The 6D's Model of Product Development Lifecycle

What is product development lifecycle?

This is an interview question I often ask job candidates, and it’s also a key ingredient to mastering product management.

As someone with over a decade of experience building online applications, I know that using a simple framework as a guide can help teams to streamline the process of creating a product from ideation to launch.

I’ll introduce a model that I use often. I call it the 6D’s model.

product development lifecycle model

The 6D’s model consists of the following phases:

  1. Discover
  2. Design
  3. Develop
  4. Deploy
  5. Distribute
  6. Debrief

I’ll just briefly explain each phase in this email, but we’ll dive into details and the key outputs in subsequent newsletters.


You often hear the word "Product Discovery"; this is the phase where you research to understand both your customers and the industry by gathering qualitative and quantitative data.


The Design phase is where you will work with your design and development team to create the product from the information you gathered during the product discovery phase.


In the Develop phase, you will work with your development team to prioritize and build features from the design sketch, wireframe, or prototype. In addition, you will define and implement tracking codes so there is data to measure the product performance in the later phases.


In my opinion, the Deploy phase is one of the most important, because now you’ll be working with your quality assurance or release team to ensure the product you’re delivering to the customer is passing the bar – and that it is bug-free.


Simply releasing the product is not enough; you need to consider a go-to-market strategy so your customers can find your product. You will work with your marketing or product marketing team to define that strategy.


After the product launch, you need to spend time with your team to debrief. In the phase, you work with the analytics team to understand your product performance. You will take this knowledge and information back to your team to help plan the next product development cycle.

Keep in mind that this model isn’t necessarily a step-by-step function. Sometimes the phases can happen in parallel, but it is unlikely (and inadvisable) to skip any of these phases.

A good product manager will use a model like this to think through the details in each phase of the product lifecycle, then work with the right person for each solution.