PRODUCTHEAD: Defining services

PRODUCTHEAD: Defining services

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

inside my product


A service:

is defined from an external end user’s point of view

describes something someone would want to do, in their language

has an outcome that relates to the organisation’s goals

includes all the steps between the user and provider

includes all the parts involved in delivering it

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As we progress through our careers as product managers, we tend to move from managing small, discrete products to more complex products involving many different components, working in concert. Some of us graduate to thinking less about individual products, more about an overall service our organisation delivers to users.

The problem with all of this is that we can find ourselves lost in the weeds of figuring out how to slice and dice up this collection of things we need in order to deliver a coherent service. Is something a service, a sub-service, a product, a component? Should a delivery team be responsible for one thing or a collection of things? How do you ensure you’re not just creating silos with every delivery team?

Sometimes, what we need to start with is a good diagram and a clear explanation. The articles I’ve collected for you this week can help with that.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

A common language to understand services

When we build teams to work on services, the individuals may have never worked together before, and may have different ways of describing their work.

It takes time to understand what everyone means when they say things like ‘service’, ‘product’, ‘user need’, ‘platform’, ‘channel’, ‘architecture’, ‘policy’, ‘data’ and ‘strategy’. We all have our own definitions.

A common language helps teams to work together better


Defining services

It’s not just about putting the things an organisation does in a list. It’s about recognising what it takes for an organisation to see and manage itself better. To expose what wasn’t visible before. To organise its work and conceive of performance in a way that puts the focus outside itself. To deliver better and more valuable services to people, more efficiently.

Services from an external end user’s point of view


Do services really ‘end’?

When we draw a linear service blueprint we are making an assumption, that this thing we are drawing has an end. Is it a bias built into the process we use to design…?

These and others are some of the concepts for discussion, things we should consider as designers and problem solvers, are we questioning our own framing enough in what we do?

Is our service ‘whole’ or a part of something bigger?


Defining services, products and platforms in health & care

When we are talking about services, products or platforms we don’t necessarily always mean the same things. When terms like this become interchangeable, they lose their meaning and become flexible. This doesn’t just mean it’s impossible to define them, but it’s also very difficult to define their component parts, structures, or crucially their outcomes.

What we are enabling ‘above’ us?


recent posts

The agency trap

How can product management fit into an agency business model when requirements or specifications are often contractually set in stone by the client up-front? Spoiler alert: not easily

Product company or agency?


Whatever this is, this web3 product manager role is not a product manager

Jason Shah wrote a guest post recently for Lenny Rachitsky’s newsletter, “A Product Manager’s Guide to web3”, which describes how product management differs in web3 companies. He notes that joining a web3 company can be “an opaque process and a risky decision”. I’d add “ethically challenging and morally grey” to that description.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”


Sorting the signal from the noise — a guide to fact-checking

One of the most important, and arguably hardest jobs we have as product managers is to work with our team to sift through information, read between the lines, and verify what is fact and what is merely opinion.

Who can you trust?


upcoming talks and events

15th June 2022

Chief Product Officer Summit

The Chief Product Officer Summit returns on June 15.

Dedicated solely for senior product leaders, our panel-focused agenda will discuss leadership challenges without losing a whole day.

Get ready for insights from:

💥 Amazon – Head of Amazon Prime Europe | Product | CPO
💥 Politico – Director of Product
💥 Aklamio – CPO
💥 Proximie – CPTO
💥 Wefox – CPO
💥 Jit – CPO & Co-Founder
💥 Plagood – CPO
💥 Concentrix – Vice President of Product
💥 Just Eat Takeaway – Global Head of Product
💥 Royal Mail – Chief Digital product Officer
💥 Citi – VP/Head of Product, NLP & AI

Our geo-specific sessions are back, so whether you’re in Europe or the US, you can tune in wherever, whenever.

Grab a pass 👉

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from eco-friendly hemp shopping bags.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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