A book caught my attention recently, and when I investigated the author, I was even more intrigued. The book is “Building Insanely Great Products,” written by David Fradin.
David has trained thousands of managers throughout the world. He infuses his workshops with insights and experiences gained as a product leader at companies like Apple & HP.
In our discussion you will learn the six keys to building insanely great products, that is remembered using the acronym SPICES, which is for:
- employees, and
- systems & tools
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:
- What led to you discovering the 6 keys for product managers building great products? I was working for a product marketing and management training organization, writing training for them, and designing product management life cycle processes. I found that existing product management life cycle processes did not cover everything. They are missing some crucial elements, which led to me create SPICES, an acronym for the six keys to building great products.
- Strategy – the first key. Strategy and plan mean the same thing. I call it a product market strategy and it has 24 elements. Many companies skip the first 15 elements and move right into writing a value proposition and quickly moving to product development and launch. This is the ready, fire, aim approach. Instead, you first need insights into what direction you’re firing. The first element is understanding what the customer does. I simply call this “do.” You can think of it regarding the job the customer wishes to accomplish. This involves considering all the elements of what customers do — why they do it, when they do it, how they do it, and what’s holding them back. Instead of starting with asking customers what they need to do, you begin by observing what customers are doing. Then, after observing customers, you conduct interviews to further understand what customers want to accomplish.
- Process – the second key. An organization needs a repeatable process that allows them to mature their product management capabilities. Without a clear process, an organization can develop a culture of blame. With a process, the focus is placed on correcting and improving the process, not blaming the people involved. Processes are enabled by having a clear product management life cycle framework, such as the one at my website.
- Information – the third key. Product managers must have access to the information they need when they need it. This information includes your customer’s persona, their wants and needs, and the reasons why they buy your products. One source of information in most organizations is the sales team. To help the sales team and not be driven by them, product managers must develop rapport with sales professionals, share with them all you know about customers and what they want, and prepare sales tools on each product for the sales professionals to use.
- Customers – the fourth key. Product managers need deep insight into customers – their motivations, what they want to do, where they live, and other information for creating specific market segments. This includes the impact of political, economical, societal, technological, legal, and environmental factors. Trends impacting customer should also be considered.
- Employees – the fifth key. Make sure you have employees with the competencies needed for creating insanely great products. Teams should think in terms of creating successful products, not managing products. We should shift the focus from product manager to a focus on product success. For example, instead of having a director of product management, we should have a director of product success or a Product Success Officer. The skill set of a Product Success Officer is essentially the same as the skill set needed for the competent entrepreneur.
- Systems & Tools – the sixth key. You can only get your job done when you have the right system. Sometimes the systems and tools inhibit our ability for getting our jobs done. We need to change the systems and tools so they support our work and the results we need to deliver. Productize is a tool currently in beta that I have developed to enable product success.
Useful links for product managers:
- David’s company, Spice Catalyst
- Agile product management life cycle framework
- David’s workshops and courses
- Productize with JIRA for product management of the complete life cycle. Also see the introductory training here.
- David’s LinkedIn Profile
- Follow David on Twitter
“Keep it simple.” – designer Hartmut Esslinger
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.