Make sure the intent is what's driving the tasks

This sounds really obvious.  Your company decides to develop a new product.  This new product will fill a real market need.  So of course all the activities that occur during the development phase exist to ensure that the new product will fulfill this market need in the best possible way.  Then why is it that so many new products are launched in a form that is unrecognizable from the original intent?

The act of developing a product takes up much more organizational time and energy than the act of determining the right intent for the next product.  That doesn't mean that the intent is less important than development, but it does contribute to the fact that it can get lost in translation.

Let's take an example.  Say you are a company who learns that your consumers like to actively talk about your products and services.  After exploring many alternatives, you decide to develop an online forum to enable easy discussions.  Early on in the development process, it's decided that the forum could easily have all kinds of great features to make it the best forum around.  It now has great search, great graphics, lots of categories, you name it.  The excitement in the company is infectious, and as you walk the halls, you hear people talking about how this will be the best online forum out there.

It suddenly occurs to you that people are not talking about how you ultimately will be facilitating consumer discussions about your products.  In fact, they are also not talking about how the great search functions, graphics, and categories will enable people to have online discussions more easily.  At the next team meeting you ask everyone what is driving their decisions as they continue to develop this new offering.  The answers are unanimously "to build the best forum out there."

This was a made up example, but we've all been in a similar situation.  The forum was a solution intended to achieve a goal of enabling consumers to have easy online discussions.  It ultimately took on a life of its own and became the goal, and the original intent was lost.  It happens more often than we realize.

Start every meeting with a recap of why you are developing the product in question.  Evaluate every new feature, and every decision you are making against how it will help you to satisfy the original market need.  It's necessary to be relentless in making the original intent occupy its rightful place in the organizational mindset.  Otherwise the solution will determine the goal, rather than the goal determining the solution.