Blackblot PMTK Methodology™ Foundation Rules Rationale

Question: "Is there a comprehensive definition, offered by Blackblot, of problem space and solution space and a rationale for making the separation a foundational rule of the framework?"
Answer: Within the Blackblot Product Manager's Toolkit® (PMTK) methodology, the problem space is defined as the conceptual market realm in which the problem (difficulty, a situation that requires change) resides. The solution space is defined as the conceptual product realm in which corresponding solutions (answers, anything that removes or controls the difficulty) to the problem reside.

The problem space and the solution space are abstract. However, the problem and the solution themselves can be actual or perceived and they can also be tangible or intangible.

For example, the problem could be inefficient work (actual or perceived) and the solution can be to use faster machines (tangible) or apply better processes (intangible).

From a colloquial standpoint, the problem space relates to the world of business and consumer challenges and motivations - it is all about needs (states of felt deprivations). The solution space relates to the world of products and technology - it is all about the offerings that satisfy needs.

To understand the rationale for making the separation between the problem space and the solution space a foundational rule of the framework, required is a review the chain of thoughts and logical reasoning upon which the Blackblot Product Manager's Toolkit® (PMTK) methodology's two foundation rules are based on.

For every product there is a user and a buyer. Every product simultaneously offers functionality for the user and positive or negative value for the buyer. Product functionality for the user is built via product planning processes and the product's value is articulated to the buyer via product marketing activities.

Because the product's implications, functionality and value, are mutually dependent, so are inextricably linked the product planning and product marketing disciplines that represent the mechanisms for building product functionality and articulating its value. The unison between product planning and product marketing is collectively referred to as Product Management. The succinct definition is that product management is defined as an occupational domain which contains two professional disciplines: product planning and product marketing. The slightly expanded definition is that product management is an occupational domain that is based on general management (collection of activities in the areas of decision making, employee motivation, and process application; that lead and direct a business organization) techniques that are focused on product planning and product marketing activities.

The definition of product management is extremely critical to the consistent application of the profession. That leads to adopting the definition of product management as a core tenet of the PMTK methodology; hence the first PMTK foundation rule that "Product management is comprised of product planning and product marketing". It is noted that not separating the two disciplines of product planning and product marketing will result in a job description overlap which causes unclear roles and responsibilities in product management.

The user and the buyer are respectively focused on their quest for functionality and value. They are not focused on the product or technology. Accordingly, the user and the buyer reside in the problem space and therefore product management is also in the problem space.

Products and technologies reside in the solution space. Engineering is focused on products and technologies. Accordingly, engineering resides in the solution space.

These realizations are the rationale for the second foundation rule that "Product management resides solely in the problem space". By inference and exclusion, product management's counterpart is engineering, which resides in the solution space.

The following table presents the notions that relate to the problem space and the solution space:

Problem Space Solution Space
Questions Answers
Problems Solutions
Problem Telling Problem Solving
Market Expertise Prod./Tech. Expertise
Product Management Engineering