Project Mindset vs. Product Mindset

Category : AgileMindset


By Vineet Patni | 10 January 2021





What is common between global brands like Apple, Tesla, Airbnb, Netflix, and Uber? Have you ever considered how these businesses evolved as leaders in their respective fields? Rather than focusing on short-term gains, these businesses have been concentrating more on the long-term goals of an organization. They have given more importance to the outcome than their timeline and budget. And they are focused on building products/services that meet the need of the current world, creating greater customer satisfaction, and, above all, building a roadmap that guarantees frequent releases. And the most important fact is that they proved you could charge more if you offer an unbeatable customer experience. In other words, these are a few global companies that follow the proper Product Mindset.


Project Mindset

In a Project Mindset, teams are responsible for meeting deadlines, and there will be various constraints, like the budget and a fixed scope. It would be best if you delivered the output on time, as decided earlier. All these things could lead to the commanding and controlling behavior of the management. In the Project Mindset, everything will be fixed and planned before the kick-start of the work, so it’s challenging to incorporate any change during the work. There is no guarantee that the right product will be built until the very end of the project. There might be unpleasant surprises at the end.


Product Mindset

The Product Mindset focuses on creating more “meaningful value” for customers than anything else; it evaluates success in terms of the value you create for customers and business. It never lets you bother about the output but focuses on the outcome. In the Product Mindset, a team gets feedback on the existing features and whether they meet clients’ needs and product values. Depending on these inputs, the decision to change existing features or add extra features will be taken, or even the timelines adjusted. After making the required changes or building more features, the team again looks for customer feedback. Thus, there is a continual feedback loop and adjustments.

Through this Product Mindset of continual feedback loops, the team either builds the right product or does not waste time, effort, and money in making the wrong product; customer feedback stops them from going in the wrong direction.


Project Mindset vs. Product Mindset

Let’s take the example of moviemaking to understand the difference between Project and Product Mindsets.

Before starting the production, the people who work on it will have a clear idea of what the movie is about, and teams will also be fixed in advance. Then they shoot various scenes, edit them, put them together and finally release the film. It’s a perfect example of the Waterfall approach.

On the other hand, the Product Mindset is like making a web series, where the producer never makes all episodes in advance. Initially, s/he makes a few episodes, releases them, and takes the feedback regarding ratings and the viewers’ opinions. They often change the plot according to the feedback they receive from the audience. If the producer feels it needs to be received better by the audience, they may pause and, after a gap, come up with another season. In brief, initially, the producer may need a clearer picture of where the plot will head. So, the web series is the Agile version of moviemaking.

The Agile approach includes the principles of both iterative and incremental software development. It’s about gradually increasing the features, a cyclical release, and then upgrading the pattern.


Advantages of adopting the Product Mindset

The most important advantages of adopting the Product Mindset are:

~ Reduces overall development cost and maximizes value

~ Adaptability to changes in customer needs or market conditions

~ Offers more flexibility in accomplishing product goals

~ It helps the team to get more creative with their solutions and deliver high-quality product

~ Ensures improved customer satisfaction



In the Project Mindset, the focus will be more on developing and implementing features; there’ll be precise planning to meet the deadlines. While in the Product Mindset, the focus is more on enhancing the customer experience. It emphasizes identifying, understanding, as well as prioritizing issues. Further, it helps to tackle complex problems faster and, at the same time, saves money.


About The Author: 

Vineet Patni is the Founder and Principal Agile Coach at ScaleUpAn avid learner and a passionate facilitator, Vineet has been assisting enterprises and individuals in becoming truly Agile. Please feel free to connect with him at 


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the author’s own. The author welcomes and respects any difference of opinion.

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