘good job’ as a proper outcome. Now it’s time to differentiate from our competition. Björn, I follow your suggestion. As a next step, please align with team Jorvik on how you will split and form team Kattegat and make sure that both teams are fully functional.

Ivar got angry and couldn’t digest this decision calmly. With anger in his voice, he looked at Björn and said, “I knew you would betray me. So it’s you against me. It has always been that way. You think you’re better, but you’re not.

Björn: “It’s not me against you. It’s a team focused on sellers and another on buyers. Together, we can win this battle. We all want the same. Odin Enterprises must thrive. We need to use our skills in the best way possible.

Ecbert didn’t want to entertain a fight. He simply said the decision was made and expected them to figure out how to generate excellent results. 

Björn became the Product Owner for team Kattegat, while Ivar was furious and hurt. Yet, they had to figure out how to work in the same direction, otherwise Odin Enterprise would face a dreadful outcome.

Will Björn and Ivar collaborate, or will they compete? Can Lagertha help them overcome their differences?

What will the fate of Odin Enterprise be? In the next chapter, Lagertha will help both team Jorvik and team Kattegat set their Product Goals, define metrics and adapt their Product Backlogs.

The story continues in Chapter IV

About the author

David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker

Product Leader with 15+ years of experience. Currently located in Munich, Germany and striving to help companies create value faster. I'm a Partner at Value Rebels and Interim Chief Product Officer at omoqo. My passion is helping product teams overcome their challenges and deliver REAL value faster. Almost every product team is trapped somehow, untrapping them is what drives me.

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