Matthias Lewin

All things digital <3

Liminal Thinking: A System to Understanding Perspectives

In our line of work, understanding different perspectives is crucial. Whether it’s the perspective of a developer, a stakeholder, or a user, our ability to see things from different angles can make or break our products. “Liminal thinking” can help you with that.

What is Liminal Thinking?

Liminal thinking is the art and practice of understanding and considering multiple perspectives. It’s about realizing that each of us has our own “reality” shaped by our experiences and beliefs. This concept was introduced by Dave Gray in his book “Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think.” By embracing this concept, we can bridge gaps in understanding, communicate more effectively, and make better decisions.

Why Should Product Managers Care?

As product managers, we’re often at the intersection of various teams and stakeholders. Each group has its own perspective, and sometimes, these perspectives clash. Liminal thinking can help us navigate these complexities by:

  • Improving Team Collaboration: Understand why your design team might prefer one UI style over another or why developers are recommending a particular tech stack.
  • Enhancing Customer Relations: Get to the heart of user feedback by understanding their perspective. Why do they prefer one feature over another? What’s their daily experience like?
  • Streamlining Product Development: By understanding the needs and wants of users, we can create products that truly resonate with them.
  • Navigating Negotiations: Whether it’s with vendors or stakeholders, understanding their viewpoint can lead to smoother negotiations.
  • Leading Effectively: Make decisions that consider the perspectives of all involved, leading to better acceptance and implementation.

Key Points at a Glance

ConceptLiminal thinking is about understanding and valuing different perspectives.
ApplicationUseful in team collaboration, customer relations, product development, negotiations, and leadership.
BenefitsImproved understanding, better communication, effective problem-solving, and stronger relationships.
DownsidesCan be uncomfortable, time-consuming, and may not always lead to agreement.

In Conclusion

Liminal thinking isn’t about agreeing with everyone; it’s about understanding them. As product managers, this skill can be invaluable. By embracing different perspectives, we can create products that resonate, lead teams more effectively, and navigate the complex landscape of product development with ease.

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