The decisions you as Product manager are taking will have an impact on your product for many years to come. Product success is often derived from great market insight and understanding of how the market will develop over coming years.
There are a number of tools and research models to analyze the market. But it is not enough to understand the existing situation; we need to understand the future of our industry. The Driving Forces Methodology is a model often used to understand the future.
Driving Forces are easily communicated and easily used for decision-making. Driving Forces can be made generic for multiple decisions and a product portfolio within an industry.
About the concept
The concept behind driving forces is to think like Newton. Think like a genius and apply the physics from high school. If forces are applied on an object, it will move. In fact, it will not move unless forces are applied. By the same theory we can conclude that the movement of the object can be predicted by analyzing the forces exerted upon it.
Not only can we use standard mechanics, we can also apply philosophy. The German philosopher Friedrich Hegel talked about the concept of a “Zeitgeist”, Spirit of Time. The Zeitgeist theory states that certain times are ready for certain ideas. He talks about influences and actions taken in a society that are driving the change. If we understand the Zeitgeist, we will understand the future to be. Martin Rogberg, an organizational researcher looking at modern industry and management, provides additional thoughts based on his research on fashion and trends. From his research we can conclude that industries and markets are exposed to forces that shape it.
So research from mechanics, philosophy and management gives us the same input: we can predict the future if we look at the forces exerted on the market. Practical applications, from product development or intelligence work, give us the same input. We can apply the theories and make them useful.
How to use the Driving Forces?
There are forces and then there are forces. To structure the work, we must initially identify relevant forces, structure them and then analyze them.
Driving forces can emerge within two areas: Micro and Macro environments. The Macro environment forces - as Economic forces, political, demographic, resources, environment, …- put a pressure on the Micro environment. The Micro environment -as customers, competitors, alternative solutions, suppliers, ..…- creates the forces exerted on your market.
After doing the initial identification of the driving forces, you will probably have identified many forces. We cannot work with more than 10 major driving forces. You will need to reduce the number either by grouping them or eliminating the ones with the least impact.
To describe the individual Driving Forces, you can use the Driving Forces MAP below:
We have used Driving Forces in multiple development projects with very good results. In all projects, we have seen the uncovering of hidden knowledge and the creation of groundbreaking insights. These lead to the development of successful products.
You can work with driving forces to enable a successful, long term positioning of your product. A good understanding of the Driving Forces will enable you to identify the Risk Value for the customer.
Want to learn more? Check out Product Strategy Knowledge Hub, where you can find other product strategy resources.