The Product-led Organisation

Stay ahead of the competition by adopting a product-led mindset

When Slack launched in 2013 the founders reached out to their network for as much feedback as possible. They wanted to understand criticism early and used it to iterate the product. Even when the userbase jumped to the 1000s they maintained this fanatical approach to feedback. They kept asking, time and time again. Slack now has over 10 million daily active users.

Slack is a brilliant example of a product-led organisation. But with so many other companies old habits die hard! And with them, their very existence.

Perhaps the voices of product practitioners and strategists alike have become a drone that CEO’s and founders choose to ignore.

I continue to see many organisations and start-ups making the same strategic and process blunders that cause them to fail. The ‘build it and they will come’ approach; not listening to users; not examining the market; creating a top-down toxic org structure and not hiring the right people are all areas that are contra to the product-led organisation. Here I’ll outline why prioritising the product experience and placing it at the centre of a company strategy is a key driver of success.

Embrace the Product-Led Mindset

To become a product-led organisation, it is crucial to cultivate a product-centric mindset across the company. This involves a shift in thinking where every employee understands and appreciates the importance of the product in driving business success. As Kyle Poyar, VP of Growth at OpenView, explains in his article, “Becoming a product-led company starts with a cultural shift—a recognition that every function in the business plays a role in delivering a great product experience.

This doesn’t mean that you’ve got your teams working 24/7 on your product. But it does mean that if you’re able to shift the mindset your people will constantly have your product on their mind. They will live and breathe it.

Adopt a Data-Driven Approach

Data plays a pivotal role in the success of a product-led organisation. By leveraging data and analytics, companies gain valuable insights into user behavior, preferences, and pain points, which can inform product decisions. In the words of Hiten Shah, co-founder of FYI, “Becoming a product-led organization requires a deep understanding of your customers’ needs, which is best achieved through data-driven decision-making.

Don’t think that you need an entire research team or analytics suite to get started. You can simply start speaking to users – use that data to make adjustments and when your organisation grows you can go deeper and broader.

Focus on User Onboarding and Activation

One of the fundamental aspects of being product-led is providing users with a seamless onboarding experience and facilitating their activation. Research shows that effective user onboarding significantly impacts customer retention and long-term engagement. Samuel Hulick, author of “The Elements of User Onboarding,” emphasises the importance of “nail it then scale it” when it comes to onboarding, ensuring users understand the core value of the product from the start.

This is especially true with mobile applications where the quality bar is now so high across basic utility products such as ordering food or hiring a taxi. Think about how easy it is to use these products and mirror that experience in whatever you’re building.

Continuously Iterate and Improve

In a product-led organisation, iteration is key. By consistently gathering user feedback and data, companies can identify areas for improvement and optimise their product accordingly. As Neil Patel, co-founder of NP Digital, advises in his blog post, “The key to success in a product-led organisation is a relentless pursuit of continuous improvement. Actively listen to your users, monitor their behavior, and iterate based on their needs and desires.

Don’t believe me? Have a look at iterations or builds of the most popular applications and you’ll see how many releases are behind them. Nothing stands still, ever. And you’re never done. Working in one start-up I co-founded I saw this first hand. The product was web-based and had a huge captive audience. But as gaming transitioned to mobile devices the core audience left desktop or laptop devices behind in droves. The company that was once worth £200M nose dived as it hadn’t pivoted or iterated the product.

Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration

Collaboration across departments is essential for a successful product-led organisation. Siloed teams can hinder the development of a cohesive product strategy. Establishing clear communication channels and encouraging cross-functional collaboration allows different teams to align their efforts and work together towards a common goal of delivering an exceptional product experience. As Brandon Chu, VP of Product at Shopify, explains in his article, “Building a product-led organization requires close collaboration between product, marketing, sales, and customer success.

There’s a fundamental upside to this part of the equation. By bringing the product-led mindset to the various teams within your org (not just the product team!) you’ll encounter far more buy-in than ever before. You’ll also foster a spirit of collaboration and resiliance amongst the various teams that didn’t exist before. This is the magic of a product-led company – the knock on effects can be far reaching in making the experiences of your staff memorable.


Becoming a product-led organisation requires a holistic approach that encompasses culture, data-driven decision-making, user onboarding, iteration, and cross-functional collaboration. By embracing these practices, organisations can enhance their product experience, drive customer satisfaction, and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Remember, the journey to becoming a product-led organisation is an ongoing process that requires dedication and a commitment to constant improvement. By putting the product at the heart of your organisation, you can unlock new opportunities for growth and success.

Need help transforming or inspiring your team?

If only…

What if you don’t act as a product-led organisation? You end up with a series of ‘If only…’s


Blockbuster, once a dominant player in the video rental industry, failed to innovate and adapt to changing customer preferences. While Netflix embraced a product-led approach by transitioning to a subscription-based model and offering online streaming, Blockbuster clung to its brick-and-mortar stores and late fees. This failure to prioritize the evolving product experience ultimately led to Blockbuster’s downfall, as customers flocked to the convenience and flexibility offered by Netflix.

Read more: The Rise and Fall of Blockbuster


Nokia, a former leader in the mobile phone market, struggled to compete against smartphone giants like Apple and Samsung. Despite their early success in mobile devices, Nokia failed to fully embrace a product-led mindset. They were slow to respond to the growing demand for touchscreens and intuitive user interfaces, ultimately losing significant market share. This lack of innovation and failure to prioritize the evolving product experience led to Nokia’s decline in the mobile industry.

Read more: How Nokia Failed to Nail the Smartphone Market


Kodak, a pioneer in the photography industry, failed to adapt to the digital revolution and the shift from film to digital photography. Despite inventing the digital camera in the 1970s, Kodak hesitated to invest in digital technology, fearing it would cannibalize their film business. This reluctance to embrace a product-led approach and capitalize on emerging trends proved detrimental, as competitors like Canon and Nikon quickly embraced digital photography, leaving Kodak struggling to stay relevant.

Read more: The Rise and Fall of Kodak


Yahoo, once a dominant force in the early days of the internet, failed to innovate and keep pace with evolving user demands. While competitors like Google focused on delivering a superior search experience and innovative products, Yahoo lost its way by diversifying into numerous unrelated services and neglecting its core search and user experience. This failure to prioritize a product-led approach led to Yahoo’s decline and eventual acquisition by Verizon.

Read more: The Decline and Fall of Yahoo