The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers https://productinnovationeducators.com Where product leaders and managers make their move product master. Mon, 10 Dec 2018 15:45:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://productinnovationeducators.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/cropped-LightBulb-1-32x32.png The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers https://productinnovationeducators.com 32 32 The Everyday Innovator is a weekly podcast dedicated to your success as a product manager and innovator. Join me, Chad McAllister, for interviews with product professionals, discussing their successes, failures, and lessons-learned to help you excel in your career and create products your customers will love. Every organization must have products that provide value to their customers. People like you who know how to create that value are the ones with real influence. The topics are relevant to product and innovation management, and include: creating a culture of innovation, managing product development, validating the viability of product concepts, conducting market research, selecting a product innovation methodology, generating product ideas, working well with teams and cross-functionally, and much more. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean episodic Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters chad@productinnovationeducators.com chad@productinnovationeducators.com (Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters) Copyright © Product Innovation Educators and The Everyday Innovator · All rights reserved. Interviews for product managers and innovators. The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers https://productinnovationeducators.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/TEI-cover-final-1400.png https://productinnovationeducators.com TV-G TEI 206: Remarkable product VPs and their reasons to improve team performance – Chad McAllister, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-206-what-product-vps-said-for-why-they-want-to-improve-team-performance-chad-mcallister-phd/ Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:55:37 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14433 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-206-what-product-vps-said-for-why-they-want-to-improve-team-performance-chad-mcallister-phd/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-206-what-product-vps-said-for-why-they-want-to-improve-team-performance-chad-mcallister-phd/feed/ 0 Bottom line: product management is all about the customer Do you lead a product team or are you part of a team that should improve performance? I’ve been helping product teams and groups of product managers accomplish that — get higher performance. When I ask them why they need to improve performance, I typically hear […] Bottom line: product management is all about the customer

Chad McAllister - The Everyday Innovator PodcastDo you lead a product team or are you part of a team that should improve performance? I’ve been helping product teams and groups of product managers accomplish that — get higher performance. When I ask them why they need to improve performance, I typically hear one of four answers, with the most common being to create more of a customer focus.

I also wanted to hear from product VPs and Directors that I haven’t worked with yet. So, I contacted several and received answers from 91 product leaders.

You’ll find the results not only interesting but also valuable, as you will hear how other product professionals think about improving their teams and what is most important to your performance. For example, should you focus on revenue or customer value?

To help me share the information, I am joined by our guest from episode 174, Colleen Knuff, a Senior Director of Product Management. But this time she is interviewing me, taking the role of host. In addition to the reasons product leaders give for improving team performance, we also discussed:

  • why this podcast is named The Everyday Innovator,
  • where I developed my passion for helping product managers and teams improve their performance, and
  • the value of personality assessments.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:24] Why did you name the podcast The Everyday Innovator?

There are a lot of us who are wired to identify a problem and create a solution for it. We all want to build great products that customers love and have more influence in their organization. This notion sums up the everyday innovator mindset — people who look at the world from a problem-solving perspective and want to build great things. Those people are Everyday Innovators and I wanted to make a podcast for them.

[4:54] How did you become so passionate about product management and leadership?

I studied electrical engineering in college and joined a small system engineering company after graduation. I was the fourth person hired in the company, which meant I wore a lot of hats. We started creating prototypes for customers. This was the perfect job for me. A pivotal point came when I was asked to demonstrate another company’s software product prototype at a special event in Washington, D.C. It was an incredible experience — really doing user observations before I had any understanding of what ethnographic research was. I found out what they needed the product to do.

The demonstration was a success and in a short time I was leading a product development team with a few million dollar budget. It was an amazing experience but it was followed with other product experiences where I thought I was following similar processes, and not all the products were as successful.  I got a little obsessed about that inconsistency, which led me to earn a Ph.D. in innovation so I could study the problem more deeply.

That team that came about from the D.C. demonstration became a truly high-performing product team. It was amazing. All of us didn’t realize just how amazing it was until it ended. And it ending was incredibly sad. Being part of a high performing team that is developing products customers love is an extraordinary experience and wanting that for everyone involved in product is what fuels my passion and why I have created training and experiences to enable product managers and product teams to also be extraordinary.

[11:20] How are you continuing to pursue those questions of innovation and problem solving?

I’ve been working with groups of product managers and also product teams in different companies to help them improve their performance. It is a system I developed called the Rapid Product Mastery Experience, or the RPM Experience for short. I started asking some of the leaders in the companies that were using the RPM Experience why they chose it — what problem they were wanting to solve. I wondered what other product leaders would say if I asked them a similar question. So, I’m connected to a few hundred product VPs and directors on LinkedIn and I sent them one question and asked for their answer. I received responses from 91 product leaders.

[12:41] Why do product teams want to improve performance?

In preparation for a potential podcast episode, I’ve been asking product leaders WHY they need their product team to improve performance. The top responses from your peers have been:

  • develop a customer focus
  • meet a project deadline
  • increase collaboration in the team
  • build foundational skills to get everyone on the same page

What would be your response to that question if you could only choose one? Or, is there something I’ve left off the list?

[13:27] What were the overall results?

I received more than a 100 responses, with about 91 of them interpreting the question in the way I expected them to. The others looked to the bigger picture of product management or went in a different direction. The results were:

  • develop a customer focus: 41%
  • meet a project deadline (increase speed): 10%
  • increase collaboration in the team: 4%
  • build foundational skills to get everyone on the same page: 14%

Others said that all of those things were important, while a few said that customer focus and vision were important. About two percent said that the “why” was important, which relates back to what I’m trying to do in the RPM Experience. The remaining responses identified a specific objective, with revenue being the most common.

[17:05] Why did people say that customers were most important?

Personally, I was happy to see this at the top of the list because it relates directly to the everyday innovator mindset and the fundamental goals of product management. Some pointed to looking beyond specific customers to focus on larger market needs. Others said they wanted to meet or exceed customer expectations. The main idea was that it’s always about the customer, not just what they say they want but what the problem actually is.

[18:45] What did you learn about deadlines and speed to market?

The focus was on getting products into market faster utilizing high-performance teams. Some people pointed to velocity and making sure that the project pipeline was always full. Speed is pain point I hear most often. People are facing more pressure to get things done faster.

[21:09] What’s on people’s minds regarding team collaboration?

Collaboration is about helping people work together and sharing information across the organization and beyond. People on the team need to share information they have, whether it’s a best practice or market research. The other aspect is extending into the rest of the organization. What can everyone else learn from the way a product team works?

[22:25] What responses did you get on “foundational?”

Some people said there are knowledge and skills that everyone needs to have to be on the same page before the team can move forward. This also includes building a team of effective people. Others pointed to the fact that a product team’s work does not stop once a product goes to market. People also discussed the relationship between accomplishment, confidence, and innovation.

[29:46] What did you learn about “the why?”

Only two people said this, but it’s really important. One said we need to understand why people do things the way they do them. Understanding the bigger why should always be framed around the customer, not just around doing things the way they’ve always been done.

[32:05] What responses related to a specific objective?

Several people identified a specific metric related to revenue or return on investment. Someone said “build great products,” which also ties into customer focus. Someone shared an active user metric that’s driving everything they do this year. Others talked about quality and building the best product in the market. Over the course of compiling these answers, I realized I could not work at a place where revenue was the number one goal. I need to be focused on customer expectations and know that revenue will follow as my team creates products that are making customers happy.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“It reminds you that you’ve got to pick important stuff, because you only have a limited time.” -Bill Gates reflecting on the death of Steve Jobs

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Bottom line: product management is all about the customer Do you lead a product team or are you part of a team that should improve performance? I’ve been helping product teams and groups of product managers accomplish that — get higher performance. Do you lead a product team or are you part of a team that should improve performance? I’ve been helping product teams and groups of product managers accomplish that — get higher performance. When I ask them why they need to improve performance, I typically hear one of four answers, with the most common being to create more of a customer focus.
I also wanted to hear from product VPs and Directors that I haven’t worked with yet. So, I contacted several and received answers from 91 product leaders.
You’ll find the results not only interesting but also valuable, as you will hear how other product professionals think about improving their teams and what is most important to your performance. For example, should you focus on revenue or customer value?
To help me share the information, I am joined by our guest from episode 174, Colleen Knuff, a Senior Director of Product Management. But this time she is interviewing me, taking the role of host. In addition to the reasons product leaders give for improving team performance, we also discussed:

* why this podcast is named The Everyday Innovator,
* where I developed my passion for helping product managers and teams improve their performance, and
* the value of personality assessments.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:24] Why did you name the podcast The Everyday Innovator?
There are a lot of us who are wired to identify a problem and create a solution for it. We all want to build great products that customers love and have more influence in their organization. This notion sums up the everyday innovator mindset — people who look at the world from a problem-solving perspective and want to build great things. Those people are Everyday Innovators and I wanted to make a podcast for them.
[4:54] How did you become so passionate about product management and leadership?
I studied electrical engineering in college and joined a small system engineering company after graduation. I was the fourth person hired in the company, which meant I wore a lot of hats. We started creating prototypes for customers. This was the perfect job for me. A pivotal point came when I was asked to demonstrate another company’s software product prototype at a special event in Washington, D.C. It was an incredible experience — really doing user observations before I had any understanding of what ethnographic research was. I found out what they needed the product to do.
The demonstration was a success and in a short time I was leading a product development team with a few million dollar budget. It was an amazing experience but it was followed with other product experiences where I thought I was following similar processes, and not all the products were as successful.  I got a little obsessed about that inconsistency, which led me to earn a Ph.D. in innovation so I could study the problem more deeply.
That team that came about from the D.C. demonstration became a truly high-performing product team. It was amazing. All of us didn’t realize just how amazing it was until it ended. And it ending was incredibly sad. Being part of a high performing team that is developing products customers love is an extraordinary experience and wanting that for everyone involved in product is what fuels my passion and why I have created training and experiences to enable product managers and product teams to also be extraordinary.
[11:20] How are you continuing to pursue those questions of innovation and problem solving?
I’ve been working with groups of product managers and also product teams in different companies to help them improve their performance. It is a system I developed called the Rapid Product Mastery Experience, or the RPM Experience for short. I started asking some of the leaders in the companies ...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 39:25
TEI 205: Create a happy team, make a better product – with Kris Boesch https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-205-create-a-happy-team-make-a-better-product-with-kris-boesch/ Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:55:06 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14318 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-205-create-a-happy-team-make-a-better-product-with-kris-boesch/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-205-create-a-happy-team-make-a-better-product-with-kris-boesch/feed/ 0 Breaking down silos and helping everyone feel like their work matters You are in for a delightful and important discussion with our guest today. She was named a Top 100 Leadership Speaker for 2018 and is here to tell us how we can have a happier workplace. Is there anyone who doesn’t want that? Maybe […] Breaking down silos and helping everyone feel like their work matters

Product Management Interview - Kris BoeschYou are in for a delightful and important discussion with our guest today. She was named a Top 100 Leadership Speaker for 2018 and is here to tell us how we can have a happier workplace. Is there anyone who doesn’t want that? Maybe you are the 1 in a million person who says my workplace is happy enough, it provides all the enjoyment and contentment I need. But, for the rest of us, I bet you would…

  1. Appreciate feeling significant in your organization,
  2. Knowing the work you do truly matters,
  3. Being in an environment that feels safe and one where you belong, and
  4. Coming home energized, not worn out after a rough day.

We spend more of our waking hours at work than anywhere else. Those hours should be great, even awesome.

Let’s find out how to make that happen with Kris Boesch, the CEO of Choose People, a group that helps organizations build extraordinary workplace cultures.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:27] How did your work in this area come about?

I was asked to lead a moving company, where the culture was really bad. I didn’t know exactly what good culture was or how to fix the problems at this company, but I knew I had to do something. I decided to focus on the employee experience and making sure that the employees felt good about coming to work. We got to a place where turnover decreased while the company’s bottom line increased. I found that the need for this work existed in all types of industries.

[5:40] What are your thoughts on work-life balance?

I think the whole idea of work/life balance doesn’t really exist. People work an average of 2,000 hours per year, which is a huge part of life. Work and life always impact each other. If anyone is in an organization where people are “clocking in,” there’s a problem.

[7:45] How can we evaluate our current workplace culture?

The book contains a culture audit that anyone can take. There’s also a litmus test to help someone get a sense of where a team is. It’s one simple question, “How happy are you about coming to work on a scale of 1-10?” People most commonly respond with 7, which implies that things are good enough; no one hates their job, but no one is clamoring to work at the organization either. If there a lot of responses under 5, that usually indicates a toxic culture. The book is intended for organizations that are a 7. Anything below that requires clean up and repair before you can start building.

[16:25] What’s the secret to a better workplace culture?

The secret ingredient is emotional intimacy, which in this case means camaraderie. In order to achieve that, everyone on the team must feel they are known, that their contribution matters, and that they are included. When all three things are in place, the culture can move forward and go from a 7 to an 8 or beyond. Everyone also has to see how their work fits into the organization’s mission and the bigger picture.

[21:40] What is Interdependency Awareness and how can we create it?

Every organization struggles with silos and a disconnect with what’s best for the organization. Interdependency Awareness creates a sense of how everyone’s piece is critical to the organization’s mission. Once that sense of awareness exists, it brings a sense of value to everyone on the team. People will be more engaged in their work if they know that not performing will be letting others down. There’s a sense that everyone is connected in a system to accomplish a mission.

[27:38] How can we be better about meeting deadlines?

One of the things I see a lot of is the idea of time poverty, the idea that we’re all overwhelmed and have too many things to do. If you give your team permission to say those things, they will. As soon as I find myself feeling that way, I stop and remember that I get to choose how I get to spend my time. It’s a mindset shift about how people choose to spend their time and not allowing the chaos and procrastination to overwhelm us.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

 “If you don’t play, you can’t win.”  -Unknown

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Breaking down silos and helping everyone feel like their work matters You are in for a delightful and important discussion with our guest today. She was named a Top 100 Leadership Speaker for 2018 and is here to tell us how we can have a happier workpl... You are in for a delightful and important discussion with our guest today. She was named a Top 100 Leadership Speaker for 2018 and is here to tell us how we can have a happier workplace. Is there anyone who doesn’t want that? Maybe you are the 1 in a million person who says my workplace is happy enough, it provides all the enjoyment and contentment I need. But, for the rest of us, I bet you would…

* Appreciate feeling significant in your organization,
* Knowing the work you do truly matters,
* Being in an environment that feels safe and one where you belong, and
* Coming home energized, not worn out after a rough day.

We spend more of our waking hours at work than anywhere else. Those hours should be great, even awesome.
Let’s find out how to make that happen with Kris Boesch, the CEO of Choose People, a group that helps organizations build extraordinary workplace cultures.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:27] How did your work in this area come about?
I was asked to lead a moving company, where the culture was really bad. I didn’t know exactly what good culture was or how to fix the problems at this company, but I knew I had to do something. I decided to focus on the employee experience and making sure that the employees felt good about coming to work. We got to a place where turnover decreased while the company’s bottom line increased. I found that the need for this work existed in all types of industries.
[5:40] What are your thoughts on work-life balance?
I think the whole idea of work/life balance doesn’t really exist. People work an average of 2,000 hours per year, which is a huge part of life. Work and life always impact each other. If anyone is in an organization where people are “clocking in,” there’s a problem.
[7:45] How can we evaluate our current workplace culture?
The book contains a culture audit that anyone can take. There’s also a litmus test to help someone get a sense of where a team is. It’s one simple question, “How happy are you about coming to work on a scale of 1-10?” People most commonly respond with 7, which implies that things are good enough; no one hates their job, but no one is clamoring to work at the organization either. If there a lot of responses under 5, that usually indicates a toxic culture. The book is intended for organizations that are a 7. Anything below that requires clean up and repair before you can start building.
[16:25] What’s the secret to a better workplace culture?
The secret ingredient is emotional intimacy, which in this case means camaraderie. In order to achieve that, everyone on the team must feel they are known, that their contribution matters, and that they are included. When all three things are in place, the culture can move forward and go from a 7 to an 8 or beyond. Everyone also has to see how their work fits into the organization’s mission and the bigger picture.
[21:40] What is Interdependency Awareness and how can we create it?
Every organization struggles with silos and a disconnect with what’s best for the organization. Interdependency Awareness creates a sense of how everyone’s piece is critical to the organization’s mission. Once that sense of awareness exists, it brings a sense of value to everyone on the team. People will be more engaged in their work if they know that not performing will be letting others down. There’s a sense that everyone is connected in a system to accomplish a mission.
[27:38] How can we be better about meeting deadlines?
One of the things I see a lot of is the idea of time poverty, the idea that we’re all overwhelmed and have too many things to do. If you give your team permission to say those t...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:07
TEI 204: Do you know if your Go-to-Market strategy is ready to go – with Mike Smart https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-204-do-you-know-if-your-go-to-market-strategy-is-ready-to-go-with-mike-smart/ Mon, 26 Nov 2018 10:55:31 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14336 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-204-do-you-know-if-your-go-to-market-strategy-is-ready-to-go-with-mike-smart/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-204-do-you-know-if-your-go-to-market-strategy-is-ready-to-go-with-mike-smart/feed/ 0 How product managers combine process and metrics to achieve a successful product launch Do you participate in launch planning, or what may also be called go-to-market planning? In some organizations, product managers are directly involved, but not always, and that is a waste. You’ll hear why in this discussion, along with six elements addressed by […] How product managers combine process and metrics to achieve a successful product launch

Product Management Interview - Mike SmartDo you participate in launch planning, or what may also be called go-to-market planning? In some organizations, product managers are directly involved, but not always, and that is a waste. You’ll hear why in this discussion, along with six elements addressed by a go-to-market strategy:

  1. Defining the target market
  2. Creating a compelling reason for customers to buy
  3. Determining the pricing strategy
  4. Crafting the positioning
  5. Conducting competitive analysis, and
  6. Preparing to launch.

Discussing go-to-market strategy is repeat guest, Mike Smart. He is a product management practitioner and founder of Egress Solutions, which helps companies implement product management best practices that build and launch successful products. And, I love his name — Mike Smart!

 

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:25] Where does go-to-market strategy fit into product lifecycle?

The conventional view is that it belongs with sales and marketing and starts post-ideation. It’s often the strategy that gets pushed down the road and not addressed until the product is almost built. We believe it should be part of the product lifecycle as early as possible as you are conducting research and building the persona of your target customer. As you’re meeting with customers, you’re setting the stage for go-to-market strategy.

[05:33] What benefits does a go-to-market strategy provide?

It defines the ultimate success of the product we’re creating. Strong metrics are the result of a strong go-to-market strategy. It includes the target customer, the motivation to buy, and the strength of the value proposition. It also includes the public-facing launch activities to make sure customers know that there’s a new product on the market.

[8:21] Who should be involved in creating a go-to-market strategy?

One school of thought says that it should be top-down from the executive level of the company. If the strategy sits at the executive level, it’s easier to engage multiple teams across the organization. The team should include product managers, marketing, sales, and perhaps things like professional services and customer success. Having role clarity is important as well, including knowing where product management stops and starts. A product manager won’t always be running this strategy. I encourage people to follow Amazon’s model of writing a press release for the product’s launch as part of the development process.

[14:22] What elements make up a go-to-market strategy?

It begins with targeting customers and identifying the problems we’re trying to solve for them. Then, you need to create a compelling reason to buy — why is your product better than everyone else’s? A pricing strategy should be developed at the same time as the prototypes. From there, you should craft the positioning and develop a competitive assessment. The last step is preparing for the actual launch events. This process can change depending on the market and the product sector. It might be different for early adopters vs. late adopters because each group has a different motivation. It might also change for niche markets vs. mass market products or for technology buyers vs. business buyers. The launch theme should drive the competitive strategy in the end.

[23:42] Can you give us an example?

I am a big fan of grilling and cooking outdoors. Last year, I decided I wanted to fry a turkey. I found a fryer that used infrared technology. Its positioning statement was that you could fry a turkey without the mess that typically comes with the process. That was a very specific pain point for this product to address, and one that was clearly needed in the marketplace. Solving that pain point was the central part of the go-to-market strategy and helped convert buyers like me who had tried or seen other products in this niche fail. I liked this product so much that I became one of its advocates.

[27:58] Why should competitive analysis come after ideas are developed?

We see examples all the time of companies who are developing products that simply pivot off of competitors and going after incremental market share. They often find that competitors are right there with them and they end up neck and neck for features. This leads to a pricing war with competitors trying to outdo each other. Meanwhile, there are unmet needs that no one is addressing.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“In business, maintaining status quo is death” – Unknown

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
How product managers combine process and metrics to achieve a successful product launch Do you participate in launch planning, or what may also be called go-to-market planning? In some organizations, product managers are directly involved, Do you participate in launch planning, or what may also be called go-to-market planning? In some organizations, product managers are directly involved, but not always, and that is a waste. You’ll hear why in this discussion, along with six elements addressed by a go-to-market strategy:

* Defining the target market
* Creating a compelling reason for customers to buy
* Determining the pricing strategy
* Crafting the positioning
* Conducting competitive analysis, and
* Preparing to launch.

Discussing go-to-market strategy is repeat guest, Mike Smart. He is a product management practitioner and founder of Egress Solutions, which helps companies implement product management best practices that build and launch successful products. And, I love his name — Mike Smart!
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:25] Where does go-to-market strategy fit into product lifecycle?
The conventional view is that it belongs with sales and marketing and starts post-ideation. It’s often the strategy that gets pushed down the road and not addressed until the product is almost built. We believe it should be part of the product lifecycle as early as possible as you are conducting research and building the persona of your target customer. As you’re meeting with customers, you’re setting the stage for go-to-market strategy.
[05:33] What benefits does a go-to-market strategy provide?
It defines the ultimate success of the product we’re creating. Strong metrics are the result of a strong go-to-market strategy. It includes the target customer, the motivation to buy, and the strength of the value proposition. It also includes the public-facing launch activities to make sure customers know that there’s a new product on the market.
[8:21] Who should be involved in creating a go-to-market strategy?
One school of thought says that it should be top-down from the executive level of the company. If the strategy sits at the executive level, it’s easier to engage multiple teams across the organization. The team should include product managers, marketing, sales, and perhaps things like professional services and customer success. Having role clarity is important as well, including knowing where product management stops and starts. A product manager won’t always be running this strategy. I encourage people to follow Amazon’s model of writing a press release for the product’s launch as part of the development process.
[14:22] What elements make up a go-to-market strategy?
It begins with targeting customers and identifying the problems we’re trying to solve for them. Then, you need to create a compelling reason to buy — why is your product better than everyone else’s? A pricing strategy should be developed at the same time as the prototypes. From there, you should craft the positioning and develop a competitive assessment. The last step is preparing for the actual launch events. This process can change depending on the market and the product sector. It might be different for early adopters vs. late adopters because each group has a different motivation. It might also change for niche markets vs. mass market products or for technology buyers vs. business buyers. The launch theme should drive the competitive strategy in the end.
[23:42] Can you give us an example?
I am a big fan of grilling and cooking outdoors. Last year, I decided I wanted to fry a turkey. I found a fryer that used infrared technology. Its positioning statement was that you could fry a turkey without the mess that typically comes with the process. That was a very specific pain point for this product to address, and one that was clearly needed in the marketplace.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:12
TEI 203: Portfolio Management – with Roger Warburton, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-203-portfolio-management-with-roger-warburton-phd/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 10:55:08 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14319 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-203-portfolio-management-with-roger-warburton-phd/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-203-portfolio-management-with-roger-warburton-phd/feed/ 0 Rethinking product portfolio management to optimize performance What happens when you or your organization has more than one product to manage? It’s hard enough managing resources to sell and improve one product, but throw another one in the mix and see what happens. Or how about several more products? Managing all those products is a […] Rethinking product portfolio management to optimize performance

Product Manager Interview - Roger WarburtonWhat happens when you or your organization has more than one product to manage? It’s hard enough managing resources to sell and improve one product, but throw another one in the mix and see what happens. Or how about several more products?

Managing all those products is a challenge, and frankly, few organizations do it well. They use portfolio management to provide some order to the chaos, but for real order and reasoned decision making, my guest has been teaching people for the last decade to use Dynamic Portfolio Management.

His name is Roger Warburton and he is a co-author, along with Steve Kay, of the recent book titled, Dynamic Portfolio Management: The Bargery Fabrics Case.

Roger and I have both had the pleasure of teaching at Boston University, full-time for him and part-time for me. His integration of project management, product management, and strategy makes him the right person to learn proper portfolio management from.

In the discussion, Roger shares the:

  • History of portfolio management,
  • Challenges companies encounter with traditional portfolio management,
  • Implementation of Dynamic Portfolio Management, and
  • Road mapping for portfolio management.

As product managers take on more responsibility and become product leaders, you’ll need to know how to construct and manage a portfolio and the best approach is Dynamic Portfolio Management.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:09] What is portfolio management and how does Dynamic Portfolio Management differ?

In the 90s, portfolio management was all about return on investment and picking projects that would provide the biggest profits for the company. This was a terrible way to do things. In the 2000s, portfolio management shifted toward products that would bring the most value to the customer. There was not a formal way to match the portfolio to the company strategy. I came across an academic book on dynamic portfolios that talked about how they changed internally and externally. Dynamic portfolio management addresses those things with a roadmap. You and your customers know what’s coming, but there’s still flexibility to change things based on internal or external factors.

[10:01] What are some of the issues companies face with portfolio management?

The state of the art in portfolio management is very poor, but there are some simple things you can do quickly to improve. The first thing you need to do is “kill the dogs,” or those projects that are not helping your organization. It’s also important to remember that CEOs are no better at picking projects than anyone else. Setting up a more democratic system of choosing projects empowers middle management. We saw this firsthand at Bargery Fabrics. Two-thirds of the portfolio management team quit because the CEO was not flexible about the projects that were chosen.

[15:15] How does Dynamic Portfolio Management work?

Internally, you do what’s known as “sensing, seizing, and transforming.” Sensing is talking with customers and observing what’s happening. Seizing relates those findings to your portfolio. Transforming is the active step where you transform the internal portfolio and develop a preliminary roadmap for the internal piece of the portfolio. The external piece involves sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring. The external sensing is looking at things like regulation changes and how the company strategy has changed.

[23:13] What does a portfolio roadmap look like?

It’s in quarterly buckets because you don’t need to be more accurate than that. It lists all of the products and their major milestones each quarter. This includes things like development and user testing. It also includes marketing milestones to help inform the technical milestones. The roadmap integrates technical and marketing deliverables.

[25:48] Can you share an example of this in action?

The first thing you need to do in portfolio management is evaluate the history of your products, but everyone gets defensive if you start with that right away. Instead, we start with Bargery Fabrics on day one and go through their whole portfolio management process. This way, one is talking about their own products until day two. By the time day two arrives, people are less defensive and can talk about things in the right vocabulary. The portfolio team then briefs the senior executives about what the portfolio strategy should be.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.” – Attributed to Henry Ford

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Rethinking product portfolio management to optimize performance What happens when you or your organization has more than one product to manage? It’s hard enough managing resources to sell and improve one product, What happens when you or your organization has more than one product to manage? It’s hard enough managing resources to sell and improve one product, but throw another one in the mix and see what happens. Or how about several more products?
Managing all those products is a challenge, and frankly, few organizations do it well. They use portfolio management to provide some order to the chaos, but for real order and reasoned decision making, my guest has been teaching people for the last decade to use Dynamic Portfolio Management.
His name is Roger Warburton and he is a co-author, along with Steve Kay, of the recent book titled, Dynamic Portfolio Management: The Bargery Fabrics Case.
Roger and I have both had the pleasure of teaching at Boston University, full-time for him and part-time for me. His integration of project management, product management, and strategy makes him the right person to learn proper portfolio management from.
In the discussion, Roger shares the:

* History of portfolio management,
* Challenges companies encounter with traditional portfolio management,
* Implementation of Dynamic Portfolio Management, and
* Road mapping for portfolio management.

As product managers take on more responsibility and become product leaders, you’ll need to know how to construct and manage a portfolio and the best approach is Dynamic Portfolio Management.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:09] What is portfolio management and how does Dynamic Portfolio Management differ?
In the 90s, portfolio management was all about return on investment and picking projects that would provide the biggest profits for the company. This was a terrible way to do things. In the 2000s, portfolio management shifted toward products that would bring the most value to the customer. There was not a formal way to match the portfolio to the company strategy. I came across an academic book on dynamic portfolios that talked about how they changed internally and externally. Dynamic portfolio management addresses those things with a roadmap. You and your customers know what’s coming, but there’s still flexibility to change things based on internal or external factors.
[10:01] What are some of the issues companies face with portfolio management?
The state of the art in portfolio management is very poor, but there are some simple things you can do quickly to improve. The first thing you need to do is “kill the dogs,” or those projects that are not helping your organization. It’s also important to remember that CEOs are no better at picking projects than anyone else. Setting up a more democratic system of choosing projects empowers middle management. We saw this firsthand at Bargery Fabrics. Two-thirds of the portfolio management team quit because the CEO was not flexible about the projects that were chosen.
[15:15] How does Dynamic Portfolio Management work?
Internally, you do what’s known as “sensing, seizing, and transforming.” Sensing is talking with customers and observing what’s happening. Seizing relates those findings to your portfolio. Transforming is the active step where you transform the internal portfolio and develop a preliminary roadmap for the internal piece of the portfolio. The external piece involves sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring. The external sensing is looking at things like regulation changes and how the company strategy has changed.
[23:13] What does a portfolio roadmap look like?
It’s in quarterly buckets because you don’t need to be more accurate than that. It lists all of the products and their major milestones each quarter. This includes things like development and user testing. It also includes marketing milestones to help inform the technic...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 33:58
TEI 202: How smart product leaders are leading transformation in their organization – with Kyle Nel https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-202-how-smart-product-leaders-are-leading-transformation-in-their-organization-with-kyle-nel/ Mon, 12 Nov 2018 10:55:23 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14256 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-202-how-smart-product-leaders-are-leading-transformation-in-their-organization-with-kyle-nel/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-202-how-smart-product-leaders-are-leading-transformation-in-their-organization-with-kyle-nel/feed/ 0 Using science fiction and storytelling to reshape company culture from the inside out Product managers and leaders can have a dramatic influence on an organization. Our influence extends beyond the revenue generated by the products we help create. We have an uncommon perspective in organizations as our work requires significant cross-functional interactions and knowledge of […] Using science fiction and storytelling to reshape company culture from the inside out

Product Manager Interview - Leading TransformationProduct managers and leaders can have a dramatic influence on an organization. Our influence extends beyond the revenue generated by the products we help create. We have an uncommon perspective in organizations as our work requires significant cross-functional interactions and knowledge of other functions. The combination of our capabilities and experience means we should be part of transformations in our organizations, improving what is in our sphere of influence from our group to the entire organization.

My guest is co-author of the new book, Leading Transformation, was also the Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, and is now the CEO and co-founder of Uncommon Partners. He is Kyle Nel and he shares some great insights in this discussion, including:

  • how to envision the future by literally using science fiction,
  • using story and narrative to influence others,
  • turning barriers to innovation into allies, and
  • personal transformation.

 

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:18] What was your experience at Lowe’s Innovation Labs?

The main question I tried to answer was, how do you get people to understand the future and then do something about it. I needed to prove out the theories I learned in academia as a behavioral economist. The myth of innovation leads large companies like Lowe’s to believe they can’t behave like a startup. My goal was to figure out how they could do that. I started at Lowe’s running international marketing research and eventually worked my way into innovation.

[4:56] What were some of the innovations you led at Lowe’s?

There was the infamous “Lowebot,” an autonomous robot that speaks multiple languages and then helps you navigate through the store while doing inventory analysis along the way. It didn’t take off in the U.S., but I got emails from people who said they joined the company because they saw what we were doing and wanted to be part of it.

[7:15] How do you see the relationship between transformation and innovation?

Everything has an experimental design aspect. We ran different versions of the book title and subtitle in front of people and saw that it was a little played out. The book was really about small transformations in a team or department that leads to larger scale change.

[10:45] How do you use science fiction to envision the future?

Steve Jobs read a lot of science fiction and Elon Musk talks about it at length. We thought we could do it in a systematic way and use it as a way to help people see the future, much in the same way as I use tools to help me with accounting or other things I’m not good at. I’d seen in my academic work that stories are the only way people can understand information and be motivated enough to do something with it. I love science fiction because it’s forward looking and assumptive — much like strategic forecasting. I brought in science fiction writers and turned strategic brainstorming sessions into comic books about the future of the company. Once they got past the newness of it, they were able to envision the future in a concrete, tangible way.

[13:16] How does innovation differ at a large organization and a startup?

The mindset at a large organization is typically one of mitigation and stabilization, while the mindset at startups is disruption and making the most of change. This mindset is the one big advantage that startups have and there’s an opportunity to bring that way of thinking into larger organizations. I usually start my work with companies by saying that this is their call to adventure. If more people embrace that mindset, the future will become what we want it to be.

[19:52] How do you navigate the unknown?

Initially, your focus should be on your executive team or your decision makers so you can actually get something done. You’ll never get to your customers if you can’t get through your internal team. One of the things I look at in the book is the difference between the formal decision making process and the “black market’ process of how things actually get done. Almost always, conflicts arise when those two don’t match up. The company’s lawyers and I had very different views of what it meant to be the company’s caretaker. Once I realized we were coming from different perspectives, I started to change the way I framed issues and giving examples of ways that companies got into trouble when they did not take risks. The people who were against me at one time ended up becoming my closest allies at work.

[26:17] How can we apply these ideas to our own personal transformation?

I encourage people to consider their sphere of influence and how to push the boundaries. Once you start to transform yourself, you transform the group. If you just focus on your current job, it will feel like the world is collapsing in around you. The more I pushed those boundaries in my own sphere of influence, the more I started to gain credibility and become known as the innovation guy. You can go through anything if you have that larger purpose in mind. The more you do it, the better you will be at applying the storytelling framework to gain even more buy-in for your ideas.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Every time you meet with someone important, bring them a gift.” -Kyle

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Using science fiction and storytelling to reshape company culture from the inside out Product managers and leaders can have a dramatic influence on an organization. Our influence extends beyond the revenue generated by the products we help create. Product managers and leaders can have a dramatic influence on an organization. Our influence extends beyond the revenue generated by the products we help create. We have an uncommon perspective in organizations as our work requires significant cross-functional interactions and knowledge of other functions. The combination of our capabilities and experience means we should be part of transformations in our organizations, improving what is in our sphere of influence from our group to the entire organization.
My guest is co-author of the new book, Leading Transformation, was also the Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, and is now the CEO and co-founder of Uncommon Partners. He is Kyle Nel and he shares some great insights in this discussion, including:

* how to envision the future by literally using science fiction,
* using story and narrative to influence others,
* turning barriers to innovation into allies, and
* personal transformation.

 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:18] What was your experience at Lowe’s Innovation Labs?
The main question I tried to answer was, how do you get people to understand the future and then do something about it. I needed to prove out the theories I learned in academia as a behavioral economist. The myth of innovation leads large companies like Lowe’s to believe they can’t behave like a startup. My goal was to figure out how they could do that. I started at Lowe’s running international marketing research and eventually worked my way into innovation.
[4:56] What were some of the innovations you led at Lowe’s?
There was the infamous “Lowebot,” an autonomous robot that speaks multiple languages and then helps you navigate through the store while doing inventory analysis along the way. It didn’t take off in the U.S., but I got emails from people who said they joined the company because they saw what we were doing and wanted to be part of it.
[7:15] How do you see the relationship between transformation and innovation?
Everything has an experimental design aspect. We ran different versions of the book title and subtitle in front of people and saw that it was a little played out. The book was really about small transformations in a team or department that leads to larger scale change.
[10:45] How do you use science fiction to envision the future?
Steve Jobs read a lot of science fiction and Elon Musk talks about it at length. We thought we could do it in a systematic way and use it as a way to help people see the future, much in the same way as I use tools to help me with accounting or other things I’m not good at. I’d seen in my academic work that stories are the only way people can understand information and be motivated enough to do something with it. I love science fiction because it’s forward looking and assumptive — much like strategic forecasting. I brought in science fiction writers and turned strategic brainstorming sessions into comic books about the future of the company. Once they got past the newness of it, they were able to envision the future in a concrete, tangible way.
[13:16] How does innovation differ at a large organization and a startup?
The mindset at a large organization is typically one of mitigation and stabilization, while the mindset at startups is disruption and making the most of change. This mindset is the one big advantage that startups have and there’s an opportunity to bring that way of thinking into larger organizations. I usually start my work with companies by saying that this is their call to adventure. If more people embrace that mindset, the future will become what we want it to be.
[19:52] How do you navigate the unknown?
]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:52
TEI 201: Lessons from Nikola Tesla on how successful product managers must negotiate with society – with Bernie Carlson, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-201-lessons-from-nikola-tesla-on-how-successful-product-managers-must-negotiate-with-society-with-bernie-carlson-phd/ Mon, 05 Nov 2018 10:55:57 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14140 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-201-lessons-from-nikola-tesla-on-how-successful-product-managers-must-negotiate-with-society-with-bernie-carlson-phd/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-201-lessons-from-nikola-tesla-on-how-successful-product-managers-must-negotiate-with-society-with-bernie-carlson-phd/feed/ 0 Combining dreams and discipline for successful innovations I am wrapping up a 3-month road trip through the Northeast of the U.S., allowing me to meet many innovators and product managers. I had a few experiences, including visiting Niagara Falls, that rekindled an interest for me in historic innovators, including Nikola Tesla, often thought of as […] Combining dreams and discipline for successful innovations

Product Manager Interview - Bernie CarlsonI am wrapping up a 3-month road trip through the Northeast of the U.S., allowing me to meet many innovators and product managers. I had a few experiences, including visiting Niagara Falls, that rekindled an interest for me in historic innovators, including Nikola Tesla, often thought of as the person behind how electricity is created and distributed.

I went looking for a Tesla historian that could help us understand this innovator and what we as modern innovators and product managers can learn from him. My search led me to award-winning author, Bernie Carlson. Bernie wrote Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age and is well recognized for his research on Tesla as well as other historic innovators. He is a professor and the Director of Engineering Business Programs at the University of Virginia.

In the interview you’ll hear about Tesla and what we can learn from him, including:

  • navigating creativity,
  • understanding illusion and storytelling to sell your ideas,
  • which modern innovator shared characteristics with Tesla, and
  • the balance of invention and business skills innovators need.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[6:00] What was Tesla’s motivation?

Idea and illusion are both key parts of Tesla’s journey. His father was an Orthodox priest and there’s a notion in that faith that God was present in everything. That drove Tesla to make the best inventions possible. He worked from a top-down mindset, as opposed to the bottom up like Edison and many other inventors. He spent a lot of time thinking until he came up with what he thought was the perfect way to do something, rather than tinkering around until he got something right.

[10:05] How did Tesla view Edison’s approach?

Tesla regarded as a waste of time looking for a needle in a haystack. Instead, he thought you should spend time thinking about the perfect place to find the needle before you start looking. Today, you still need to have an understanding of the underlying science, technology, or knowledge before you start working on something. An inventor always has a model that’s manifested in the prototypes; the invention is the relationship between the articles and the prototype.

[15:17] What role does storytelling play in invention?

Stories serve as the way to get people motivated to see your vision and come along with you for the ride. Two essentials of innovation are negotiating with nature to get it to conform to the idea and negotiating with society to get people to buy in to your ideas. Tesla is probably the greatest example of engaging people to get them to believe in his vision.

[19:01] How did Tesla become good at convincing people his ideas were valuable?

His financial backers at Westinghouse helped him understand how his inventions would add value to stakeholders. They could use his technology to turn electricity from a luxury product to a middle class and then a widely-available product. Tesla’s lively imagination combined with his thoughtful nature made him able to bring others along on his vision. He had the ideas but needed partners in business and engineering to make those ideas come to life. He found those partners at Westinghouse.

[23:36] Is there a modern-day innovator you would compare to Tesla?

Steve Jobs is an incredible parallel. Tesla had more technical skills, but they both have the ability to imagine the perfect product and then bring people into that vision. Jobs knew what the perfect phone and the perfect computer would look like and got people to think more broadly about the possibilities of personal electronics.

[26:12] How did Tesla’s legacy come about?

Extravagant inventions require extravagant explanations. Tesla loved to call into newspaper reporters and promise amazing things he could do with electromagnetic waves. This was at the height of the penny daily newspapers, who loved his stories. He died in 1943 penniless and forgotten. His legacy was reinvigorated by people finding out about those extravagant explanations and buying into them.

[30:05] What can today’s innovators learn from Tesla?

In the mid 1890s, a reporter asked Tesla why he never got married. He said an inventor has such an intense nature and wild passionate quality that he could never be married. Innovators need to have both of those qualities — wild passion and an intense nature. Wild passion lets your mind wander free and imagine new ways of doing things. The intense nature allows you to be disciplined enough to work and rework your idea to make it a reality. Innovators need a combination of dream and discipline.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“An inventor has so an intense of nature with so much of it a wild passionate quality…” -Tesla on the two qualities of inventors, intensity and passion.

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Combining dreams and discipline for successful innovations I am wrapping up a 3-month road trip through the Northeast of the U.S., allowing me to meet many innovators and product managers. I had a few experiences, including visiting Niagara Falls, I am wrapping up a 3-month road trip through the Northeast of the U.S., allowing me to meet many innovators and product managers. I had a few experiences, including visiting Niagara Falls, that rekindled an interest for me in historic innovators, including Nikola Tesla, often thought of as the person behind how electricity is created and distributed.
I went looking for a Tesla historian that could help us understand this innovator and what we as modern innovators and product managers can learn from him. My search led me to award-winning author, Bernie Carlson. Bernie wrote Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age and is well recognized for his research on Tesla as well as other historic innovators. He is a professor and the Director of Engineering Business Programs at the University of Virginia.
In the interview you’ll hear about Tesla and what we can learn from him, including:

* navigating creativity,
* understanding illusion and storytelling to sell your ideas,
* which modern innovator shared characteristics with Tesla, and
* the balance of invention and business skills innovators need.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[6:00] What was Tesla’s motivation?
Idea and illusion are both key parts of Tesla’s journey. His father was an Orthodox priest and there’s a notion in that faith that God was present in everything. That drove Tesla to make the best inventions possible. He worked from a top-down mindset, as opposed to the bottom up like Edison and many other inventors. He spent a lot of time thinking until he came up with what he thought was the perfect way to do something, rather than tinkering around until he got something right.
[10:05] How did Tesla view Edison’s approach?
Tesla regarded as a waste of time looking for a needle in a haystack. Instead, he thought you should spend time thinking about the perfect place to find the needle before you start looking. Today, you still need to have an understanding of the underlying science, technology, or knowledge before you start working on something. An inventor always has a model that’s manifested in the prototypes; the invention is the relationship between the articles and the prototype.
[15:17] What role does storytelling play in invention?
Stories serve as the way to get people motivated to see your vision and come along with you for the ride. Two essentials of innovation are negotiating with nature to get it to conform to the idea and negotiating with society to get people to buy in to your ideas. Tesla is probably the greatest example of engaging people to get them to believe in his vision.
[19:01] How did Tesla become good at convincing people his ideas were valuable?
His financial backers at Westinghouse helped him understand how his inventions would add value to stakeholders. They could use his technology to turn electricity from a luxury product to a middle class and then a widely-available product. Tesla’s lively imagination combined with his thoughtful nature made him able to bring others along on his vision. He had the ideas but needed partners in business and engineering to make those ideas come to life. He found those partners at Westinghouse.
[23:36] Is there a modern-day innovator you would compare to Tesla?
Steve Jobs is an incredible parallel. Tesla had more technical skills, but they both have the ability to imagine the perfect product and then bring people into that vision. Jobs knew what the perfect phone and the perfect computer would look like and got people to think more broadly about the possibilities of personal electronics.
[26:12] How did Tesla’s legacy come about?
Extravagant inventions require extravagant explanations. Tesla loved to call into newspaper reporters and promise amazing things ...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:46
TEI 200: Deliver great products that customers love – with Valerio Zanini https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-200-deliver-great-products-that-customers-love-with-valerio-zanini/ Mon, 29 Oct 2018 09:55:36 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14230 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-200-deliver-great-products-that-customers-love-with-valerio-zanini/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-200-deliver-great-products-that-customers-love-with-valerio-zanini/feed/ 0 Empowering product teams to create an agile culture with a customer focus. This podcast is named The Everyday Innovator and I call the people who listen Everyday Innovators. That has meaning. Everyday Innovators see the world a little bit differently. We actively look for problems and unmet needs, recognizing that those are opportunities to create […] Empowering product teams to create an agile culture with a customer focus.

Product Manager Interview - Valerio ZaniniThis podcast is named The Everyday Innovator and I call the people who listen Everyday Innovators. That has meaning. Everyday Innovators see the world a little bit differently. We actively look for problems and unmet needs, recognizing that those are opportunities to create value for customers. Our mental wheels are constantly spinning, thinking about how we can make existing products better and create new products that wow customers. In short, where we find our most energy and satisfaction is creating products that customers love.

So, when I saw a new book titled, Deliver Great Products That Customers Love, I knew I had found a kindred Everyday Innovator and I asked him to talk with us.

The author of the book is Valerio Zanini. He has created products and led product teams for Fortune 500 companies including Cisco and Capital One, advised several small and medium businesses, and founded a Product Innovation, Design Thinking and Agile coaching practice called 5D Vision. He also has an awesome Italian accent, which you’ll hear in a moment.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:46] Why did you write this book?

Great product managers need to be innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. People with that mentality create great products and customer experiences, even if they don’t have the formal title of product manager.

[5:38] What does it mean to build great products?

There are common elements in great products. One of them is the customer experience and building a product customers care about. The book lists the three pillars of great products: customer focus, cultural agility, and an empowered team. You need all three of these things to drive innovation.

[6:55] How do you develop a customer focus?

It comes down to understanding who your customers really are. I’m an adviser to young startups and I hear all the time from businesses who have a product ready to launch and do not know who their customers are. It’s also important to know what problem the product is trying to solve, and whether the customers really care about solving that problem.

[11:35] Can you give us an example of putting these principles into action?

When I was at Capital One, I was responsible for digital innovation at branches. We did a lot of research with customers and bankers about how we could make their lives easier. We interviewed one woman who said the only reason she went to a branch was to go to an ATM, but she was scared to go to the ATM closest to her at night. That led to Capital One developing an app that allowed people to request the money ahead of time through an app, then walk in and tap their phone on the ATM to pick it up in a matter of seconds. This innovation came directly from the conversation we had with that customer.

[14:09] What does agility mean to you?

I think about development agility and building products in smaller increments that you validate with customers along the way. More important is having an agile mindset. I often see the difference between doing agile and being agile. I see a lot of teams who go through the motions of agile project management without understanding why they are doing them. I also see leaders who don’t understand this mindset and demand long-term plans from a team working in a more agile environment. 

[23:50] How do you empower a team?

I was working with a product manager who was very new and kept coming to me with a lot of questions about what he should or shouldn’t do. I told him that he was empowered to make decisions on the product as long as he kept me informed. I immediately saw the light in his eyes and the product took off once he felt ownership of the decision making. If someone else is calling all the shots, progress stops when that person is not available.

[26:07] Can you give an example of what this empowerment looks like?

A few years ago I read that Citibank had just opened a new branch in New York that utilized tablets. I went to the branch and couldn’t find them. I talked to the banker and found out that they were keeping them in the safe because they were afraid of people stealing them. I returned a year later and still didn’t see them. I asked another banker and found out that they were all stolen after the branch decided to put them out. This speaks to a lack of empowerment. The team was penalized if the iPads were stolen so they couldn’t really test them. It’s a loss for the business. The company talked about promoting innovation, but didn’t set up its processes in a way to make it happen.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Uber demands passion for the customer, great technical depth, principle thinking, well-honed product judgment, a stubborn refusal to settle, bold innovation, a high design bar, and the mentality of starting with the customer first.” -Uber product management statement

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Empowering product teams to create an agile culture with a customer focus. This podcast is named The Everyday Innovator and I call the people who listen Everyday Innovators. That has meaning. Everyday Innovators see the world a little bit differently. This podcast is named The Everyday Innovator and I call the people who listen Everyday Innovators. That has meaning. Everyday Innovators see the world a little bit differently. We actively look for problems and unmet needs, recognizing that those are opportunities to create value for customers. Our mental wheels are constantly spinning, thinking about how we can make existing products better and create new products that wow customers. In short, where we find our most energy and satisfaction is creating products that customers love.
So, when I saw a new book titled, Deliver Great Products That Customers Love, I knew I had found a kindred Everyday Innovator and I asked him to talk with us.
The author of the book is Valerio Zanini. He has created products and led product teams for Fortune 500 companies including Cisco and Capital One, advised several small and medium businesses, and founded a Product Innovation, Design Thinking and Agile coaching practice called 5D Vision. He also has an awesome Italian accent, which you’ll hear in a moment.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:46] Why did you write this book?
Great product managers need to be innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. People with that mentality create great products and customer experiences, even if they don’t have the formal title of product manager.
[5:38] What does it mean to build great products?
There are common elements in great products. One of them is the customer experience and building a product customers care about. The book lists the three pillars of great products: customer focus, cultural agility, and an empowered team. You need all three of these things to drive innovation.
[6:55] How do you develop a customer focus?
It comes down to understanding who your customers really are. I’m an adviser to young startups and I hear all the time from businesses who have a product ready to launch and do not know who their customers are. It’s also important to know what problem the product is trying to solve, and whether the customers really care about solving that problem.
[11:35] Can you give us an example of putting these principles into action?
When I was at Capital One, I was responsible for digital innovation at branches. We did a lot of research with customers and bankers about how we could make their lives easier. We interviewed one woman who said the only reason she went to a branch was to go to an ATM, but she was scared to go to the ATM closest to her at night. That led to Capital One developing an app that allowed people to request the money ahead of time through an app, then walk in and tap their phone on the ATM to pick it up in a matter of seconds. This innovation came directly from the conversation we had with that customer.
[14:09] What does agility mean to you?
I think about development agility and building products in smaller increments that you validate with customers along the way. More important is having an agile mindset. I often see the difference between doing agile and being agile. I see a lot of teams who go through the motions of agile project management without understanding why they are doing them. I also see leaders who don’t understand this mindset and demand long-term plans from a team working in a more agile environment. 
[23:50] How do you empower a team?
I was working with a product manager who was very new and kept coming to me with a lot of questions about what he should or shouldn’t do. I told him that he was empowered to make decisions on the product as long as he kept me informed. I immediately saw the light in his eyes and the product took off once he felt ownership of the decision making. If someone else is calling all the shots, progress stops when that person is not available.
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Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 32:07
TEI 199: A panel discussion with women product VPs and Directors – moderated by Shaughnessy Speirs https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-199-a-panel-discussion-with-women-product-vps-and-directors-moderated-by-shaughnessy-speirs/ Mon, 22 Oct 2018 09:55:35 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14142 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-199-a-panel-discussion-with-women-product-vps-and-directors-moderated-by-shaughnessy-speirs/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-199-a-panel-discussion-with-women-product-vps-and-directors-moderated-by-shaughnessy-speirs/feed/ 0 Female product leaders on grit, grace, and everything in between There are several thousand product managers on LinkedIn and many of them are women. However, I noticed that few product VPs are women. About the same time, I attended a “Women in Product Management” panel at Rocky Mountain Product Camp, moderated by Shaughnessy Speirs. Afterward […] Female product leaders on grit, grace, and everything in between

Women in Product Management-Shaughnessy SpeirsThere are several thousand product managers on LinkedIn and many of them are women. However, I noticed that few product VPs are women.

About the same time, I attended a “Women in Product Management” panel at Rocky Mountain Product Camp, moderated by Shaughnessy Speirs. Afterward we discussed how few product VPs are women and how it would be valuable to have a panel discussion focused on women in senior product roles.

Shaughnessy ran with the idea and organized another panel a few months later for a conference called Denver Startup Week and I had it recorded to share with you. Four leaders joined the panel.

  • Shawna Barnhart, Product Management Leader and Former VP of Product at Artifact Uprising
  • Holly Vezina, Director of Product at APR Consulting
  • Jenn Dearth, Product at Stedi
  • Ann Koerner, Adjunct Professor of Product Management at DU and Former VP of Product at GutCheck

Our moderator, Shaughnessy Speirs, has been a product manager in several software organizations with depth in agile software development and business analysis.

This is a longer discussion. The panel responds to Shaughnessy’s questions for the first 30 minutes and the remaining time they respond to audience questions.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:45] What core values are product managers missing?

Curiosity — never taking something at face value and always looking for the answer behind it. Openness to being proven wrong. In fact, this is something you should welcome because you can learn from it. Curiosity and openness pair really well together when you can constantly question things and learn from your mistakes. You also need to be able to create value and articulate it to your customers and your users. Product managers need to have a product vision and be able to create a plan to get there. The final missing characteristic is grit. Do the jobs no one wants to do and don’t be afraid to apply for positions you don’t think you are qualified for.

[7:30] What are opportunities you took that helped shape your career?

Find the problems that no one else wants to solve and figure out a way to solve them. Don’t be afraid to take on the hard problems, even if they are scary. Realize that you aren’t going to build a mountain in a day and take things one step at a time and lean on data where you can to drive your work. Make sure that the company you are going into has a product culture. You can’t move a few hundred people on your own and you don’t want to feel like you are spinning your wheels. It’s also important to be patient and not ask for more until you really understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.

[13:28] What are the skills required to be a successful product manager?

The ability to turn ambiguity into a clear vision. You need to be comfortable in that ambiguous space in order to derive a clear vision from it. You are always in new industries and working with new clients so an open mind and a passion for lifelong learning is critical. An MBA gives a broad overview of a company, which is necessary for product management. You also need to be obsessed with your customers and make decisions that will be best for them, even if it’s not always best for internal stakeholders.

[16:58] How did your personal identity shape your career?

All of us are moms and there’s nothing like a child to teach you patience. Being a mom makes you a better product manager because it teaches you how to listen and deal with unexpected situations. The hardest experiences in your life are the ones that end up shaping you the most. What happens outside of work is just as important as what happens at work; sharing personal information helps build trust.

[21:54] What are the ways that others have contributed to your growth?

Find leaders who can tell you the things you’re not doing right and how you can improve. It shows they care about you and how you can become better. Trust is important in these relationships, and you need to be vulnerable in order to build trust. Sponsors within the organization are also important — these are the people who will put their neck on the line to help you advance and take on challenging projects. The Colorado Product group has a lot of resources to help find mentors. Find a mentor who can challenge you and make you face your problems directly.

[27:30] How do you make the transition from mentee to mentor?

Mentorship is really natural in product management. We all thrive on feedback and are always looking for ways to improve. Helping other people solve their issues also helps you solve them for yourself. It’s also important to have an opinion and not be afraid to share it, while having empathy at the same time and always being open to learning. The mentor/mentee relationship does not always have to be formal and it should never be forced.

 

Useful links:

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Female product leaders on grit, grace, and everything in between There are several thousand product managers on LinkedIn and many of them are women. However, I noticed that few product VPs are women. About the same time, There are several thousand product managers on LinkedIn and many of them are women. However, I noticed that few product VPs are women.
About the same time, I attended a “Women in Product Management” panel at Rocky Mountain Product Camp, moderated by Shaughnessy Speirs. Afterward we discussed how few product VPs are women and how it would be valuable to have a panel discussion focused on women in senior product roles.
Shaughnessy ran with the idea and organized another panel a few months later for a conference called Denver Startup Week and I had it recorded to share with you. Four leaders joined the panel.

* Shawna Barnhart, Product Management Leader and Former VP of Product at Artifact Uprising
* Holly Vezina, Director of Product at APR Consulting
* Jenn Dearth, Product at Stedi
* Ann Koerner, Adjunct Professor of Product Management at DU and Former VP of Product at GutCheck

Our moderator, Shaughnessy Speirs, has been a product manager in several software organizations with depth in agile software development and business analysis.
This is a longer discussion. The panel responds to Shaughnessy’s questions for the first 30 minutes and the remaining time they respond to audience questions.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:45] What core values are product managers missing?
Curiosity — never taking something at face value and always looking for the answer behind it. Openness to being proven wrong. In fact, this is something you should welcome because you can learn from it. Curiosity and openness pair really well together when you can constantly question things and learn from your mistakes. You also need to be able to create value and articulate it to your customers and your users. Product managers need to have a product vision and be able to create a plan to get there. The final missing characteristic is grit. Do the jobs no one wants to do and don’t be afraid to apply for positions you don’t think you are qualified for.
[7:30] What are opportunities you took that helped shape your career?
Find the problems that no one else wants to solve and figure out a way to solve them. Don’t be afraid to take on the hard problems, even if they are scary. Realize that you aren’t going to build a mountain in a day and take things one step at a time and lean on data where you can to drive your work. Make sure that the company you are going into has a product culture. You can’t move a few hundred people on your own and you don’t want to feel like you are spinning your wheels. It’s also important to be patient and not ask for more until you really understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
[13:28] What are the skills required to be a successful product manager?
The ability to turn ambiguity into a clear vision. You need to be comfortable in that ambiguous space in order to derive a clear vision from it. You are always in new industries and working with new clients so an open mind and a passion for lifelong learning is critical. An MBA gives a broad overview of a company, which is necessary for product management. You also need to be obsessed with your customers and make decisions that will be best for them, even if it’s not always best for internal stakeholders.
[16:58] How did your personal identity shape your career?
All of us are moms and there’s nothing like a child to teach you patience. Being a mom makes you a better product manager because it teaches you how to listen and deal with unexpected situations. The hardest experiences in your life are the ones that end up shaping you the most. What happens outside of work is just as important as what happens at work; sharing personal information helps build trust.
]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 1:03:50
TEI 198: How product managers can influence the next generation of innovators – with Kyle Markland https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-198-how-product-managers-can-influence-the-next-generation-of-innovators-with-kyle-markland/ Mon, 15 Oct 2018 09:55:34 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14141 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-198-how-product-managers-can-influence-the-next-generation-of-innovators-with-kyle-markland/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-198-how-product-managers-can-influence-the-next-generation-of-innovators-with-kyle-markland/feed/ 0 Having fun, making friends, and learning along the way. I have a special episode for you. I believe that as product managers and innovators, we have a responsibility to help prepare the next generation of innovators. I’ve explored this topic in a few past episodes and it is time to do it again. So, this […] Having fun, making friends, and learning along the way.

Product Manager Interview -- Kyle Markland Inspiring InnovationI have a special episode for you. I believe that as product managers and innovators, we have a responsibility to help prepare the next generation of innovators. I’ve explored this topic in a few past episodes and it is time to do it again. So, this episode is about encouraging you and providing you with ideas for helping future innovators.

For this discussion, I traveled to a study room on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I met with a new student, 17-year-old Kyle Markland. While being accepted to MIT is a significant accomplishment itself, what Kyle is known for is his robotic video tutorials. He is a kid teaching kids. His story is an inspiration to Everyday Innovators, as we can also encourage an interest in robotics and other STEM topics, as well as innovation in general, by sharing our experiences.

 

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[4:25] How did you become interested in robotics?

It started in fifth grade when my school bought a LEGO NXT set. I saved up for a few years and bought my own kit to experiment with. One of the first things I made was a version of the shark robot that’s now featured on my YouTube channel. I tinkered with it over the years and eventually got it to the point where I could display it in public. At the same time, I was part of a robotics team at my school.

[7:30] Why did you develop the YouTube channel?

I aged out of competition and realized that I had a lot of lessons and insights to share. I didn’t want all of the knowledge I accumulated to go to waste. I started by making a video to document how I did line squaring. The video itself was rough, but the information was good and a few experts saw it and became enthusiastic about it. They encouraged me to make more tutorials and gave me tips to make the videos better. I think it’s important to show kids that it’s important to learn along the way and things are not always going to be perfect the first time you do something.

[12:05] Can you share examples of how you’ve inspired other kids?

I get emails from people around the world — little kids, college students, even older people. It makes me feel good to hear from the people I’ve inspired and it helps keep me going. Last year, I received an email from a mother and her 6-year-old son who were using my videos to learn about robotics. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with one of my viewers in person when he was on the MIT campus. I’ve also heard from college students who said the tutorials have helped them with their studies. I also heard from a kid in Norway who made improvements to my programs and I am going to be featuring those programs on my channel.

[15:47] What did you learn during this process?

I’ve learned a lot about video production and presenting information in a professional and easy-to-digest way. My first video was made using an old camcorder and built-in microphone. I spent money on a good microphone and an HD digital camera that could make the videos look nice. The video format also evolved over time. I made my introductions shorter and got to the actual demonstration more quickly. I’ve also learned how to communicate with people in a professional manner. This has helped me interact with my college professors.

[20:50] How can Everyday Innovators help kids develop an interest in STEM?

I just started reading Mitch Resnick’s book called Lifelong Kindergarten and have been very inspired by him. The most important point he makes in the book is that teaching kids about technology must be based in creativity. He emphasizes the kindergarten format, where kids have the chance to play and freestyle while learning along the way. That’s exactly how I got started. I played first and am now learning the calculus that goes into it.

[25:05] How can parents help their kids get involved with robotics?

I recommend Googling FLL (First Lego League) or WRO (World Robot Olympiad) to find robotics teams and competitions near you. If there’s not a team in your area, ask your school board about starting one. When I joined robotics, it wasn’t at my school but now it’s a permanent fixture at the middle and high school.

[28:15] Is there anything you would do differently if you could start over again?

I would tell a younger version of myself to stay on this path. It felt so natural to progress down this road of learning. It was more of my own thing I was interested in. If someone else told me to do it, I would probably have lost interest in it. I take screen shots of the motivating comments people send me and look back at them when I’m in a tough spot. It reminds me that I’m part of something larger than myself and that I’m an inspiration to others.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Engineering perfection comes from not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take away.” – an engineering mantra originating from Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” -Isaac Newton

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Having fun, making friends, and learning along the way. I have a special episode for you. I believe that as product managers and innovators, we have a responsibility to help prepare the next generation of innovators. I have a special episode for you. I believe that as product managers and innovators, we have a responsibility to help prepare the next generation of innovators. I’ve explored this topic in a few past episodes and it is time to do it again. So, this episode is about encouraging you and providing you with ideas for helping future innovators.
For this discussion, I traveled to a study room on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I met with a new student, 17-year-old Kyle Markland. While being accepted to MIT is a significant accomplishment itself, what Kyle is known for is his robotic video tutorials. He is a kid teaching kids. His story is an inspiration to Everyday Innovators, as we can also encourage an interest in robotics and other STEM topics, as well as innovation in general, by sharing our experiences.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[4:25] How did you become interested in robotics?
It started in fifth grade when my school bought a LEGO NXT set. I saved up for a few years and bought my own kit to experiment with. One of the first things I made was a version of the shark robot that’s now featured on my YouTube channel. I tinkered with it over the years and eventually got it to the point where I could display it in public. At the same time, I was part of a robotics team at my school.
[7:30] Why did you develop the YouTube channel?
I aged out of competition and realized that I had a lot of lessons and insights to share. I didn’t want all of the knowledge I accumulated to go to waste. I started by making a video to document how I did line squaring. The video itself was rough, but the information was good and a few experts saw it and became enthusiastic about it. They encouraged me to make more tutorials and gave me tips to make the videos better. I think it’s important to show kids that it’s important to learn along the way and things are not always going to be perfect the first time you do something.
[12:05] Can you share examples of how you’ve inspired other kids?
I get emails from people around the world — little kids, college students, even older people. It makes me feel good to hear from the people I’ve inspired and it helps keep me going. Last year, I received an email from a mother and her 6-year-old son who were using my videos to learn about robotics. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with one of my viewers in person when he was on the MIT campus. I’ve also heard from college students who said the tutorials have helped them with their studies. I also heard from a kid in Norway who made improvements to my programs and I am going to be featuring those programs on my channel.
[15:47] What did you learn during this process?
I’ve learned a lot about video production and presenting information in a professional and easy-to-digest way. My first video was made using an old camcorder and built-in microphone. I spent money on a good microphone and an HD digital camera that could make the videos look nice. The video format also evolved over time. I made my introductions shorter and got to the actual demonstration more quickly. I’ve also learned how to communicate with people in a professional manner. This has helped me interact with my college professors.
[20:50] How can Everyday Innovators help kids develop an interest in STEM?
I just started reading Mitch Resnick’s book called Lifelong Kindergarten and have been very inspired by him. The most important point he makes in the book is that teaching kids about technology must be based in creativity. He emphasizes the kindergarten format, where kids have the chance to play and freestyle while learning along the way. That’s exactly how I got started. I played first and am now learning the calculus that goes...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:57
TEI 197: Small Business Revolution Series 3 – with Cam Potts https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-197-small-business-revolution-series-3-with-cam-potts/ Mon, 08 Oct 2018 09:55:19 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14143 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-197-small-business-revolution-series-3-with-cam-potts/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-197-small-business-revolution-series-3-with-cam-potts/feed/ 0 Lessons from small businesses that apply to everyone. I’m still on my road trip of the northeast U.S. and made a stop in Bristol, Pennsylvania. What took me to this small town was a video series called The Small Business Revolution. This is a reality show where small businesses in small towns get help from […] Lessons from small businesses that apply to everyone.

Small Business Revolution for Product ManagersI’m still on my road trip of the northeast U.S. and made a stop in Bristol, Pennsylvania. What took me to this small town was a video series called The Small Business Revolution. This is a reality show where small businesses in small towns get help from business experts, and I have become a groupie, visiting each town where the series has been made.

Season three was just launched and you can find it along with the previous seasons on Hulu or at www.smallbusinessrevolution.org.

Product managers and innovators are the heroes of companies, creating products customers love, and in turn generating revenue that pushes the economy forward. That’s what being an Everyday Innovator is all about. And, small business owners are the heroes of small towns.

I love the stories that this video show examines, and the story behind its creation also has good lessons for Everyday Innovators.

The show is produced by Deluxe Corp and I caught up with their VP of Public Relations, Cam Potts, to discuss the making of the show.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[1:58] What is the Small Business Revolution?

It’s a reality makeover show where Deluxe Corporation goes into a small town in America and gives the town a $500,000 makeover. The public votes on which town wins the contest. We capture the makeover of six businesses in the community from marketing to physical changes. It’s a great opportunity to see real business owners revitalize their organizations. Small businesses are the lifeblood of small towns where industry has moved away.

[6:12] How does the Small Business Revolution relate to Deluxe Corp?

I started here four years ago after my boss found me on LinkedIn. Deluxe wanted to tell the stories of small businesses. We started with telling 100 stories across the U.S. as part of our 100th anniversary. We’ve been known as a check printer, but we do anything a small business needs. The goal of 100 stories campaign was to make people aware that we provided these services to small businesses. From there, we decided to tell longer stories and that’s how the contest idea came about.

[11:34] What are your favorite moments from season 1?

We were immersed in the town of Wabash over the summer so we really made some connections and friendships there. We also helped a variety of businesses, including an art consignment store. We helped that business owner determine how to price her goods in order to make money without pricing items out of the community’s reach. Five of the six businesses we helped were owned by people who did something else before becoming entrepreneurs. They got advice from us on how to position themselves as business owners and how to live that lifestyle and occupy that mindset. We also enjoyed seeing the business owners connect with each other and with the head of the Wabash tourism bureau as the show unfolded.

[19:32] What are the lessons you learned from season 2?

One of the learnings we took from season 1 was to bring experts from each field into Bristol to work with each business owner. For example, we brought in an automotive industry expert to help a family-owned truck and auto repair business. She helped them present a more professional environment and see themselves in a new way. We helped another business owner find a new space after his rent was raised and he could no longer afford it.  It was amazing to see how people in the community stepped up to help him out.

[27:08] What can we expect from season 3?

Season 3 is a departure from the first two years in that Alton, Illinois, is larger than Wabash and Bristol. It has several areas that could be defined as “Main Street” and we opened up the process to all of them. The consequences were more dire this season, with several businesses on the brink of closing and business owners losing connection to the community. We are also working with Ty Pennington this season. He brings a new energy and enthusiasm to the episodes.

[32:15] What have you discovered through this process?

I didn’t realize the lack of financial awareness that a lot of small business owners have. My father owned a small business for 30 years and it provided a great living for our family. I didn’t know a lot of the behind the scenes things, but I saw them through this show. Many of these business owners do not take paychecks and work full-time jobs in addition to running their businesses. I’m also blown away by how many of these businesses do not have websites.

[33:57] How has the show benefited Deluxe?

It’s raised awareness about what Deluxe does for small business. When we started, Deluxe had less than 1 percent name recognition among small businesses. We compete against companies like GoDaddy and MailChimp that spend millions of dollars in advertising that we don’t have. We’ve been very successful in generating media interest in what we’re doing so it’s been very successful from a PR perspective. We’re taking all of the work we’ve done with these businesses and putting them into case studies that are available on our website. It’s also been great for employee engagement. People genuinely want to see these businesses thrive and there’s a real sense of altruism among our team.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” –Alan Kay

Thanks!

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 on your favorite social network.

]]>
Lessons from small businesses that apply to everyone. I’m still on my road trip of the northeast U.S. and made a stop in Bristol, Pennsylvania. What took me to this small town was a video series called The Small Business Revolution. I’m still on my road trip of the northeast U.S. and made a stop in Bristol, Pennsylvania. What took me to this small town was a video series called The Small Business Revolution. This is a reality show where small businesses in small towns get help from business experts, and I have become a groupie, visiting each town where the series has been made.
Season three was just launched and you can find it along with the previous seasons on Hulu or at www.smallbusinessrevolution.org.
Product managers and innovators are the heroes of companies, creating products customers love, and in turn generating revenue that pushes the economy forward. That’s what being an Everyday Innovator is all about. And, small business owners are the heroes of small towns.
I love the stories that this video show examines, and the story behind its creation also has good lessons for Everyday Innovators.
The show is produced by Deluxe Corp and I caught up with their VP of Public Relations, Cam Potts, to discuss the making of the show.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:58] What is the Small Business Revolution?
It’s a reality makeover show where Deluxe Corporation goes into a small town in America and gives the town a $500,000 makeover. The public votes on which town wins the contest. We capture the makeover of six businesses in the community from marketing to physical changes. It’s a great opportunity to see real business owners revitalize their organizations. Small businesses are the lifeblood of small towns where industry has moved away.
[6:12] How does the Small Business Revolution relate to Deluxe Corp?
I started here four years ago after my boss found me on LinkedIn. Deluxe wanted to tell the stories of small businesses. We started with telling 100 stories across the U.S. as part of our 100th anniversary. We’ve been known as a check printer, but we do anything a small business needs. The goal of 100 stories campaign was to make people aware that we provided these services to small businesses. From there, we decided to tell longer stories and that’s how the contest idea came about.
[11:34] What are your favorite moments from season 1?
We were immersed in the town of Wabash over the summer so we really made some connections and friendships there. We also helped a variety of businesses, including an art consignment store. We helped that business owner determine how to price her goods in order to make money without pricing items out of the community’s reach. Five of the six businesses we helped were owned by people who did something else before becoming entrepreneurs. They got advice from us on how to position themselves as business owners and how to live that lifestyle and occupy that mindset. We also enjoyed seeing the business owners connect with each other and with the head of the Wabash tourism bureau as the show unfolded.
[19:32] What are the lessons you learned from season 2?
One of the learnings we took from season 1 was to bring experts from each field into Bristol to work with each business owner. For example, we brought in an automotive industry expert to help a family-owned truck and auto repair business. She helped them present a more professional environment and see themselves in a new way. We helped another business owner find a new space after his rent was raised and he could no longer afford it.  It was amazing to see how people in the community stepped up to help him out.
[27:08] What can we expect from season 3?
Season 3 is a departure from the first two years in that Alton, Illinois, is larger than Wabash and Bristol. It has several areas that could be defined as “Main Street” and we opened up the process to all of them.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 42:56
TEI 196: The messy middle of new product projects – with Scott Belsky https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-196-the-messy-middle-of-new-product-projects-with-scott-belsky/ Mon, 01 Oct 2018 11:31:23 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13972   Achieve your product goals without losing yourself along the way Creating a new product starts with excitement and the thrill of doing something different. The launch of the product is surrounded by cheers. For many product managers, it is the best part of their work. But between the project start and the launch is […]   Achieve your product goals without losing yourself along the way Creating a new product starts with excitement and the thrill of doing something different. The launch of the product is surrounded by cheers. For many product managers, Achieve your product goals without losing yourself along the way
Creating a new product starts with excitement and the thrill of doing something different. The launch of the product is surrounded by cheers. For many product managers, it is the best part of their work. But between the project start and the launch is where the hard work occurs. It is the messy middle, full of rocky terrain that is woefully underestimated and misunderstood.
The Messy Middle is also the name of a new book by my guest, Scott Belsky. Scott is the chief product officer of Adobe and founder of Behance, the leading creative network used by more than 12 million professionals. Scott has guided many teams through the messy middle of new product projects and ventures. In the interview, we’ll address a few of the topics from this book, including:

* Build your narrative before your product,
* Make one subtraction for every addition,
* Do the work that needs to get done—even if it’s not your job, and
* Identify what you’re willing to be bad at.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:00] Can you tell us about your role as Chief Product Officer at Adobe?
My obsession is building products that enhance the customer experience. Adobe’s products serve a large portion of the creative world. I started in this role 9 months ago to help make sure Adobe is ready for the next generation of customers. Adobe acquired Behance, the company I founded. I helped Adobe move its tools into the cloud and make them easier to use for people once they got there. We’re also exploring new mediums like augmented reality. I was lucky to find a role that excited me in the short term and the long term.
[4:17] Who is your book written for?
The book is the outcome of years of writing down notes from meetings of boards that I’m on, as well as my own entrepreneur journey. I realized I had insight into what people were doing in the middle of projects that worked for them or worked against them. The book brings those insights together to navigate the volatility that people must endure when building a product or launching a new venture.
 [7:25] What do you mean by building the narrative before you build the product?
I encourage product teams to put together the mock-up of the splash page for the product before they even start building anything. This helps them narrow down the focus and determine what you want the customer to experience. This becomes a compass when it comes to prioritizing features. Uber did this when they were determining whether the company should be everyone’s private driver and more upscale or taxis on demand that were accessible to everyone. The decision about which type of message they were sending dictated how the rest of the product was developed. They chose “everyone’s private driver” and chose the branding accordingly.
[11:50] How should product managers think about additions and subtractions?
Simplicity is hard to achieve and even harder to sustain. We often deal with problems and difficult decisions by adding complexity. The product eventually becomes so complicated that customers flock to more simple alternatives. I recommend that whenever you are adding a new feature, ask if there is another feature you can remove. Do this knowing that the more complex a product becomes, the more likely some customers are to turn away from it. Behance used to have a tip exchange that we killed because it wasn’t part of the company’s core mission. When we killed it, we found an increase in the product’s core features.
[17:03] How do you deal with people who say “that’s not my job”?
In my experience, some of the greatest work is done by people doing work they don’t have to do. Those people are passionate enough about something to seek it out and ha...]]>
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TEI 195: The Henry Ford for Product Managers – with Kristen Gallerneaux, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-195-the-henry-ford-for-product-managers-with-kristen-gallerneaux-phd/ Mon, 24 Sep 2018 09:55:57 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14023 Looking to the past to drive future innovation I am on a road trip through the northeast of the U.S., talking with innovators and product managers. At the encouragement of a friend, I took my two kids to visit The Henry Ford, a museum of innovation near Detroit. It was created by Henry Ford as […] Looking to the past to drive future innovation I am on a road trip through the northeast of the U.S., talking with innovators and product managers. At the encouragement of a friend, I took my two kids to visit The Henry Ford, I am on a road trip through the northeast of the U.S., talking with innovators and product managers. At the encouragement of a friend, I took my two kids to visit The Henry Ford, a museum of innovation near Detroit. It was created by Henry Ford as a tribute to his friend Thomas Edison. It’s an amazing place to learn about things I love — inventions and innovations. I’m bringing you a small slice of it in this episode, discussing a few innovators with a focus on three:

* Thomas Edison,
* Steve Wozniak, and
* Steve Jobs.

My guest is Dr. Kristen Gallerneaux, Curator of Communications and Information Technology at The Henry Ford. Kristen is responsible for the development of collections and experiences relating to computing, sound, broadcast, graphic communication, office equipment, photography and motion images, and other such areas related to technology.
She is also an artist, with her media being sound. She recently released a new book from MIT Press titled High Static, Dead Lines: Sonic Spectres and the Object Hereafter, which is a literary mix tape exploring boundaries in sound, culture, and belief.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:28] What can people expect when they visit The Henry Ford?
You’ll see airplanes hanging from the ceiling and some of the oldest steam engines in the world. We also have small-scale things that affect people’s lives like computers and phones. We have a lot of things that people won’t expect to see, like agricultural equipment. Henry Ford founded this place as the Edison Institute as a tribute to his friend Thomas Edison and innovation remains a central theme of everything we do and display.
[6:08] What is your role?
I’m the curator of communications and information technology. I take care of computing collections and the backend process to things we use everyday. I also manage early print and broadcasting technology. I also manage collections from certain innovators like Thomas Edison, Steve Wozniak, and Buckminster Fuller. I’m interested in the minor players and the large historical players.
[8:10] What is one of your favorite Thomas Edison inventions?
One of my favorites is the electric pen, which Edison started working on in 1875. It was a motorized pen that operated like a stencil. It eventually lead to the mimeograph and the history of electric tattoo needles. The technology that was used in that pen hasn’t changed much — it’s a very modern way of looking at historic innovation.
[10:50] What is one trait that you think helped Edison become a successful innovator?
One trait that applies to a lot of successful innovators is learning from failure. Whenever Edison thought he had reached the end of a project, he pushed it just a little farther. When he was trying to find the filament for the light bulb, he tried so many things before finally figuring out what the right material would be.  It was essentially rapid prototyping.
[15:03] Tell us about your experience studying Steve Wozniak.
The Henry Ford has one of the few remaining Apple 1 computers and I was able to study its circuits and learn how to program Basic on it. Wozniak is also known as a bit of a prankster, which is a good reminder that you can be a groundbreaking innovator but also have fun, too. Many people don’t know that the first business Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs built together was a phone hacking company that allowed people to make free long distance phone calls by emitting tones over the phone lines. We have one of those “blue box” devices at The Henry Ford.
[20:06] How are these innovators similar?
They all share a tireless work ethic, which is pretty common among innovators. You can also see similarities in the work environments between Menlo Park (E...]]>
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TEI 194: A case study for disruptive innovation before being disrupted – with Chris Clausen https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-194-a-case-study-for-disruptive-innovation-before-being-disrupted-with-chris-clausen/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 09:55:07 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14024 Product managers can move the wheel forward by reinventing it I’m currently on a tour through the northeast of the US, visiting product managers and innovators. On my way, I stopped in Minneapolis and found an incredible innovation case study at Deluxe Corporation. You’ll hear from Chris Clausen, Executive Director, how this company that is […] Product managers can move the wheel forward by reinventing it I’m currently on a tour through the northeast of the US, visiting product managers and innovators. On my way, I stopped in Minneapolis and found an incredible innovation case study at Deluxe... I’m currently on a tour through the northeast of the US, visiting product managers and innovators. On my way, I stopped in Minneapolis and found an incredible innovation case study at Deluxe Corporation.
You’ll hear from Chris Clausen, Executive Director, how this company that is more than a century old is avoiding being disrupted by embracing innovation. He’ll share:

* why they had to innovate,
* how they discovered the new product and market opportunity,
* how they decided what to build and what to buy to make the product a reality,
* that the innovation was viewed by many in the organization as cannibalizing their main business, much in the same way as Kodak viewed work on digital cameras as cannibalizing their core business, and
* how they used customer testimonies to sell the innovation internally.

It’s a fabulous story with many lessons. The written summary of our discussion is at www.TheEverydayInnovator.com / 194.
Also, I want to tell you about the fastest growing conference for software product management. It is coming up very soon, Oct 2-3, 2018 and you still have time to register. It’s called INDUSTRY and they have several product experts, many you will know from listening to this podcast, lined up to share their experience. Everyday Innovators can register for the conference for 30% off. Just use the code EverydayInnovator when you register. Find all the details at www.INDUSTRYconference.com.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:00] What is Deluxe’s core product and how have you innovated it?
Our Deluxe checks is the answer to the changing face of payments in the United States. Technology has made it much easier to make a payment today than it was 20 years ago on the consumer side. On the business side, checks are still a cornerstone of how payments are made. We saw an opportunity to create an eCheck that would make it easier for businesses to send and receive payments.
[7:16] What was happening in the marketplace that led to you to solve this problem?
We saw what happened on the consumer side, with new payment methods overtaking checks. We wanted to be ahead of the curve on the business payment side. We were looking for the right combination of features to fit our customers’ needs while being innovative and allowing them to utilize technology. We did a lot of research about why business owners were continuing to write checks and found 10 criteria that were driving it. We realized that whatever we created would need to meet all of those requirements.
[11:17] What were your strategies for gathering customer requirements?
We started with quantitative research with large numbers of customers to zero in on some of the key elements of their behavior. We surveyed existing customers and non-customers. We also saw this as an opportunity to grow our market by finding out what the demand was among our prospective customers. We then did in-depth interviews with business owners. Those interviews helped solidify our requirements and put our strategy in place. We did phone interviews and hired a third party to facilitate panel sessions with 5-6 businesses. We are still getting asked to present that research at conferences because very few organizations in the financial services space are doing it.
[19:30] How did you innovate without disrupting your own industry?
We heard from our customers that they did not want to redesign their payment processes. It’s not a priority for them and not something they spent a lot of time worrying about. One of the rules we tried to follow was to innovate without change. We kept the changes minimal enough that they were palatable. The solutions we provide are minimal enough to move a business forward without changing any of their existing proces...]]>
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TEI 193: Mistakes new (and not so new) product managers should avoid – with Cole Mercer https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-193-mistakes-new-and-not-so-new-product-managers-should-avoid-with-cole-mercer/ Mon, 10 Sep 2018 10:55:51 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14107 Insights for new product managers and people who want to be product managers. Being a good product manager requires a diverse set of skills, including communicating, influencing, design, technology, product process, and business acumen. New product managers and not-so new product managers have lots of opportunities to make mistakes. When you can, it is better […] Insights for new product managers and people who want to be product managers. Being a good product manager requires a diverse set of skills, including communicating, influencing, design, technology, product process, and business acumen. Being a good product manager requires a diverse set of skills, including communicating, influencing, design, technology, product process, and business acumen. New product managers and not-so new product managers have lots of opportunities to make mistakes. When you can, it is better to learn from the mistakes of others. That is why I invited Cole Mercer to join us and discuss common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Cole has a very popular course on Udemy for people wanting to get into product management or who are brand new to it. He also is creating training on LinkedIn Learning for new product managers.
I also want to tell you about the fastest growing conference for software product management. It is coming up soon, Oct 2-3, 2018 and you still have time to register. It’s called INDUSTRY and they have several product experts (many you will know from listening to this podcast) lined up to share their experience. Everyday Innovators can register for the conference for 30% off. Just use the code EverydayInnovator when you register. Find all the details at www.INDUSTRYconference.com.

Now to the discussion for avoiding product management mistakes.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:35] How did your Udemy course come about and what does it cover?
I taught product management part-time while working at General Assembly, but then moved to Berlin to work for Soundcloud and no longer had the opportunity to teach. I really missed it and at the same time, it was becoming a hot topic without a lot of information about the profession. I wanted to make a soup to nuts online course that included interviews with product managers. We’ve had about 43,000 students in two years — everyone from people who already are product managers to HR people who want to learn more about what product managers do. The course covers a day in the life of a product manager, how a resume should look, and what to do during your ramp-up time.
[6:31] What should a product manager’s role be?
For someone who is brand new to product management, there’s a much longer ramp-up time than other fields. You’re not going to jump in and be effective on your first day or even in your first week. You need to first build your social capital and get to know everyone on the team and what the pain points are. Once you have that backing, you can begin making improvements. New product managers often feel like they are not doing much in their first few weeks, but that’s okay.
[8:55] How do you build that social capital?
One easy way is to eat lunch with people from other departments to understand their roles. You will be building your social capital and understanding places where you can help others in the organization.
[9:50] What misconceptions do people have about product managers?
People often think that product management is a management position where you are managing people. Before I had the course, I used to get emails from people who just got their MBAs and thought they could get a job managing engineers or designers. The reality is that product managers don’t manage anyone in most cases. The whole point of the role is that you want to be able to pitch an idea to your team and have them tell you if it’s bad. They’re not going to feel comfortable doing that to their boss. The only exception is when you are managing other product managers. Social capital becomes even more important when you don’t have any authority on the organizational chart.
[14:06] What mistakes do people make working with others in the organization?
One of the biggest things is not taking input from others or not thinking that other people’s input is valid.]]>
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TEI 192: Interviewing users & the art of asking the right questions – with Rachel Wynn https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-192-interviewing-users-the-art-of-asking-the-right-questions-with-rachel-wynn/ Mon, 03 Sep 2018 10:55:55 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14026 Get out of your own way to get better information from your users to make products they love. Creating products customers love. If you are like most product managers and innovators, that is your motivation to do great work — the work of product management. It is our common thread and a distinguishing characteristic of […] Get out of your own way to get better information from your users to make products they love. Creating products customers love. If you are like most product managers and innovators, that is your motivation to do great work — the work of product managem... Creating products customers love. If you are like most product managers and innovators, that is your motivation to do great work — the work of product management. It is our common thread and a distinguishing characteristic of Everyday Innovators. Every day we are looking for problems we can solve in ways that create more value for customers.
That means we have to understand customers’ problems, what they want to accomplish, what they want to avoid, and how they want to feel. When we are doing our job really well, we know our customers better than they know themselves.
Part of that job is asking customers questions – the right questions that help us discover information that ultimately leads to products they will love. This is an area Rachel Wynn knows a good deal about. She is a product manager and communication expert I met at Rocky Mountain ProductCamp in Denver, Colorado. She joins us to share her guidelines for asking great questions, which are organized into a framework of three areas, which she calls:

* Grace,
* Bias, and
* Pivot.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[7:26] How does having a sense of grace help when interviewing users?
Grace is a pretty way of saying “get out of your own way.” We’re all really good at getting in our own ways. We often do this by bringing negative emotions into our conversations. I learned this in my work as a speech therapist; I was absorbing my patients’ emotions. Before I walked into a patient’s room, I would let the emotion from the last session wash away and walk into the next room with a clean slate. I do the same thing between customer calls now as a product manager. You should also resist the urge to fact check your customers as the interview is happening. In the end, their perception is what matters, not necessarily what’s accurate.
[13:26] Where does bias come into play during interviews?
Bias is about the art of asking questions. You should ask questions in a way that sets yourself up to listen well — questions that do not have bias. If you think you know what someone is going to say, you should not ask the question. Leading questions force people to answer in a specific way and double barrel questions ask people to answer two things at once.
[15:10] How can someone ask good questions?
The best tip for asking questions is to stop talking and be okay with a little silence. It’s a little awkward, but if you can embrace it, the person you’re talking to will want to fill the space so they’ll keep talking. They might need time to complete their cognitive processing and will benefit from a little extra time to share deeper insights and specific examples.
[19:33] How can pivots make for better conversations?
Pivot is about letting the user lead. If you are talking to a user, you want them to feel like it was a positive experience, regardless of whether or not it was directly useful to you. You never know when you might need to call on that user again, and they are much more likely to talk with you the next time if they felt like you valued their input. If you find that the user is taking the conversation in a different direction than you planned, make sure you acknowledge what they’re saying and then segue. Asking for advice is another way to get a conversation back on track. You can also keep the conversation going by utilizing “yes and” communication to build on what they say while shifting the discussion where you want it to go.
[26:53] Do you have any go-to questions?
I work for a data analytics company that allows people to manage their data and gain insights on it. At the start of every call, I ask people how long they have used the product and what problems they...]]>
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TEI 191: How to create and share product vision – with Jon Hensley https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-191-how-to-create-and-share-product-vision-with-jon-hensley/ Mon, 27 Aug 2018 10:55:50 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14025 Use a simple product statement to align your team and meet your goals. Creating products customers love feels like juggling a whole lot of balls at one time. It can be chaotic. It’s also a good bet that people on your product team, and most certainly in your organization outside the core team, have different […] Use a simple product statement to align your team and meet your goals. Creating products customers love feels like juggling a whole lot of balls at one time. It can be chaotic. It’s also a good bet that people on your product team, Creating products customers love feels like juggling a whole lot of balls at one time. It can be chaotic. It’s also a good bet that people on your product team, and most certainly in your organization outside the core team, have different understandings of what the product is about. It’s a real challenge to keep everyone on the same page.
The tool that brings order to the chaos is vision. The product vision is like the guiding northern light for the product team, keeping everyone moving in the same direction. It is the responsibility of the product manager to create and share the product vision.
Yet, it is not easily done. Very few great product vision examples exist. Thankfully for us, my guest knows how to create product vision and has done so many times. He is Jon Hensley, CEO of Emerge Interactive. Jon’s expertise is from driving innovation through design thinking from his work designing hundreds of digital experiences with organizations in a variety of industries.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:03] What is product vision and why is it important?
A great product vision is a tool to align a plan with your executives and your team. It helps avoid product drift and putting resources in the wrong areas. It’s often defined as inspirational but should go beyond that and answer the question of why the product exists and how it will benefit the organization and the customer.
[3:27] Why is product vision often lacking in digital products?
The idea of digital products is still pretty young, so that’s part of it. Vision is also looked at as something soft and intangible, and therefore unimportant. Some of the challenges a product faces when it’s in the market can be traced all the way back to a lack of product vision. A weak product is almost as dangerous as not having any product at all. The rules of creating a product vision for digital products have yet to be fully written; it’s not industry knowledge.
[7:10] How do you create a product vision?
There are five critical building blocks to a great vision: goal, action, problem, benefit, result. The goal might be at the organizational level or at the product level. It should be tangible and understood by everyone on the team. The second part is the action needed to achieve that goal. The third building block is understanding what problem you are trying to solve. Organizations tend to fall in love with the solution instead of the problem. Good product managers fall in love with the problem, not the solution. The fourth piece is the benefit to the organization, and the final element is the result, or the benefit to the customer.
[11:34] How do product managers implement vision day-to-day?
Product managers develop a lot of skill around understanding value. They have to take a big idea and create a product out of it that solves a problem for the customer while showing executives how it fits the company’s vision. At the same time, product management leads the effort to execute that vision.
[16:14] What role does collaboration play in creating product vision?
Creating a vision is really powerful as a collaborative exercise. Once you have a vision, it’s the first thing every new team member should see when they join the project. It should help those people see their role in solving the problem and understand the interdependencies among team members. Collaboration also helps create re-enforcement and help keep the team focused over long project timelines. A great product vision can help break down silos and give people across the organization something they can get behind.
[19:37] What format works best for presenting product vision?
Most often, it becomes the cover slide in a presentation. It can also work as a video that’s narrated and s...]]>
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TEI 190: The 6 dimensions of top achievers- with Arthur Carmazzi https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-190-the-6-dimensions-of-top-achievers-with-arthur-carmazzi/ Mon, 20 Aug 2018 10:55:28 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14027 Learn how product managers move from the middle of the pack to the front of the crowd. Product managers need to be high achievers and many are. They are the driving force that discover unmet needs customers have, creating value through their product work. The work is both demanding and fulfilling. To be a high […] Learn how product managers move from the middle of the pack to the front of the crowd. Product managers need to be high achievers and many are. They are the driving force that discover unmet needs customers have, Product managers need to be high achievers and many are. They are the driving force that discover unmet needs customers have, creating value through their product work. The work is both demanding and fulfilling.
To be a high achiever, you can learn from those who already are. High achievers have some things in common. Knowing how they think and what they do can help you.
My guest, Arthur Carmazzi, wrote the book on high achievers, titled The Six Dimensions of a Top Achiever. Arthur is the founder of Directive Communication Psychology and is ranked among the top-10 leadership thought leaders by Global Gurus. In our discussion he shares six dimensions of top achievers:

* Failure-proof
* Discipline
* Motivation
* Persuasion
* Visibility
* Finances

 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:47] What does it take to become a top achiever?
It depends on the individual; there’s no one recipe for everyone. However, there are guidelines that we can use to develop a path to greatness. There are six dimensions I’ve outline in that process after interviewing 50 top achievers.
[3:09] First dimension: Being failure-proof
This sounds counter-productive because failure is how people learn. Understanding the failure is the fundamental stepping stone to more success for high achievers. They don’t let failure bring them down or hold them back from continuing to innovate. We’ve developed the colored brain model for how people get clarity. Sometimes, people don’t get that clarity until after taking action. These types of people will fail more often, but it will happen so fast that they will recover quickly and keep moving forward.
[5:25] Second dimension: Discipline
This includes time management. Managing time is not the same as scheduling; it’s about figuring out how to not waste time. If a top achiever is on a plane, they’re doing something. For me, being fit is important to me, as is being with my kids. So, I do a fitness routine with my kids every morning to achieve both goals. Automations and other people can help with some of the things that are not as important to you. Discipline is about making sure you are constantly applying your skills to reduce the amount of time you waste and focus on things that will get you specific results.
[11:03] Third dimension: Motivation
One of the projects I’m working on right now is building a leadership school in Malaysia. It’s designed to create individuals who are passionate about achieving greatness.  This includes integrating subjects, much the way that different parts of a job are integrated in the real world. Rather than doing homework in specific subjects, we connect everything with a story connected to a specific objective. At the end of four years at this school, every student will have published four books. This is much more motivating for a 15 year old to say to people they’re an author and have books published on Amazon. These goals are achievable by breaking them into one-week milestones. You always have that sense of achievement when you finish something.
[17:35] Fourth dimension: Persuasion
This one is about being able to influence people. Understanding people’s needs and motivations can help you fill those needs in a brand, a product, or even a conversation. Understanding their colored brain process will help you create a product that will meet their needs. You can create specific pockets of persuasion that you can draw from as needed for each situation.
[20:03] Fifth dimension: Visibility
This means personal branding. I’ve met brilliant people who have accomplished nothing because they were working in the background and were invisible.]]>
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TEI 189: Building UX in product teams – with Sam Horodezky https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-189-building-ux-in-product-teams-with-sam-horodezky/ Sun, 12 Aug 2018 15:43:38 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14028 Breaking down myths and misconceptions about two popular — but sometimes opposing — roles. UX is a hot topic and for good reason. The right UX skills on a product team can make the product more successful. The wrong skills waste money and time. Many product managers and leaders make mistakes when adding UX roles […] Breaking down myths and misconceptions about two popular — but sometimes opposing — roles. UX is a hot topic and for good reason. The right UX skills on a product team can make the product more successful. The wrong skills waste money and time. UX is a hot topic and for good reason. The right UX skills on a product team can make the product more successful. The wrong skills waste money and time. Many product managers and leaders make mistakes when adding UX roles to their product teams — but you won’t be one of them because of this discussion.
My guest shares the common mistakes and how to avoid them. He organizes UX skills into three categories: research, interaction design, visual design. Using the right skill at the right time during the development of the product is important. Otherwise, you’ll encounter the square peg in the round hole problem and no one is happy with that.
My guest has been a product manager and is a UX specialist with more than 15 years of experience. He has built UX teams from scratch and now helps organizations build and manage successful teams. His name is Sam Horodezky.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:33] How do you describe the roles of product manager and UX professional?
Some product managers intersect more with technology, and others intersect more with design and have less technical capability. Some people have an equal balance between the two. User experience includes research to find latent needs based in ethnography or anthropology — going on site and watching someone use your product. This also includes usability testing. It also includes interaction design, which is 50% working with requirements and 50% working with the user interface. Interaction designers often get into micro interactions like drag and drop. The final stage of user experience is the visual designer, who takes the UX and makes it look attractive. There’s often overlap between interaction design and visual design.
[13:50] How do the two roles overlap?
I see conflict right now between product managers and user experience researchers. Both are trying to work with customers to obtain information and the skill sets are very much in common. UX is a hot field right now and there’s a lot of new blood coming in, with many people coming from design schools. There’s no standard accreditation for UX and it’s a source of tension in the field. You can’t just go look for a particular degree, you have to look a lot deeper. Hopefully we will get to a standard degree, but it might take a while. Not all UX designers are coming from the perspective of trying to understand how a user’s brain works like a product manager might be.
[17:35] What are the steps for creating UX capability on a product team?
People often think they need a UX person without understanding which of the three components (research, interaction, visual) they need. The common reaction is hire a junior initially, which is not enough to change how a product is built. A UX person will always be taking work away from someone else, so there will be ownership tension at the start. They need to figure out a way to interact with product management, engineering, marketing, and other parts of the organization. Anyone looking to hire a UX person should be looking for someone who can create a process that integrates all of those pieces, which a junior level person can’t do. The key is to get a more experienced person with room to grow — maybe someone with 5 or so years of experience.
Teams looking to add UX also need to watch out for the “UX unicorn,” or the person who can do all three components of UX. Like the name suggests, that person does not exist. Startups in particular are always looking for unicorns. You have to decide what type of person you want based on what your need is. For example, if you have a relatively straightforward application, then you probably don’t need a visual designer. If you have a well-defined business plan,]]>
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TEI 188: What product managers should do and not do when transitioning to a new team or organization – with Gavin Feuer https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-188-what-product-managers-should-do-and-not-do-when-transitioning-to-a-new-team-or-organization-with-gavin-feuer/ Mon, 06 Aug 2018 10:55:02 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14021 How to hit the product management ground running and avoid spinning your wheels. Learning how to best work with a product team or organization requires taking the right action and avoiding mistakes. Your opportunities to make a good first impression are limited, so you need to make the most of them. Most product managers will […] How to hit the product management ground running and avoid spinning your wheels. Learning how to best work with a product team or organization requires taking the right action and avoiding mistakes. Your opportunities to make a good first impression ar... Learning how to best work with a product team or organization requires taking the right action and avoiding mistakes. Your opportunities to make a good first impression are limited, so you need to make the most of them.
Most product managers will work with a new team from time to time and many will change organizations. It turns out this advice will also help product managers who are not in transition.
To explore transitioning well, Gavin Feuer joins us. He is now a senior product manager for T-Mobile, recently making the transition from Amazon. Gavin brings a strong entrepreneurial mindset to the role of product manager, which you’ll hear in the interview. His Amazon colleagues shared that his superpower is the ability to “think big.” He’s happy to help people who have a really big idea think more deeply about it. He also is a volunteer mentor to undergraduate students at the University of Washington, always willing to take on the right motivated mentee who is new to product management.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:48] What are some of your key takeaways from your time at Amazon?
Amazon’s leadership principles enable anyone to have a conversation about anything. If you can utilize them in your ideas, you’ll have support to move them forward. Amazon also employs the Working Backwards Process of writing a news story and FAQs about a product before anyone starts working on it. This helps you to focus your ideas and the benefits to the customer.
[7:55] What ideas or strategies from your transition have been successful?
I tried to learn as much as I could about my product and how it got to the current state. I met with anyone who had a hand in it and read any documentation that existed. There was also a bit of unlearning Amazon’s way of doing things and replacing it with T-Mobile’s processes. However, I’m cognizant not to completely lose what I bring to the table from Amazon because it’s part of who I am as a product manager.
[11:34] How do you build trust among new coworkers?
Volunteer for the hard stuff. There was a small launch that happened on the Sunday after my first day. I ended up coming into the office for a few hours to be part of a war room. Going a little bit above and beyond is a great way to show that you are dedicated to the cause. I also put time on just about everyone’s calendar that I’ll be working with to get to know them one-on-one and learn more about what makes them tick. It lays a foundation on which to build future work.
[15:38] How did you decide who to meet with when you started your new job?
I wanted to meet with people on my direct team and sent them calendar invitations with notes about what I wanted to talk about. These were casual conversations over coffee to get to know people on a human level. I also met with people I’ll be working with from a product perspective. These are mostly people who are not on my team. These conversations were focused on how their team has historically worked with my team.
[20:15] How do you move from those conversations into product work?
I’m in the process of re-documenting everything related to the product and how we got here. Getting to know all of these people has helped me learn about work in progress and what still needs to be done. In the absence of up-to-date documentation, people are your main resource about where things are and what needs to be done.
[25:00] What’s something you wish you would have done differently?
Don’t be afraid to challenge the answers that you receive. It’s easy to just accept things at face value, but sometimes you need to dig deeper to get to the bottom of things. It can be tough to challenge things when you are new,]]>
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TEI 187: Seven ways acting techniques can help product managers excel – with Alison Kemp https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-187-seven-ways-acting-techniques-can-help-product-managers-excel-with-alison-kemp/ Mon, 30 Jul 2018 10:55:09 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13962 Develop a sense of curiosity to build trust and achieve your product goals. To be a great product manager, do you also need to be a great actor? No, but there are lessons from acting that will make you a better product manager. While I have no acting experience, not even school plays, I have […] Develop a sense of curiosity to build trust and achieve your product goals. To be a great product manager, do you also need to be a great actor? No, but there are lessons from acting that will make you a better product manager. To be a great product manager, do you also need to be a great actor? No, but there are lessons from acting that will make you a better product manager. While I have no acting experience, not even school plays, I have talked with several actors who became business coaches. It was not an obvious career path until I learned from each of them how their acting skills transferred to skills others need off the stage. They apply practices from acting to help business professionals and leaders.
So, when I saw an article in Mind the Product titled, “Oh the Drama! What Product Managers can Learn From Actors,” I eagerly read it. The author, Alison Kemp, shared seven areas where acting techniques can help product managers, which she called:

* Thinking on Your Feet
* High-Performance Teams
* Creative Thinking and Innovation
* Active Listening
* Pausing
* Storytelling, and
* Identity

I asked Alison to join us to discuss some of these techniques. It proved to be a fun and insightful discussion with important tips for product managers and innovators.
Alison is the founder of Switchvision, which helps clients become more effective communicators, presenters, and interviewers by applying techniques from business, theatre, and psychology.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[7:20] What does it mean to think on your feet?
Life does not go in line with a script, so thinking on your feet is a basic life skill. It’s trusting that the words will come when you need to give an impromptu speech and that you’ll have the confidence to deliver the speech. In a professional setting, I discourage people from scripting a presentation and instead have them focus on how they’ll interact with the audience. It also involves working with silence during one-on-one interactions.
[11:27] How can you utilize these techniques in a meeting?
It’s all about finding someone’s point of view, what’s underneath the things they are saying. Everyone reacts to things but they rarely say why they react that way. In order to really work through a difficult conversation, you need to show curiosity and a willingness to understand where someone is coming from.
[16:05] What role does body language play in these interactions?
There are many reasons for closed body language and it’s not always about the situation you are in, so you have to look at it in context. When someone is closed, it could mean that they are listening and thinking about what’s being said; that’s what an introvert often does. Active listening can help you show a closed person that you are willing to come along with them and creates buy-in needed to commit to an idea or proposal. Maintaining eye contact and matching body language, whether directly or indirectly, can also help build trust.
[24:40] How do these techniques apply in email or other communication that’s not face to face?
Email is the opposite of giving a presentation. You need to tell people what you want them to do first, then go into the rationale for why you want them to do it. Try to match your email style with the other person’s. If they write short emails, you should try to make your emails to them shorter. If they want more details, give them more details. It’s not always good to match when it comes to the time you send emails. If you have someone who emails you in the middle of the night and you respond, you are enabling that behavior and sacrificing your boundaries with them.
[27:13] How can you develop curiosity?
We all have unconscious biases that we need to make conscious in order to challenge them. Put your biases aside and become curious. You can buy yourself time by asking questions that get at someone’s story.]]>
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TEI 186: How product managers convince their managers to pay for training – with Matt Burns https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-186-how-product-managers-convince-their-managers-to-pay-for-training-with-matt-burns/ Mon, 23 Jul 2018 10:55:11 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12786 Have the right conversations with the right people to achieve your goals. We have a great topic for this discussion, addressing a question several Everyday Innovators have asked before, which is… “How do I get my manager to pay for product management training?” My guest will share the right and the wrong ways to get […] Have the right conversations with the right people to achieve your goals. We have a great topic for this discussion, addressing a question several Everyday Innovators have asked before, which is… “How do I get my manager to pay for product management t... We have a great topic for this discussion, addressing a question several Everyday Innovators have asked before, which is… “How do I get my manager to pay for product management training?” My guest will share the right and the wrong ways to get your manager and organization to support your professional development.
He is Matt Burns, an HR executive and winner of Canada’s Most Innovative Use of HR Technology award.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:18] How common is it for organizations to reimburse for training?
In my experience, it’s pretty common as long as the training has a direct correlation to the person’s current role. It’s also more common the shorter the training is. Many companies have a specific budget for each person. Longer training programs require more of a conversation between the employee and supervisor because it’s a bigger investment. I’ve also seen partial reimbursements for training that is not directly related to the employee’s job if the company values continuing education or professional development.
[9:10] Where should someone start the process of finding and paying for training?
The first thing would be to have a conversation with your immediate supervisor about your professional goals. This should be an ongoing conversation not just related to professional development. Your supervisor can let you know what the professional development budget is. Some employees might have a mentor or coach who can also provide input. HR can also weigh in about reimbursement and help you to connect with training opportunities.
[12:52] How do you have this conversation with a manager?
It comes down to the basic tactics of negotiation. You need to have a clear picture of what your career path is and how this training fits into it. This should happen before you request a specific training experience and be part of an ongoing relationship with your supervisor. The other thing to consider is ROI and what you will get out of the investment the company is making. You should be able to connect it to what you do currently and/or where you see your future at the organization.
[16:41] How does the request for training relate to an annual performance review?
This is a perfect time to bring up training. You are reflecting on past performance and your goals for the next year. You also have your manager’s attention and a captive audience. Asking for training should not come as a surprise to your manager. This is also the time when organizations are building their budgets for the next year so you can work training into it.
[21:37] What if the answer is no? How can someone move past that?
The first question I would have is “why not?” You want to understand some of the pressure around where the no is coming from so you can try to overcome them. If cost is a concern, you can tie it back to how the training will help you increase revenue for the organization. If the concern is timing, you can talk about training in off hours or postponing it until a more convenient time. Some people are afraid to ask the question because they are afraid they’ll hear that they are not valuable to the organization. Even if that’s the case, it’s something you should know as an employee and can serve as the start of a longer-term discussion about your future at the company.
Useful links:

* Connect with Matt via his LinkedIn profile
* Matt’s documentary work in progress, TheIntersect

Innovation Quote
“Iteration is key to innovation.” -Sebastian Thrun
Thanks!
]]>
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TEI 185: Creating product love – with Todd Olson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-185-creating-product-love-with-todd-olson/ Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:55:10 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13970 Combining innovation and data to delight customers. What products do you use that you love? Think of a product that you are glad to tell other people about. You share how it helps you solve a problem or get a task done. Or, maybe how the product makes you feel. It might be your phone, […] Combining innovation and data to delight customers. What products do you use that you love? Think of a product that you are glad to tell other people about. You share how it helps you solve a problem or get a task done. Or, What products do you use that you love? Think of a product that you are glad to tell other people about. You share how it helps you solve a problem or get a task done. Or, maybe how the product makes you feel. It might be your phone, a perfectly balanced and beautifully designed pen, a pocket knife that makes you feel just a little more self-reliant, or, in my case, the Paragon induction cooktop that allows me to make perfect omelets my wife and kids rave about.
Great products are ones that we love. They create emotions in us that go beyond satisfaction, extending to true delight.
Creating products that customers love is what product management is about, and also just happens to be the central theme for all of you who are Everyday Innovators. It is why this podcast exists and is the focus of this episode.
I explore the topic with Todd Olson, co-founder of Pendo, a capability for creating product experiences customers can’t live without. Before starting Pendo, Todd was VP Products at Rally Software and has been a co-founder for two other companies. He was also recently announced as an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year finalist. Todd knows a lot about developing software, founding and building companies, and creating products customers love.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[4:10] What do you mean by product love?
We’re no longer seeking products that just do the job; we want products that we can have an affinity for. Product love means people actually enjoy using the product you provide. Ultimately, it leads to referrals. It can apply to any type of product that makes you smile when you use it.
[7:20] Product love is often cited as a reason people get into product management. Have you encountered that in your experience?
Absolutely. Pain is a really good origin for amazing ideas and amazing products. If your product is not addressing an acute pain, you’re probably missing something. When I built the first version of Pendo, I built a product that would make me happy and assumed it would do the same for others. When you do that, it’s important to keep iterating so you don’t get too far inside an echo chamber but do continue bringing joy to your customers.
[16:22] What else should product managers be doing to create products that customers love?
Keep the notion of delight in mind. The Kano model takes this into account by classifying three types of features — table stakes, linear, and delight. Delight comes down to anticipating what customers want and then delivering it in very novel ways. For example, typing a tracking number into Google and having it return exactly where your package is without having to navigate to other websites. If you know what job your customers want your product to do and you can make that job seamless, it will generate love. Great products and great communities also go hand in hand, as does the ability for customers to make products their own.
[21:30] How can product managers make better use of NPS information?
Product teams should own NPS data, not customer success teams. Product teams fix root problems rather than focusing on unhappy customers. Once you have the data, slice and dice it by demographics and customer size. We’ve also mirrored NPS data with usage information to look at how people use the product and what aspects of the product might be leading to a bad experience. It can also impact follow up communication and determine who can provide referrals or be part of a usability study.
[21:32] How does this tie back to product love?
I was working with a company that provides software to the dental industry. By looking at NPS data, we learned that dental hygienists were not happy. We found that they were not using features of the product that were meant for them.]]>
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TEI 184: What leaders need to understand about product management and what product managers need to understand about the business – with Kirsten Butzow https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-184-what-leaders-need-to-understand-about-product-management-and-what-product-managers-need-to-understand-about-the-business-with-kirsten-butzow/ Mon, 09 Jul 2018 10:55:38 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13960 Becoming a product leader is simpler than you might think. If you have ever had to explain what you do as a product manager to people you work with, you are in good company. Most product managers find this necessary. Further, the role means different things in different organizations. The leaders of your organization may […] Becoming a product leader is simpler than you might think. If you have ever had to explain what you do as a product manager to people you work with, you are in good company. Most product managers find this necessary. Further, If you have ever had to explain what you do as a product manager to people you work with, you are in good company. Most product managers find this necessary. Further, the role means different things in different organizations. The leaders of your organization may have a perspective of the role that is not really accurate, or as I have seen more often, they don’t understand the leverage the role provides them.
In this discussion, we explore what organizational leaders need to understand about the role of product manager. But, we don’t stop there as product managers also need to have a clear understanding of the needs of the organization.
This discussion will help you better talk to the leaders of your company about your role and to understand your very important role more deeply.
To discuss the topic, I invited Kirsten Butzow to join us. She is a product veteran, serving as VP Product Management at Person and Blackboard and has held other product roles. Now she is a product coach for Pragmatic Marketing.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:09] What are some of the pain points you encounter most frequently when working with organizations?
One of the primary challenges we hear is that people have too many things to get done — too many features and too many products we’re trying to put into the marketplace. There are not clearly defined allocations of responsibility and accountability. It’s a byproduct of the fact that product management is still in its infancy. We are still trying to figure out the right formula and how to prioritize all the things that need to be done.
[12:19] Have you seen changes in the role of product manager?
When I started my career, technology product mangers were very focused on technology, then they became more business focused. Now we’re seeing more of a focus on user experience and user interface and product managers are getting pulled back into technology a little more deeply. People are expecting them to have a perspective on design. Over time, product managers became product owners too, as organizers adopted agile. I would like to see product managers come back into true leadership positions.
[17:09] What do you want organizational leaders to know about product management?
Organizational leaders need to rationalize all the work that needs to be done. Someone needs to be responsible for understanding the problem that needs to be solved and the people who have that problem. The product leader should be setting the strategy and direction for understanding the what and the who of the problem; the rest of the organization should deal with the how of the design, building, and validation. However, that only works if we give the product leader the clarity and the resources to do it.
[22:40] What should product managers understand about the needs of their organizations?
Product leaders should be business leaders, which means they should have basic financial acumen. As product managers move into engineering roles, they don’t know how to calculate a gross margin or know the difference between fixed and variable expenses. It’s difficult to run a product line with financial goals if you don’t know how to track and analyze those goals. I always encourage MBA students who want to go into product management to take a finance class.
[25:26] Can product managers be effective in cross-functional roles?
There are 37 activities that need to be completed in the Pragmatic Marketing framework. The product manager’s role is to make sure all of them are getting done, but not to personally perform all of them. They should partner with the appropriate people in the organization to get things done efficiently. Product leaders should be leading cross-functional teams that include stakeholders from every ...]]>
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TEI 183: Bad habits experienced product managers should avoid-with Alicia Dixon https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-183-bad-habits-experienced-product-managers-should-avoid-with-alicia-dixon/ Mon, 02 Jul 2018 10:55:53 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13733 Don’t let your calendar get in the way of doing what’s important as a product manager. Experienced product managers benefit from what they learned from previous successes and failures. That experience is valuable. However, they can also pick up some bad habits along the way. Some bad habits may be from a lack of knowing […] Don’t let your calendar get in the way of doing what’s important as a product manager. Experienced product managers benefit from what they learned from previous successes and failures. That experience is valuable. However, Experienced product managers benefit from what they learned from previous successes and failures. That experience is valuable. However, they can also pick up some bad habits along the way. Some bad habits may be from a lack of knowing better but others come from routine and a “this is how we do it”-sort of mentality that too often develops over time in many organizations.
The first step to correcting bad habits is recognizing them and my guest is helping us with that. She is Alicia Dixon, senior product manager at Hilton. Alicia is involved with mobile and digital product innovation. Further, she volunteers for ProductCamp DC and shared aspects of our topic at recently at ProductCamp Silicon Valley.
Also, both Alicia and I have found value in product management training and certification. I began the interview asking her about this, as she currently has five product management certifications, which is more than anyone else I know. We both share the value we have found in earning certifications and why we encourage others to earn them as well. It has something to do with “ah ha” moments.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:15] How did you become a product manager?
My background is in marketing and brand management. I joined the product group at Dell supporting desktop sales. I went to graduate school, but it didn’t work out and I found my way into product management for mobile apps. I currently work for Hilton on digital payments.
[6:50] What value do you find in certifications?
I had to do a lot of self learning when I first became a product manager, so the certifications provided a lot of validation that I was on the right path and course correction when I wasn’t.  I was working on very small teams so it was like the blind leading the blind; getting the certifications helped me feel secure that I was doing the right thing.
[11:03] How did you begin working with bad habits?
I referred about a dozen people to a job opening that a friend of mine sent me. I heard back from her that she didn’t want to hire them because they had developed bad habits. I was on my way to ProductCamp Silicon Valley at the time and thought I should pitch product management bad habits as a session. We ended up having a very engaging discussion.
[13:25] What are some of those bad habits product managers develop?
One is not talking to customers. As a seasoned product manager, you have a laundry list of things you want and you become so tied to it that you lose sight of keeping in touch with your customers. Another bad habit is building exactly what leadership asks for, which leads to becoming a feature factory instead of delivering what the customer wants. In a similar vein, don’t listen solely to sales and build what they are asking for. Salespeople are an important constituent group for product managers, but they should not be the only voices you are listening to. The last bad habit I see is a resistance to use new tools. I used Visio when I got into the field, but there are way better tools available now. I would miss all that if I stuck with Visio.
[19:55] How can people avoid forming those bad habits?
It comes back to time management. If you don’t plan the time into your schedule to meet with customers and learn new tools, you are never going to do it. The other thing that works well is peer groups, whether it’s an internal meet up or an external conference like ProductCamp. These groups help keep your skills sharp and provide an opportunity for you to receive feedback from others.
[26:37] Do managers and other senior product mangers still need to talk to customers and keep their skills sharp?
I’ve heard that people are split on this.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 32:09
TEI 182: What Sales wants from product managers – with Ian Moyse https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-182-what-sales-wants-from-product-managers-with-ian-moyse/ Mon, 25 Jun 2018 10:55:28 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13735 Putting sales and product managers on the same team to create better products. Product management is a highly cross-functional role. Product managers work with product teams, R&D, engineering, marketing, finance, and others, but the one group that is most often discussed, especially in B2B organizations, is sales. You’ll hear about it at product management meetups, […] Putting sales and product managers on the same team to create better products. Product management is a highly cross-functional role. Product managers work with product teams, R&D, engineering, marketing, finance, and others,
Product management is a highly cross-functional role. Product managers work with product teams, R&D, engineering, marketing, finance, and others, but the one group that is most often discussed, especially in B2B organizations, is sales. You’ll hear about it at product management meetups, such as how a salesperson keeps asking a product manager to do product demos for customers or how the sales team won’t sell the existing product but some feature that hasn’t even been discussed yet.
This creates tension between sales and product managers, but it can also be a very positive relationship. Salespeople can get product managers access to companies for customer site visits and other customer research. They can be a source of earlier indications of a new trend forming or an old trend changing.
To understand how product management and sales can work better together, Ian Moyse is here to discuss the topic with us. Ian has a technical background with a product mindset and a passion for sales. He is currently the Sales Director for Natterbox, a UK-based Cloud Telphony company. He also received the UK Sales Director of Year award from Institute Sales & Marketing. He shares what sales wants from product management and how the two functions can work well together.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[7:22] What do salespeople want from product managers?
Sales is often a mix of people who might not understand technology or the role of a product manager. They may need more help from a product manager to understand the customer’s need and how the product can fulfill it. A product manager defines the why, what, and when of the product and serves as the bridge between the customer side of the product and the engineering side. From a sales perspective, we always want everything in the product and we want it yesterday. Product managers and marketers can also take the insights that salespeople bring back from the field and use it to inform future iterations of the product.
[12:13] How can product managers gain meaningful insights from sales?
Sales needs to understand what value the product manager brings and how they can help achieve that value, and getting buy-in from sales leadership is essential to making that happen. Once everyone is on the same page, both teams can work toward shared goals. Product managers should have input in loss reports in terms of what data is collected and use the data as a catalyst to go back to the customers through the sales team. The sales team serves as the bridge between product managers in the customers.
[19:04] How can product mangers and salespeople work better together?
It all comes down to relationships and earning credibility among the sales team. You can ask the sales team how they view success and what that looks like 6 months or a year from now. This sets a product manager down a path where they have shared goals and expectations with sales. You can then go back to sales and tout the results that you were able to deliver with their help. Building relationships is an important element, too. Don’t just go to salespeople to request data; take them out for coffee and get to know who they are as people and what drives them. Breaking down silos between the two will lead to better products that provide more value to the customer.
[25:04] How can product managers help sales meet its goals?
Product managers should work with sales leadership to manage the team’s expectations. Every salesperson is going to have a different idea about a new feature that would help them with a customer; those expectations need to be managed and put into context with what the customer needs. Most salespeople and even sales leaders don’t understand the development process; product managers can help explain it a...]]>
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TEI 181: Managing a product during the Maturity phase of the product life cycle – with Janna Bastow https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-181-managing-a-product-during-the-maturity-phase-of-the-product-life-cycle-with-janna-bastow/ Mon, 18 Jun 2018 10:05:01 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13736 Mature products require tough decisions and time for retrospection. In this discussion, we bring some mature thinking to the topic of maturity. The product life cycle consists of five phases — introduction, growth, maturity, decline, and retire. Successful products make it to maturity, and if properly managed, can generate profit for your organization for a […] Mature products require tough decisions and time for retrospection. In this discussion, we bring some mature thinking to the topic of maturity. The product life cycle consists of five phases — introduction, growth, maturity, decline, and retire. In this discussion, we bring some mature thinking to the topic of maturity. The product life cycle consists of five phases -- introduction, growth, maturity, decline, and retire. Successful products make it to maturity, and if properly managed, can generate profit for your organization for a long time. However, managing maturity comes with many challenges that are not present in the earlier stages of the product life cycle.<br /> <br /> My guest helps us understand the issues and how to avoid them. She is Janna Bastow, co-founder of ProdPad,  and co-founder of Mind the Product including MindTheProduct.com, ProductTank, and ProductCamp London. ProdPad creates tools for product managers for road mapping, backlog management, and customer feedback. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:16 TEI 180: Why and how APIs should be managed as a product – with Bryan Hicks https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-180-why-and-how-apis-should-be-managed-as-a-product-with-bryan-hicks/ Mon, 11 Jun 2018 11:50:32 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13738 A different type of product, but traditional product management still applies. Today’s topic is the product management of APIs — application program interfaces that enable software systems to share information and interact. In the past I have thought of APIs as a part of a software system. It’s another activity on a project schedule to […] A different type of product, but traditional product management still applies. Today’s topic is the product management of APIs — application program interfaces that enable software systems to share information and interact. Today’s topic is the product management of APIs — application program interfaces that enable software systems to share information and interact. In the past I have thought of APIs as a part of a software system. It’s another activity on a project schedule to complete in the process of creating a software system that needs or provides an API. Our guest convinced me to think differently about APIs–to think of them as a product and to manage them as such. He has been involved in a few API projects, currently working for Ford and creating an API for Lyft (and others) that will be used by autonomous vehicles.
Our guest is Bryan Hicks, senior product manager at Ford Motor Company. He has also worked at SAP, AT&T, and has been an innovation consultant.
Even if you are not a software product manager, I expect you’ll find the discussion valuable, particularly in examining the different categories of customers for a product.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:16] Tell us about the work you are doing with Ford and Lyft on autonomous vehicles
The plan is that Ford will own a fleet of autonomous vehicles. We could try to build our own applications and customer networks, but Lyft already has both of those. We’re using APIs to connect to Lyft’s network and fulfill their rider requests with our vehicles. We’re also leveraging partnerships with Postmates and Domino’s.
[4:02] What are APIs and why are they important?
APIs allow different pieces of software to talk to each other. It’s a contract between two applications for information sharing.
[6:09] When you treat APIs as a product to be managed, who are the customers?
There are three distinct customers: The developers who code with it, the person who pays for the developers to use API, and the end users of the applications using the API. Product managers need to think about all three customers or else the integration will not be successful. The developers need be interested in using it, the people paying for it need to see the value, and it needs to be valuable to the customer. In the case of Lyft, they want a self-driving vehicle and the API is how they get it.
[9:40] How do you respond to change requests in a way that works for you developers?
You have to think of an API like a contract and avoid changing it as much as possible. Machines don’t readjust when you change the API. Instead, we focus in incremental capability and adding new features that don’t require additional coding. The more versions you have out, the more you have to support. If you do create a new version, you need to communicate that the new version is not being supported so people aren’t caught off guard when their app doesn’t work.
[13:50] How do you balance solving your customer’s needs while encouraging open innovation?
There are internal APIs, private APIs, and public APIs. You typically start internal, then move to private, then move to public. This allows you to understand what your customer wants without breaking that contract. For example, Twitter’s API was public but they saw people were using it to build better apps to access the platform, which drove people away from Twitter’s website. This lead them to pull back the API and they received a lot of criticism for it.
[18:45] What are the advantages of thinking about APIs as products?
APIs allow each of the companies involved to focus on their core competencies. For example, Lyft is not a vehicle manufacturer and Ford is not a ride-hailing company. APIs allow us to connect our individual strengths to achieve a shared goal. They’re the SaaS equivalent for people who are building applications.
[20:45] How do you distribute an API?
My boss,]]>
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TEI 179: The specific steps for finding product-market fit – with Dan Olsen https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-179-the-specific-steps-for-finding-product-market-fit-with-dan-olsen/ Mon, 04 Jun 2018 10:55:47 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13737 How product managers scale the pyramid to product success Product management and innovation is about creating value for customers by solving a problem they have. We accomplish this through a tangible product or an intangible service. Done correctly, we have a proper product-market fit — a product that satisfies the needs of a specific market. […] How product managers scale the pyramid to product success Product management and innovation is about creating value for customers by solving a problem they have. We accomplish this through a tangible product or an intangible service. Done correctly, Product management and innovation is about creating value for customers by solving a problem they have. We accomplish this through a tangible product or an intangible service. Done correctly, we have a proper product-market fit — a product that satisfies the needs of a specific market. Finding the correct product-market fit is the tricky part. It is also the topic of my guest’s book, titled The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback.
The other is Dan Olsen, an entrepreneur, consultant, and Lean product expert. Dan has worked with a range of businesses, from small, early-stage startups to large public companies, on a wide variety of web and mobile products. Prior to consulting, Dan worked at Intuit, where he led the Quicken product team to record sales and profit.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:05] Can you give us an overview of the process of achieving product/market fit?
It’s a five-layer pyramid that all starts with the market. First, you decide who your target customer is and how your product is going to solve a problem they have. The top three layers are product layers: value proposition, feature set, and user experience. Once you make it to the top of the pyramid, there’s a sixth step that involves testing prototypes or actual products with customers. There’s room in the pyramid for iterations along the way by creating, designing, testing, and revising hypotheses.
[7:38] How do you find your target customer?
I’ll share an example from one of my clients. I was working with a company that wanted to launch a new product but didn’t have any development resources. It centered around the idea of direct mail, or junk mail and providing transparency about why someone was receiving a particular piece of junk mail — similar to a credit report. The target customer was people in the U.S. who receive junk mail.
[10:22] How did you find the underserved needs?
When it comes to needs you need to live in the problem space, not the solution space. Most people naturally live in the solution space and it’s a product manager’s job to get people out of it to focus on problems. From there, you can use divergent thinking to come up with all of the possible ways to improve the customer’s life. This will generate many ideas that need to be prioritized. In the junk mail example, the priority need was “Learn why I get the junk mail that I get.” Other ideas were “help me save money by getting relevant offers” and “help me compare my spending habits to others.” A secondary benefit was being environmentally friendly by reducing junk mail. We had six needs initially and chose two to focus on.
[19:25] How do you determine the value proposition?
We had six benefits, which is a lot to test, so we split them into two groups. Both had the core value proposition, which was learning why I received so much junk mail. One group paired that with the cost-saving angle, while the other paired it with the environmental angle. I like to use the Kano model for competitive analysis to determine must haves, nice to haves, and distractors.
[22:07] How do you derive feature sets from the value propositions?
We took the core value proposition, which was helping people realize why they are getting the junk mail they get and figured out how to help them see that information through a marketing report that’s similar to a credit report. It contained all of the consumer data that marketing companies had on someone, plus a marketing score to show how likely they were to be targeted for junk mail. We built it out enough to demonstrate a functionality on a simple website. That testing leads to the development of the MVP,]]>
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TEI 178: How to create a guided directed learning group to accelerate product management in your organization – with John Spero https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-178-how-to-create-a-guided-directed-learning-group-to-accelerate-product-management-in-your-organization-with-john-spero/ Mon, 28 May 2018 10:55:43 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13743 Going beyond brown bag lunches for next-level product manager professional development. This discussion is focused on another tool to help you become a product master and accelerate your career. It is a study group approach you can facilitate with a group of product people in your organization. My guest calls them Group Directed Learning experiences. […] Going beyond brown bag lunches for next-level product manager professional development. This discussion is focused on another tool to help you become a product master and accelerate your career. It is a study group approach you can facilitate with a gr...
This discussion is focused on another tool to help you become a product master and accelerate your career. It is a study group approach you can facilitate with a group of product people in your organization. My guest calls them Group Directed Learning experiences. He has been using them for years and found them to be a very effective way to learn and apply new concepts.
It is also a tool I have been using for many years with groups. It results in personal ownership of what is being learned and real behavior change that increases performance.  It is actually how I met my guest. He participated in a public study group I facilitated for product managers and then brought the approach to his organization. He uses it each year as part of the training for new product managers.
My guest is John Spero, a chemical engineer who has worked in research and development, operations, and business management for several companies and in several industries. He is now at Praxair. He is a certified New Product Development Professional (NPDP) from PDMA and a certified scrum master from Scrum Alliance.
This discussion is very important because John shares simple things you can do to facilitate a study group, helping you and other product people improve your skills and making you stand out and get noticed by senior leadership for the value you create.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:55] What is a self-directed learning group?
This is also known as group-directed learning or GDL. It’s a group of people who share a common interest and a desire to learn about it. Program organizers design their own learning tracks and the team has the final call about whether or not the learning track is appropriate. This approach encourages exploration rather than sticking to a set curriculum.
[7:00] How are you using these groups?
We start by sending out a survey to gauge what people want to learn about. We then try to create groups of 6-8 people based on like interests and identify a facilitator to co-develop the learning track. It’s important that the members of the group trust each other and trust the facilitator. The team should also be able to collaborate. We’ve used GDLs for innovation theory and product development, business acumen, and technical skills development. We had engineers go through a training to simulate what the operators at our plants do to help them gain that perspective.
[14:22] Why do these groups work?
This is not a lunch and learn, which are good for awareness but not for long-term learning. Rather, GDL is an extension of standard training methods. We found that our associates needed more training and gave them the opportunity to create it. In order to have good project work, you need to have associates who are fully involved in the process and can see how the training fits into their career development path. We have so many subject matter experts who are good at relating what they know to others.
[17:55] How can someone start a self-directed learning group?
Look at your employees and determine what topics they would like to cover. Select topics quickly once the surveys come back. A good time to start is around performance review time since that’s when people are setting their professional development plans for the year. Avoid holidays or other busy times. Make it part of the work day; don’t do it over lunch or after hours. Have a good system in place to bring in remote team members. Try to vary the level of experience in the group so that everyone can have their assumptions challenged. Senior leadership should also be involved so they can see what people are learning and to show the people in the group that it has buy-in from the top of the organization. There are many good free training options online,]]>
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TEI 177: Creating a hybrid Agile Stage-Gate process – with Colin Palombo https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-177-creating-a-hybrid-agile-stage-gate-process-with-colin-palombo/ Mon, 21 May 2018 10:55:08 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13746 How product managers can turn a marathon into a sprint. Many medium to large organizations are adopting agile practices, such as the use of Scrum. Some are having more success with the adoption than others. Most of these organizations are also using some form of stage-gate for the development of new products. When done right, […] How product managers can turn a marathon into a sprint. Many medium to large organizations are adopting agile practices, such as the use of Scrum. Some are having more success with the adoption than others. Many medium to large organizations are adopting agile practices, such as the use of Scrum. Some are having more success with the adoption than others. Most of these organizations are also using some form of stage-gate for the development of new products. When done right, stage-gate reduces risk, reduces time to market, and increases the return on innovation investment. For the more than 80 percent of U.S. companies using stage-gate, the idea of replacing it with agile is often not warmly embraced. Instead, a hybrid agile stage-gate process is a more reasonable place to start.
My guest, Colin Palombo, has been helping organizations using stage-gate to move to a hybrid agile stage-gate process and enjoying many benefits for doing so while keeping the framework they are familiar with. It’s a win-win. Colin is a managing partner and co-founder of two innovation consulting firms — Innovation Framework Technologies and Bizmotion.
I met Colin at the annual PDMA conference and enjoyed his insights for making stage-gate more agile. I hope you do as well.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:34] What is agile and what is stage-gate?
Stage-gate is an approach for developing new products across industries. It involves breaking down development into stages that are marked by gated decision points. It is designed to eliminate weak products along the way and decrease time to market. Agile is a project management approach for dealing with projects that have high degrees of uncertainty. Stage-gate products can be managed using agile, or using other project management methodologies.
[5:42] Why are organizations taking a hybrid approach?
Traditional stage-gate is managed like a waterfall process, which doesn’t work well when markets and technologies are changing quickly. The process has become too slow and out of date. By applying agile, companies are hoping to create products that keep pace with customer needs. Agile allows product teams to course correct throughout the development process. while reducing time to market up to 20 percent. Agile also leads to higher team morale and better aligns with digital products and physical/digital product hybrids.
[11:00] How do you set up a hybrid process?
Most companies who have physical products want to implement agile processes but don’t know how to do it. We’ve created 10 steps based on our work over the past year — a mix of organizational and tactical aspects. On the tactical side, you still have stages but each stage has a sprint or a number of sprints. A sprint is a fixed period of time in which you seek to accomplish a set of tasks. You can determine how many sprints each stage will have, which creates a fixed timeline using an agile methodology. Agile also eliminates the paperwork associated with stage gate meetings; work is demonstrated by outcomes instead of words written in a document. Teams spend time gathering stories and data about the deliverables rather than creating PowerPoint presentations and filling out forms.
[17:19] What do the stages of product development look like in an agile approach?
Agile requires a shift in thinking to minimum viable product and an accelerated timeline. If a sprint is 10 days long, you have 26 sprints in a calendar year. The first stage becomes concept instead of scoping; think of what you can do within three sprints. What can you deliver to show people the product you want to make? Stage two becomes simulation instead of a business case. It could be 3D printing or CAD; anything to show your product without physically producing a prototype. The third stage becomes pilot instead of development. This gives you a physical product to begin understanding things like fulfillment and intellectual property. The fourth stage becomes scale up instead of validation.]]>
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TEI 176: How product managers can join the meaning revolution – with Fred Kofman https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-176-how-product-managers-can-join-the-meaning-revolution-with-fred-kofman/ Mon, 14 May 2018 10:55:25 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13744 Product Managers can create a shared sense of purpose to empower high-performing teams. This is where you make your move from product manager to product master. That is the move to being a product leader in your organization or the organization you want to work with. Being a leader involves creating vision and providing meaning […] Product Managers can create a shared sense of purpose to empower high-performing teams. This is where you make your move from product manager to product master. That is the move to being a product leader in your organization or the organization you wan... This is where you make your move from product manager to product master. That is the move to being a product leader in your organization or the organization you want to work with. Being a leader involves creating vision and providing meaning to those you work with. It is the topic of Fred Kofman’s new book, The Meaning Revolution: The Power of Transcendent Leadership.
Fred is a leadership development adviser at Google and former vice president of executive development and leadership philosopher at LinkedIn. He earned his Ph.D. in advanced economic theory at U.C. Berkeley and taught management accounting and control systems at MIT for six years before forming his own consulting company and teaching leadership workshops for major corporations and 15,000 executives. Sheryl Sandberg writes about him in her book Lean In, claiming Kofman “will transform the way you live and work.”
We discuss:

* Why organizations lose
* How organizations can win
* The 3-part framework for creating a meaningful culture, and
* How product managers can deal with conflict.

If you are on the path to being a product master, you’ll appreciate Fred’s genuine approach to becoming a leader.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:10] Why do organizations lose?
Organizations lose because they’re not set up to win. Most people do not set up what their jobs are and the organization distracts them from doing what their real job should be. On a sports team, the job of every person on the team is to help the team win. But, if you ask the players, they’ll tell you something specific based on their role. The same thing applies to businesses. The goal of every job is to help the organization win but most people would tell you their job is to sell or to design or something like that. This is how silos form. Everyone in the business should be aligned toward the same organizational goal, but that is usually not the case.
[13:08] What is the Meaning Revolution?
It’s based on the book The History of Scientific Revolutions, which says that science operates within a paradigm and that paradigm changes when exceptions arise. For example, Einstein found that Newton’s equations didn’t apply to gravity when you get closer to the speed of light so he needed a new theory. The anomalies move science forward. The anomaly in business is the difference between global and local performance. Organizations are being asked to measure individual performance and organizational performance. The solution is to infuse the organization with something new, which I’m calling meaning. It’s a combination of collaboration, pride, and excitement — a shared purpose and a sense that everyone is playing a part in a larger goal.
[21:52] How do you communicate to employees that they are part of something larger than themselves?
This is the difference between camaraderie and friendship. You don’t need friends in a performance-driven field, you need people who will challenge you and hold you accountable — things that friends might not do. If you’re not pulling your weight on your team, you need people who will tell you that. Doing so will create a high performing team and a sense of camaraderie that’s much deeper than friendship.
[24:08] How do you create a culture of camaraderie and performance?
It has to cascade from the leadership. You have to define the standard/mission, demonstrate the standard so you don’t create cynicism, and then demand that others in the organization also follow that standard. People in the organization should also know what they can demand of a leader; they should feel empowered to call out things that they don’t feel are in line with the mission.
]]>
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TEI 175: Building B2B products – with Blair Reeves & Benjamin Gaines https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-175-building-b2b-products-with-blair-reeves-benjamin-gaines/ Mon, 07 May 2018 10:55:37 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13745 How product managers make the most of large teams and high-value customer relationships A new book by O’Reilly Press discusses product management for B2B software applications. It’s titled Building for Business. Much has been written about product management and the development of software products, but little that specifically addresses the characteristics of the B2B environment. […] How product managers make the most of large teams and high-value customer relationships A new book by O’Reilly Press discusses product management for B2B software applications. It’s titled Building for Business. A new book by O’Reilly Press discusses product management for B2B software applications. It’s titled Building for Business. Much has been written about product management and the development of software products, but little that specifically addresses the characteristics of the B2B environment. The authors join this episode to discuss how product management is different for enterprise software products, including:

* Differences in consumers from B2B and B2C
* The impact a direct sales team has
* How the scale of enterprise customers impacts product work
* The need for effective collaboration
* Using organizational knowledge

The authors are Blair Reeves and Ben Gaines. Blair is a Principal Product Manager at SAS Software and has previously held senior roles at Demandware (now a Salesforce company) and IBM. Ben is a Group Product Manager for Adobe Analytics and previously managed digital analytics at ESPN.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:50] Why did you write this book?
The idea came about over dinner. We realized that none of the writing about product management was focused on building products for businesses and the challenges that come with it.  As soon as we said the idea out loud, we knew that we had to do it. We had been sharing articles for a while and joking about how they didn’t apply at all to what we did in the B2B space.
 [6:19] How do you define the enterprise when it comes to product management?


We definite it as software that businesses buy to meet a need that they have. It’s not an internal tool, but more of a B2B mindset — things like CRMs, ERPs, HR, and finance systems.
[8:15] What are the differences between B2B and B2C product management?
In consumer software, you have lots of different business models — advertising, affiliate, direct sales, etc. They tend to have a lot of customers, whereas enterprise products have a much smaller customer base. The sales cycles are longer and the investment per customer is much higher. As product managers, the planning and maintenance timelines are very different. Your customers may never log into the product but are tasked with buying or procurement and providing IT support. The concerns those people have are very different than the traditional customer or user and the stakes are much higher. In the traditional software industry, the user is king. In the enterprise world, the user might not matter at all. It’s all about ROI as opposed to customer enjoyment.
[18:24] Another difference you identify is effective collaboration. What do you mean by that?
Product managers in the enterprise world tend to have more collaborators than those in the consumer world. We work very closely with marketing and sales at all levels and have a lot of different stakeholders to collaborate with. Learning how to work with those stakeholders is one of the big challenges for an enterprise product manager. Having that organizational knowledge is essential.
[20:26] How does the small number of customers impact product management?
With a smaller number of customers, you can go spend a week with a company and really learn how they are using the software and figure out the problems you are trying to solve. It can be more difficult to settle on what you’re to do when you have tens or hundreds of thousands of customers. On the consumer side, there’s an anthropologic element that doesn’t exist as much on the enterprise side. There are also a lot more people involved in making the sale — account managers, sales engineers, consultants, and many others. The relationships are bigger and require more people to make them successful.
[27:22] How should enterprise product managers gain organizational knowledge?]]>
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TEI 174: Voice of the Customer tools product managers use – with Colleen Knuff https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-174-voice-of-the-customer-tools-product-managers-use-with-colleen-knuff/ Mon, 30 Apr 2018 10:55:47 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12784 How product managers observe and listen to users to gain valuable insights. How do you know what products you should build? What products will delight customers? The answer isn’t a mystery and has been expressed by numerous past guests. One that stands out is Ben Brenton, Chief Innovation Officer at Snap-on Tools, who shared that […] How product managers observe and listen to users to gain valuable insights. How do you know what products you should build? What products will delight customers? The answer isn’t a mystery and has been expressed by numerous past guests. How do you know what products you should build? What products will delight customers? The answer isn’t a mystery and has been expressed by numerous past guests. One that stands out is Ben Brenton, Chief Innovation Officer at Snap-on Tools, who shared that he takes their product teams to meet with customers four days a week. That is the recurring theme–time with customers to understand what will delight them. It is often expressed as voice of the customer, or VoC, research.
My guest has put VOC into practice with great results. She is the Senior Director of Product Management for TeamMate and an award-winning product manager. We discuss VoC tools and the specifics for how product managers can use them, including:

* Contextual interviews
* Budget-minded usability testing.

 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:30] What is your product and who is it for?
The product is called TeamMate. It’s a tool to help teams with transparency, consistency, and efficiency in their internal audit process. It’s used by large and small public and private organizations around the world. Internal audit is an independent and objective evaluation of the business organization.
[4:50] What tools do you use for Voice of the Customer research?
We get feedback from our professional services team when they are implementing the product to new clients, from the sales team when they are doing demos, and from trade shows. We also do surveys and usability testing and hold user conferences around the world. Our biggest conference draws 700-800 customers and includes a usability lab where customers can evaluate prototypes of things we’re thinking about doing. We also run focus groups and are able to get a lot of meaningful feedback in a short amount of time.
[7:38] How do you apply contextual inquiry to your work?
This is a tool we use when a concept can be open to multiple interpretations. At first, we’re trying to nail down a pain point and we’ll use surveys to do that. From those survey results, we’ll choose customers to go on site and visit. We always send two-person teams, one person who is an active interviewer and someone else who takes notes, pictures, and videos. We want the customer to walk us through the process or pain point, not just tell us. What we find is that what people tell you doesn’t always match with what they actually do.
[10:58] What do you do with all of the information you collect on those site visits?
Our teams write up their notes but keep the language that the clients used in the interview. We set up an affinity wall that informs the problems we’re trying to solve in the new release or feature. Sometimes those pain points are things that are never spoken aloud. One example of this was a client who had built a knowledge base that she was convinced would transform her team’s process. We got about halfway through and she forgot where she was in the process after she was interrupted by a coworker. We learned that it wasn’t easy to cancel the process and start over again and that led to adding contextual awareness to the next version of the knowledge base. It wasn’t a problem that was identified up front, but something we identified through the contextual inquiry process.
[16:11] Do you ever utilize phone calls or web meetings?
We do occasionally, but we’ve found that it’s invaluable to sit in front of someone and watch how they work. It’s difficult to replicate over a phone call or web meeting. You can’t really get a sense of someone’s environment and without ...]]>
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TEI 173: The CORE connective skills of product management – with Matt LeMay https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-173-the-core-connective-skills-of-product-management-with-matt-lemay/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:55:10 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13017 Matt wrote the book he wishes he would have had starting out as a product manager. To be a successful product manager you need several competencies. We tend to be “T-Shaped” people with capabilities in several areas and much more depth in one area, such as development, design, research, etc. Product managers early in their […] Matt wrote the book he wishes he would have had starting out as a product manager. To be a successful product manager you need several competencies. We tend to be “T-Shaped” people with capabilities in several areas and much more depth in one area, Matt wrote the book he wishes he would have had starting out as a product manager.<br /> <br /> To be a successful product manager you need several competencies. We tend to be "T-Shaped" people with capabilities in several areas and much more depth in one area, such as development, design, research, etc.<br /> <br /> Product managers early in their career focus on learning the skills to get the job done -- the technical skills of product management. Only later you might realize those skills are not enough and that the so-called "soft skills" are what really make the difference. Learning those skills sooner results in faster career growth, which is why I invited product manager and author Matt LeMay to join us. He recently wrote the book, Product Management in Practice: A Real-World Guide to the Key Connective Role of the 21st Century. Matt has helped build and scale product management practices at companies ranging from early-stage startups to Fortune 50 enterprises.<br /> <br /> In the interview, he explains the CORE connectivity skills successful product managers need. CORE is an acronym for:<br /> <br /> Communication,<br /> Organization,<br /> Research<br /> Execution Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 40:20 TEI 172: Apple’s product development process and secrets to success – with John Carter https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-172-apples-product-development-process-and-secrets-to-success-with-john-carter/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:50:24 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13371 Sleek and simple: How Apple’s product process mirrors the products it creates. One of the things I enjoy doing is teaching product and innovation management university courses. My students often are in a leadership role in their organization and I’m helping them with product innovation. When we discuss examples of innovative organizations, Apple is a […] Sleek and simple: How Apple’s product process mirrors the products it creates. One of the things I enjoy doing is teaching product and innovation management university courses. My students often are in a leadership role in their organization and I’m he... One of the things I enjoy doing is teaching product and innovation management university courses. My students often are in a leadership role in their organization and I'm helping them with product innovation. When we discuss examples of innovative organizations, Apple is a popular choice. It's also a good choice. They provide many lessons, such as the power of trends, why focusing on fewer products is better than scattering your efforts, the advantages of controlling an ecosystem, and the benefits of the fast-follower strategy.<br /> <br /> So, when I was at a product conference and met the person who helped orchestrate Apple's original product process that is still used today, you can understand why I was excited. This was my opportunity to learn first-hand what Apple was struggling with and how the new adopted product process helped them.<br /> <br /> That person is John Carter. In addition to Apple, he has been a valued advisor to Cisco, Dolby, HP, IBM, Xerox and others. In addition to innovation, he has a strong background in engineering and was the co-inventor of the BOSE Noise Cancelling Headphones.<br /> <br /> I could share a lot more about John's accomplishments, but the recommendations from employees and clients on his LinkedIn profile are more insightful. One shares…<br /> <br /> "John Carter has one of fastest and best minds you will ever encounter. At the same time, he is careful to listen to and integrate the ideas and insights of others. He's open-minded and ethical and knows what risks to take and when. If 'cool-hand' John Carter is in your corner, be prepared to win!"<br /> <br /> In the little time I have known John, I agree -- he is one to learn from, which is why I asked him to join us and discuss the creation of the Apple product process. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 34:41 TEI 171: How any organization can leverage Design Thinking to produce change-with Thomas Lockwood & Edgar Papke https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-171-how-any-organization-can-leverage-design-thinking-to-produce-change-with-thomas-lockwood-edgar-papke/ Mon, 09 Apr 2018 10:50:32 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13372 Understand the uniqueness of your organization’s culture to drive innovation. Organizations are striving to get better at innovation. They know their competitors are doing the same. However, not everyone is having success with their efforts. One more recent popular approach is using Design Thinking, but like any innovation approach, it has to be properly integrated […] Understand the uniqueness of your organization’s culture to drive innovation. Organizations are striving to get better at innovation. They know their competitors are doing the same. However, not everyone is having success with their efforts. Understand the uniqueness of your organization's culture to drive innovation.<br /> <br /> Organizations are striving to get better at innovation. They know their competitors are doing the same. However, not everyone is having success with their efforts. One more recent popular approach is using Design Thinking, but like any innovation approach, it has to be properly integrated into the organization or it won't have the desired impact.<br /> <br /> A new book addresses this, titled Innovation by Design: How Any Organization Can Leverage Design Thinking to Produce Change, Drive New Ideas, and Deliver Meaningful Solutions. I interviewed both authors to find out more.<br /> <br /> Thomas Lockwood has a Ph.D. in design management and is a thought leader at integrating design and innovation into business. Edgar Papke is a leadership psychologist, author and recognized expert in business alignment, leadership and organizational culture.<br /> <br /> They decided to find out what highly innovative companies that were significantly utilizing design thinking were up to, and if what they were doing would provide valuable insight into how any organization can use design thinking to produce change, drive new ideas, deliver meaningful solutions, and influence their culture to be more innovative. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 37:27 TEI 170: From concept to market leader – with product manager Jimmy Hooker https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-170-from-concept-to-market-leader-with-product-manager-jimmy-hooker/ Mon, 02 Apr 2018 10:55:03 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13373 How product managers can challenge ideas to achieve long-term success. We can learn a lot from examining the journey of a product and this interview looks at the product story of Badger Maps, the market-leading route planning app for field salespeople. I spoke with Jimmy Hooker, the Head of Product at Badger Maps, to get […] How product managers can challenge ideas to achieve long-term success. We can learn a lot from examining the journey of a product and this interview looks at the product story of Badger Maps, the market-leading route planning app for field salespeople.... How product managers can challenge ideas to achieve long-term success.<br /> We can learn a lot from examining the journey of a product and this interview looks at the product story of Badger Maps, the marketing leading route planning app for field salespeople.<br /> <br /> I spoke with Jimmy Hooker, the Head of Product at Badger Maps, to get the story. He’s been with Badger since the beginning, where his initial responsibilities were designing and implementing the web app front-end along with designing the mobile apps. Since then, he’s taken on product management, managing the marketing website, SEO strategy, and analytics. He’s passionate about product and obsessed with making useful easy-to-use tools.<br /> <br /> From the discussion you'll learn:<br /> <br /> Sources for product ideas,<br /> How to validate your plans for solving the customers' problem, and<br /> Ways to form the vision for a product. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 40:05 TEI 169: How to make product roadmaps not dangerous – with Bruce McCarthy https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-169-how-to-make-product-roadmaps-not-dangerous-with-bruce-mccarthy/ Mon, 26 Mar 2018 10:55:55 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13374 Shifting focus from the how to the why by properly using a product roadmap. My 12-year old  son recently got a belt sander from his Opa. Opa is a German name for grandfather.  My son is making a bookshelf and has a lot of sanding to do. The belt sander will do the work quickly. […] Shifting focus from the how to the why by properly using a product roadmap. My 12-year old  son recently got a belt sander from his Opa. Opa is a German name for grandfather.  My son is making a bookshelf and has a lot of sanding to do. My 12-year old  son recently got a belt sander from his Opa. Opa is a German name for grandfather.  My son is making a bookshelf and has a lot of sanding to do. The belt sander will do the work quickly. It is the right tool for the job, but only if it is used properly. The powerful motor and rapidly moving belt also makes it a beast. If it is not properly handled, it can do a lot of damage to the person using it and anything around it. I showed my son how to use it correctly and we discussed what can happen if he doesn’t use it the way he should. Thankfully, he has been careful with it and the sanding is going well.
That is the thing with powerful tools. Used properly they are a valuable aid. Used incorrectly, they can cause a lot of pain and turmoil.
The same applies to a frequent tool product managers use — the product roadmap. The traditional use of a roadmap nearly guarantees that product managers will get damaged in some way, like mishandling a belt sander. Think about it. A roadmap requires you to keep your promise even after you have learned that the planned features are no longer needed. Well, at least you kept your promise, but you built the wrong thing. Or, you do the right thing and not add features, breaking your promise you made by putting them on the roadmap.
While the roadmap is one of the most frequently used tools by product managers, it is also one of the most unsafe.
But, the traditional way of using roadmaps doesn’t have to continue. To discuss how they should be used, the author of “Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty,” Bruce McCarthy joins us.
The book has received high praise, including from Steve Blank, the grandfather of Lean Startup, who said, “It’s about time someone brought product roadmapping out of the dark ages of waterfall development and made it into the strategic communications tool it should be. McCarthy and team have cracked the code.”
In the discussion, you’ll learn:

* What is and is not a product roadmap.
* Who it is for.
* The inputs needed to properly construct a roadmap.
* How to organize a roadmap.
* Ways to prioritize product features.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:06] What is a product roadmap?
It’s not a set of features and dates, which is what most people think, but that’s actually a release plan or a project plan. The product roadmap is really about the why — what’s the product vision and what’s the problem you’re trying to solve. It should inspire people to develop a release plan, but not include those details.
[5:28] Who is the product roadmap for?
It’s really for everyone in the organization, as well as customers and related partners. It’s the story you tell internally and externally of what the product is about and what you are trying to accomplish. It’s a great tool for customer conversations and validating what is or is not important to them. It should be developed collaboratively in addition to being shared across the organization. The more buy-in you receive early on, the more support you’ll have when it comes time to put that plan into action.
[10:47] What are the pitfalls of a traditional roadmap?
Traditional roadmaps overpromise on features and dates, so they’ve abandoned the practice entirely. As a result, thinking becomes very short-term. People only want to see out as far as they can promise, which is usually not more than a few weeks. We should be able to change our mind as we learn, which is why the old-fashioned roadmap doesn’t work anymore.  Shifting attention to focus on the higher-level vision moves you away from that cycle of shortsighted thinking.
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Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 40:45
TEI 168: Roles and responsibilities of product managers – with Steve Johnson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-168-roles-and-responsibilities-of-product-managers-with-steve-johnson/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:55:28 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13375 Cutting through product manager role confusion to create successful products My mission is to inspire and equip product managers to have greater influence in their organizations and over product. I call this helping product managers to become product masters, and that is what both this podcast and the training I provide are about. Helping you […] Cutting through product manager role confusion to create successful products My mission is to inspire and equip product managers to have greater influence in their organizations and over product. I call this helping product managers to become product m... Cutting through product manager role confusion to create successful products<br /> <br /> My mission is to inspire and equip product managers to have greater influence in their organizations and over product. I call this helping product managers to become product masters, and that is what both this podcast and the training I provide are about. Helping you make that move from product manager to product master is explored in this episode by considering:<br /> <br /> Various perspectives on product management,<br /> Responsibilities of the role, and<br /> How Agile practices are impacting the role.<br /> <br /> <br /> Joining me for this discussion is Steve Johnson, who previously shared in episode 115 the 6 types of expertise product managers need.<br /> <br /> Steve has been working within the high-tech arena since 1979 with experience in technical, sales, and marketing positions at companies specializing in enterprise and desktop hardware and software. His market and technical savvy allowed him to rise through the ranks from Product Manager to Chief Marketing Officer. Before founding Under10, his product management consulting company, he was a Pragmatic Marketing lead instructor for more than 15 years. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 41:39 TEI 167: Value Innovation in 10 steps for product managers – with Dick Lee, Ph.D. https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-167-value-innovation-in-10-steps-for-product-managers-with-dick-lee-ph-d/ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:50:41 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13376 Expanding on Episode 166 to cover the full Value Innovation process for product managers. The last interview, episode 166, was a panel discussion with innovators at companies using Value Innovation to discover what customers really want before building a product. The panel participants talked about a 10-step process they used. This discussion provides details for […] Expanding on Episode 166 to cover the full Value Innovation process for product managers. The last interview, episode 166, was a panel discussion with innovators at companies using Value Innovation to discover what customers really want before building... The last interview, episode 166, was a panel discussion with innovators at companies using Value Innovation to discover what customers really want before building a product. The panel participants talked about a 10-step process they used. This discussion provides details for each step as well as where additional resources are found.
To learn the 10 steps, I invited Dick Lee, the founder of Value Innovations and a long-time practitioner of the Value Innovation method, to talk with us.
The 10 steps in Value Innovation are:

* Define project mission and objectives,
* Define value chain and identify the most important customer (MIC),
* Develop “as is” and “best in class” value curves
* Conduct contextual interviews to uncover unmet needs
* Develop “to be” value curve,
* Review “to be ” value curve with the MIC,
* Modify “to be” value curve,
* Define value proposition,
* Determine how to deliver the “what,” and
* Confirm with MIC that the “how” is compelling

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:47] Step 1: Define Project Mission and Objectives
We assumed that teams would know what their project’s mission was, but found more and more that it wasn’t the case. This part of the process involves asking some very basic questions like what’s in scope, what’s out of scope, what’s the purpose of the project, and who is the project’s team leader. One example of this is a company called American Vanguard. They make pesticide products that were harming fish, but couldn’t develop a new formula because it would take too long to go through regulatory approvals. In this case, what’s in scope was creating a new delivery method rather than a completely new product.
[6:35] Step 2: Identify Most Important Customer (MIC)
In the B2B world, most people assume that the MICs are their direct customers, or the person that they sell their product to. We developed the Value Chain to help identify the MIC. It breaks down all of the transactions between you and the ultimate end user of your product. We ask three questions at each step of the way: Who is responsible for fixing a problem? Who loses the most money if there’s an issue? Who sees the value in your product? Many times we’ll find degrees of all three in each step of the process.
[11:07] Step 3: Develop “As Is” and “Best in Class” Value Curve
This is one that some companies are inclined to skip. A value curve breaks down a product or service into elements of performance, such as ease of use. Each element has its own attributes that are broken down even further. The value curve also helps prioritize which elements are worked on based on what’s most important to the MIC. You can only work on three or four within a reasonable time frame. You try to put yourself in the MIC’s shoes to develop the curve. This allows interviewers in the next step to connect what the interviewee is saying with the attributes in the value curve.
[13:32] Step 4: Conduct Contextual Interviews to Discover Unmet Needs
Contextual interviews take place in steps 4, 6, 7, and 10. Interviews take place with pairs of MICs so that you get varied perspectives.  Step 4 specifically involves interviews with 6 pairs of people. The most important question in the first interview is “What keeps you awake at night?” We only ask open-ended questions and have no idea where they’ll go. Another example is “What do you expect the biggest challenges to be in your field over the next five years?” It’s important to have the right interviewer to draw information out of people and get them ...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 47:47
TEI 166: How product managers innovate – with Dick Lee, Ed Wolf, and John Chattaway https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-166-how-product-managers-innovate-with-dick-lee-ed-wolf-and-john-chattaway/ Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:50:39 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13377 Using simple questions and a structured process to achieve new product success. As product managers, our natural inclination is to solve problems. The Value Innovation Process teaches us how you get to that solution is just as important as the solution itself. The 10-step process involves asking simple questions in a structured way to get […] Using simple questions and a structured process to achieve new product success. As product managers, our natural inclination is to solve problems. The Value Innovation Process teaches us how you get to that solution is just as important as the solution...
As product managers, our natural inclination is to solve problems. The Value Innovation Process teaches us how you get to that solution is just as important as the solution itself. The 10-step process involves asking simple questions in a structured way to get to the heart of who your customers are and what problem you are looking to solve for them.
Once those elements are in place, it’s much easier to determine what the solution will be and how you will deliver it. This episode has several guests who will share their experiences with the Value Innovation Process:

* Dick Lee, who literally wrote the book on the Value Innovation Process.
* Ed Wolf, a product manager at Caterpillar Trimble.
* John Chattaway, a product manager at Bobcat Doosan.

In the discussion you will learn:

* What the Value Innovation Process is.
* How it’s being used at Caterpillar Trimble and Bobcat.
* How businesses and customers benefit from following the process.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:50] What is the Value Innovation Process and how did it come about?
Dick Lee: Value Innovation is delivering exceptional value to the most important customer in the value chain. The concept is based on the book Blue Ocean Strategy. That was a great book, but it was missing the process for how to implement value innovation. That’s where we came in.
[4:58] How do you determine your Most Important Customer (MIC)?
Dick Lee: In the B2C world, the MIC is always the consumer. The B2B world is a little more complicated. There are three questions you can ask to help determine who it is: Who is responsible for fixing a problem? Who stands to lose the most financially? Who sees the value in the product? It’s rare to find someone who meets all three, but you’ll usually get two out of three.
[11:06] How is the Value Innovation Process used at Caterpillar Trimble?
Ed Wolf: As a product manager, I’m responsible for sensors and other products that can help improve the workflow and how the machines operate. A machine operator can work more autonomously, which improves efficiency and reduces cost. We are taking plans out of the office and into the machine. Value Innovation really drove home the idea that businesses exist to deliver value to customers. We came to understand that we deliver value by solving problems for our target customer group. Value Innovation taught us to ask the right questions about what problems those customers are facing and what other groups are out there who might benefit from our products or services.
[16:47] Is there a specific project where the Value Innovation Process really made a difference?
Ed Wolf: We recognized an opportunity for worldwide distribution for our dealers and wanted to understand the challenges that prevented them from doing so. We went through a process to document those challenges, develop a solution, and determine how to implement it. Most of the things we came up with were fairly obvious, but we would never have come up with them without going through the Value Innovation Process and doing the work. The discipline of the 10-step process really helped keep us on track.
One of the challenges we heard about from dealers were faulty harnesses on machines. It was difficult for them to verify whether the harnesses were actually working without a lot of troubleshooting. We developed a harness testing kit that lets them verify it’s working before they go any further in their work. This was a simple problem with a simple solution, but solving it added a lot of value for our customers.
[22:59] How has the Value Innovation Process changed your approach to working on a project?
Ed Wolf: As a company of engineers and scientists,]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 41:38
TEI 165: 2018 Product Management Insights – with Nis Frome https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-165-2018-product-management-insights-with-nis-frome/ Mon, 26 Feb 2018 12:50:09 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13018 Survey identifies growing pains as product management expands. The role of product manager formally dates back to the 1930s with its start at Procter & Gamble, but it has only been in the last few years that the role has become much better known. As the field has grown, a few annual surveys to were […] Survey identifies growing pains as product management expands. The role of product manager formally dates back to the 1930s with its start at Procter & Gamble, but it has only been in the last few years that the role has become much better known. The role of product manager formally dates back to the 1930s with its start at Procter & Gamble, but it has only been in the last few years that the role has become much better known. As the field has grown, a few annual surveys to were created to provide insight into the role. One that I follow is the Product Management Insights report, which was just published by Alpha.
I interviewed the report’s co-author, Nis Frome, who is also co-founder and head of content at Alpha, a company that provides on-demand user insights platform for product teams. Nis is also the editor of Product Management Insider and co-producer of the This is Product Management podcast.
We discuss:

* how people move into the role of product manager,
* the key activities product managers are involved in,
* the responsibilities of the product management role,
* where they get their ideas for product features, and
* how they spend their time.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:50] Who did you collect data from for the 2018 Product Management Insights report?
This is our fourth year doing the survey, and we try to collect data from as many previous recipients as we can who are still working in the field. We also advertise on social media, on our podcast, and in our newsletter. We want to cast a wide net so it’s not just people who are already subscribed to what we’re doing. Respondents are mostly in the U.S. and do not necessarily need to have the title of product manager, but they have to be responsible for building digital products.
[4:30] Only 11 percent of people taking the survey indicated they started their careers as product managers. How did everyone else get into this field?
People starting directly as product managers spiked a few years ago and is declining as companies shift toward rotation programs and valuing people coming into product management having served in other roles. The most common job someone has before starting in product management is a business analyst, followed by engineering, then marketing/sales/customer success. There’s a belief out there that you need to have a technical background to be a good product manager, but I think we’re starting to see empathy and knowledge of other teams trump technical knowledge. The level of technical knowledge needed really differs from role to role.
[7:17] What does a digital product manager do?
They set product roadmaps and write user stories. More product managers are talking to more customers than ever before. They are using technology to replace things like traditional focus groups so they can reach more of their customers in a way that’s efficient for everyone. A lot of product managers are still doing things like prototyping and managing development teams, which are not things they necessarily should be doing.
[10:01] How can product managers set a roadmap?
We’re advocates of creating thematic roadmaps that demonstrate what problems you’re going to solve, but we realize that sales teams might want something more concrete about what you’re going to build next quarter. A big theme in the report is learning to work within the constraints you have and make the most of a non-ideal situation.
[13:18] What were some of the challenges that came up in the survey results?
Stakeholders and internal politics have consistently topped the list. However, every year we ask about the biggest wish for the coming year and have seen some interesting trends emerge. In 2015, they said it was a better strategy and clear roadmap. In 2016, it was a salary increase. In 2017, it was more resources. In 2018, it’s back to a better strategy and a clear roadmap. This follows industry growth and in some ways we are now back at the beginning.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 29:47
TEI 164: How qualitative research drives product management & the next generation Hyundai Santa Fe – with Heather Kluter https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-164-how-qualitative-research-drives-product-management-the-next-generation-hyundai-santa-fe-with-heather-kluter/ Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:50:21 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13196 From Glamor Moms to a successful product launch with ethnography. One of my early product experiences began with user observations. I spent a week with customers, observing them in their environment, learning what they needed to accomplish and the obstacles they encountered. By the end of the week, I was walking in their shoes.  It […] From Glamor Moms to a successful product launch with ethnography. One of my early product experiences began with user observations. I spent a week with customers, observing them in their environment, learning what they needed to accomplish and the obst... One of my early product experiences began with user observations. I spent a week with customers, observing them in their environment, learning what they needed to accomplish and the obstacles they encountered. By the end of the week, I was walking in their shoes.  It was the start of what became a very successful product.
The use of qualitative research, such as observing customers, is a powerful resource for product managers.
It was used successfully by Hyundai to design the second-generation Santa Fe, a crossover SUV. The person who was responsible for consumer insights and product strategy for the Santa Fe at the time was Heather Kluter. She is an innovator and decision engineer working with large companies to help them think bigger.
In the discussion, you will learn:

* The benefits of ethnographic research
* Why very small market segments are useful (only 10 people for the Santa Fe research)
* Working with internal and external culture differences

 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:
[2:10] What lead Hyundai to take this approach for its Santa Fe SUV?


The only people who were buying Hyundais were captive resentfuls — people who couldn’t afford to buy anything else but hated that they drove Hyundais. The chairman of the company issued a mandate that quality needed to be of the utmost importance. We also knew that whatever was designed would need to appeal to an American consumer, even though it was designed in Korea. The research being done was very standard and very quantitative, and we knew that wasn’t a winning strategy. The company was very siloed between research, product development, and marketing. Touch the Market came about to break down those silos.
[5:52] What was your role in Touch the Market?


My role was to tell everyone what prospective customers looked like how we could appeal to them. We identified a target called Glamor Mom that designers and product engineers could think about on a daily basis. We used an algorithm to find people who fit this role and brought them in for interviews to get to know them a little better. It took us more than 100 interviews to find 10 Glamor Moms that were really right. Glamor Mom needed the space and functionality of an SUV without compromising her sense of style with a boxy SUV or a mini van. The car should feel smooth and fun to drive, not like a truck.
[8:50] How did taking such a small focus help you relate to the larger market?
We already had the larger market defined and refined it along the way. We moved from designed target to media target to consumption target and each of them loosely defined. If you start too broad with designers and engineers, you end up with a product that tries to be everything to everyone and have everything in it. We started smaller to help them focus on a specific customer in mind and create something much more special.
[11:22] How did the 10 Glamor Moms contribute to the project?
One of our biggest challenges was convincing Korea to trust qualitative research, and the Glamor Moms helped us do that. Those ten women were with us for four years, and we got to know their lifestyles. We had a cross-functional team who went shopping with them, observed their morning routines, and following them on weekends. We shopped for everything from clothing to groceries and looked at how the moms used the space in the car to organize their purchases. We learned a lot about colors they prefer and how they organized things in their purse. We thought the center console of the car could look a lot like a purse with different compartments to organize things.  The team split up to travel with the moms and then come back and compare notes.
[18:53] Did you consider other segments before deciding on Glamor Mom?]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 31:38
TEI 163: Rookie mistakes in market research product managers must avoid – with Gerry Katz https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-163-rookie-mistakes-in-market-research-product-managers-must-avoid-with-gerry-katz/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:50:03 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13020 Product managers can separate needs from solutions by asking the right questions in the right way. One of the skills you need as a product master is customer and market research. We explored this earlier with Gerry Katz in episode 071. It was an episode several listeners really appreciated and I have invited Gerry back […] Product managers can separate needs from solutions by asking the right questions in the right way. One of the skills you need as a product master is customer and market research. We explored this earlier with Gerry Katz in episode 071. One of the skills you need as a product master is customer and market research. We explored this earlier with Gerry Katz in episode 071. It was an episode several listeners really appreciated and I have invited Gerry back to share more of his expert experience with market research. Specifically, he discusses market research mistakes product managers too often make, including:

* Confusing qualitative with quantitative research.
* Talking to the wrong customers.
* Asking customers what they want.
* Not separating needs from solutions to needs.
* Translating customer vernacular into company-speak.
* Hearing only what you want to hear.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[0:50] How do product managers confuse qualitative research with quantitative research?
Qualitative research is about words and feelings and things that needs to be said; quantitative research involves ratings and rankings. If your entire questionnaire is open-ended questions, it should be treated as qualitative research and done as an interview. That way, you can ask follow up questions and get clarification when needed. If you’re going to be asking questions that require a verbal response, it’s best to treat it as qualitative research. If you’re looking for ratings, that can be done as a questionnaire. If you’re doing quantitative research, you’ll want to pay attention to the laws of statistics and make sure your sample size is large enough to be representative.
[5:22] What should a company consider when defining its customers?
Customers are much more than the end users of your product. There are lots of people in between like influencers and financial decision-makers and people in the distribution chain. One of my colleagues was working with a financial service company who sold mutual funds and they only considered brokers to be their customers. A few years later, this colleague worked with another company that only talked to investors or people who bought their funds. Both of those groups are customers and product managers need to talk to all of them in order to have valid market research.
[8:10] How do you make sure that you’re talking to the right people?
This is not the place to talk only to your biggest or best customers. You need to think more broadly and include your competitors’ customers, your former customers, and even noncustomers. You’ll learn more from people who aren’t happy with what you have now. Once you’ve identified that customer group, don’t directly ask them what they want and need. Most customers aren’t creative to come up with new ideas or features, so they repeat things that are already in the marketplace. If you take their advice, you’re going to end up creating something that’s already been done. Instead, get them to tell you stories from their experiences and what they were trying to do. The real needs will come out of these conversations.
[12:40] What’s the difference between a need and a solution to a need?
We can use Henry Ford as an example. If he asked customers what they wanted, they would have said they wanted a faster horse. Their real need was to go faster. Ford understood that and came up with a better solution. The customers aren’t engineers or designers; their only job should be to clearly articulate what they need. You can then take that need and figure out what the solution should be, just like Ford did when he invented the automobile.
[15:02] What’s the best way to identify those needs using market research?
]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 31:01
TEI 162: How product managers can influence people – with Tom Henschel https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-162-how-product-managers-can-influence-people-with-tom-henschel/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 12:50:18 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=13022 Change your perspective to build better relationships and create stories that stick. When I ask product managers why they got involved with product management and what they want from the role, a frequent answer is to have more influence. This also ranks as most important out of all the reasons for being a product manager. […] Change your perspective to build better relationships and create stories that stick. When I ask product managers why they got involved with product management and what they want from the role, a frequent answer is to have more influence. When I ask product managers why they got involved with product management and what they want from the role, a frequent answer is to have more influence. This also ranks as most important out of all the reasons for being a product manager. Does that ring true for you as well?
Product managers with more influence are able to accomplish more — creating better products for customers that they value. Product managers with less influence may be treated like gophers — asked to go do this or go do that. Such product managers are more reactive than proactive. If you are like me, there is little that sounds fun or rewarding about that. Indeed, we need influence.
To help us get it, I invited Tom Henschel back. He joined us in episode 137 to share a tool for talking like a leader, which is part of increasing your influence. This time he shared a model for having more influence called the Five Influence Strategies.
In the discussion, you’ll learn how to use the components of this strategy, which are:

* Build credibility
* Involve people actively
* Frame ideas for them
* Present compelling evidence
* Customize your communication

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:38] How can product managers build credibility? 
Credibility is made up of expertise and relationships, which are in conflict with each other. People who are stronger in one area tend to be weaker in another, but both are important when you are in a position where you need to influence people. If you are weaker on the relationship side, going out to lunch with other people in the company you don’t know can help you become more comfortable with people and forming new relationships. One the other side of the coin, you’re not going to get by on the strength of your relationships if you don’t have expertise to back it up so you may need to work on that. A good goal is to focus on growing five percent at a time. You can make incremental changes that will lead to long-term growth.
[10:30] How can we involve others to increase influence?
Influence is not the same as persuasion or convincing someone to do something. Trying to push others toward your point of view doesn’t work. One example of this happened during WWII, when the government was trying to convince women to use more organ meat as a way to help with food shortages. One group attended government seminars about the facts related to organ meat. Another group asked women how they would convince each other to do this, which made them actively involved in finding the solution. The second group was far more compliant because they were actively involved. We often go in ready to defeat objections and spout our point of view, rather than really listening to what others have to say. This ties back to the idea of relationships and getting to know others.
[18:50] What does it mean to frame an idea for someone else?
When you feel really strongly about something, you talk from your point of view, which doesn’t do much to help others come along with you. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can completely change the way you think about something. The arguments that make sense to you might not make sense to someone else, but you won’t know that until you fully consider their perspective. Product managers need to be able to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and our colleagues’ shoes to frame ideas from those perspectives. We all think that we’re already good at this, but there is always room for improvement through these role switching exercises.
[24:40] How can someone present compelling evidence?
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TEI 161: Revisiting the GE Appliance innovation lab and extending it to your product – with Taylor Dawson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-161-revisiting-the-ge-appliance-innovation-lab-and-extending-it-to-your-product-with-taylor-dawson/ Mon, 29 Jan 2018 12:50:55 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12788 Giddy, Dawson’s new venture, connects product managers and entrepreneurs to smash the status quo. Back in episode 110 we learned about FirstBuild, the innovation lab of GE Appliance. It allows them to test ideas and solve problems that would be considered too small or risky by GE Appliance. They have built a platform that is […] Giddy, Dawson’s new venture, connects product managers and entrepreneurs to smash the status quo. Back in episode 110 we learned about FirstBuild, the innovation lab of GE Appliance. It allows them to test ideas and solve problems that would be conside... Giddy, Dawson's new venture, connects product managers and entrepreneurs to smash the status quo.<br /> <br /> Back in episode 110 we learned about FirstBuild, the innovation lab of GE Appliance. It allows them to test ideas and solve problems that would be considered too small or risky by GE Appliance.<br /> <br /> They have built a platform that is fueled by an open community of consumers and problem solvers.<br /> <br /> What would happen if that capability was used by other companies to tackle any type of product concept? That is what Taylor Dawson is discovering. When I talked with him in episode 110 he was the Product Evangelist for First Build. Now he is the CEO of Giddy, who is providing a First Build capability to any large company. That is like being able to create a successful innovation lab overnight without actually building one.<br /> <br /> This also means that Giddy will be deepening and rapidly increasing their own learning started at First Build. That makes them the leader for rest of us to learn from.<br /> <br /> Specifically, in this discussion you will discover:<br /> <br /> Why it's important but almost impossible for large organizations to innovate like a startup.<br /> The advantages of an open innovation lab.<br /> What makes the FirstBuild innovation lab a success — which are ideas to help your organization be more innovative.<br /> The benefits of leveraging Giddy for increasing product success. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 39:02 TEI 160: How LEGO and others use a low-risk, high-value approach to product management – with David Robertson, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-160-how-lego-and-others-use-a-low-risk-high-value-approach-to-product-management-with-david-robertson-phd/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 12:50:45 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12790 You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just innovate around it. Fundamentally, product managers should be driving success for their organization. We do that by providing customers value. The source of that value may be, and perhaps should be, closer to our core capabilities than is often thought. The toy company LEGO found this to […] You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just innovate around it. Fundamentally, product managers should be driving success for their organization. We do that by providing customers value. The source of that value may be, and perhaps should be, Fundamentally, product managers should be driving success for their organization. We do that by providing customers value. The source of that value may be, and perhaps should be, closer to our core capabilities than is often thought. The toy company LEGO found this to be true, only after being on the brink of bankruptcy. Other companies have also discovered this principle, which is something my guest calls innovating near the core.
My guest this week, David Robertson, explored this in a book-long case study of LEGO, called Brick by Brick:  How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. In his recent book, The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation, he studies other companies who have won their market using a similar approach.
David is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he teaches Innovation and Product Design. He is also the host of the weekly radio show on SiriusXM called “Innovation Navigation,” where he interviews world-renowned thought leaders about the management of innovation.
In the discussion, you’ll learn:

* Why almost all of LEGO’s product innovation efforts resulted in millions of dollars lost.
* What action turned LEGO around and produced growth.
* How companies have innovated close to their core to create market success.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [2:55] LEGO tried many different innovation approaches over the years, but none of them stuck. Why was that?  LEGO saw 14% annual growth for 15 years by making new boxes of bricks with different themes. Things started to change in the 1990s as video games came online. LEGO kept trying to put out more boxes of bricks throughout the 90s, but it only increased their costs and not their sales. At the same time, the idea of disruption was sweeping the business world and LEGO tried just about every way they could think of to disrupt themselves and failed at all of them.


In the end, there’s a huge difference between sufficient and necessary. In LEGO’s case, it wasn’t sufficient to only sell boxes of bricks, but it was necessary and their business model couldn’t succeed without them.


* [6:35] How did LEGO finally turn things around and what did they learn from it? Their success came when they started innovating games, stories, and events around the bricks. They began opening LEGO stores and indoor playgrounds where they could charge admission. They also realized that adding digital games don’t disrupt the bricks, they complement them. When kids play LEGO Star Wars or see a LEGO movie, they want to buy more boxes of bricks, not less. When they tried going purely digital, they turned customers away and created a major loss of revenue from LEGO’s main product, which is the plastic brick.

 

* [8:45] Was there a catalyst that helped LEGO realize that they needed to keep plastic bricks at the core of their business model? The only significant success from LEGO’s period of disruption was something called Bionicle, which was the first buildable action figure. It didn’t look like anything else LEGO had ever done. It was still a box of plastic pieces that you snapped together, but it came with a rich story of heroes and villains that changed from year to year with a new set of action figures. The combination of the story, the action figures, and the scarcity from the collectibles made it hugely popular. Not only did Bionicle save LEGO from bankruptcy, it taught them how powerful stories were to excite kids. They’ve been focused on telling stories ever since. They’ve learned that stories don’t disrupt demand, they increase it.

 

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TEI 159: Don’t make the customer feel anxious. The failure of Crystal Pepsi — with Kyle Murray, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-159-dont-make-the-customer-feel-anxious-the-failure-of-crystal-pepsi-with-kyle-murray-phd/ Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:55:13 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12792 What product managers at Pepsi got wrong but you won’t after listening to this. No one and no organization has a perfect record when it comes to releasing new products into the market. Failures are frequent — around 40% or so depending on the industry — and they happen at small companies, big companies, and […] What product managers at Pepsi got wrong but you won’t after listening to this. No one and no organization has a perfect record when it comes to releasing new products into the market. Failures are frequent — around 40% or so depending on the industry ... No one and no organization has a perfect record when it comes to releasing new products into the market. Failures are frequent — around 40% or so depending on the industry — and they happen at small companies, big companies, and experienced companies, including Pepsi.
In this episode, you’ll learn a simple and profound concept that every product manager and product marketer must understand. And, this is an easy one to get wrong. Even Pepsi got this wrong when they created a new product called Crystal Pepsi.
The simple part of the concept — don’t confuse your customer.
The profound part — when introducing something new or making a change, give your customer a reason.
My guest to explain this concept is Kyle B. Murray, the Vice Dean and Professor of Marketing at the Alberta School of Business. Kyle studies human judgment and decision making. His research uses the tools of experimental psychology and behavioral economics to better understand the choices that consumers make.
He is a co-author of an article explaining the mistake Pepsi made with Crystal Pepsi. When I read the article I recognized how important the concept is to product managers and contacted with Kyle to tell us about it himself.
In the discussion you will learn the:

* Reason people didn’t purchase Crystal Pepsi.
* Solution to the issue so you don’t make the same mistake.
* Examples demonstrating the solution.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [2:30] You recently examined different types of innovations, such as sustaining vs. radical innovations. What caused you to research this? It all comes down to the consumer. We can describe it however we’d like when we are creating the products, but in the end, the consumer decides whether something is radical or something they already know.

 

* [3:31] For listeners unfamiliar with consumer packaged-goods, can you describe the business and the rate of product introduction? Essentially, this industry represents anything you find in the grocery store that comes in a package and is aimed at consumers. It’s a broad category that employs some of the best marketers in the world who develop some great products. One industry group estimates that there are about 33,000 new products created each month. Innovation happens very quickly ranges from incremental changes like adjusting a color or adding a new option, to things that are truly radical. Many of those products fail, and some are only indented to be around for a few months to build a buzz and then disappear. Segments like potato chips and soft drinks allow you to innovate fairly quickly and put a new flavor or new version of a product out and see what the market thinks.

 

* [8:25] Tell us about Crystal Pepsi and what makes it a useful example to learn from.  Pepsi launched a new version of the product it had always made — the same Pepsi, just without any coloring. This seemed reasonable, given that products like 7Up and Sprite were successful and people were starting question what value the dye for color brought to the product. This was not intended to be a short-time product or new flavor; Pepsi had a plan for turning it into a billion-dollar brand. The reaction was people questioning why they would want a clear Pepsi and what was wrong with the dye in regular Pepsi.

 

* [11:40] Why didn’t consumers purchase Crystal Pepsi? It was perceived to be really radical by the market, but it was really a superficial change to the product. This is a classic example of what drives product acceptance. If we see a new product being too different from what we expect to see, we go from being curious about them to feeling anxious about them.]]>
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TEI 158: Effective virtual meeting skills for product managers – with Dan Hoffman https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-158-effective-virtual-meeting-skills-for-product-managers-with-dan-hoffman/ Mon, 08 Jan 2018 12:50:41 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12829 Six steps to run a productive meeting and build a team that gets things done Every week I’m involved in virtual meetings and the same is true for many Everyday Innovators. If it’s not yet true for you, virtual meetings are almost certainly in your future as more teams become virtual. Facilitating virtual meetings and […] Six steps to run a productive meeting and build a team that gets things done Every week I’m involved in virtual meetings and the same is true for many Everyday Innovators. If it’s not yet true for you, virtual meetings are almost certainly in your futu... Six steps to run a productive meeting and build a team that gets things done<br /> Every week I'm involved in virtual meetings and the same is true for many Everyday Innovators. If it's not yet true for you, virtual meetings are almost certainly in your future as more teams become virtual.<br /> <br /> Facilitating virtual meetings and making them productive takes specific skills that product managers should know. With these skills, you can run virtual meetings that don't waste people's time and that build trust and cohesion in the team.<br /> <br /> To learn the right skills, I have the perfect guest as his company is all about facilitating virtual meetings. He joins us to share his "Six How's of Great Meetings." His name is Dan Hoffman and he is founder and CEO of Circles, an online service that provides guided video peer groups to foster deeper conversations for impactful continued professional learning and personal growth.<br /> <br /> Dan is also a serial entrepreneur, previously the founder of M5, a pioneer in cloud communications, which ShoreTel purchased. He is regarded by colleagues as down to earth, completely approachable, and one of the brightest guys you will ever meet.<br /> <br /> In the discussion, you will learn the Six How's of Great Meetings, which are:<br /> <br /> Culture,<br /> Conversation,<br /> Presence,<br /> Participation,<br /> Agendas, and<br /> Facilitation Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:04 TEI 157: Big topics product managers encounter – with Suzanne Abate https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-157-big-topics-product-managers-encounter-with-suzanne-abate/ Mon, 01 Jan 2018 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12849 The right product begins with a validated user need and a market In this episode you’ll learn about some of the big ideas in product management to help you make the move to product master, specifically: The difference between building the product right vs. building the right product, Challenges of working with development teams, How […] The right product begins with a validated user need and a market In this episode you’ll learn about some of the big ideas in product management to help you make the move to product master, specifically: The difference between building the product right... The right product begins with a validated user need and a market<br /> <br /> <br /> In this episode you'll learn about some of the big ideas in product management to help you make the move to product master, specifically:<br /> <br /> The difference between building the product right vs. building the right product,<br /> Challenges of working with development teams,<br /> How to assemble a roadmap,<br /> Release planning, and<br /> The benefits of first using divergent thinking followed by convergent thinking.<br /> My guest for addressing those topics is Suzanne Abate, a seasoned product coach who has developed hundreds of digital products for clients and helped dozens of startups go from idea to execution. She is the Co-Founder of The Development Factory, an LA-based product consultancy, and Chief Product Officer of 100 Product Managers, a free online resource and weekly podcast for new and aspiring product managers. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 39:00 TEI 156: Medical device product management – with Mike Lawless https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-156-medical-device-product-management-with-mike-lawless/ Mon, 25 Dec 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12734 Test to understand where a product design fails and use parallel solution paths Several listeners have asked about medical device products and I searched for someone with deep experience in this area. I realize most of us are not involved with medical devices, but there is much any product manager can learn from the upcoming […] Test to understand where a product design fails and use parallel solution paths Several listeners have asked about medical device products and I searched for someone with deep experience in this area. I realize most of us are not involved with medical ... Several listeners have asked about medical device products and I searched for someone with deep experience in this area. I realize most of us are not involved with medical devices, but there is much any product manager can learn from the upcoming discussion. This ability to learn from product managers in different industries is one of the things I most enjoy about this podcast. We have a lot in common regardless of the industry we work in.
The topic of this episode is pricing. It is a frequently asked about topic and I have a great guest to help us understand the components of a pricing strategy and how to price a product.
My guest is Mike Lawless, who has over 25 years of experience in medical devices, starting as a mechanical engineer. For more than a decade he has been helping to create medical devices for a variety of organizations through his own company, Lawless Consulting.
In the discussion you will learn the:

* Challenges of creating a high-volume manufactured product,
* Importance of prototyping and testing to failure, and
* Benefits of using parallel problem-solving and development.

 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [2:38] What are the types of medical devices you have helped develop? I work on a wide range of medical devices, with several focused on drug delivery, such as insulin and IV pumps, as well as diagnostic devices.

 

* [3:27] How is the development of medical devices different from other products? There are a lot of similarities with other types of products. Most of my work has been in the development and management of high-volume manufactured products. Such products require attention to the functionality of the product as well as design for manufacturing, tooling, and production. Medical devices have an additional challenge to comply with FDA regulations. If the product uses disposable items (such as the tubing set for an IV pump), this introduces additional risks. Also, there is a great deal of innovation in medical devices and of course innovation introduces risk because we are attempting what has not been done before. The greater the innovation, the greater the potential for a technical risk or glitches in manufacturing.

 

* [4:48] What are the challenges of high volume products, like disposables? With disposables that may be manufactured in the millions to tens of millions a year, the tooling and automation becomes critical and can be complicated. A very small mistake is very costly. The core challenge with this type of product development is…


you need to find the problems before they find you.


* [8:21] How does encountering a problem impact medical devices given the regulation needs? It depends, as the FDA regulatory process has many steps including submission of the product for approval. Depending on when the problem is encountered, if the product must be resubmitted it could create months or years of delay. This is a difference between medical devices and other products as the development cycle is longer because the regulations must be met. It’s not uncommon for a medical device cycle to be 3 to 5 years.

 

* [10:05] What kind of challenges do you find with clients who are developing medical devices? The biggest challenge is that the culture is not aligned well with what is needed for product development. The norm is business operations and information that can be put on a Gantt chart. This effects how engineers approach development, with a focus on if something works or not instead of having deeper knowledge of the nuances of why something works. When a problem arises they are caught off guard. The solution to this is to gain a knowledge of failure conditions.

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TEI 155: How product managers can get pricing right – with Tim Smith, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-155-how-product-managers-can-get-pricing-right-with-tim-smith-phd/ Mon, 18 Dec 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12711 The 5 considerations that result in the best price for a product The topic of this episode is pricing. It is a frequently asked about topic. Determing the proper price for a product  impacts profit potential and sales volume expectations. I have a great guest to help us understand the components of a pricing strategy and […] The 5 considerations that result in the best price for a product The topic of this episode is pricing. It is a frequently asked about topic. Determing the proper price for a product  impacts profit potential and sales volume expectations. The topic of this episode is pricing. It is a frequently asked about topic. Determing the proper price for a product  impacts profit potential and sales volume expectations.
I have a great guest to help us understand the components of a pricing strategy and how to price a product.
He is Tim Smith, author of five books on pricing, Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Economics at DePaul University, and founder of Wiglaf Pricing.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [3:05] Why is pricing important? Getting pricing right matters to the longevity of the business and ability to serve the customer. We need to consider fixed cost, variable costs, units to sell, and price. A 1% improvement in price results in a 12% improvement in profit.

 

* [4:43] What is involved in getting prices for a product right? There are 5 key parts to that question.

* Product strategy – who are competitors, who are the key customers (market segments), and what differentiates the product.
* Pricing strategy – what is the basic structure of pricing, such as a purchase, lease, or other exchange of value.
* Market pricing – what is list price, which is determined from the pricing strategy.
* Price variance – this is the go-to-market price, consideration of discounts, and use of promotions.
* Price execution – providing the correct price to customers.

 
* [8:06] How do we get the list price right? This requires market research to determine the customers’ willingness to pay for the value delivered by the product. Techniques include voice of the customer (VOC), economic value to the customer, conjoint analysis, and price elasticity methods. With these, we are trying to understand the value delivered to customers, the desired combination of product features, and alternatives the customer has.

 

* [22:10] Should promotional pricing be used? It’s an important consideration in a pricing strategy. As an example, consider the smartphone market. Apple uses no discounts and has 90% of profit share with 11% of market share while Samsung has 10% of the profit share with 22% of market share. Apple has been very successful generating higher profit with less market share.

 

* [27:38] What is a common mistake that is made with pricing? One is always pricing only on gross margin, only considering product costs and not considering value delivered to the customer.

 
Useful links:

* Tim’s pricing group, Wiglaf Pricing

 
Innovation Quote
“In an authentic world, failure is something you embrace. It’s almost a noble pursuit. I come from that world—it supported me in creating the punk aesthetic.” – Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols.
 
Thanks!
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.
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TEI 154: Pitfalls that can trap new product managers – with Aero Wong https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-154-pitfalls-that-can-trap-new-product-managers-with-aero-wong/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12683 10 common mistakes or pitfalls new product managers should avoid A few months ago I was contacted by a product manager, Areo Wong, who works in Hong Kong. He described himself as a “newbie” with about one-year of experience. He has been struggling to learn what the role of product manager was really about. After trying […] 10 common mistakes or pitfalls new product managers should avoid A few months ago I was contacted by a product manager, Areo Wong, who works in Hong Kong. He described himself as a “newbie” with about one-year of experience. A few months ago I was contacted by a product manager, Areo Wong, who works in Hong Kong. He described himself as a “newbie” with about one-year of experience. He has been struggling to learn what the role of product manager was really about. After trying a few different approaches to learning more, he took a very creative path. He decided to interview 30 expert product managers and create a virtual summit of the insights shared on the interviews. This would help him rapidly learn and provide an opportunity for other younger product managers to do the same. I thought it was a great idea since my work is all about helping product managers know what they really need to know. So, I eagerly accepted his invitation to be part of his Product Manager Summit.
More recently, I was discussing his experience as a product manager and what he had learned so far. He shared 10 pitfalls that he has encountered as a “newbie” product manager and that he has seen others struggle with as well…

* Trying to know everything about the technical side of projects
* Doing the hands-on work alone
* Not saying “no” enough
* Trying to please everyone
* Getting too emotionally attached to the product
* Just wanting to deliver something
* Not distinguishing core features from nice-to-have features
* Just following instructions from senior management
* Always wanting to change the world with little authority
* Forgetting the big picture

We had an opportunity to discuss some of the pitfalls together. I expect you’ll find the discussion helpful.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [3:09]  What is the Product Manager Summit? I interviewed 30 product management experts, asking them to share their knowledge with junior product managers. I categorized the knowledge from the interviews into six modules: (1) Product management essentials, (2) Problem space exploration, (3) Agile product development, (4) Lean UX, (5) Product marketing skills, and (6) Product management toolbox.

 

* [5:45] How did the Product Manager Summit come about? I really want to learn how to become a product master from the product newbie that I am now, which is why I interviewed you for the Summit since you have the Product Mastery Roadmap. I am new to product management and the role of product manager is new in Hong Kong, my home. I  hired a researcher to collect information on product management and attended a few events, but it is a challenge to know what is really important about the role of product manager. So, I decided to create the Summit to help myself and to help other product managers.

 

* [8:25] You’ve created a list of 10 pitfalls new product managers can easily fall into. What is the first one? Trying to know everything about the technical work for a product. My product is highly technical. I feel unconformable at times because I don’t really know what product management is about and I don’t really understand all of the technical aspects. After learning more about product management, I have become more comfortable focusing on my product manager role. I am more concerned with the product problem than with the solution.

 

* [10:59] What is another pitfall? I call this doing the hands-on work by yourself. I know I’m expected to produce a deliverable. To satisfy that, I might build something for my boss to see but forget to consider what the customers really want. You have to recognize you are part of a cross-functional team and not doing the work yourself.

 

* [11:19] Why do you say you have to know where your fear comes from? For me, in the beginning, my fear was because I didn’t understand product management and my...]]>
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TEI 153: 3D printing and product management – with John Baliotti https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-153-3d-printing-and-product-management-with-john-baliotti/ Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12579 3D printing creates new options for product managers and designers beyond prototyping The discussion coming up is about the state of 3D printing for prototyping and additive manufacturing. 3D printing is evolving quickly with the capability to print in a wide variety of materials. Also, post-processing capabilities, such as metal-plating plastic printed parts, are creating […] 3D printing creates new options for product managers and designers beyond prototyping The discussion coming up is about the state of 3D printing for prototyping and additive manufacturing. 3D printing is evolving quickly with the capability to print in... The discussion coming up is about the state of 3D printing for prototyping and additive manufacturing. 3D printing is evolving quickly with the capability to print in a wide variety of materials. Also, post-processing capabilities, such as metal-plating plastic printed parts, are creating new opportunities for ergonomically correct parts. 3D printing provides significant efficiencies and competitive advantages.
I discussed the state of 3D printing and additive manufacturing with industry veteran John Bailotti. His background couples engineering, manufacturing, financial research, marketing, business development, and leadership, providing a valuable perspective in helping companies adopt additive manufacturing.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [7:31] Where does 3D printing fit into manufacturing approaches? 3D printing is an additive approach. It’s helpful to contrast this with subtractive approaches. As an analogy, think about ice cream. Hard serve ice cream is scooped out of a container. It is subtracted from the container, leaving a lot of ice cream (material) in the container. To get what you want, you remove what you want or don’t want.  This is a subtractive process. Soft serve ice cream is different. You deposit into a cone or cup only what you want with very little to no waste. This is an additive process. Both processes are complementary and can be used together. For example, currently additive processes provide less accuracy for creating the desired form of an object and subtractive processes can be used to finish the object to precise specifications.  Additive manufacturing uses less material, creates less waste, and may take less time.

 

* [10:51] Are there times when one approach must be used over the other? Some objects cannot be made with subtractive manufacturing or traditional modes. An example is creating the cylinder head of an engine that, instead of using solid metal, uses an internal lattice structure that decreases weight while providing strength.

 

* [12:41] What materials can be used for 3D printing?  Standard filament printers use plastic-like spools of material containing ABS (like the black waste water pipes in a house) or PLA (which is made from corn). Many other materials can now be printed, including other forms of plastics, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and carbon fiber. While filament printers warm the material and ooze it together to create an object one thin slice at a time (like a glue gun), other 3D printers use a laser to fuse a powder form of the material to create an object. The technology is evolving quickly.

 

* [20:25] How does 3D printing help with prototyping when developing new products?   It removes any need for tooling, allowing you to produce prototypes much faster and create variations quickly to test with customers. Also, plastic 3D manufactured parts can be finished in another process, such as plating them with metal. This means you can very quickly create an aesthetically and ergonomically correct part finished in the proper metal for testing. While 3D printing is valuable for prototyping, it can also be used for low-volume manufacturing of the final product. By not tooling for manufacturing, you save time and cost. The economics continue to change and more parts are becoming more economical to print than to use traditional tooling.

 

* [25:18] What does tooling mean? Imagine you were creating a case for a laptop computer. This would traditionally be injection molded, forcing warm pellets of material into a tool – a mold – resulting in the desired shape for the case. The mold is the tool. The tooling involved means the creation of the mold, which can be expensive and time consuming to produce.]]>
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TEI 152: The successful product manager is the self-aware product manager – with Tasha Eurich https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-152-the-successful-product-manager-is-the-self-aware-product-manager-with-tasha-eurich/ Mon, 27 Nov 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12539 Improving your internal and external self-awareness is the real secret to success for product managers This may just be the most important interview yet. While it does not directly deal with product management concepts, it does deal with success concepts. The upcoming discussion is about a book The Muse called the number-one best career book […] Improving your internal and external self-awareness is the real secret to success for product managers This may just be the most important interview yet. While it does not directly deal with product management concepts, This may just be the most important interview yet. While it does not directly deal with product management concepts, it does deal with success concepts. The upcoming discussion is about a book The Muse called the number-one best career book available. The book is Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life.
I discussed the key concepts of being more self-aware with Insight author, Dr. Tasha Eurich. Tasha is an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times best-selling author. She has helped thousands of leaders and teams improve their effectiveness through greater self-awareness. In the interview she shares two categories of self-awareness and how we can be more self-aware.
It’s an important topic because greater self-awareness means greater success. I’m certain you will find this to be a very important discussion.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [4:48] What is self-awareness? It’s actually challenging to answer because the term is defined differently by people and in literature. We reviewed over 800 studies to create a description of self-awareness. It involves two main categories: internal and external.

* Internal self-awareness. This is our understanding of who we are, what makes us tick, what we want to accomplish, what we are passionate about – our internal reflections and insights about ourselves.
* External self-awareness. This is our understanding of how other people see us. It is also independent of internal self-awareness, so someone may have high internal self-awareness but low external self-awareness, which means they are unaware how others view them. The opposite may also be true. The real power comes from building your internal and external self-awareness.



 

* [8:14] How does increasing our self-awareness help us in our careers? Self-awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st Century. At a basic level, people who are more self-aware are better performers at work, better collaborators and communicators, get more promotions, and are better leaders. There is also evidence that shows more self-aware leaders lead more profitable companies. The reason it is the meta-skill is our level of self-awareness sets the limit for how effective we are in all of the capabilities we need to be successful in organizations. It opens our potential for performance and meaning in what we do. Further, it not only influences our career success but all aspects of our lives.

 

* [10:50] Why do we have blind spots and are not more self-aware? 95% of people think they are self-aware but only 10-15% actually are. The good news is that anyone can improve their self-awareness. There are two groups of factors why we are not more self-aware. First, humans have a unconscious part of our nature that makes it not possible to always be objectively aware of our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. At any given moment a person is processing 11 million pieces of information, which means much of it is unconscious. Second, culture is pushing people to become more self-absorbed and less self-aware. I call it the cult of self and it is most easily observed in social media. The opposite of self-awareness is self-absorption. It requires conscious effort and work to minimize the impact of these factors that lead to blind spots.

 

* [19:25] What can we do to be more externally self-aware? Start with the right mindset. You have to step back and acknowledge that other people can see you more objectively than you see yourself. This means a simple way to be more self-aware is to get more feedback. One tool for feedback is called the dinner of truth.]]>
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TEI 151: What product managers should know about agile strategy – with Dan Montgomery https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-151-what-product-managers-should-know-about-agile-strategy-with-dan-montgomery/ Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12482 Product managers operate in an environment of uncertainty and change, requiring the use of Strategic Agility How organizations can improve their product performance and overall performance is as important to product managers as it is to senior leaders. Making improvements has become more challenging as the business environment for most organizations is changing more quickly […] Product managers operate in an environment of uncertainty and change, requiring the use of Strategic Agility How organizations can improve their product performance and overall performance is as important to product managers as it is to senior leaders.... How organizations can improve their product performance and overall performance is as important to product managers as it is to senior leaders. Making improvements has become more challenging as the business environment for most organizations is changing more quickly and contains greater uncertainty than in the past. Organizations that better respond to these changes can create a competitive advantage and one way to accomplish that is through Strategic Agility.
Dan Montgomery is a practitioner of Strategic Agility and shares with us simple and practical tools in this interview. He is also the co-author of The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard. He has helped several organizations create strategic plans and add agility.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

* [2:57] What is Strategic Agility? It’s the ability of an organization to sense and respond to changes in its environment in near real-time. The change could be opportunities, risks, threats, disruptions, etc. Traditional strategic planning began when the business environment was more predictable. A 3-5 year strategy could be created and organizational resources aligned with it with few uncertainties. Today the level of uncertainty and disruption is much higher than in the past. This requires much greater agility.

 

* [5:39] What are the symptoms of an organization that lacks Strategic Agility? There are three:

* Plans quickly become out of date. Top-down strategy approaches believe that you can predict the future with enough data. This has been called predictive hubris. Such plans are often authored by just a few people and lack diversity of thought. These plans rapidly become obsolete.






* No true buy-in. With only a few people creating the plan, the vision is not broadly held to create buy-in. Many people in the organization may not understand the plan or even be aware of it. Senior leaders or the “experts” create the plan and the rest of the organization is not invested in it.






* Taking on too many projects. I call this initiative overload. There are too many projects for the available resources. Employees quickly get overwhelmed by not being able to accomplish what is expected and progress further slows. The answer to this is to…



Start less, Finish more, Pivot fast.

* [8:44] What tools are helpful for this? Start less and finish more requires having a clear and effective project selection process that is aligned with organizational objectives and then uses effective project management. Pivot fast requires understanding what is and is not working and how the business environment is changing. Tools such as PESTLE are very helpful for this.

 

* [11:30] What are barriers to creating Strategic Agility? Some are bureaucratic that have become part of the processes of the organizations. Others are aspects of the culture of the organization, such as feeling safe to express a differing opinion. For effective Strategic Agility to exist, psychological safety must be part of the culture and fear must be driven out of the organization.

 

* What are tools product managers and innovators can use to influence their organization towards Strategic Agility? Two key tools are:

* [15:39] OKRs — objectives and key results.  These are a lightweight approach to strategy deployment. Each quarter (or another reasonable interval) a team goes through a review of their assumptions about what is important, what they know about their strategy, and what may have changed. Then they set one or two targets for the next quarter.]]>
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TEI 150: What executives want from product managers – with Scott Propp https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-150-what-executives-want-from-product-managers-with-scott-propp/ Mon, 13 Nov 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12464 What product managers need to do for success at each stage of company growth This interview should be a fan favorite as many people have emailed me asking what executives want from product managers. My short answer is that executives and senior leaders want product managers to be thinking and acting more strategically towards the […] What product managers need to do for success at each stage of company growth This interview should be a fan favorite as many people have emailed me asking what executives want from product managers. My short answer is that executives and senior leaders... What product managers need to do for success at each stage of company growth<br /> <br /> This interview should be a fan favorite as many people have emailed me asking what executives want from product managers. My short answer is that executives and senior leaders want product managers to be thinking and acting more strategically towards the objectives of the organization. However, there are a lot of specifics to discuss, and this interview does that. My guest structures the discussion around three stages of organizational growth, which he calls the early stage, adolescent, and well-established. What executives need from product managers differs with each stage.<br /> <br /> Sharing these insights with us is Scott Propp, a former Fortune 100 executive and all around product guy. Today he serves organizations on a short-term basis, helping the executive team identify the right high-value product opportunities that yield the maximum return. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:30 TEI 149: How to effectively lead innovators – with Mike Mitchell, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-149-how-to-effectively-lead-innovators-with-mike-mitchell-phd/ Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12399 How leading innovation is different from leading business operations The state of innovation in organizations is unsettling. Executives overwhelmingly point to innovation as the growth engine for their organizations yet actual innovation performance is underwhelming. There are several factors contributing to the issue and one of them is the way innovation is led. The reality […] How leading innovation is different from leading business operations The state of innovation in organizations is unsettling. Executives overwhelmingly point to innovation as the growth engine for their organizations yet actual innovation performance is... The state of innovation in organizations is unsettling. Executives overwhelmingly point to innovation as the growth engine for their organizations yet actual innovation performance is underwhelming. There are several factors contributing to the issue and one of them is the way innovation is led. The reality is that most organizational leaders don't really understand innovation or know how to lead it.<br /> <br /> Well, that is about to change with this interview. The Center for Creative Leadership conducts original research, with findings to help leaders be more effective. New research conducted by Mike Mitchell found that leading innovation requires a different approach to leadership. This research explains what leaders need to do to effectively lead innovation.<br /> <br /> Mike joins me to discuss what is needed to lead innovation and what product managers need to know as well.<br /> <br /> Mike has a Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology with a focus on Organizational Leadership. His focus is on what it takes to successfully contribute to, and lead, innovation in an organization. He is a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 45:31 TEI 148: Win-Loss analysis for product managers – with Mike Smart https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-148-win-loss-analysis-for-product-managers-with-mike-smart/ Mon, 30 Oct 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12315 Adding win-loss analysis to your product management toolbox may be the single most effective change you can make I love it when listeners suggest topics to explore on this podcast. One of those is win-loss analysis. This traditionally is considered a sales tool to understand why a customer chose or rejected a product. However, savvy […] Adding win-loss analysis to your product management toolbox may be the single most effective change you can make I love it when listeners suggest topics to explore on this podcast. One of those is win-loss analysis. Adding win-loss analysis to your product management toolbox may be the single most effective change you can make.<br /> <br /> I love it when listeners suggest topics to explore on this podcast. One of those is win-loss analysis. This traditionally is considered a sales tool to understand why a customer chose or rejected a product. However, savvy product management groups recognize it as vital analysis for improving products and the customer experience.<br /> <br /> To explore the topic, I talked with Mike Smart who teaches organizations to conduct win-loss analysis from a product management perspective and also manages the entire analysis for organizations. He is a product management practitioner and founder of Egress Solutions, which helps companies implement product management best practices that build and launch successful products. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 34:10 TEI 147: Making organizations phenomenal – with Joseph Michelli, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-147-making-organizations-phenomenal-with-joseph-michelli-phd/ Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12291 Product managers who create great customer experiences create better products Product management is about creating value for customers through the capabilities a product or service provides. That extends beyond actual features and encompasses tangible and intangible dimensions of value. Typically, when creating a new product, we start with a core set of features. Early on […] Product managers who create great customer experiences create better products Product management is about creating value for customers through the capabilities a product or service provides. That extends beyond actual features and encompasses tangible ... Product managers who create great customer experiences create better products.<br /> <br /> Product management is about creating value for customers through the capabilities a product or service provides. That extends beyond actual features and encompasses tangible and intangible dimensions of value. Typically, when creating a new product, we start with a core set of features. Early on this may be a minimum viable product -- which I rather think of as the minimum valuable product -- a product that provides an acceptable amount of value that catches customers' attention. Over time we add more capabilities to create more value, but that is still not what we are striving for. We need to create a whole product -- adding other elements to the customer experience that solves a complete problem and creates a great experience.<br /> <br /> The best person I know of to learn about creating an exceptional customer experience is Joseph A. Michelli. He is an internationally sought-after customer experience consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the customer. His insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives. He is known by his many books examining organizations that create exceptional customer experiences, including Mercedes-Benz, Starbucks, Zappos, Ritz-Carlton, and others.<br /> <br /> The audio occasionally dropped out during recording, but it's nothing that gets in the way of the insights Joseph shares. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 28:26 TEI146: Who product managers focus on for designing great products – with Brian Baker https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei146-who-product-managers-focus-on-for-designing-great-products-with-brian-baker/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12186 How to get the right insights from the right users to have successful products Design is increasingly an aspect of product management, not just product teams. More of us are familiar with user experience and its impact on design, but where does design really begin? Every true user experience expert I have talked with about […] How to get the right insights from the right users to have successful products Design is increasingly an aspect of product management, not just product teams. More of us are familiar with user experience and its impact on design, How to get the right insights from the right users to have successful products<br /> <br /> Design is increasingly an aspect of product management, not just product teams. More of us are familiar with user experience and its impact on design, but where does design really begin? Every true user experience expert I have talked with about this has the same answer and that's with the user of the product or the person with the problem that we wish to solve with a product.<br /> <br /> How we actually get insights from users can be the difference between product success and failure. To explore the right way to get insights, I talked with Brian Baker at the First User Group, which is a strategic innovation firm providing business strategy and cutting-edge product design in digital, consumer electronics, and consumer packaged goods. He has delivered over 100 products to brands we would all recognize and it is likely we have encountered one or more of his products. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 46:18 TEI 145: From product manager to leader – with Ken Lane https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-145-from-product-manager-to-leader-with-ken-lane/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=12074 Making the move from product manager to product master requires becoming a leader. A competency on the path from product manager to product master is leadership. As product managers and innovators, we rarely have any actual authority. For example, we can’t fire and hire employees. What product managers do have is influence, and it is […] Making the move from product manager to product master requires becoming a leader. A competency on the path from product manager to product master is leadership. As product managers and innovators, we rarely have any actual authority. For example, Making the move from product manager to product master requires becoming a leader.<br /> <br /> A competency on the path from product manager to product master is leadership. As product managers and innovators, we rarely have any actual authority. For example, we can't fire and hire employees.<br /> <br /> What product managers do have is influence, and it is this competency that allows you to motivate others to support your ideas and plan.<br /> <br /> At the core of leadership is influence.<br /> <br /> This interview explores how you develop influence and become a leader. My guest is Ken Lane, principal coach at Summit Catalyst, where he provides senior executive coaching and helps organizations with strategy development and implementation, change management, and executive team development.<br /> <br />   Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 33:50 TEI 144: What product managers can learn from Amanda Brinkman and Robert Herjavec – The Small Business Revolution movement https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-144-what-product-managers-can-learn-from-amanda-brinkman-and-robert-herjavec-the-small-business-revolution-movement/ Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11970 My favorite interview: Product managers can create a consumer research platform, re-energize a brand, and do good all at the same time What is coming up is my favorite interview I have done, at least until I have the opportunity to do an update next year. You’ll hear why in the interview, but it stems […] My favorite interview: Product managers can create a consumer research platform, re-energize a brand, and do good all at the same time What is coming up is my favorite interview I have done, at least until I have the opportunity to do an update next ye... What is coming up is my favorite interview I have done, at least until I have the opportunity to do an update next year. You'll hear why in the interview, but it stems with a personal connection I made with the product we discuss, which is a reality TV and web video series.<br /> <br /> First, let me remind you that product managers need to think more strategically to expand their success – to become product masters. This is what executive teams want from their product managers, and this interview with my guest is a great case study for thinking strategically and reshaping an entire organization.<br /> <br /> What if you could create a new product that significantly increased the visibility of your brand – is making it top of mind for your ideal customer – resulting in new sales and increased brand equity while also at the same time creating a rich market research platform?<br /> <br /> Oh, and if that isn't already enough, do real good in the process – transforming your organization's brand from traditional corporate America to one of the good guys – a company doing genuine good for people that further attracts your ideal customer.<br /> <br /> That is what Deluxe Corporation has done with the creation of the Small Business Revolution - Main Street, a TV series spotlighting the importance of small business in American small towns. The show is hosted by Robert Herjavec, known for his work on Shark Tank, and Amanda Brinkman, the Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Deluxe. Amanda formulated the strategy for the Small Business Revolution, and the show is a real winner and a perfect example of a product that creates value for all the stakeholders involved.<br /> <br /> I talked with Amanda to learn more about the creation of the show and its impact. Amanda is a veteran brand and creative visionary who is drawn to purpose-driven marketing and brand transformation. Her work is currently turning around Deluxe Corporation, a 100-year-old company. What she is accomplishing is phenomenal and contains many lessons to inspire product managers and innovators. I'm delighted to bring the story to you. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:13 TEI 143: Organization performance improvement for product managers – with Adam Cohen https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-143-organization-performance-improvement-for-product-managers-with-adam-cohen/ Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11935 Product managers can create a better organization Product management is the economic engine of society. It drives value creation. Without products, whether they be a tangible item like consumer goods, such as toothpaste, a service such as Uber, a checking account, or any other product form, the economic system we enjoy would not exist. It […] Product managers can create a better organization Product management is the economic engine of society. It drives value creation. Without products, whether they be a tangible item like consumer goods, such as toothpaste, a service such as Uber, Product management is the economic engine of society. It drives value creation. Without products, whether they be a tangible item like consumer goods, such as toothpaste, a service such as Uber, a checking account, or any other product form, the economic system we enjoy would not exist. It is through innovation — the creation of new products — that value is created for customers and for organizations. Because of that, your role contributing to product and innovation is vital to not just your organization but to society.
While your role is critical in this value creation, it also gives you unique insights into your organization — insights that equip you for an even larger role if you wish. This role is creating a more valuable organization. You can go from building better products to building a better organization. Phrases like organizational improvement, performance improvement, quality management, and performance excellence are used to describe such transformations.
My guest has been helping organizations make performance improvements for many years. He seeks to inspire and lead people and organizations to achieve organizational excellence. And don’t think this is just about improving the bottom line — organizational excellence is creating a positive work environment along with being a responsible contributor to the community. His name is Adam Cohen. I hope you enjoy the discussion and learning how product managers and innovators can have a larger role in organizational performance.

Summary of some concepts discussed

* [3:19] What does it mean for organizations to improve their performance? When most organizations talk about performance improvement, they are really talking about the bottom line. This is how they can make or save money. However, there is much more to real performance improvement, which is called performance excellence. This is an integrated approach focused on the value provided to all stakeholders, including the customers, employees, community, environment, etc. It requires an aligned approach between elements that are top-down (strategy, vision, objectives), bottom-up (product, customer feedback, employee feedback), and processes in the middle. It means creating a system that improves the way the entire organization works.

 

* [8:58] What is an example of an organization that pursued performance excellence? OMI was a business unit of CH2M, a large engineering construction company. OMI operated water and wastewater systems for municipalities. The journey towards performance excellence resulted in many changes. Before starting the journey, revenue was $300,000 and grew to $300M. Of the many changes along the way, one was the way people were able to innovate and improve the way they worked. The concept of employee empowerment was integrated into day-to-day work. Leaders sought ideas from frontline employees and worked with them to innovate. An emphasis was placed on day-to-day innovation, change, and improvement. Customers became more invested in the organization over time. They participated in annual meetings and shared how the changes made benefited them. During the journey, the organization’s overhead rate remained below 10%. The performance transformation was made possible by how employees were empowered. Employees had a clear understanding of the organization’s strategy and the capability to act upon it. They knew how their individual work contributed to the overall strategy. Together, this created many engaged and motivated employees and made for a better work environment.

 

* [17:07] What are the characteristics of product managers who should be involved in organization performance excellence? The ones that are most effective have a product or product line focus but also have a strategic view.]]>
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TEI 142: Platforms and innovation for product managers – with Larry Keeley https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-142-platforms-and-innovation-for-product-managers-with-larry-keeley/ Mon, 18 Sep 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11894 Savvy product managers use platforms This episode focuses on platforms — a topic I haven’t discussed yet on this podcast. An effective platform strategy is important for growing organizations as well as those that are starting. There are different perspectives on platforms and this interview primarily explores digital platforms. My guest is Larry Keeley, a […] Savvy product managers use platforms This episode focuses on platforms — a topic I haven’t discussed yet on this podcast. An effective platform strategy is important for growing organizations as well as those that are starting. This episode focuses on platforms — a topic I haven’t discussed yet on this podcast. An effective platform strategy is important for growing organizations as well as those that are starting. There are different perspectives on platforms and this interview primarily explores digital platforms.
My guest is Larry Keeley, a strategist who has worked for over three decades to develop effective innovation methods, based in science and analytics. He is President and co-founder of Doblin Inc, an innovation strategy firm known for pioneering comprehensive innovation systems that materially improve innovation success rates and innovation return on investment. Doblin is now a unit of Deloitte Digital.
Larry is also the author of the book Ten Types of Innovation, the Discipline of Building Breakthroughs, which you’ll hear us talk about towards the end of the interview.

Summary of some concepts discussed

* [2:55] What are platforms and why are they important? We live in a connected world. The connected world has transformed what we build, how we build it, and how we make it important. I have two definitions for platforms. The complicated version is an integrated offering that collectively creates a holistic customer experience that is open to others to extend. If you are extremely clever, your platform will create a new ecosystem to do business in. The simple definition is that a platform makes it easy to do hard things. For example, Goolge makes it easy to find information. Successful platforms are not tightly controlled by its creator but leverage other contributors who make it great. Openness is needed because in our modern world no one is smart enough to anticipate all the things all of us will want to do. The platform needs to make it easy for others to adapt and use.

 

* [9:55] What are examples of platforms? They are more abundant than you could imagine. Well-known platforms are Uber, Airbnb, iTunes, Amazon, Amazon Web Serveries, Alibaba, New York Times, This American Life, IBM’s Watson,  and MRI machines to name only a few. Platforms become known as the way with the lowest friction to accomplish an objective customers have.

 

* [14:43] What role do platforms play in innovation? Today they provide modular capabilities to quickly and inexpensively create innovations. For example, if we start a business, we would need a way to collect payment (e.g., PayPal), maybe create a digital rights management system (e.g., iTunes), and populate a database system with customer information (e.g., AWS). Using existing platforms for these capabilities is fast, cheap, smart, and robust. If you have no-to-limited resources, you have to find the blocks of capabilities that allow you as an innovator to do something new. Modern innovation is less about doing something entirely new and more about the eloquent combination of existing blocks that result in value to customers.

 

* [18:59] What is the role of Cloud in platforms? The Cloud provides the ability to have greater efficiencies in several areas, such as economics, security, energy, and speed to implementation. We have moved from what would have taken an innovation team 7 to 8 months to implement to now only taking 1 to 2 weeks by wisely using platform capabilities.

 

* [22:10] How do platforms impact industries? With platforms, companies and innovators enjoy greater efficiency, but it extends to industries as well. Entire industries benefit from dramatically lower total cost, making the world more efficient.

 

* [25:35] How is a desirable platform created? If your offering (product) employs software, is connected to other elements, and demands frequent updates, then it already is a platform. A good offering consists of eloquent technology combined...]]>
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TEI 141: How product managers can better lead change – with Barbara Trautlein, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-141-how-product-managers-can-better-lead-change-with-barbara-trautlein-phd/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11872 Which of the 7 Change Styles Do You Use as a Product Manager or Innovator? Our work is the work of innovation. A few years ago I heard the word innovation expressed as in-a-new-way. It’s a helpful phrase to remember that the very nature of innovation means doing something new — something we have not […] Which of the 7 Change Styles Do You Use as a Product Manager or Innovator? Our work is the work of innovation. A few years ago I heard the word innovation expressed as in-a-new-way. It’s a helpful phrase to remember that the very nature of innovation m... Our work is the work of innovation. A few years ago I heard the word innovation expressed as in-a-new-way. It’s a helpful phrase to remember that the very nature of innovation means doing something new — something we have not done before — something in-a-new-way. This puts us at the center of change. The very nature of our work as product managers and innovators is change.
We often need to help others we work with understand why change is required. It is a skill we can learn and my quest calls it Change Intelligence. She wrote the book on the topic, Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks. She coaches business leaders, teams, and product managers to effectively lead change in their organizations. She is also a highly sought-after speaker for leadership and change keynotes all over the world. Her name is Barbara Trautlein.
There are three primary change styles. Listen to identify your individual change style and how you can more effectively work with others who have different styles.

Summary of some concepts discussed

* [1:05] Why is building our capacity to lead change important? New products and improved products represent big change both internally and externally for an organization. This means product managers and innovators must be leaders of change. Building your capacity to lead change is mission critical in our modern business environment, but it is too often overlooked. If you are interested in leadership training, there are many options, which are generally focused on communications, managing conflict, coaching others, etc., but developing competency in leading change is missing. Now it doesn’t have to be. You can increase your Change Intelligence and lead others through change.

 

* [3:30] Why does change equal pain? Neuroscience researchers have found that our brain responds the same to physical pain in our bodies as it does to change in our environment. Even if you are change-friendly and are able to more easily adapt to change, your brain still responds to it as pain.

 

* [6:06] What is Change Intelligence? Intellectual Intelligence, IQ, is needed for solving problems and developing products. Emotional Intelligence, EQ, is needed to partner with others so we understand our own emotions and those of others. Change Intelligence, CQ, is awareness of our change style and the ability to adapt our style to be effective in different situations and with different people. CQ requires both awareness and adaptability. So often when people are asked to lead change or play a significant role in change, which is the norm for product managers, they encounter resistance. Overcoming resistance is the topic most written about in change literature, which creates an erroneous mindset that change is about controlling other people. We can only control ourselves – our mindset and behavior. CQ helps you be more aware of how you approach change and how to better react to others’ response to change.

 

* [9:24] How does knowing your Change Intelligence help you lead change? What looks like resistance in others is an opportunity for us as change leaders to do something different – something more effective. Being aware of your style helps you control your reaction to change and help others navigate the change.

 

* [10:05] What are the 3 styles of leading change? It’s a simple and actionable model, which is people lead change from the Heart, Head, and Hands.


 

* [20:14] How can knowledge of your change style be put into use? With a product team it can help you identify blind spots the team may have regarding change. If the team is missing a change style, knowledge of CQ will help you know how to fill the gap.]]>
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TEI 140: Market validation in 3 steps – with Bryan Elanko https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-140-market-validation-in-3-steps-with-bryan-elanko/ Mon, 04 Sep 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11848 How Product Managers and Innovators Can Validate a Product Concept for a Target Market Creating a successful product requires a diverse set of skills and one of them is properly validating a product concept. One form of this is market validation — understanding what a market segment values in the form of a product that […] How Product Managers and Innovators Can Validate a Product Concept for a Target Market Creating a successful product requires a diverse set of skills and one of them is properly validating a product concept. Creating a successful product requires a diverse set of skills and one of them is properly validating a product concept. One form of this is market validation — understanding what a market segment values in the form of a product that solves a meaningful problem.
To explore the steps for conducting market validation, I spoke with Bryan Elanko, who works on strategic planning and commercialization initiatives for National Oilwell Varco. Bryan has worked in the oil and gas industry for almost ten years across various design, engineering, and management roles. In one of these roles, he implemented NPD systems to drive increased collaboration and innovation, which makes him a great guest for you, the Everyday Innovator. I hope you enjoy the discussion.
Summary of some concepts discussed

* [2:30] What is market validation? It’s a reality check of the business opportunity, customer, the customer problem, and your proposed solution. It’s also a process to uncover snippets of reality that is behind anecdotal statements. Finally, it is a way to judge the agreement or alignment between what you see, hear, feel, and experience regarding your product and its reception by a market.


* [6:40] What problems are created when product managers don’t use market validation? Product managers need a feedback loop – a means to judge ideas that were a success and ideas that were not and why. Market validation gives you a means of knowing why product ideas are or are not a success. Using the “ready-aim-fire” analogy, market validation provides the knowledge to know if you are ready to develop a product concept into a product. Three main problems exist if you don’t do market validation properly.

* First, you are potentially delaying a successful product launch by releasing a product that does not offer customers sufficient value to entice them to purchase the product.
* Second, the organization will struggle to reach financial goals because products are released that are likely to fail.
* Third, you’ll allocate your resources inefficiently, devoting resources to projects that should have been killed but were not.




* [11:52] What are the characteristics of an effective market validation process? Some of the things that stop people from doing market validation are the myth that it is too time-consuming along with the myth that the customer is already well understood. Consequently, an effective market validation process must be quick, concise, and easy to execute to dispel the myths. Mark Zuckerberg gives the advice to “move fast and break things.” This is also good advice for conducting market validation.


* [19:53] How can market validation be conducted? First be clear about the context for the validation work. Is it for incremental improvements to an existing product, a product line edition, or a new-to-the-world game changing product, for example. Then, start with the customer, creating a clear definition of the ideal customer. This tells you who to focus on because next you want to understand the problem from their point of view and the key pain points the customer has. Then consider solutions that solve the customers’ problem and validate that the solution provides sufficient value to the customers. Those are the three essential steps: (1) customer, (2) pain points, and (3) solution. In the process be clear about assumptions you have made throughout these steps and take actions to eliminate the assumptions. Without market validation all you have are assumptions. Market validation gives you facts that decisions can be made from. Start market validation with face-to-face interviews with your ideal customer. Eight to ten customer interviews can provide insights into about 80% of the customer pain points.

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TEI 139: Crisis management for product managers – with Jim Parham https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-139-crisis-management-for-product-managers-with-jim-parham/ Mon, 28 Aug 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11827 Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators The topic of this episode is crisis management — meaning a crisis that threatens the reputation of a brand or product. When a crisis happens that involves a product, the product manager is expected to help with the issues. Also, as you take on more leadership responsibilities, it […] Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators The topic of this episode is crisis management — meaning a crisis that threatens the reputation of a brand or product. When a crisis happens that involves a product, The topic of this episode is crisis management — meaning a crisis that threatens the reputation of a brand or product. When a crisis happens that involves a product, the product manager is expected to help with the issues. Also, as you take on more leadership responsibilities, it becomes more likely, if a crisis occurs, that you’ll be part of the team helping to manage the problem. No organization wants to be in a crisis, but when it happens, people who know how to respond are highly valued.
To learn more about managing a crisis, I spoke with Jim Parham. Jim is the Chief Operating Officer at Hirons, an advertising and public relations company based in Indianapolis. He is also a lead Crisis Communication Manager and fondly known by customers and employees as the Professor, in part for his deep thinking as well for teaching part-time at Indiana University. He brings a background in journalism and senior leadership of large organizations, including serving as VP of Marketing.
I hope you are not involved in a crisis management situation, but when it happens, knowing what Jim shares will help you be proactive instead of reactive.
Summary of some concepts discussed

* [2:30] What is crisis management? First, a good example of a crisis is what has occurred with United Airlines lately and some high-profile incidents with customers on their airplanes. A crisis is short or long term damage to an organization. When such a crisis occurs that impacts the organization’s brand or product, a crisis manager works quickly to develop responses for internal employees, external customers, and media and journalist. It is also common to coordinate with the organization’s legal counsel. It comes down to handling the crisis as effectively as possible.

 

* [5:51] Why should product managers know about crisis management? When a crisis occurs, if it involves a product, there will be many questions for the product manager and others involved in developing the product. The product manager will be involved in the crisis management.

 

* [9:29] What do crisis managers do for an organization? It’s not about spinning the situation. You can’t always make lemonade out of lemons. It’s  about explaining what happened and putting the pieces together in a responsible and factual manner.  You have to deal with the responsible parties involved and communicate the facts appropriately.

 

* [11:38] What are the qualities of an effective crisis manager? You have to exercise independence and emotional neutrality. A crisis  manager shows up to work with people who are having their worst day and need to sort it out and make sense of it. You must be a careful listener with the ability to accurately assess a situation that may be changing minute by minute. Written and verbal communications is a must because the crisis manager will be sending messages to employees, media, and others impacted by the crisis as well as conducting press conferences. You must also be a diplomat to deal with the various parties involved who are demanding information and answers. Another capability is knowing what to focus on and when – separating the wheat from the chaff. It is not uncommon to have the wrong information at first and you don’t want to share incorrect information. You also need to understand the current communication channels including the use of technologies and social media.

 

* [16:10] What qualities do a product manager need to help with a crisis? It’s the abilities to remain neutral and not be defensive about the situation. Information needs to be shared clearly and factually.

 

* [18:31] What are the keys to handling a crisis? In the past a crisis manager may have tried to control the information that is shared.]]>
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TEI 138: The science behind success for product managers – with Eric Barker https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-138-the-science-behind-success-for-product-managers-with-eric-barker/ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11807 Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators Much of the advice we’ve been told about being successful as a product manager and innovator is logical, earnest… and downright wrong. My guest, Eric Barker, explores the science of success. In his book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric reveals the science behind what actually […] Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators Much of the advice we’ve been told about being successful as a product manager and innovator is logical, earnest… and downright wrong. My guest, Eric Barker, explores the science of success.
Much of the advice we’ve been told about being successful as a product manager and innovator is logical, earnest… and downright wrong. My guest, Eric Barker, explores the science of success. In his book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric reveals the science behind what actually determines success and—most important—how you can achieve it. Eric also has a popular blog by the same name as his book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, that also shares science-based answers and expert insight on how to be successful.
Much of the insights can be summarized as:
Know yourself and pick the right pond.
This means knowing your strengths and working in an environment where you can frequently use your strengths. This and more is summarized below and discussed in the interview.
Summary of some concepts discussed

* [4:08] When should product managers play it safe and when should they break the rules? First, people need to get to know themselves and align themselves with the right role. If you are a constant rule breaker, find an industry, company, and role that allows you that freedom. Also, from the book Little Bets, we know that low resource, quick commitments that can be tested is the right way to approach innovation. Instead of committing to one thing that we don’t know will be successful or not, make several small commitments that move the needle forward and allow you to assess what is likely to work.

 

* [9:19] How do product managers find the resilience to keep going and not give up? Resilience is important because a lot of people give up on projects that have long term potential. Three ideas are well-established in the literature.

* First is optimism. When you are optimistic – when you believe things will work out – then why not follow through. If you believe you will win, then you’ll take action. Optimism is composed of three Ps – personal, pervasive, and permanent. When you see that you did a good job for what you are personally responsible for, that things are working out for everything you are doing (pervasive), and that it is going to continue (permanent), we feel good. When the opposite is true, people get a feeling of futility and when that continues we call it clinical depression, feeling there is no point to continuing what we are doing. Recognize the positive elements to reinforce the three Ps and argue against negative thinking.
* Second is making work a game, which must have four characteristics. The game – the process you are going through — must be winnable. It must have novelty so it feels new at times and you don’t get bored. It must also have clear goals. Finally, it must provide feedback on your progress.
* Third are the stories we tell ourselves. We turn the events of our life into stories. If the stories you tell yourself involve persistence and not giving up, you are more likely to have resilience.



 

* [17:55] What is more important to product managers – what they know or who they know? The research studies are consistent that having a large network is powerful in getting promoted, getting employed, and being successful. However, there is also research that shows that the more extroverted you are, the worse you are at your job. If you are focused on networking, you are not developing your individual skills. There needs to be a balance between the two. Focus on alignment by asking what your role requires and what your skill sets are in networking versus individual proficiency. Product managers need to know the people who are influential in getting things done. You don’t want to build these relationships when you need something – you want to build them ahead of that time. Take the time to meet the people you will need to help you before you need the help.

 

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TEI 137: How product managers look & sound like leaders – with Tom Henschel https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-137-how-product-managers-look-sound-like-leaders-with-tom-henschel/ Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11769 Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators Have you noticed leaders in your organization sound and look different from other employees? It’s not always true for all organizations, but leaders often talk differently — they are optimistic when they speak, they ask insightful questions, and they tend to focus on what is most […] Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators Have you noticed leaders in your organization sound and look different from other employees? It’s not always true for all organizations, but leaders often talk differently — they are optimisti...
Have you noticed leaders in your organization sound and look different from other employees? It’s not always true for all organizations, but leaders often talk differently — they are optimistic when they speak, they ask insightful questions, and they tend to focus on what is most important.
To explore the topic of what leaders sound like – also known as, how to talk like a leader, I spoke with Tom Henschel, a professional actor who is now an executive coach. He works with clients primarily on achieving the look and sound of leadership. He’s a communication skills coach and has been running his company, Essential Communications, since 1990.
Before that, Tom got his start as a professional actor after attending The Juilliard School and going on to perform in over a hundred plays and episodes of television. He was also a successful director and university teacher.
He also has a monthly podcast, “The Look & Sound of Leadership,” which is a permanent member of the “What’s Hot” business podcast section on iTunes.
Summary of some concepts discussed

* [3:22:] How did your experience as an actor help to equip you as a communication coach? Behavior has meaning. When you raise an eyebrow or a fist when you are talking to someone, it has meaning. The person you’re talking to is going to have a reaction regardless what is in your heart to communicate. In the workplace people can forget that behavior has meaning. I call it acting on the corporate stage. Your audience is around you all the time. From acting I learned the importance of been intentional – understanding your intentions in a scene. The same applies to the corporate environment. I often ask executives what their intentions are — for example, what they want from a meeting or a discussion. Behavior has meaning and your intentions need to be clear. This is especially true for product managers who often do not have any real authority and must use their influence to gain support from others.

 

* [7:04] What is the look and sound of leadership? It is the name of my podcast as well as the brand of my work. It is my coaching. It is simply the idea that your look and your sound has meaning and will impact your effectiveness. I’ll illustrate it with an example. Phil was a senior leader at an aerospace company. He was fantastic at having the look and sound of a leader. He was leading a billion dollar project. When I meet with Phil, I ask him what are we talking about today. He might respond with, “There are three things I want to talk about – a conversation with my boss, an issue about my staff meetings, and something with one of my direct reports.” That kind of sorting of information and clarity is a great way to sound like a leader. That is the look and sound of leadership. Some people are great at it and others are terrible. Product managers must communicate with others, especially leaders, in ways that make sense to the person they talk to, helping them understand the bigger picture. Sorting information like Phil does is a useful communication tool and part of looking and sounding like a leader. I call this tool Sorting and Labeling.

 

* [13:55] How do you use Sorting and Labeling? It involves four parts: (1) headline, (2) sort, (3) labels, and (4) transitions. Refer to the infographic below. The headline tells people what you are talking about. For example, “what I want to talk about is giving a successful presentation.” Pause after the headline to make it stand out as a headline. Next is sort, which usually means using numbers. For example, “I have one item we need a decision on …” or “ I have three items to discuss, first…” Next are the labels for each item you wish to communicate. For example, Phil used the labels of a conversation with his boss,]]>
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TEI 136: Improving organizations with Design Thinking and Positive Change Leadership – with Gene Beyt https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-136-improving-organizations-with-design-thinking-and-positive-changed-leadership-with-gene-beyt/ Mon, 07 Aug 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11678 Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators This is your home for making your move from product manager to Product Master so you can BEAT the competition. There are four levels, which spell BEAT, toward product mastery — Build your base, Earn professional certification, Apply deep dives, and Transform the organization. The fourth […] Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators This is your home for making your move from product manager to Product Master so you can BEAT the competition. There are four levels, which spell BEAT,
This is your home for making your move from product manager to Product Master so you can BEAT the competition. There are four levels, which spell BEAT, toward product mastery — Build your base, Earn professional certification, Apply deep dives, and Transform the organization. The fourth level — transform the organization — is the topic of this episode. At this level, product managers go from building better products to building a better organization. This is a role product managers are uniquely equipped for and are the best resource for organizations that truly want to improve.

 

Someone who has helped several organizations be better, specifically those in health care, is Dr. Gene Beyt. Gene is a medical doctor who now works with organizations as a healthcare designer, educator, artist, and creative director. He has a simple mission — to put human needs and well-being at the center of all that we do.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed
 

* [3:34:] How are product managers uniquely equipped to transform the organization? The position of a product manager provides three advantages. (1) Product managers are system thinkers who have a holistic view of the organization. (2) They have a strong sense of the culture of the organization, understanding the expected norms and routines. (3) They have gained relationships over time that span the organization, which enable them to navigate politics and have a powerful perspective.


* [7:18] What is a positive business? Much of the research in this area has come out of the University of Michigan. It’s a fundamental idea that an organization that is human-centered and customer-outcome focused and chooses affirmative business practices will have greater beneficial impacts to employees and customers. It is a business based on positivity. Such organizations typically have a general good as its aim, with a positive impact on the community and the environment while pursuing profit. The research of such businesses indicates that the outcomes of performance and profitability usually exceed expectations. The bigger picture is to help humans thrive and flourish, and in the process, such businesses achieve higher performance. There is a current movement to create “B-Corps” which is a public business entity that has the charter to do good first while maximizing profit.


* [13:44] How do you apply Design Thinking for organizational improvement? In a traditional organization where there is a fair amount of control, the common path to improvement is through reducing variation. Plan-Do-Check-Act cycles and Lean tools are used to reduce waste, improve profitability, and hopefully improve customer satisfaction along the way. From the perspective of the healthcare industry, there are four areas to consider. Real improvement cannot be achieved without re-designing these areas. They are (1) the patient experience, (2) patient outcomes, (3) cost, and (4) the workforce that tends to be burned out and disengaged. What Design Thinking does is turn around the normal problem-solving process. Instead of first focusing on a solution, you start by gaining an empathetic understanding of those affected – the customers (patients) and the employees (care providers). When employees are taught Design Thinking and they use it to solve problems, you see real change in the culture and improvements across the four areas.


* [24:15] What is Positive Change Leadership? Positive Change Leadership is used concurrently with Design Thinking. Fundamental to the definition is the understanding that at one time or another everyone in the organization is leading other people and everyone is a follower. The idea is that leaders are making a change towards a positive business.]]>
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TEI 135: The essential 4-step product innovation process based on Design Thinking – with Gordon Stannis https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-135-a-product-innovation-process-based-on-design-thinking-with-gordon-stannis/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11619 Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators   I love hearing how companies are creating successful products that provide customers value, which is the topic of this episode. Gordon Stannis, the Director of Design and Strategy at Twisthink shares their approach to developing innovative solutions for their Fortune 500 clients. Gordon started his […] Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators   I love hearing how companies are creating successful products that provide customers value, which is the topic of this episode. Gordon Stannis, the Director of Design and Strategy at Twisthi...
 

I love hearing how companies are creating successful products that provide customers value, which is the topic of this episode. Gordon Stannis, the Director of Design and Strategy at Twisthink shares their approach to developing innovative solutions for their Fortune 500 clients. Gordon started his work as an industrial designer and then moved into product development and management roles.
We discuss the process Gordon uses for creating innovative products, and he shares the product journey of a tool for competitive swim coaches as an example of the process.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed
 

* [2:26] How has product design changed? 15 years ago clients told us what they wanted and we would design a product that met their needs. Today we design user experiences, services, and products as an integrated package after first discovering unmet needs of customers. The creation of tangible products has shifted to the creation of services.


* [4:12] What is your approach to designing products? First, we align our language with our clients. We need to be chameleons and use the language our clients do. We understand them and their needs. We use the analogy of bridges half constructed because we build bridges between where clients are with their product needs and where they want to go. We embrace failing as part of the design process, and we plan to fail a lot during the front-end of product design so we don’t fail on the back-end. Failing simple means we are learning. When we fail we learn knowledge that competitors are unlikely to have. Failure Lab is a useful site that showcases the learning from personal stories of failure.


* [13:52] What are the steps in your process? What is interesting is how the process has changed over our history. 15 years ago clients provided marketing requirements documents. We haven’t seen those in years – no one has time for such documents anymore. Now we identify the “hill” the client wants to pursue. This is investigated during the initial discussions with the client. This is like therapy sessions – you could call it innovation counseling to discern where they want to go and why they want to go there. This is the first step.


* [15:57] What is the next step? At some point during the innovation counseling sessions, someone will share a magic sentence that becomes the North Star for the project – a clear sentence that describes where we are heading. For example, in one session the North Star statement was “we want to use design technology and strategy to allow a coach to be a better coach and an athlete to be a better self-coach.” This example became a product used by 13 USA Olympic swimming champions. We then build plans to support the North Star.


* [17:33] What comes after the North Star? We have to understand the market and develop a great depth of empathy for the customer. We hang out with the customer in their environment. Continuing the example, we hung out at pools where high-end competitive coaches work, to understand what they want to accomplish and the challenges involved. From this, we create a picture of what would be valuable to customers.


* [19:12] What do you do with the understanding of the customers’ problem? We fast forward and do pre-design. This is not a real solution design phase but a quick and intuitive view of what elements of a solution could look like. For the swim coach challenge, we took our understanding of the problem and made simple prototypes and a product video showing the prototypes in use. We had the opportunity to attend a swim coach tradeshow to get feedback from coaches. We created a fake company and had a booth at the show with our simple prototypes and product video. We told coaches we could collect 10 metrics from a swimmer an...]]>
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TEI 134: 4 steps for building an innovation ecosystem- with Dave Oventhal, DBA https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-134-4-steps-for-building-an-innovation-ecosystem-with-dave-oventhal-dba/ Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11560 Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators My discussion is with Dave Oventhal, who has spent over twenty years in various product development and marketing positions, including product planner, product marketing manager, and product manager, and has led product management teams in various industries. He has extensive experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research […] Listen to the Interview for Product Managers and Innovators My discussion is with Dave Oventhal, who has spent over twenty years in various product development and marketing positions, including product planner, product marketing manager,
My discussion is with Dave Oventhal, who has spent over twenty years in various product development and marketing positions, including product planner, product marketing manager, and product manager, and has led product management teams in various industries. He has extensive experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research and has been directly involved in hundreds of product development projects. He has served as a chapter president for the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) — an organization I also recommend to product managers. And, he has a doctorate in business administration with an emphasis in strategy and innovation.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed:

* [2:23] What is your work at Kawasaki Motor Corporation? I get to play with a lot of toys – motorcycles, jet skis, and more. My group is responsible for product management, data analysis, business planning – all the product planning/product management activities. My specific role in the group now is market research and I’m also overseeing product management activities for the Jet Ski line of products.


* [4:22] What is an innovation ecosystem? Innovation is turning ideas into value. An Ecosystem is a community of interacting people and their environment. So an innovation ecosystem is building the organizational culture to include innovation.


* [6:12] Who should be involved in creating an innovation ecosystem? Ideally, it is senior or executive leadership. It needs to come from the top down. CEOs and executives often talk about the importance of innovative solutions and new products. To change the status-quo, senior leaders need to be behind the effort.


* [12:26] What are the four steps to creating an innovation ecosystem?

* Get commitment from leadership. Senior leaders must champion the effort and lead from the front.
* Teach core skills. Conduct workshops that teach problem-solving, creativity, and decision making. Get everyone understanding what it means to improve the organization’s innovation ecosystem and get them moving towards the goal.
* Put the plan into practice. Create metrics to gauge progress and access which groups are moving towards the goal and which need further help. Make it part of performance reviews. Recognize that it is a long-term change.
* Experiment and test. Kawasaki Motors is full of former competitive racers, including me, and we all know the phrase go slow to go fast. You have to do the right things first and learn the basics before going faster. This means taking the time to experiment, assessing what is working, and making improvements to better move towards the goal.




* [38:00] What would you tell a new product manager that you wish you had known when you started as a product manager? Learn from more experienced product managers. Understand how the work in the organization is getting accomplished. Also, get involved with a product management group. The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) is an excellent one I’ve been involved with. Take your profession seriously and be part of an association. Also, consider professional certification, including PDMA’s New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification.

Useful links:

* Connect with Dave on LinkedIn
* Dave’s website
* Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) website
* Information on the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification

 
Innovation Quotes
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TEI 133: History as a tool for product managers & innovators – with Scott Bowden https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-133-history-as-a-tool-for-product-managers-innovators-with-scott-bowden/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11461 I am a student of approaches for innovation – how ideas are conceived and turned into valuable products and services. However, my guest introduced me to a new line of thinking — an approach to innovation I had not previously been exposed to and for that I’m thankful. I now have another tool in my innovation […] I am a student of approaches for innovation – how ideas are conceived and turned into valuable products and services. However, my guest introduced me to a new line of thinking — an approach to innovation I had not previously been exposed to and for tha... I am a student of approaches for innovation – how ideas are conceived and turned into valuable products and services. However, my guest introduced me to a new line of thinking — an approach to innovation I had not previously been exposed to and for that I’m thankful. I now have another tool in my innovation toolbox and you will too after hearing Scott Bowden share how innovations throughout history can provide modern ideas and help solve problems we face today.
After spending nearly 20 years at IBM, Scott is now traveling the globe to investigate and share how historic innovations provide lessons for the modern-day innovation practitioners – you and me.
Scott shares several examples of historic innovations and I hope you find them as interesting as I did.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some concepts discussed:

* [2:10] History can be a great tool in solving day-to-day problems encountered in innovation.


* [2:44] Three different ways of solving innovation problems are: (1) using mimicry for incremental improvements, (2) finding aha moments that lead to breakthroughs, and (3) applying analogies from other disciplines or fields of study. Historical innovation is a use of the third approach – applying analogies. Exploring examples is a good way to think about historical innovation. Six examples follow.


* [5:38] Example 1 – James Watt was a struggling engineer trying to create a more efficient steam engine to pump water out of the coal mines in England. While taking a walk, the idea of a new condenser model came to him, which became successful and launched the Industrial Revolution. The innovation tool is to step outside of your normal routine and give your brain an opportunity to think about the problem differently.


* [6:50] Example 2 – Masada is an ancient fortress in the desert region of Israel built on a high plateau with an elevation of about 1300 feet. The innovation was how they engineered a water collection and delivery system. Part of the system involves servants who would lift the water from cisterns to the higher levels of the fortress where it was needed. It is an example of how a manual step may be used, at least temporarily, to solve a technical challenge.


* [10:04] Example 3 – Medinas consist of tight alleyways and random walkways laid out in a maze-like manner. They are common in Morocco and seen in Indiana Jones and James Bond movies. They served as a security feature of a city. If an enemy was able to breach the walls of the city they would find it difficult to navigate through the Medina, giving an advantage to the residences. A modern implementation of this idea could be seen in computer security that organizes information in a Medina-manner so if the firewall was breached, it would still be difficult to find meaningful information.
* [14:30] Example 4 – The Inca Civilization was an empire in South America that existed around the 1400s. One of the most famous sites is Machu Picchu, set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. It is a rock Citadel with incredible rock drop-offs on three sides. It may have been constructed as a university to aid them in the future expansion of the civilization into the unknown jungle. If so, it would be an example of taking smaller known steps that help to construct a path to something that is unknown.


* [19:14] Example 5 – The Inca Moray is a site of agriculture terraces used for seed research. Each terrace is about 8 feet tall with only three or four steps from one terrace to the next. Because the steps are so tall, they are difficult to walk up and down but they are spaced in a manner that makes them easier to run up and down. The innovation analogy is to consider how speeding up or slowing down a step or set of activities can impact the solution.


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TEI 132: Integrating Lean Startup and Stage-Gate – with Mark Adkins https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/integrating-lean-startup-and-stage-gate-with-mark-adkins/ Mon, 10 Jul 2017 11:50:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11303 Lean Startup or Stage-Gate? More often organizations are not choosing one or the other but taking the “and” option and integrating both into their product processes.  The challenge is how to get them to play nice with each other and gain the benefits of each without losing something in the process. To discuss this topic […] Lean Startup or Stage-Gate? More often organizations are not choosing one or the other but taking the “and” option and integrating both into their product processes.  The challenge is how to get them to play nice with each other and gain the benefits o... Lean Startup or Stage-Gate? More often organizations are not choosing one or the other but taking the “and” option and integrating both into their product processes.  The challenge is how to get them to play nice with each other and gain the benefits of each without losing something in the process.
To discuss this topic I turned to a well-experienced product manager and innovator who mentors young entrepreneurs as well as large companies, showing them how to put Lean into practice and align it with other methodologies, including Stage-Gate. My guest is Mark Adkins, president of Smart Hammer Innovation, a management consulting business that helps companies apply best practices to Innovation Management. He is also a part-time professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation.
Mark shares how Lean Startup works best in the front end of Stage-Gate, enhancing an organization’s product process.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some concepts discussed:

* [2:17] Mark’s first experience as a product manager earned him and his organization the Outstanding Corporate Innovator award. Not bad!


* [9:40] Several product managers recognized the need for a faster way to find and test breakthrough ideas. This was pre-Lean Startup. Mark’s company formed a group called Innovation Ventures that operated outside of a stage-gate process to explore ideas in an environment with fewer constraints.


* [10:00] Mark mentors students at the University of Pittsburgh in the Blast Furnace program for entrepreneurs. He uses Eric Ries’ Lean Startup materials and Alex Osterwalder’s Business Canvas/Value Proposition materials (see episode 123 for an interview with Alex Osterwalder). He has also applied the materials in large organizations. The breadth of experiences has provided important insights.


* [11:25] An example is Mark’s engagement with a large company he has worked with for the last year and a half integrating lean startup methodology as pre-stage gate (or stage 0) process. The company had a very solid stage-gate process but lacked breakthrough product development. Adding Lean improved that.


* [15:31] Big companies struggle with the concept of “fail fast.” What is important is that learning takes place. When you’re doing your early customer investigation, thinking of value propositions, or considering product concepts, you’re in the early stages of innovation and your sole metric is based on asking, what am I learning?


* [18:47] The standard stage-gate processes are: (1) scope, (2) business case, (3) development, (4) test & validation, and (5) launch. Add a zero stage for Lean.


* [24:46] Stage 0 is built around Lean and is where a Learning Plan is created and conducted. A Learning Plan is an iterative loop of:

* Ideation – create or discover ideas
* Experimenting – designing experiments to test assumptions
* Customer discovery – get out of the office and talk to customers about the idea
* Business model canvas – create a one-page business plan to analyze the feasibility of the idea




* [26:00] The idea is evaluated for feasibility using the areas of technical, clinical (for medical products), organizational, and financial.


* [27:40] Keep turning the crank, moving through a Learning Plan, creating a new one, and moving through again, until you know how to solve a specific customer problem in a specific way that creates value for the customer and your organization.


* [29:26] In addition to Eric Ries’ work,]]>
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