Jeremy Dillingham has a long list of skills and experiences as a seasoned product manager, including leading teams, roadmap planning, portfolio management, Lean Startup, Customer Discovery, Agile Development, and SaaS architectures. He is a mentor at Techstars, an accelerator for technology startups. He currently serves as a Senior VP at Return Path, a company that helps organizations promote and protect their brands.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
- Jeremy moved from project management into product management, one of many paths that works well. Project management provided the skills to manage a team, create a plan for delivering results, and more.
- Product management has a larger purview than project management and requires working across the organization, such as with user experience, sales, marketing, manufacturing, etc.
- Product managers benefit from having business acumen and understanding business concepts, such as the role of strategy, vision, business models, etc.
- Jeremy joined a company, Return Path, during a period where scaling the business was the focus. The company did not have experience with new product development or innovation. Jeremy’s experience as a product manager allowed him to lead innovation efforts. A new product was required to respond to a strong competitor.
- An example of an unsuccessful product resulted from not focusing on a single coherent market but instead sold the product to 10 very different customers. Instead of focusing first on a single vertical/industry and building a successful sales process for that vertical, their efforts were diluted across industries and it became a Frankenstein product. The situation is addressed in Jeffrey Moore’s book “Crossing the Chasm.”
- An example of a successful product and one learned from the previous situation, focused on a single vertical, validating a market need, using a Lean approach with MVPs, and quickly closing sales and building revenue. By first focusing on a single vertical, you learn the needs of that niche and can best build a product that specifically solves its problems. Once you dominate one niche you can use that to springboard to another.
- Some favorite tools:
- Discovery – the process of talking with customers and validating what you are learning about the problems and needs. This involves writing a script of interview questions, prioritizing the questions, talking with customers to gain responses, and analyzing the data. Discovery sessions with customers should be done by two interviewers so one can focus on asking questions and the other can focus on taking notes.
- Experiment – one pass through the build-measure-learn loop (per Lean).
- Metrics – dashboards, KPIs, another important indicators.
- Lean Canvas – see TEI 010 episode with the creator of the Lean Canvas.
- Jeremy works for Return Path
- Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn
- Recommended books
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire
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.