Product, Feature and Platform Thinking

Stromi Lof
4 min readFeb 24, 2021
Diagram showing Products, Features and Platform

Some context

Six months ago, we built a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for a health service search product.

We are now focussing on improving a feature within that product to make our search results more accurate.

The question we had to answer was: how to make the location-based results more relevant ?

After chatting with other product managers and other teams in our organisation, we found out that our feature could be used across other products.

This made me realised that to aspire to build a great product, I should expand my thinking beyond the ‘realm’ of my product.

I’m not talking about the obvious (looking at the market, competitors, customer/user needs etc.)

But I’m talking about seeing the product through different lenses and within the internal environment in which it operates.

Product, Feature and Platform

There are many definitions of what is a product, a feature and a platform.

However, I will keep things simple and won’t mention front-end, back-end, databases or APIs (with the risk of oversimplifying things).

The following diagrams give an overview of what each term means at a very broad level in relation to each other and when features, products and platform belong to the same environment or organisation.

A diagram showing a product composed of different features
Diagram showing one product that sits on a platform
Diagram showing a platform and its associated products

Product Thinking

As product managers, we often focus on the impact that our product will have on the outside world; its impact on users, customers, the market, the competition etc.

Product Thinking is also about building a product that delivers benefits to other products within the same organisation and the platform that hosts this product.

A couple of thought starters to generate this type of thinking:

Product →Products: Can this product add value to other products across the organisation?

Product →Platform: Can this product add value to the platform? Can this product contribute to the wider goals of the platform?

Feature Thinking

Taking the vantage point of a feature that is already built or in development, think about how it could be used beyond the product it was intended for.

Feature Thinking is about thinking transversely or sideways and also vertically:

  • Feature →Products: Can this feature add value to other products? Can this feature be implemented in other products?
  • Feature →Platform: Can this feature add value to the platform ? Can it contribute to the wider goals of the platform?

In the example of our search results feature, this could result in the following:

  • Can this new feature improve the search experience of other products?
  • Can this new feature contribute to the wider personalisation goal of our platform?

Platform Thinking

Platform Thinking is about looking at the portfolio of products and features through the vantage point of the platform.

The main questions to ask is how these products and features add value to the wider objectives of the platform.

To bring this to life, let’s consider that personalisation is one of the key goals of the platform:

  • Platform →Products: How can the products that sit on my platform contribute to offer a better personalisation experience ?
  • Platform →Features: How can the new built features can contribute in offering a better personalisation that will benefit the entire platform?

How could this be useful?

Product x Feature x Platform Thinking is an interesting product management mental model with a few benefits.

Benefits for products:

  • Better align your features and products to the wider organisation product strategy
  • Future-proof your product, features and platform
  • Boost their value and impact
  • Create economies of scale

Benefits for product managers:

  • Encourage you to reach out and work with other product teams across the organisation
  • Broaden your product thinking
  • Expand your criteria for product decisions making
  • Work on products that can have a bigger impact than their initial remit

Now, whenever we work on new products or we are trying to improve existing products or features, I’m starting to use Product x Feature x Platform Thinking more and I look forward to seeing how it will help our team to create better products for users and for the wider organisation.



Stromi Lof

Product Manager. Electron Libre. Nomad. Made in Martinique.