The Quest for Product Excellence
Join the exploration for the illusive keys to a high performance customer-centric culture
I'm Jason Carver
I'm a product executive who has been on a tireless quest for the secretes of Product Excellence for over two decades.
Through my trials I have mentored, instructed, and coached countless of professionals, sharing insights that I have accumulated on my journey.
While I was sharing some of these secrets with local entrepreneur audiences through seminars, there were continuous requests for me to share more of my advice and insights with an even wider audience. At last, the collective voices became too loud to ignore.
So, in late '22 I decided to begin opening up the vault of secrets that I have collected and sharing them widely so that we can continue this quest together, united for a common cause - striving for product excellence.
Defining Product Excellence
Product Excellence is a pragmatic, whole-company approach to building customer-centric products that deliver a meaningful human impact for customers, employees, and communities.
My Origin Story
Before we embark on the next chapter of this journey, let me share a little bit about me and why I am so passionate about this mission.
In the beginning
For the purposes of this story, my adventures started as a self-taught software engineer launching web products at the tail end of the dot-com bubble while working at startups that were flush with cash and absolutely no idea how they were going to make money.
Back then I was satisfied with being a practitioner building elegant web-based solutions (admittedly often over-engineered) and leaving the "big picture" to others. Over the next decade I focused on execution excellence as head of engineering, a startup co-founder, and as an afterhours college instructor.
The turning point
As a co-founder of a SaaS startup I had visions of changing the world and vowed to avoid making the same mistakes as my prior employers. This time I knew that we would that we would find the perfect balance of having a clear plan, iterating around customer feedback, and embracing agile software practices.
Unfortunately, I discovered that conventional wisdom of being customer-driven and utilizing code-first iteration was ill advised. These benign pieces of advice generated tremendous business risk and left huge strategic and tactical gaps that made success an unanswered prayer for entrepreneurs. While my startup became a successful lifestyle company, 90% of software startups are not even that lucky.
There has to be a better way!
That began my quest for discovering how to flip the startup success rate upside down by establishing a pragmatic approach that incorporated a whole company approach that leveraged validated understanding of market first principles, customer behaviors, and the competitive landscape.
As I found success with my early concepts others asked me to share what I was doing differently to boost the success rate and shorten time to success. So I started to codify my practices into sharable models and tools so that others could follow these practices, achieve product-market fit, and establish a culture that could scale to capture the full potential of their ventures.
These early ruminations were well received and spawned my consulting and coaching side-practice, LACKSTACK, where I was able to assist many entrepreneurs and executives in finding success during their Dream, Prove, and Scale seasons.
While I have loved making tremendous impact for individuals and select organizations that I have worked with closely, I am now looking to flip the funnel and make a larger impact by broadcasting my insights and collaboratively finding more success tracks by openly discussing product excellence. Over the past 5 years the number of people publicly contributing their thoughts to this and similar quests has exploded. I am excited to be part of that trend and I look forward to hearing your voice soon as well!
I believe that a foundational alignment of Purpose, Principles, and Processes establishes a shared championship mindset. And since I have already expressed my purpose, the next thing you might like to know is what are some of my core principles surrounding Product Excellence, so I have shared a few below:
Support Transformative Customer Journeys
When you put your customers transformation at the center of your business, you establish an authentic core. Take that one step further and understand the transformative levels of your audience from white belt to black belt and you are well on your way to building sustainable growth engines.
WHY: This is the key to truly customer centric cultures.
Always Strive for Excellence
Being excellent is a temporary state and not core objective. It is easy to celebrate moments when you came close to excellence. The challenge is to celebrate failure, recognize what you could do better, and strive to improve without a loss of motivation. This sort of growth mindset is what it takes to unlock full potential.
WHY: Innovation is critical to longevity and a muscle that needs constant exercise.
Leadership Multipliers are the Difference
It is easy to celebrate 10x individual contributors. Yet thriving businesses find, and cultivate, leaders who multiply the impact of those around them. These are leaders who open communication lines, embrace productive conflict, challenge others to reach their potential, champion accountability, and support them without judgement.
WHY: Effective leadership that maximizes everyone's impact is a rarity worth seeking.
Product Excellence is a Team Sport
Fiefdoms and silos permeate companies causing fractured customer experiences and fragmented execution resulting in fractional corporate effort make an impact on key business metrics. High performing teams on the other hand are united behind clear metrics, customer vision, and transparently communication and collaboration.
WHY: In the customer's eyes we are one = no one wins alone, everyone fails together.