Q&A: What’s the name for ‘continuing to find product-market fit’?

Q&A: What’s the name for ‘continuing to find product-market fit’?

I’m asked questions about product management from time to time. Here’s one I’ve answered recently:

Do you have a term/name for continuing to find/refine product-market fit?

Or is product-market fit something you find once and then ignore after you found it?

Is there a term you’ve run into that talks about it as an ongoing process? Specifically as it relates to innovation or disruption (market changes).

DM

In my view, product-market fit is a bit of a moving target for a few reasons:

  1. Early adopters are a different profile of user with different needs to those in later stages (early majority / late majority / laggards), so product-market fit looks different for each group.

    (I’m aware that product-market fit is usually characterised as the point at which you ‘cross the chasm’ as Geoffrey Moore defined it, but I’m arguing it’s spread over the whole product lifecycle.)

  2. Significant disruptions to an existing market, for example, new disruptive entrant, or unpredictable external factors (COVID-19) may dramatically redefine what product-market fit looks like for that set of users.

  3. Learning about user needs should be continual, so even if nothing else changes, your understanding about user needs should become more detailed, allowing you to fine-tune product-market fit as you understand your users more.

Which is a long way of saying that the term for continuing to find or refine product-market fit is probably just ‘ongoing user research’.


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Jock is a freelance head of product, author and conference speaker. He has spent nearly two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. His clients include the BBC, University of Cambridge, and the UK's Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS).In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, a product management consultancy and training company. He is also the author of the popular book The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management and the blog I Manage Products.

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