The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers https://productinnovationeducators.com Where product leaders and managers make their move product master. Mon, 15 Jul 2019 18:06:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.2 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 238 Flashback: Using Lean to Run Experiments and Deliver Customer Value-with Ash Maurya https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-238-flashback-using-lean-to-run-experiments-and-deliver-customer-value-with-ash-maurya/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:55:17 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14926 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-238-flashback-using-lean-to-run-experiments-and-deliver-customer-value-with-ash-maurya/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-238-flashback-using-lean-to-run-experiments-and-deliver-customer-value-with-ash-maurya/feed/ 0 The art of Lean and the Lean Canvas for product managers During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, it will make you a better communicator! It was originally episode 010. —– Ash Maurya […]

The art of Lean and the Lean Canvas for product managers

During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, it will make you a better communicator! It was originally episode 010.

—–

Ash Maurya is the author of “Running Lean: How to Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works.” Educated as an electrical engineer, he worked in software development before founding his first company, WiredReach. He is now the founder and CEO of Spark59, which equips entrepreneurs to succeed by providing tools, content and coaching.

I discovered his work when I was looking for additional information on the Business Model Canvas – a popular one-page approach to creating a business plan. I wanted a canvas to help me formulate a business model for a product and I discovered Ash’s Lean Canvas and Lean Stack tools that help entrepreneurs, startups, and product managers create products customers want.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators

Highlights from the discussion include:

  • When you are in Austin, TX, try Ash’s favorite breakfast tacos at Tacodeli.
  • Try yoga for physical strength and mental focus.
  • 3 stages of a startup that apply to product development
    • The Artists are Starving: inspired by building something new, but have to eat, too. Need to find a sustainable business model.
    • The Artists Have to Survive: product pivots can result in a sustainable business, but it may no longer be one that inspires its creators.
    • The Entrepreneurs (no longer Artists) Must Find Purpose in their Customers: purpose and passion for the work that is creating products customers value.
  • Entrepreneurship, as well as new product development, is not risky – these activities apply risk management techniques and control risk.
  • The seed for the book “Running Lean” started after exploring the early works of Steve Blank and Eric Ries and the desire to test product concepts more quickly.
  • A “Lean” approach is defined by Ash as one that maximizes quickly learning about the riskiest aspects in product concepts.
  • Contrasted with Agile development approaches, that measures performance in terms of completed features, Lean is concerned with the value the product delivers to the customer.
  • The core issue in product management is not “Can we build the product” but “Will customers care” if the product is built.
  • The Lean approach involves running small fast experiments to test what customers want and what creates value.
  • Properly conducted, customer interviews provide the information product managers need to understand the customer’s problem.
  • Ethnography – being a fly on the wall observing customers – is also very effective to better understand the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Ultimately customers don’t care about your solution, they care about their problems and how to solve them.
  • Ash’s blog, Practice Trumps Theory, is full of valuable how-to information for product developers and managers. His next book will take shape on his blog before it is published.
  • The Lean Canvas provides a one-page business model that works as well for startups as it does product managers. It consists of nine elements:
  1. Customer segments
  2. Channels
  3. Customer problems
  4. Solution
  5. Value proposition
  6. Revenue streams
  7. Cost structure
  8. Success metrics
  9. Unfair advantage

Special Bonus: Get a Lean Canvas Template and Ash’s instructions for using the Lean Canvas.

 

Innovation Quote

Ash’s mantra… “Life’s too short to build something that nobody wants.”

 

Raw Transcript

tei-010_-ash_maurya

Thanks for Listening!

Thank you for joining me again. I love discussing product development and learning from the successes and failures of product innovators. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product innovation professional by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

]]>
The art of Lean and the Lean Canvas for product managers During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, Ash Maurya is the author of "Running Lean: How to Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works.” Educated as an electrical engineer, he worked in software development before founding his first company, WiredReach. He is now the founder and CEO of Spark59, which equips entrepreneurs to succeed by providing tools, content and coaching.<br /> <br /> I discovered his work when I was looking for additional information on the Business Model Canvas - a popular one-page approach to creating a business plan. I wanted a canvas to help me formulate a business model for a product and I discovered Ash’s Lean Canvas and Lean Stack tools that help entrepreneurs, startups, and product managers create products customers want. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 39:44
TEI 237 Flashback: Effectively pitching your ideas and influencing others – with Nancy Duarte https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-237-flashback-effectively-pitching-your-ideas-and-influencing-others-with-nancy-duarte/ Mon, 08 Jul 2019 09:55:13 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14920 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-237-flashback-effectively-pitching-your-ideas-and-influencing-others-with-nancy-duarte/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-237-flashback-effectively-pitching-your-ideas-and-influencing-others-with-nancy-duarte/feed/ 0 The simple way product managers can clearly communicate anything and increase their influence. During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, it will make you a better communicator! It was originally episode 076. —– […] Nancy DuarteThe simple way product managers can clearly communicate anything and increase their influence.

During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, it will make you a better communicator! It was originally episode 076.

—–

The 2016 Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey identified four skills that are responsible for a significant increase in personal income. Product managers that excel in these four areas earn 25% more than product managers who don’t. One of these skills is called “pitch artist” and is defined as, “the ability to stand up to peers, managers and executives and sell them your ideas and conclusions.” When it comes to being a pitch artist — effectively communicating ideas and influencing others — there is no better expert than Nancy Duarte of the Durate design firm in Silicon Valley.

Nancy is a communication expert who’s been featured in several publications including Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company. Her firm has created thousands of presentations for the world’s top institutions, including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, GE, Google, TED, and the World Bank and has taught many more people how to create effective presentations. She’s also the author of Resonate, Slide:ology, the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, and co-author of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols.

There was so much to cover that the interview is in two parts with each addressing a different topic.

In Part 1,  Nancy shares how product managers can effectively communicate ideas and influence others to support their ideas. She takes us on a journey through storytelling, movies, and tribal traditions, sharing what it means to be an idea Torchbearer through five stages:

  1. dream,
  2. leap,
  3. fight,
  4. climb, and
  5. arrive.

I had a special co-host, Dr. John Latham, guide the discussion in Part 2.  Nancy shared her experience taking a small innovative company and scaling it without losing what makes it innovative.

 

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators

Part 1: How Product Managers can Effectively Communicate

  • How has your thinking on effectively communicating ideas evolved over time? My first writing on communicating dealt with the micro view – how to create effective and compelling slides. Over time I have examined the bigger picture. Illuminate zooms out beyond the presentation and connects with the purpose of the presentation, such as driving change and transforming a group or organization.
  • You call innovators Torchbearers – why? [In Illuminate I shared…”Leaders aren’t just the people at the top of the org chart—a leader is anyone who can see a better future and rally people to reach it. Whether you’re an executive, entrepreneur, or individual contributor, you have the potential to motivate people through your words and actions.” Anyone involved with product management and innovation is certainly included in that list.] In fact, Illuminate is written for innovators and how they can influence others to join their plans. If we called them leaders, it wouldn’t really capture what we were trying to convey. We landed on torchbearers and travelers. We were actually inspired by Frodo [in Lord of the Rings] in the sense that he was the bearer of a ring and it came with a burden. You have to be called to be a leader but then you have to accept it, almost like a mantle, but so many people just pass it by. We really liked the concept of bearing a torch, because in situations where you need a torch, usually it’s dark and damp and scary and not well-lit and unknown. You don’t know where you’re going and you need a torch. A torch basically illuminates enough right in front of you to make the next few steps bearable and understandable. That’s what communication does. It casts just enough light for people to join you and say, “I could go there, that’s not that scary.” That’s why we really like this concept of torchbearer and travelers, because it’s a journey and the leader should be on the journey with the team and understanding how they’re feeling, understanding when they’re too tired to keep going, and understanding when they need their wounds healed.
  • For Torchbearers to be effective, you defined a path, called the Venture Scape. Please walk through that for us. Venture Scape is a 5-stage structure. It beings with Dream.  The first thing you need to do is have a dream – a dream of an alternate future. As the communicator, that moment needs to be one of inspiration. In the dream phase you need to create a moment of inspiration and to do that, you would use speeches, stories, ceremonies and symbols to inspire people.
  • After Dream is Leap – what is that? After declaring a dream, you need to create action in others, like William Wallace in Braveheart being on the muddy field. You need to understand the hearts of the people when you declare the dream – their hearts will determine who will hear the dream and jump in or not. If you say it in such a way, people will want to commit. If there’s any resistance, you need to create a moment of decision, a moment where they have to decide. Dream and Leap are the first act of a three-act story.
  • Next is Fight? Fight and then Climb. These next two stages go together and make up the second act of the story. They are the messy middle, and that’s Fight and Climb. Just like in story-telling, in a really exciting adventure movie, there’s the challenge that must be overcome, like Frodo getting the arrow in his shoulder, and still having to climb the vast mountain. It’s the most exciting time and you know you’re on the edge of your seat, but it is not fun to be the one going through it. One of the reasons Venture Scape is a visual model is because we really wanted leaders, anyone who’s leading a product or leading change or innovating, to understand how hard this is and how hard it can be on rest of the group. We need to really understand the hearts and minds of the people we’re asking to do this work, and so this fight phase is very important, and this is when you need to create a kind of a rally cry. In myths and movies, what happens is usually at this phase is they have to recommit to what they committed to originally. It’s about reconnecting them to the dream of why we’re doing this in the first place.
  • That brings us to the Arrive stage of the Venture Scape. This is the third and final act. We don’t call this a moment of victory, but rather a moment of reflection, because in reality you don’t always win. We don’t wake up every day having won. Life’s not like that. We lose a lot. When that happens, we need to be able to let those who followed us know we tried and we lost. We need to reflect on what just happened. If it’s a victory, you reflect on the victory. But even in a victory, there were lessons learned. Capture those and then move on. Organizations that are thriving are constantly innovating, which means no sooner do you arrive than you have to move on to the next product.

 

Part 2: Scaling an Innovative Company

  • What issues did you face with Duarte, Inc. regarding the design and implementation of the new systems to fit your growing creative organization? It’s like what women think before they go into childbirth – I knew it’d be hard, but I didn’t know it would be that hard. When you are a creative firm, the biggest thing you need your staff to do is take risks. As we were looking at trying to go global, I knew that I couldn’t just copy Duarte as it was – we had a goofy structure. I had account teams that acted like business owners and the artists answered into my account team. That’s unheard of. My designers couldn’t be developed because they weren’t led by a creative person, and so I unbundled all of that. I had the designers answer-in to designers, I had the account people answer-in to a powerful executive. We faced other challenges with our information systems [details in the transcript]. We are getting to the flexible organization I want.
  • Work is personal and our identities are often intertwined with our work. With Duarte, Inc. what influenced your decision to go fast or slow? Everyone needs something different in a season of transformation. Half the shop was like…”take the Band-Aid off fast!” And the others were like…”slow down, slooow down.” You just can’t make everyone happy at the same time. Some were excited, some were terrified. I actually created this big matrix around the polarity of perspectives on different issues. On the same issue, the polarity of gaps and the perception around it varied 180 degrees.  After carefully listening to employees and customers, we made some really swift decisions. I had a cross-functional team do what I called an empathy walk. We took five different project types and talked through what our process looks like to our customers. We realized we have too many steps in our processes and started hacking away to eliminate what didn’t add real value. It was really remarkable.
  • You noted in the book that some of your people had not been managers before. In addition to tolerance for imperfection or mistakes, how did you prepare your workforce to take on new roles and responsibilities?  They had to go from not manager to manager, and we just kind of turned the switch because we didn’t have a choice. I used this metaphor of the huge shoes they’re going to step in. If you’ve ever seen a clown with really large shoes, it’s just awkward at first. The clown metaphor might not have been the best, but that’s how it is. It will be a little awkward, but then they’ll grow into the shoes and they’ll be normal-sized shoes. The first thing I did was to leverage my little bank of literature. I gave them One-Minute Manager, which is such a classic, and the book Gung Ho. I now ask them to read a couple of books a year. This year, the whole company is going through Crucial Conversations.
  • Many successful leaders of organization transformation have noted that they were transformed along the way as well. Do you think that you have transformed as a leader along with Duarte, Inc. and if so how? You know what is fascinating is it was really meta to be working on a book about transformations while my own organization was going through the largest transformation ever. I have definitely changed. I’m reading my own material and applying it to my own life.

 

Useful links:

 

Innovation Quote

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” –attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

Raw Transcript

tei076

 

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.

]]>
The simple way product managers can clearly communicate anything and increase their influence. During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, it will make you a better communicator! It was originally episode 076.
—–
The 2016 Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey identified four skills that are responsible for a significant increase in personal income. Product managers that excel in these four areas earn 25% more than product managers who don’t. One of these skills is called “pitch artist” and is defined as, “the ability to stand up to peers, managers and executives and sell them your ideas and conclusions.” When it comes to being a pitch artist — effectively communicating ideas and influencing others — there is no better expert than Nancy Duarte of the Durate design firm in Silicon Valley.
Nancy is a communication expert who’s been featured in several publications including Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company. Her firm has created thousands of presentations for the world’s top institutions, including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, GE, Google, TED, and the World Bank and has taught many more people how to create effective presentations. She’s also the author of Resonate, Slide:ology, the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, and co-author of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols.
There was so much to cover that the interview is in two parts with each addressing a different topic.
In Part 1,  Nancy shares how product managers can effectively communicate ideas and influence others to support their ideas. She takes us on a journey through storytelling, movies, and tribal traditions, sharing what it means to be an idea Torchbearer through five stages:

* dream,
* leap,
* fight,
* climb, and
* arrive.

I had a special co-host, Dr. John Latham, guide the discussion in Part 2.  Nancy shared her experience taking a small innovative company and scaling it without losing what makes it innovative.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Part 1: How Product Managers can Effectively Communicate

* How has your thinking on effectively communicating ideas evolved over time? My first writing on communicating dealt with the micro view – how to create effective and compelling slides. Over time I have examined the bigger picture. Illuminate zooms out beyond the presentation and connects with the purpose of the presentation, such as driving change and transforming a group or organization.


* You call innovators Torchbearers – why? [In Illuminate I shared…”Leaders aren’t just the people at the top of the org chart—a leader is anyone who can see a better future and rally people to reach it. Whether you’re an executive, entrepreneur, or individual contributor, you have the potential to motivate people through your words and actions.” Anyone involved with product management and innovation is certainly included in that list.] In fact, Illuminate is written for innovators and how they can influence others to join their plans. If we called them leaders, it wouldn’t really capture what we were trying to convey. We landed on torchbearers and travelers. We were actually inspired by Frodo [in Lord of the Rings] in the sense that he was the bearer of a ring and it came with a burden. You have to be called to be a leader but then you have to accept it, almost like a mantle, but so many people just pass it by. We really liked the concept of bearing a torch, because in situations where you need a torch, usually it’s dark and damp and scary and not well-lit and unknown. You don’t know where you’re going and you need a torch.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 47:31
TEI 236: The best tools for managing virtual product teams – with Jonathan Soares https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-236-the-best-tools-for-managing-virtual-product-teams-with-jonathan-soares/ Mon, 01 Jul 2019 09:55:36 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14906 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-236-the-best-tools-for-managing-virtual-product-teams-with-jonathan-soares/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-236-the-best-tools-for-managing-virtual-product-teams-with-jonathan-soares/feed/ 0 Work together on product projects, rather than throwing them over the wall. In this discussion, our guest, Jonathan Soares, shares his tips and tools for working with product teams. Jonathan is the CEO of Agency Labs, a group that creates custom software, apps, and websites. He has good experience applying tools to help product development […] Work together on product projects, rather than throwing them over the wall.

Product Manager Interview - Jonathan SoaresIn this discussion, our guest, Jonathan Soares, shares his tips and tools for working with product teams. Jonathan is the CEO of Agency Labs, a group that creates custom software, apps, and websites. He has good experience applying tools to help product development teams work better, and we’ll find out more in just a minute.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:38] How do you get ready for a kickoff meeting with a virtual team?

We’ll usually receive designs, technical documents, or a high-level scope of work ahead of time. Every organization and its documentation is different. We always start by reviewing the documentation and compiling a list of questions to understand the current state and where they want to go. Asking these helps clients understand how we think and makes them feel more comfortable with us. Once we have the answers we need, we’ll develop a proposal for how we can work with the client.

[6:31] How early in the process do you like to get involved?

I like to get involved as early as possible. If someone has an idea, it’s our job to extract the requirements to figure out how to make it happen. We need to get as much information as possible, regardless of whether an organization has done any internal planning or not. We encourage product managers to have their colleagues complete an internal questionnaire so the requirements are fully articulated before we start our development work. We try to put ourselves in the client’s shoes and empathize with their skill sets and backgrounds.

[14:37] What can product managers do to be better partners with developers?

Thinking through your requirements and documenting them is a great first step. We recently received an RFP that was filled with company philosophy but only had half a page of technical requirements. We ended up with a 40-page follow-up questionnaire and an RFP process that took 6 months instead of 6 weeks.

[19:28] How do you approach the product development process?

When we deal with minimum viable products or proofs of concept, I love rapid prototypes that you can beta test in the field. This happens more often with in-house teams. We’ll go through requirements gathering and formulate our own wireframes and go right into development. We’ll get the initial product in front of users and then do the additional design work after user testing. You can save time by having well-articulated requirements up front and then beautifying it at the end.

[22:40] How do you keep a distributed team in sync?

We’ve worked with organizations that are distributed around the world. Our team all works together out of one office, and that’s part of our selling point to clients. The tools and methodologies we use are geared toward a production environment and very thoughtful workflows. Setting expectations from day one is very important, as is understanding what schedule gaps might come up based on vacations, etc. We use SmartSheets, which is a Gantt chart type of tool that allows you to track milestones. We are big fans of Slack for internal communication and Basecamp for our files and task lists. We manage projects in JIRA and store documentation on Atlassian’s wiki. Every project is tied to a JIRA ticket that has a deadline and we can track time to.

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.

]]>
Work together on product projects, rather than throwing them over the wall. In this discussion, our guest, Jonathan Soares, shares his tips and tools for working with product teams. Jonathan is the CEO of Agency Labs, In this discussion, our guest, Jonathan Soares, shares his tips and tools for working with product teams. Jonathan is the CEO of Agency Labs, a group that creates custom software, apps, and websites. He has good experience applying tools to help product development teams work better, and we’ll find out more in just a minute.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:38] How do you get ready for a kickoff meeting with a virtual team?
We’ll usually receive designs, technical documents, or a high-level scope of work ahead of time. Every organization and its documentation is different. We always start by reviewing the documentation and compiling a list of questions to understand the current state and where they want to go. Asking these helps clients understand how we think and makes them feel more comfortable with us. Once we have the answers we need, we’ll develop a proposal for how we can work with the client.
[6:31] How early in the process do you like to get involved?
I like to get involved as early as possible. If someone has an idea, it’s our job to extract the requirements to figure out how to make it happen. We need to get as much information as possible, regardless of whether an organization has done any internal planning or not. We encourage product managers to have their colleagues complete an internal questionnaire so the requirements are fully articulated before we start our development work. We try to put ourselves in the client’s shoes and empathize with their skill sets and backgrounds.
[14:37] What can product managers do to be better partners with developers?
Thinking through your requirements and documenting them is a great first step. We recently received an RFP that was filled with company philosophy but only had half a page of technical requirements. We ended up with a 40-page follow-up questionnaire and an RFP process that took 6 months instead of 6 weeks.
[19:28] How do you approach the product development process?
When we deal with minimum viable products or proofs of concept, I love rapid prototypes that you can beta test in the field. This happens more often with in-house teams. We’ll go through requirements gathering and formulate our own wireframes and go right into development. We’ll get the initial product in front of users and then do the additional design work after user testing. You can save time by having well-articulated requirements up front and then beautifying it at the end.
[22:40] How do you keep a distributed team in sync?
We’ve worked with organizations that are distributed around the world. Our team all works together out of one office, and that’s part of our selling point to clients. The tools and methodologies we use are geared toward a production environment and very thoughtful workflows. Setting expectations from day one is very important, as is understanding what schedule gaps might come up based on vacations, etc. We use SmartSheets, which is a Gantt chart type of tool that allows you to track milestones. We are big fans of Slack for internal communication and Basecamp for our files and task lists. We manage projects in JIRA and store documentation on Atlassian’s wiki. Every project is tied to a JIRA ticket that has a deadline and we can track time to.
Useful links:

* Connect with John via his LinkedIn profile
* Agency Labs

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 f...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 33:07
TEI 235: Better decision-making for product managers using the 11 Laws of Trading – with Agustin Lebron https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-235-better-decision-making-for-product-managers-using-the-11-laws-of-trading-with-agustin-lebron/ Mon, 24 Jun 2019 09:55:41 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14891 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-235-better-decision-making-for-product-managers-using-the-11-laws-of-trading-with-agustin-lebron/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-235-better-decision-making-for-product-managers-using-the-11-laws-of-trading-with-agustin-lebron/feed/ 0 Trading and product management decision-making are more alike than you might think. Decision-making is part of every product manager’s toolkit. Think about what it would mean to have effective guidelines or laws for better decision-making. You could make simple decisions more quickly and decisively. You could have a more solid defense and reasoning for complicated […] Trading and product management decision-making are more alike than you might think.

Product Manager Interview - Agustin LebronDecision-making is part of every product manager’s toolkit. Think about what it would mean to have effective guidelines or laws for better decision-making. You could make simple decisions more quickly and decisively. You could have a more solid defense and reasoning for complicated decisions. You would also have less fatigue and stress related to making decisions.

Those are important benefits of better decision-making. To help you create guidelines, our guest has learned the art and science of decision-making in a variety of high-stress and fast environments. He started as a design engineer and then moved to Wall Street to be a trader. He has placed his insights for decision-making into the book titled, The Laws of Trading, A Trader’s Guide to Better Decision-Making for Everyone.   His laws address issues in several categories, including:

  1. Risk,
  2. Edge,
  3. Costs,
  4. Technology,
  5. Alignment, and
  6. Adaptation.

We discuss several of these.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[6:03]Risk: “Take only the risk you’re paid to take.”

Let’s say your company is describing a new mobile phone case. Your success is defined by whether the case sells well in the market. The risk you’re being paid to take is understanding the market, but you’re also being exposed to risks like foreign exchange rates. By negotiating in U.S. dollars, you remove that risk from the equation. Once you start examining what risks you’re taking to create that value, you start to look for a way to mitigate those other risks.

[8:05] Edge: “If you can’t explain it in five minutes, you don’t have a good one.”

An edge is something you both know and can do that others in the market don’t know and cannot do. Lots of companies are confused about their edge. They get seduced into thinking that only they can execute the idea or the idea can’t be duplicated. As product managers, we’re so focused on the customer that we sometimes forget about the competition. The world is a competitive place and you need to look beyond the surface level to find the true edge.

[11:55] Costs: “If your costs seem negligible relative to your edge, then you’re wrong about one of them.”

This is another expression of the idea that the world is a competitive place. One of the things I see most often is underestimating costs, whether it’s development cost or cost of customer acquisition. The biggest one, however, is opportunity cost. You always have to be looking for the next big thing. Vision provides guidance in the gaps, but people need to be empowered to make decisions outside of a specified plan.

[15:10] Technology: “If you don’t master technology and data, you’re losing to someone who does.”

The use of data and analytics to drive product development is the biggest story of the past five years and will continue to be for the next five years. Data is not some magical pixie dust to sprinkle over everything. It’s something that should be used to drive decisions. A lot of companies run around gathering whatever data they can, but then don’t create processes to put it together and make use of it. Companies have also swing from respecting a leader’s decisions to doing whatever the data says. What’s become clear is that you need data, but you also need a human brain to analyze it.

[19:00] Alignment: “Working to align everyone’s interests is time well spent.”

This is a huge element for product managers. A big part of our jobs is getting everyone on the same page. Incentives play a huge role here. Are all the teams in your organization (marketing, engineering, etc.) motivated by the same incentives? Typically, each unit has its own natural incentives that create a dysfunctional overall culture, despite everyone’s best intentions. I do a lot of work helping people align their incentives to work better together and create a more successful product.

[22:50] Adaptation: “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

We live in a competitive world. If you don’t adapt over time, your products and your ideas are eventually going to become less profitable. The prospect of constantly reinventing ourselves and our products seems like a daunting task, but the alternative of a world where nothing ever needs to be changed or updated is much worse. The value we provide is the ability to do new things and bring new ideas to life.

[25:11] Is there another law that you think is important to know?

I think a lot about the “what could possibly happen” mentality. Things that a lot of people think are impossible actually end up happening fairly often. One example of this was the housing crisis in 2008. Everyone writing the mortgages assumed that home prices across the country could not go down all at once. The act of doing that created the conditions that made the crash happen.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“People think progress happens naturally. Innovators know they need to make it happen.” -Agustin Lebron, paraphrase of Peter Thiel

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.

]]>
Trading and product management decision-making are more alike than you might think. Decision-making is part of every product manager’s toolkit. Think about what it would mean to have effective guidelines or laws for better decision-making. Decision-making is part of every product manager’s toolkit. Think about what it would mean to have effective guidelines or laws for better decision-making. You could make simple decisions more quickly and decisively. You could have a more solid defense and reasoning for complicated decisions. You would also have less fatigue and stress related to making decisions.
Those are important benefits of better decision-making. To help you create guidelines, our guest has learned the art and science of decision-making in a variety of high-stress and fast environments. He started as a design engineer and then moved to Wall Street to be a trader. He has placed his insights for decision-making into the book titled, The Laws of Trading, A Trader’s Guide to Better Decision-Making for Everyone.   His laws address issues in several categories, including:

* Risk,
* Edge,
* Costs,
* Technology,
* Alignment, and
* Adaptation.

We discuss several of these.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[6:03]Risk: “Take only the risk you’re paid to take.”
Let’s say your company is describing a new mobile phone case. Your success is defined by whether the case sells well in the market. The risk you’re being paid to take is understanding the market, but you’re also being exposed to risks like foreign exchange rates. By negotiating in U.S. dollars, you remove that risk from the equation. Once you start examining what risks you’re taking to create that value, you start to look for a way to mitigate those other risks.
[8:05] Edge: “If you can’t explain it in five minutes, you don’t have a good one.”
An edge is something you both know and can do that others in the market don’t know and cannot do. Lots of companies are confused about their edge. They get seduced into thinking that only they can execute the idea or the idea can’t be duplicated. As product managers, we’re so focused on the customer that we sometimes forget about the competition. The world is a competitive place and you need to look beyond the surface level to find the true edge.
[11:55] Costs: “If your costs seem negligible relative to your edge, then you’re wrong about one of them.”
This is another expression of the idea that the world is a competitive place. One of the things I see most often is underestimating costs, whether it’s development cost or cost of customer acquisition. The biggest one, however, is opportunity cost. You always have to be looking for the next big thing. Vision provides guidance in the gaps, but people need to be empowered to make decisions outside of a specified plan.
[15:10] Technology: “If you don’t master technology and data, you’re losing to someone who does.”
The use of data and analytics to drive product development is the biggest story of the past five years and will continue to be for the next five years. Data is not some magical pixie dust to sprinkle over everything. It’s something that should be used to drive decisions. A lot of companies run around gathering whatever data they can, but then don’t create processes to put it together and make use of it. Companies have also swing from respecting a leader’s decisions to doing whatever the data says. What’s become clear is that you need data, but you also need a human brain to analyze it.
[19:00] Alignment: “Working to align everyone’s interests is time well spent.”
This is a huge element for product managers. A big part of our jobs is getting everyone on the same page. Incentives play a huge role here. Are all the teams in your organization (marketing, engineering, etc.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 33:10
TEI 234: 3-ways to grow your innovation capital for more product & career success – with Nathan Furr https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-234-3-ways-to-grow-your-innovation-capital-for-more-product-career-success-with-nathan-furr/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:55:45 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14865 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-234-3-ways-to-grow-your-innovation-capital-for-more-product-career-success-with-nathan-furr/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-234-3-ways-to-grow-your-innovation-capital-for-more-product-career-success-with-nathan-furr/feed/ 0 The three dimensions of skills needed to move your ideas forward. When I started this podcast I created the Product Mastery Roadmap that describes the path from product manager to product master. I’ve used it as a guide to the topics we explore here. Recently I updated it to better reflect the journey I have […] The three dimensions of skills needed to move your ideas forward.

When I started this podcast I created the Product Mastery Roadmap that describes the path from product manager to product master. I’ve used it as a guide to the topics we explore here. Recently I updated it to better reflect the journey I have seen many of you and your colleagues taking towards mastery, focusing more narrowly on what is most important so you can progress more quickly.

A pivotal element of this journey is the influence you have in your organization — influence to get others to support your ideas. Recently a fellow listener expressed this well when I asked him about how this podcast has helped him. He told me that “I have helped create a monster” because he now gets everything he asks his company for — that he has virtually zero barriers and almost no questions asked. That is influence.

Product Management Interview - Nathan Furr

My guest has a different term for it, which he calls Innovation Capital. It is a concept he deeply explores in the book he co-authored by the same title. Innovation Capital is what you can build up over time that makes it easy for others to support you when you want to do something new. It consists of three components:

  1. Who you are,
  2. Who you know, and
  3. What you’ve done.

In a sense, this is a personal brand building and is seen in the best innovators in all size organizations.

My guest is Nathan Furr, who also co-authored two other very important books, The Innovator’s DNA and The Innovator’s Method. He is a professor of strategy and innovation at INSEAD, which is recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. His Ph.D. is from Stanford University. In addition to studying how companies innovate, he helps each year to create the Forbes’ list of the world’s most innovative leaders and companies.

For Everyday Innovators on the path to being a product master, this is one of the most important discussions you need to hear. I hope you enjoy it.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:03] How did this book come about?

A lot of my work has been about where ideas come from and what’s the process to test ideas. If you’re in an established organization, how do you change the culture to allow innovation to happen and create the support to do something new? If you look at Tesla and Edison, both were incredible idea generators but Edison was really good at getting backing for his ideas and Tesla struggled to do that.

[7:02] What is innovation capital?

It’s an intangible thing that you build up over time. It facilitates your winning support and backing for ideas and change. We synthesized the research and created a way to score people based on their innovation capital. It comes from who you are, what you know, what you’ve done, and how you’ve used those things to amplify support for your idea. It sounds simple, but has a deep basis in academic research and management theory.

[11:45] How can someone build their innovation capital to win support for their ideas?

We found four top things that were associated with people who had success in building human capital. One is that they’re forward-thinking and not afraid to promote ideas that seem unpopular at the time if they believe that’s where the future will be. Another is that they are proactive problem solvers and are always looking for ways to solve problems. Persuasion and influence skills also matter, as does creativity and the ability to generate new ideas.

[16:47] How does who a person knows factor in?

What are your connections to other leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs? These are all people who can help you build intellectual capital. We tend to focus on strong ties or people we know well, but weak ties matter too. Everyone assumes that you get a job because you know someone really well, but most jobs actually come from people that we don’t know that well. Facebook was built on a network of weak ties. This is something you can improve upon by making a conscious effort to get to know your colleagues and the people in their networks.

[24:19] How should we think about what we’re known for?

The projects that tend to get funded at big companies are the projects led by people who are respected and have a reputation for delivering. What’s your personal brand and what are you known for? You can improve this by becoming a founder and taking on a side project or leading an internal project. You can also take on projects that are visibly hard and not be afraid to raise your hand. People will notice and look to you with increased respect. While you’re working on those projects, show that you can prioritize what’s important and make the most of the resources you have.

[30:29] Once you have support for your idea, how can you ensure that it’s a success?

Don’t promise more than you can realistically deliver and be honest about what’s working and what’s not. It’s easy to lose reputation and innovation capital by promising something that’s unrealistic and trying to cover up something that’s not going well.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Product managers innovate, customers validate.” -Nathan Furr

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.

]]>
The three dimensions of skills needed to move your ideas forward. When I started this podcast I created the Product Mastery Roadmap that describes the path from product manager to product master. I’ve used it as a guide to the topics we explore here. When I started this podcast I created the Product Mastery Roadmap that describes the path from product manager to product master. I’ve used it as a guide to the topics we explore here. Recently I updated it to better reflect the journey I have seen many of you and your colleagues taking towards mastery, focusing more narrowly on what is most important so you can progress more quickly.
A pivotal element of this journey is the influence you have in your organization — influence to get others to support your ideas. Recently a fellow listener expressed this well when I asked him about how this podcast has helped him. He told me that “I have helped create a monster” because he now gets everything he asks his company for — that he has virtually zero barriers and almost no questions asked. That is influence.

My guest has a different term for it, which he calls Innovation Capital. It is a concept he deeply explores in the book he co-authored by the same title. Innovation Capital is what you can build up over time that makes it easy for others to support you when you want to do something new. It consists of three components:

* Who you are,
* Who you know, and
* What you’ve done.

In a sense, this is a personal brand building and is seen in the best innovators in all size organizations.
My guest is Nathan Furr, who also co-authored two other very important books, The Innovator’s DNA and The Innovator’s Method. He is a professor of strategy and innovation at INSEAD, which is recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. His Ph.D. is from Stanford University. In addition to studying how companies innovate, he helps each year to create the Forbes’ list of the world’s most innovative leaders and companies.
For Everyday Innovators on the path to being a product master, this is one of the most important discussions you need to hear. I hope you enjoy it.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:03] How did this book come about?
A lot of my work has been about where ideas come from and what’s the process to test ideas. If you’re in an established organization, how do you change the culture to allow innovation to happen and create the support to do something new? If you look at Tesla and Edison, both were incredible idea generators but Edison was really good at getting backing for his ideas and Tesla struggled to do that.
[7:02] What is innovation capital?
It’s an intangible thing that you build up over time. It facilitates your winning support and backing for ideas and change. We synthesized the research and created a way to score people based on their innovation capital. It comes from who you are, what you know, what you’ve done, and how you’ve used those things to amplify support for your idea. It sounds simple, but has a deep basis in academic research and management theory.
[11:45] How can someone build their innovation capital to win support for their ideas?
We found four top things that were associated with people who had success in building human capital. One is that they’re forward-thinking and not afraid to promote ideas that seem unpopular at the time if they believe that’s where the future will be. Another is that they are proactive problem solvers and are always looking for ways to solve problems. Persuasion and influence skills also matter, as does creativity and the ability to generate new ideas.
[16:47] How does who a person knows factor in?
What are your connections to other leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs? These are all people who can help you build intellectual capital. We tend to focus on strong ties or people we know well, but weak ties matter too.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:15
TEI 233: Everyone wants more agility in their product process and this is how to get it – with Colin Palombo https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-233-everyone-wants-more-agility-in-their-product-process-and-this-is-how-to-get-it-with-colin-palombo/ Mon, 10 Jun 2019 09:55:08 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14853 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-233-everyone-wants-more-agility-in-their-product-process-and-this-is-how-to-get-it-with-colin-palombo/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-233-everyone-wants-more-agility-in-their-product-process-and-this-is-how-to-get-it-with-colin-palombo/feed/ 0 How product managers should combine flexibility and rigor in an agile stage-gate process. Just about every organization I have worked with this year wants more agility in their product management processes. They want to get new products to market faster and release enhanced versions in less time. Product managers and leaders are feeling the pressure. […] How product managers should combine flexibility and rigor in an agile stage-gate process.

Product Manager Interview - Colin PalomboJust about every organization I have worked with this year wants more agility in their product management processes. They want to get new products to market faster and release enhanced versions in less time. Product managers and leaders are feeling the pressure.

To discuss practical ways to add agility and flexibility, our guest from episode 177 is joining us again, Colin Palombo.

Previously, he shared how to create a hybrid agile stage-gate process. This time we get into even more specifics. Most organizations have some form of a stage-gate or phase-age approach to developing products, and for good reasons. After listening to this discussion, you’ll have ideas for adapting and improving your process.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:

[5:04] What does a traditional stage-gate process look like?

Breaking down projects into stages helps companies make sure that the right information is gathered at the right time. Stage-gate introduces rigor to the process and makes sure that information about customers is gathered before product development begins. The gate component breaks down a project into a series of smaller stages, each with a smaller financial decision that can be stopped at any time. Cross-functional teams are also essential to the stage-methodology. Several sets of eyes looking at the same thing will bring different knowledge and expertise to the project.

[12:02] What types of products work best with the stage-gate?

It’s rare now that you have a purely digital or physical product. Every good has a bit of software, content, and physical product. The stage-gate process is evolving to bring together these different work streams. We’re also seeing the digital industry wanting to introduce stage gates to their agile project management. They lack the control to direct their teams to deliver valuable products, so they want to apply stage-gate to their agile processes.

[16:22] How do you add agility to a stage-gate process?

You first need to define what “agile” means. The essence is that you are planning, executing, evaluating, and adjusting in a short timeframe, known as a sprint or an iteration. You can break each stage of a stage-gate process into a number of sprints that are defined by time. Agile also relies on evidence-based work and focuses on experiments over documents. Rather than doing scoping exercises in PowerPoint and Word, companies are going out into the field and doing experiments. Mock ups, simulations, and 3D printing are making these experiments possible. We’re also seeing iterative development in the build stage and evaluation between prototype, alpha, and beta builds. Iteration happens at each stage in the process and you’re breaking the work into smaller chunks or sprints.

[24:15] How do you get past the notion that you need a large scale?

Full-scale market research is expensive and useful for understanding overall market dynamics, but not for a specific project. You can run small experiments in the early stages of a project to get feedback from a handful of customers, which will be enough to determine whether to move to the next stage and what might need to change before you do that. These types of experiments also get you out of the office and in front of customers. You need to have a specific question to answer or a hypothesis you’re trying to prove, such as finding out what outcomes the customer is trying to accomplish.

[28:33] What goes wrong when organizations try to implement this process?

We lack the discipline to get to a finishing point and we just keep iterating. The agile methodology allows you to limit the number of sprints you’re going to run before you make a decision and move on to the next stage. There’s also too much emphasis on Minimum Viable Product and you end up coming up with something that doesn’t meet the customer’s needs or solve the larger problem customers are having. You won’t make money and will damage your brand’s reputation in the process. It also sends a clear signal to your competitors about what you’re working on.

[32:56] How can you be flexible in scheduling gate reviews?

If you want the right people in the room, you need to have a regular schedule. Not all the same gatekeepers need to be at every gate. You don’t need senior executives involved in early gate decisions; those decisions can be delegated so you’re not constrained by the executives’ schedules. Executives should be involved at gate 3 before you move into real development that requires major financial resources.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“The enemy of thriving is arriving.” -Lee Brower, Strategic coach

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 should combine flexibility and rigor in an agile stage-gate process. Just about every organization I have worked with this year wants more agility in their product management processes. Just about every organization I have worked with this year wants more agility in their product management processes. They want to get new products to market faster and release enhanced versions in less time. Product managers and leaders are feeling the pressure.
To discuss practical ways to add agility and flexibility, our guest from episode 177 is joining us again, Colin Palombo.
Previously, he shared how to create a hybrid agile stage-gate process. This time we get into even more specifics. Most organizations have some form of a stage-gate or phase-age approach to developing products, and for good reasons. After listening to this discussion, you’ll have ideas for adapting and improving your process.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:
[5:04] What does a traditional stage-gate process look like?
Breaking down projects into stages helps companies make sure that the right information is gathered at the right time. Stage-gate introduces rigor to the process and makes sure that information about customers is gathered before product development begins. The gate component breaks down a project into a series of smaller stages, each with a smaller financial decision that can be stopped at any time. Cross-functional teams are also essential to the stage-methodology. Several sets of eyes looking at the same thing will bring different knowledge and expertise to the project.
[12:02] What types of products work best with the stage-gate?
It’s rare now that you have a purely digital or physical product. Every good has a bit of software, content, and physical product. The stage-gate process is evolving to bring together these different work streams. We’re also seeing the digital industry wanting to introduce stage gates to their agile project management. They lack the control to direct their teams to deliver valuable products, so they want to apply stage-gate to their agile processes.
[16:22] How do you add agility to a stage-gate process?
You first need to define what “agile” means. The essence is that you are planning, executing, evaluating, and adjusting in a short timeframe, known as a sprint or an iteration. You can break each stage of a stage-gate process into a number of sprints that are defined by time. Agile also relies on evidence-based work and focuses on experiments over documents. Rather than doing scoping exercises in PowerPoint and Word, companies are going out into the field and doing experiments. Mock ups, simulations, and 3D printing are making these experiments possible. We’re also seeing iterative development in the build stage and evaluation between prototype, alpha, and beta builds. Iteration happens at each stage in the process and you’re breaking the work into smaller chunks or sprints.
[24:15] How do you get past the notion that you need a large scale?
Full-scale market research is expensive and useful for understanding overall market dynamics, but not for a specific project. You can run small experiments in the early stages of a project to get feedback from a handful of customers, which will be enough to determine whether to move to the next stage and what might need to change before you do that. These types of experiments also get you out of the office and in front of customers. You need to have a specific question to answer or a hypothesis you’re trying to prove, such as finding out what outcomes the customer is trying to accomplish.
[28:33] What goes wrong when organizations try to implement this process?
We lack the discipline to get to a finishing point and we just keep iterating. The agile methodology allows you to limit the number of sprints...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 39:05
TEI 232: Using product roadmaps correctly, Part 3 (Portfolio Management) – with Bruce McCarthy https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-232-using-product-roadmaps-correctly-part-3-portfolio-management-with-bruce-mccarthy/ Mon, 03 Jun 2019 09:55:15 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14840 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-232-using-product-roadmaps-correctly-part-3-portfolio-management-with-bruce-mccarthy/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-232-using-product-roadmaps-correctly-part-3-portfolio-management-with-bruce-mccarthy/feed/ 0 How product managers can extend product roadmaps to portfolio management. Product roadmaps are one of the best-known tools and also the most misused by product managers. We have talked twice before with Bruce McCarthy, co-author of the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty, to learn how to make roadmaps work […] How product managers can extend product roadmaps to portfolio management.

Product Management Interview - Road MappingProduct roadmaps are one of the best-known tools and also the most misused by product managers. We have talked twice before with Bruce McCarthy, co-author of the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty, to learn how to make roadmaps work for us instead of against us. The first time was in episode 169, which was right after he wrote the book. Then we talked a year later, to see what he had learned since writing the book, which was episode 226 . This time we talk about the role of roadmaps in portfolio management. In the process, we discuss what a portfolio is, how portfolios can be created and managed, and how to construct a roadmap for a portfolio.

Also, I want to share some stories of how listeners are putting this podcast to good use. I’ll start with a friend who was considering moving from her marketing role in a non-profit organization to a larger product role in a for-profit organization. That was a really big shift in her mind — non-profit to for-profit, and a marketing role to product role. After I read the job description she was applying for, I gave her about a dozen specific episodes to listen to. After listening to them, she realized the work she was doing at the non-profit was very similar to the new product role. She just needed to switch her terminology from managing programs to managing products and put her experience in the right context for the new company. Long story short, this was an extremely competitive position with a lengthy multi-interview process, and she got the job. In the process, she about doubled her salary. Awesome! And she credits the discussions from this podcast that helped her do well in the interviews.

Wow, isn’t that a great use of this podcast! I’m am so excited the topics we discuss are really helping people and I’m working to make it even better.

If you have a story of how listening to The Everyday Innovator has helped you, I want to hear it. Please email directly at chad@TheEverydayInnovator.com.

Keep reading for insights on properly applying product roadmaps and extending them to portfolio management.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:

[4:28] What is a product portfolio and how does it differ from a program?

It is a set of products, also called a product line, that a company builds and sells. Hopefully, the products and the portfolio are complementary to each other. Each one should add to profitability and the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts. From a product point of view, I think of how to create a go-to-market package that’s complete. A portfolio should also include products at various points in the lifecycle.

[8:25] How should a portfolio be structured?

You can think of it from an internal or investment point of view and apply McKinsey’s Three Horizons framework. Horizon 1 is the products that are cash cows and delivering right now. Horizon 2 products are in the growth stage and will eventually become major revenue generators. Horizon 3 products are the experiments and the things that might be next. The other way to organize a portfolio is market-based. Retailers want to know that you have a broad array of products you can sell and that you have all the bases covered for their customers.

[19:26] What mistakes do you see product teams make in managing portfolios?

They tend to focus on Horizon 1 and the biggest source of current revenue. Longer-term ideas and projects get kicked further down the road and Horizon 3 never becomes a reality. The sales team only provides ideas that they’re hearing from current customers about the current product. Marketing only talks to current customers and support only supports current customers. There has to be a deliberate attempt to fund today things that will not pay off until the future. Otherwise, there won’t be anything left when Horizon 1 ends. The other mistake I see is companies reproducing products in digital form or adding a cloud component. Those changes are fine, but they’re not Horizon 2 or 3 and should be thought of as such.

[24:48] Who is a product portfolio for?

It’s designed to help the executive team make good decisions, and then communicate those decisions across the organization. It’s a roll-up of the roadmaps for all of your products. It is an internally-focused document designed to help executives make investment decisions and communicate those decisions internally. They should be able to say where investments fit into the three horizons.

[28:44] What about from a marketing perspective?

The portfolio roadmap can be used to show retailers or other customers current offerings and price tiers, as well as a mapping of what the future for those offerings looks like. It can be in months, quarters, or whatever the timeline is for your industry. It should show what you envision adding to the value proposition at each stage of the process and be used for a conversation about adding value over time.

[31:47] What should a portfolio product map look like?

Many look like Gantt charts or timelines, but both of those are a mistake because they don’t allow for the relevant information to be included. Gantt charts are all about project execution, duration of work, and resource dependencies. They do not show investments over time in things that are not current products. Retailers and customers do not care about resource allocation or duration of work. Instead, I prefer a simple table that’s organized with parts of the portfolio as rows so you can show your investments in different parts of the portfolio are all going on simultaneously. Your time dimensions can be whatever they need to be. That approach also allows you to add rows at the bottom to show things like marketing pushes or trade shows that might impact the entire portfolio. The table model also shows that our measures of success are different for each horizon in the portfolio.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Start with why.” -Simon Sinek

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 can extend product roadmaps to portfolio management. Product roadmaps are one of the best-known tools and also the most misused by product managers. We have talked twice before with Bruce McCarthy, co-author of the book, Product roadmaps are one of the best-known tools and also the most misused by product managers. We have talked twice before with Bruce McCarthy, co-author of the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty, to learn how to make roadmaps work for us instead of against us. The first time was in episode 169, which was right after he wrote the book. Then we talked a year later, to see what he had learned since writing the book, which was episode 226 . This time we talk about the role of roadmaps in portfolio management. In the process, we discuss what a portfolio is, how portfolios can be created and managed, and how to construct a roadmap for a portfolio.
Also, I want to share some stories of how listeners are putting this podcast to good use. I’ll start with a friend who was considering moving from her marketing role in a non-profit organization to a larger product role in a for-profit organization. That was a really big shift in her mind — non-profit to for-profit, and a marketing role to product role. After I read the job description she was applying for, I gave her about a dozen specific episodes to listen to. After listening to them, she realized the work she was doing at the non-profit was very similar to the new product role. She just needed to switch her terminology from managing programs to managing products and put her experience in the right context for the new company. Long story short, this was an extremely competitive position with a lengthy multi-interview process, and she got the job. In the process, she about doubled her salary. Awesome! And she credits the discussions from this podcast that helped her do well in the interviews.
Wow, isn’t that a great use of this podcast! I’m am so excited the topics we discuss are really helping people and I’m working to make it even better.
If you have a story of how listening to The Everyday Innovator has helped you, I want to hear it. Please email directly at chad@TheEverydayInnovator.com.
Keep reading for insights on properly applying product roadmaps and extending them to portfolio management.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:
[4:28] What is a product portfolio and how does it differ from a program?
It is a set of products, also called a product line, that a company builds and sells. Hopefully, the products and the portfolio are complementary to each other. Each one should add to profitability and the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts. From a product point of view, I think of how to create a go-to-market package that’s complete. A portfolio should also include products at various points in the lifecycle.
[8:25] How should a portfolio be structured?
You can think of it from an internal or investment point of view and apply McKinsey’s Three Horizons framework. Horizon 1 is the products that are cash cows and delivering right now. Horizon 2 products are in the growth stage and will eventually become major revenue generators. Horizon 3 products are the experiments and the things that might be next. The other way to organize a portfolio is market-based. Retailers want to know that you have a broad array of products you can sell and that you have all the bases covered for their customers.
[19:26] What mistakes do you see product teams make in managing portfolios?
They tend to focus on Horizon 1 and the biggest source of current revenue. Longer-term ideas and projects get kicked further down the road and Horizon 3 never becomes a reality.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 43:11
TEI 231: 75 examples of innovation in well-known brands – with Giles Lury https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-231-75-examples-of-innovation-in-well-known-brands-with-giles-lury/ Mon, 27 May 2019 09:55:17 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14823 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-231-75-examples-of-innovation-in-well-known-brands-with-giles-lury/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-231-75-examples-of-innovation-in-well-known-brands-with-giles-lury/feed/ 0 Short stories, big ideas about innovation and product management. I love innovation stories of how a product came into being or was made more valuable. Our guest, Giles Lury, loves them too. So much, that he has written books with innovation stories, including his most recent one titled Inspiring Innovation: 75 Marketing Tales to Help You […] Short stories, big ideas about innovation and product management.

Product Manager Interview - Giles LuryI love innovation stories of how a product came into being or was made more valuable. Our guest, Giles Lury, loves them too. So much, that he has written books with innovation stories, including his most recent one titled Inspiring Innovation: 75 Marketing Tales to Help You Find the Next Big Thing.

Giles has worked on numerous innovation projects, leading to some major successes and, not surprisingly, the occasional failure. He has some good stories to tell.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:

[3:16] Xerox is a familiar brand to many listeners. Tell us about their innovation with copiers.

Xerox copying came out of the science of xenography, which allowed people to use a mixture of heat and ink to reproduce things. In the 1940s, there was a machine that could make 7 copies per minute, but it had a high flame risk. Xerox got around this by selling a fire extinguisher with its machines. It was a gamble, but it paid off. It was a good example of getting something to market, then making it better.

[5:45] Tell us about E-Leather.

E-Leather is a young company based in the UK. Pinned to the wall in their office is a poem about the founder, who never gives up and who hates waste. He found that up to 50% of leather ends up in landfills. He developed a process for taking rough leather and recompressing it into products that are more appealing to customers. The products are more comfortable and more economical. They just signed a deal with Nike, who is looking to be more environmentally friendly. This is a good example of how something you hate can drive innovation.

 [13:42] From your experience, where do ideas come from?

I often tell companies to look to their own industry. For example, the first mobile phone call was made in 1973. At the time, the only way you could make mobile calls was in the car. A Motorola employee was watching James T. Kirk on Star Trek  flip open his Communicator and had the idea to create a personal phone. That idea would go on to become the first cell phone. The first call he made was to AT&T to tell them that Motorola was ahead of them. Science fiction is a great source of innovation and ideas.

[19:30] What is Chewy’s story?

Chewy’s founders had a previous online retail business that didn’t work. They took a step back and realized they were passionate about their dogs. That passion is where the company started. They said they wanted to be “Zappos on steroids” in terms of customer service, and they’ve been able to do that. There’s one story of a woman who called saying her pet died and asking for a refund on a product she’d ordered. She ended up talking for a long time with the customer service representative and received flowers from the company the next morning. This was not a one-off; Chewy does these things all the time and it’s made them distinctive in the marketplace.

[23:37] What’s the relationship between brand and product?

If you have a good brand, you probably have a good product. But having a good product does not always necessarily equal a good brand. To do that, you can look back to the history of Lever and Watson in the soap business. Watson made the product, but Lever identified a gap in the market. He made sure that the product was consistent and developed customer loyalty back in 1884. It’s about consistency and building trust with your customers. Tetley and Heinz did something similar by changing their products to meet customer needs. Tetley made a round tea bag that could fit into a mug, and Heinz turned the ketchup bottle upside down so it was easier to squeeze.

[28:25] What’s one of your favorite stories from the book?

Would you bet your life on your new product? One innovator did that at the World’s Fair in New York. He was on a platform suspended by a rope, then he took an axe and cut the rope. The platform began to fall but then stopped, and the crowd gasped at once. The inventor was Elijah Otis and the product was the safety brake for elevators. Skyscrapers would never have been possible without this innovation. He needed a big stunt to convince people that the innovation worked, and that it was important to consider.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”

― Guillaume Apollinaire

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.

]]>
Short stories, big ideas about innovation and product management. I love innovation stories of how a product came into being or was made more valuable. Our guest, Giles Lury, loves them too. So much, that he has written books with innovation stories, I love innovation stories of how a product came into being or was made more valuable. Our guest, Giles Lury, loves them too. So much, that he has written books with innovation stories, including his most recent one titled Inspiring Innovation: 75 Marketing Tales to Help You Find the Next Big Thing.
Giles has worked on numerous innovation projects, leading to some major successes and, not surprisingly, the occasional failure. He has some good stories to tell.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:
[3:16] Xerox is a familiar brand to many listeners. Tell us about their innovation with copiers.
Xerox copying came out of the science of xenography, which allowed people to use a mixture of heat and ink to reproduce things. In the 1940s, there was a machine that could make 7 copies per minute, but it had a high flame risk. Xerox got around this by selling a fire extinguisher with its machines. It was a gamble, but it paid off. It was a good example of getting something to market, then making it better.
[5:45] Tell us about E-Leather.
E-Leather is a young company based in the UK. Pinned to the wall in their office is a poem about the founder, who never gives up and who hates waste. He found that up to 50% of leather ends up in landfills. He developed a process for taking rough leather and recompressing it into products that are more appealing to customers. The products are more comfortable and more economical. They just signed a deal with Nike, who is looking to be more environmentally friendly. This is a good example of how something you hate can drive innovation.
 [13:42] From your experience, where do ideas come from?
I often tell companies to look to their own industry. For example, the first mobile phone call was made in 1973. At the time, the only way you could make mobile calls was in the car. A Motorola employee was watching James T. Kirk on Star Trek  flip open his Communicator and had the idea to create a personal phone. That idea would go on to become the first cell phone. The first call he made was to AT&T to tell them that Motorola was ahead of them. Science fiction is a great source of innovation and ideas.
[19:30] What is Chewy’s story?
Chewy’s founders had a previous online retail business that didn’t work. They took a step back and realized they were passionate about their dogs. That passion is where the company started. They said they wanted to be “Zappos on steroids” in terms of customer service, and they’ve been able to do that. There’s one story of a woman who called saying her pet died and asking for a refund on a product she’d ordered. She ended up talking for a long time with the customer service representative and received flowers from the company the next morning. This was not a one-off; Chewy does these things all the time and it’s made them distinctive in the marketplace.
[23:37] What’s the relationship between brand and product?
If you have a good brand, you probably have a good product. But having a good product does not always necessarily equal a good brand. To do that, you can look back to the history of Lever and Watson in the soap business. Watson made the product, but Lever identified a gap in the market. He made sure that the product was consistent and developed customer loyalty back in 1884. It’s about consistency and building trust with your customers. Tetley and Heinz did something similar by changing their products to meet customer needs. Tetley made a round tea bag that could fit into a mug, and Heinz turned the ketchup bottle upside down so it was easier to squeeze.
[28:25] What’s one of your favorite stories from the book?
Would you bet your life on your new product? One innovator did that at the World’s Fair in New York.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:00
TEI 230: Optimal health and performance for product managers – with Dr. Gus Vickery https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-230-optimal-health-and-performance-for-product-managers-with-dr-gus-vickery/ Mon, 20 May 2019 09:55:22 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14809 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-230-optimal-health-and-performance-for-product-managers-with-dr-gus-vickery/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-230-optimal-health-and-performance-for-product-managers-with-dr-gus-vickery/feed/ 0 A value proposition for feeling good for product managers. Performing at your best requires a lot of mental dexterity. Product managers need every edge we can get to beat the competition and create successful products. To be at your best, you must also consider your health, and our guest, medical doctor Gus Vickery, is the […] A value proposition for feeling good for product managers.

Product Manager Interview - Gus VickeryPerforming at your best requires a lot of mental dexterity. Product managers need every edge we can get to beat the competition and create successful products. To be at your best, you must also consider your health, and our guest, medical doctor Gus Vickery, is the go-to person for this.

He is an expert at getting your body and mind performing well, and his book Authentic Health provides the actions we can all take. He also goes further, helping individuals hack their health for even greater performance.

Optimize your health and use it to your advantage as a product manager and in all aspects of your life.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:39] How did you come to do this work and write the book?

I started practicing as a family physician and ended up walking into what I’ve described as an epidemic of poor health. Rather than treating acute problems, I was treating chronic diseases. I realized that the toolbox I had of prescriptions and referrals was not adequate to address what was going on. I had to dig deeper to find out what was really going on and take a more holistic look at human design. That’s what I try to do in the book.

[10:47] What can people do to help manage their weight?

The first thing is to understand the truth about what causes us to be chronically overweight. Our bodies have a genetic baseline of what a healthy weight is for us; it’s not a conscious choice. If you have short periods of overeating or undereating, your body will eventually make it back to that state. Over time, people can develop visceral fat, which is linked to high blood sugar and triglycerides. When you try to lose it, your body will try to pull you back. In order to make weight loss last, you need to reprogram your body to a different threshold. We are not designed to eat all the time; feeding and fasting periods are important to retrain your body. You also need to eliminate processed foods from your diet. Your body does not know what to do with them so it triggers an inflammation response. The final aspect is mindful eating — being conscious about what you are eating and how you are eating it.

[20:14] How does fasting help your body?

Our body is a closed energy system. It’s designed to go for a while without putting more energy into it based on our ancestry. The only way to restore metabolic flexibility is to go through fasting periods. Leveraging sleeping time helps make fasting easier. If you can give yourself a 12 hour window where you aren’t putting anything into your body, you can begin to reset you body.

[23:50] Why is sleep so important?

Everything else you do as far as diet and fasting is no good if you are not getting enough sleep. Our brains are designed to have a period of rest and recovery each day. It’s like running a factory without ever stopping to clean the machines. If your brain doesn’t get that rest period, it will send signals to your body that something is wrong and create more stress hormones. Almost everyone needs 7-8 hours of sleep. Beyond just getting enough sleep, you need to get good sleep, which is difficult to do with technology and other distractions in our life. When people are able to get past these things, their performance increases and they find energy they never knew they had. Naps can be effective to recharge your brain, but they are not a substitute for sleep deprivation in the long term.

[30:11] What can we do to better manage stress?

The first step is mindfulness and recognizing that stress is there and recognizing that it’s okay. We’re always exposed to sources of stress — cable news, social media, demanding jobs, etc. When you trigger a stress response, you’ll inhibit your higher mind function because you go into survival mode. Your ability to innovate and think creatively declines. Start taking control of the stressors that you can and give your brain a break from technology. The book Deep Work goes into this in more detail. If you do feel stress, stop and examine where it’s coming from. Take the energy and feed positive emotions by thinking about everything that’s good. When you do this, you become the master of your own emotions, rather than letting external stimuli dictate you how feel.

 [43:45] Are there supplements we should be taking to support healthy habits?

Everyone should take an Omega 3 supplement. Even healthy eaters are Omega 3 deficient and you won’t harm yourself by taking one. I also recommend a high-quality multivitamin to help replace trace minerals and things we don’t normally get in our diet.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Surrounded by all sorts of conflicting claims, by traitors, by half-hearted timid men, by Border States men and Free States men, by radical Abolitionist and Conservatives, he has listened to all, weighed the words of all, waited, observed, yielded now here and now there, but in the main kept one inflexible honest purpose, and drawn the national ship through.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe about Abraham Lincoln

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.

]]>
A value proposition for feeling good for product managers. Performing at your best requires a lot of mental dexterity. Product managers need every edge we can get to beat the competition and create successful products. To be at your best, Performing at your best requires a lot of mental dexterity. Product managers need every edge we can get to beat the competition and create successful products. To be at your best, you must also consider your health, and our guest, medical doctor Gus Vickery, is the go-to person for this.
He is an expert at getting your body and mind performing well, and his book Authentic Health provides the actions we can all take. He also goes further, helping individuals hack their health for even greater performance.
Optimize your health and use it to your advantage as a product manager and in all aspects of your life.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:39] How did you come to do this work and write the book?
I started practicing as a family physician and ended up walking into what I’ve described as an epidemic of poor health. Rather than treating acute problems, I was treating chronic diseases. I realized that the toolbox I had of prescriptions and referrals was not adequate to address what was going on. I had to dig deeper to find out what was really going on and take a more holistic look at human design. That’s what I try to do in the book.
[10:47] What can people do to help manage their weight?
The first thing is to understand the truth about what causes us to be chronically overweight. Our bodies have a genetic baseline of what a healthy weight is for us; it’s not a conscious choice. If you have short periods of overeating or undereating, your body will eventually make it back to that state. Over time, people can develop visceral fat, which is linked to high blood sugar and triglycerides. When you try to lose it, your body will try to pull you back. In order to make weight loss last, you need to reprogram your body to a different threshold. We are not designed to eat all the time; feeding and fasting periods are important to retrain your body. You also need to eliminate processed foods from your diet. Your body does not know what to do with them so it triggers an inflammation response. The final aspect is mindful eating — being conscious about what you are eating and how you are eating it.
[20:14] How does fasting help your body?
Our body is a closed energy system. It’s designed to go for a while without putting more energy into it based on our ancestry. The only way to restore metabolic flexibility is to go through fasting periods. Leveraging sleeping time helps make fasting easier. If you can give yourself a 12 hour window where you aren’t putting anything into your body, you can begin to reset you body.
[23:50] Why is sleep so important?
Everything else you do as far as diet and fasting is no good if you are not getting enough sleep. Our brains are designed to have a period of rest and recovery each day. It’s like running a factory without ever stopping to clean the machines. If your brain doesn’t get that rest period, it will send signals to your body that something is wrong and create more stress hormones. Almost everyone needs 7-8 hours of sleep. Beyond just getting enough sleep, you need to get good sleep, which is difficult to do with technology and other distractions in our life. When people are able to get past these things, their performance increases and they find energy they never knew they had. Naps can be effective to recharge your brain, but they are not a substitute for sleep deprivation in the long term.
[30:11] What can we do to better manage stress?
The first step is mindfulness and recognizing that stress is there and recognizing that it’s okay. We’re always exposed to sources of stress — cable news, social media, demanding jobs, etc. When you trigger a stress response, you’ll inhibit your higher mind function because you go into survival mode.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 51:04
TEI 229: Do you have the best entrepreneurial skills for product management – with Michelle Duval https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-229-do-you-have-the-best-entrepreneurial-skills-for-product-management-with-michelle-duval/ Mon, 13 May 2019 09:55:40 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14788 https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-229-do-you-have-the-best-entrepreneurial-skills-for-product-management-with-michelle-duval/#respond https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-229-do-you-have-the-best-entrepreneurial-skills-for-product-management-with-michelle-duval/feed/ 0 Understanding attitudes, motivations, and blind spots with your product teams. Would you be interested to know what start-up founders with successful exits of up to $1.2B have in common? I know I would, because start-up founders share similarities with product managers. Indeed, many founders also take on the responsibility of product manager for their business. […] Understanding attitudes, motivations, and blind spots with your product teams.

Product Manager Interview - Michelle DuvalWould you be interested to know what start-up founders with successful exits of up to $1.2B have in common? I know I would, because start-up founders share similarities with product managers. Indeed, many founders also take on the responsibility of product manager for their business.

Our guest, Michelle Duval, shares the first 20-year study of what successful entrepreneurs and business builders do share in common. Further, the research has been applied to intrapreneurs — those Everyday Innovators in organizations who are striving to create more value for customers.

The study is called Fingerprint for Success. Listen and learn what qualities are needed for your success.

Also, you’ll hear about an assessment you can take in a few minutes to help you identify your key strengths.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:10] How did you get started in this line of work?

I created one of the first coaching businesses in Australia and ended up working with creative people like artists, actors, and writers. I saw both successful people and those who were struggling to get off the ground. We ended up with 15 years of an inventory spanning hundreds of clients and noticed that attitudes have an impact on how commercially successful someone is. We followed that up with a quantitative study that also found significant correlation between attitude and business outcome.

[7:17] What is Fingerprint for Success?

The platform allowed us to commercialize the research. There’s an engine that measures 48 different aspects of work and benchmarks them against our success group. You can find out where your entrepreneurial talents are and where your blind spots are. We all have attitudes and biases and sometimes we don’t know what we’re not paying attention to.

[9:45] How does Fingerprint for Success apply to people in an enterprise?

People use it to map company culture, or look at a team or individual. You can identify where your organizational blind spots are. For example, people who have high degrees of creativity are not inclined to follow step-by-step procedures. Having procedures are critical to some part of an enterprise but not to others, and finding that balance is key. You can also see how your team or your organization compares to both the U.S. population in general, and some of the world’s most successful people. It can be really beneficial for creating a team of people with the right attitudes and traits for success on whatever your project might be.

[16:00] What are key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?

Initiation is a critical ingredient. How quickly do you turn your ideas into action vs. pausing for reflection? Being able to rapidly turn ideas into actions is essential for innovation. There’s also a high degree of self-efficacy, which means taking the first step without knowing what the other steps are. A second finding was a big-picture orientation. The goal is to figure out what’s most important to get the product to market, then come back to the details later. A third finding was an “attitude for indifference.” How motivated are you following rules and thinking outside the rules that have been set? Innovators have a high amount of indifference to the rules. This means they’re not constricted by the norms that everyone else is seeing in that environment.

[22:06] How do these traits compare between startups and people in enterprises?

Both have a sense of “ask for forgiveness, not permission” and they’ll do small tests to validate ideas. The funding process forces you to do that, as do organizational rules. Taking a small step means you’re inventing something as you go. The indifference is also common. If you’re the person in the organization who always breaks the rules, you probably rate highly in this area. Looking for these traits and fostering them are critical to building innovative teams.

[26:01] How can people use Fingerprint for Success to become more innovative?

Some blind spots are more difficult to manage and change than others. Your attitudes at work determine where you find fulfillment. You should find a role that aligns your work with your natural motivations and find someone else who can help you develop your blind spots. Find someone who is an example of the behavior you want to have and ask them how they do it; this is called modeling. The next step is to understand why that behavior is important and finding motivation for it. It’s difficult to change skills without motivation.

[30:08] How does Fingerprint for Success fit with tools like Myers-Briggs?

Those tools look at you as a personality type. We’re measuring your attitudes and motivations at work — what motivates you and gives you passion. We’re all nervous about jobs being replaced by automation. The most transferrable thing we have is our attitude and having that understanding of yourself and others allows you to be a high-performing individual on a high-performing team.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” -Albert Einstein

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.

]]>
Understanding attitudes, motivations, and blind spots with your product teams. Would you be interested to know what start-up founders with successful exits of up to $1.2B have in common? I know I would, because start-up founders share similarities with... Would you be interested to know what start-up founders with successful exits of up to $1.2B have in common? I know I would, because start-up founders share similarities with product managers. Indeed, many founders also take on the responsibility of product manager for their business.
Our guest, Michelle Duval, shares the first 20-year study of what successful entrepreneurs and business builders do share in common. Further, the research has been applied to intrapreneurs — those Everyday Innovators in organizations who are striving to create more value for customers.
The study is called Fingerprint for Success. Listen and learn what qualities are needed for your success.
Also, you’ll hear about an assessment you can take in a few minutes to help you identify your key strengths.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:10] How did you get started in this line of work?
I created one of the first coaching businesses in Australia and ended up working with creative people like artists, actors, and writers. I saw both successful people and those who were struggling to get off the ground. We ended up with 15 years of an inventory spanning hundreds of clients and noticed that attitudes have an impact on how commercially successful someone is. We followed that up with a quantitative study that also found significant correlation between attitude and business outcome.
[7:17] What is Fingerprint for Success?
The platform allowed us to commercialize the research. There’s an engine that measures 48 different aspects of work and benchmarks them against our success group. You can find out where your entrepreneurial talents are and where your blind spots are. We all have attitudes and biases and sometimes we don’t know what we’re not paying attention to.
[9:45] How does Fingerprint for Success apply to people in an enterprise?
People use it to map company culture, or look at a team or individual. You can identify where your organizational blind spots are. For example, people who have high degrees of creativity are not inclined to follow step-by-step procedures. Having procedures are critical to some part of an enterprise but not to others, and finding that balance is key. You can also see how your team or your organization compares to both the U.S. population in general, and some of the world’s most successful people. It can be really beneficial for creating a team of people with the right attitudes and traits for success on whatever your project might be.
[16:00] What are key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?
Initiation is a critical ingredient. How quickly do you turn your ideas into action vs. pausing for reflection? Being able to rapidly turn ideas into actions is essential for innovation. There’s also a high degree of self-efficacy, which means taking the first step without knowing what the other steps are. A second finding was a big-picture orientation. The goal is to figure out what’s most important to get the product to market, then come back to the details later. A third finding was an “attitude for indifference.” How motivated are you following rules and thinking outside the rules that have been set? Innovators have a high amount of indifference to the rules. This means they’re not constricted by the norms that everyone else is seeing in that environment.
[22:06] How do these traits compare between startups and people in enterprises?
Both have a sense of “ask for forgiveness, not permission” and they’ll do small tests to validate ideas. The funding process forces you to do that, as do organizational rules. Taking a small step means you’re inventing something as you go. The indifference is also common. If you’re the person in the organization wh...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:22
TEI 228: How to lead innovation, part 2 – with Mike Mitchell, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-228-how-to-lead-innovation-part-2-with-mike-mitchell-phd/ Mon, 06 May 2019 09:55:14 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14780 Use trust, purpose, and partnership to achieve change in any organization. How should leaders actually lead innovation? This is a topic we explored back in episode 149 with Dr. Mike Mitchell, teacher and researcher for the Center for Creative Leadership. Then he was conducting research on the topic and discovering what organizational leaders need to […] Use trust, purpose, and partnership to achieve change in any organization. How should leaders actually lead innovation? This is a topic we explored back in episode 149 with Dr. Mike Mitchell, teacher and researcher for the Center for Creative Leadershi... How should leaders actually lead innovation? This is a topic we explored back in episode 149 with Dr. Mike Mitchell, teacher and researcher for the Center for Creative Leadership. Then he was conducting research on the topic and discovering what organizational leaders need to do differently when they are involved with innovation projects. Now he has finished his research and has published a book with the findings, titled Supporting Innovators: Trust, Purpose, Partnership.
The subtitles are the three areas where leaders need to approach innovation differently than they are used to, and they are also the three topics we discuss:

* Trust
* Purpose
* Partnership

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:17] Has anything changed about the importance of innovation to organization leaders?
Innovation is still very important. Our research shows that 94 percent of executives say research is important, but only 14 percent say their organizations are good at it. We’re working on figuring out how to fix that gap. We also asked whether leading innovation is different than leading an ongoing function. 80 percent said yes because there is greater risk and greater ambiguity. You’re creating something new to the organization, and there’s nowhere to hide if you make a mistake. The focus of the new book is how to support people in those situations.
[5:34] Why is trust important to leading innovators?
Competency trust means that leaders trust that innovators have the competency to get their work done. The innovator is walking a high wire in a high risk, high ambiguity situation. They need confidence that they can continue to walk the high wire in order to continue innovating. We use an example of this in the book where a leader instilled confidence in a product manager to work through a snag in a project about packaging design. He eventually reached a solution that got the project back on track and the packaging ended up winning an award.
[15:10] What role does purpose play in innovation leadership?
Innovation takes a long time and purpose can get lost over time as snags come up along the way. Leaders can help make sure innovators do not lose sight of that purpose, no matter what happens in the day-to-day. It can tie into the organization’s overall mission and the leader should be trying to make those connections and helping employees see how the project they’re working on fits into the overall mission.
[20:22] How can leaders partner with their innovators?
Partnership is the most difficult element for leaders to get their heads around. It means rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever the innovator needs to do. It could be anything from brainstorming to freeing up resources. It involves the leader coming down off of their pedestal and let go of ego. The person reporting to them is now telling them what to do in some sense. There’s also a concern that if the leader is an equal, trust will be broken. In practice, it looks like a boss being a servant leader.
[25:20] Why is innovation lacking in the C-Suite?
Harvard Business Review found that many boards have a lack of understanding about innovation. This trickles down to executives and senior leadership. The lack of innovation experience makes it difficult for these leaders to give innovators the support they need. We found that trust, purpose, and partnership were just as important at the C-Suite level as they were at the management level. If those three elements are not in place at the highest level, it trickles down to the rest of the organization.
Useful links:

* Part 1 of the discussion: TEI 149: How to effectively le...]]>
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TEI 227: IoT is coming to a product near you, maybe even yours: what product managers need to know – with Daniel Elizalde https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-227-iot-is-coming-to-a-product-near-you-maybe-even-yours-what-product-managers-need-to-know-with-daniel-elizalde/ Mon, 29 Apr 2019 09:55:29 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14765 An IoT Technology stack and framework for product managers. More and more product managers and innovators are bumping into IoT, the Internet of Things, as part of their current or future product roadmaps. I’m seeing a convergence of product forms. In the past, we may have categorized a product as being digital, physical, or service. […] An IoT Technology stack and framework for product managers. More and more product managers and innovators are bumping into IoT, the Internet of Things, as part of their current or future product roadmaps. I’m seeing a convergence of product forms. More and more product managers and innovators are bumping into IoT, the Internet of Things, as part of their current or future product roadmaps. I’m seeing a convergence of product forms. In the past, we may have categorized a product as being digital, physical, or service. Now it is more common to see all three categories associated with a product.
Further, more of you have been asking for me to bring on an IoT product expert, which is why Daniel Elizalde is joining us. Daniel is an IoT product coach who helps Product teams develop an IoT product strategy. He has over 18 years of experience in managing the lifecycle of IoT products across several industries. He also has trained numerous product professionals through his consulting practice, online courses, and his popular course at Stanford University.
In the discussion we cover:

* What is and is not IoT
* Challenges with IoT products
* The IoT Technology Stack
* Six decision areas for product managers

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:08] What is and is not considered IoT?
I think about a concept called the IoT stack, which is made up of five building blocks: Device hardware, embedded software, communications/networking, cloud platform, and cloud applications. From this model, you can see that a lot of different things fall into these categories. For example, if you have a lightbulb in your home that you control from your phone, that is technically IoT. The lightbulb has hardware and software, connects to a network, connects to a platform, and has a mobile app. However, a lot of people only think of IoT as automated home appliances. They are technically IoT devices, but the real value comes in industry in things like autonomous vehicles and improving the yield of farmers from ground sensors. We’re seeing most of the IoT growth on the industrial side.
[10:01] What are some of the challenges in developing IoT products?
The traditional challenges like listening to customers do not go away. However, there are a few patterns I see over and over again across industries and companies. Most of the problems have to do with the complexity of IoT products. They’re really systems and each component has individual complexities. It’s difficult to find a company that’s good at developing and managing all five parts of the IoT stack. You have to deal with all of them at the same time. Manufacturers of physical devices are accustomed to sending products out into the field and moving on. IoT products are always out in the field sending data back, which creates opportunities for service and maintenance contracts that companies are not equipped to deal with. They do not know how to secure and monetize these products. Innovators need to know how to deal with these complexities because IoT is not going anywhere.
[16:54] Can you walk us through the six decision areas for IoT product managers?
If you think of it like a matrix, the IoT technology stack is on the horizontal axis and the decision areas are on the vertical axis. The decision areas are: UX, data, business, technology, security, and standards.  You have to think about the possibilities and ramifications across the stack and across the decision areas. The first area is user experience, which means considering the users and their needs at each stage in the stack. This is important because the users are different at each stage. At the data step, we’re asking what data needs to be collected and processed at each point in the stack. In the business area, we’re asking how we’re going to monetize the solution and what is the build vs. buy strategy at each step. Technology is fourth in line because the other three components need to be in place first. Once we know the technology we’re going to use,]]>
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TEI 226: Creating product roadmaps, Part 2 – with Bruce McCarthy https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-226-creating-product-roadmaps-part-2-with-bruce-mccarthy/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 09:55:34 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14744 Creating a product vision of the future that’s awesome for everyone. Product roadmaps are frequently used badly, almost as handcuffs for product managers. A year ago we explored roadmaps and how they should be used with Bruce McCarthy. At the time, he had recently co-authored the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while […] Creating a product vision of the future that’s awesome for everyone. Product roadmaps are frequently used badly, almost as handcuffs for product managers. A year ago we explored roadmaps and how they should be used with Bruce McCarthy. At the time, Product roadmaps are frequently used badly, almost as handcuffs for product managers. A year ago we explored roadmaps and how they should be used with Bruce McCarthy. At the time, he had recently co-authored the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty.
Since writing the book, Bruce has been busy helping companies improve how they use roadmaps. I wanted to find out what more he has learned in the last year, which is what this discussion is about.
We cover:

* What a product roadmap is
* Who the roadmap is for
* The pitfalls of roadmaps
* The inputs needed to create a roadmap
* How to organize a roadmap
* How to prioritize product features

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:35] It’s been a year since your book came out. What’s changed since then?
A lot has not changed. The idea that a roadmap is a collaboration tool, not a project plan, still holds true. It’s all about the why and crafting a compelling vision that explains the vision to the customer and the company. A good roadmap avoids being specific about dates to achieve those outcomes. One of the things I’ve discovered in working with companies around the world is that they don’t have clear objectives for outcomes. If they are done correctly, those Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) can map really nicely to the roadmap. The specific dates and deliverables on the roadmap are in support of those larger objectives. I’ve also worked with companies to make sure they are organized in a way that’s conducive to executing their roadmaps in support of their objectives. When companies do not have cross-functional teams, they become siloed and progress slows down.
[13:40] Who creates the OKRs?
It usually starts in the product or engineering teams, but there’s an increasing interest among organizations trying them out and adopting a top-down approach. In those situations, the leadership will write the OKRs in isolation and hand them down without collaboration. Without that input, no one does anything to support them and they wind up sitting on a shelf. Getting buy-in from all levels is necessary for OKRs to be successful. A number of companies are returning to this method a second or third time after running into some of these issues the first time.
[19:02] How do you create a roadmap?
The first thing people often do is start making a list of features and they think in terms of engineering steps. The result is a list of things that no one has stopped to consider whether they’re really needed. I encourage them to take a step back and think about who the customer is and what that person really needs. It starts with the why and a vision of the future that’s awesome for everyone. Once you have that vision, you need to consider what the obstacles are to achieving it. Make a list of problems and prioritize how to solve them. If you follow the process correctly, you have a framework to determine which features to include.

[28:15] Once you have the basics in place for your roadmap, what comes next?
One of the main things is obtaining buy-in. To do that, you need to understand how big each part of the project is and how long it will take to complete. This can be as simple as assigning problems to quarters and trying to do as much you can to work on that problem during its assigned quarter. You should revisit your roadmap along the way and re-assess whether you’ve made enough progress on each problem you identified. The expectation should be that you should update the roadmap on a regular basis. If you regularly provide updates, you are training your organization to expect that the roadmap is being continually updated.]]>
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TEI 225: Create a movement for a product – with Greg Satell https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-225-create-a-movement-for-a-product-with-greg-satell/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 09:55:04 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14732 The power of small groups, loosely connected, with a common purpose to propel products. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion with Greg Satell since hearing he was working on a new book, titled Cascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Transformational Change. Greg is an innovation author we first met back in episode […] The power of small groups, loosely connected, with a common purpose to propel products. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion with Greg Satell since hearing he was working on a new book, titled Cascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Tran... I’ve been looking forward to this discussion with Greg Satell since hearing he was working on a new book, titled Cascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Transformational Change. Greg is an innovation author we first met back in episode 126, when he shared predictable patterns in different types of innovation.
Now he is talking about how to create a movement around a product. A movement turns a valuable product into a super valuable sensation. Such products often appear to be overnight successes that come out of nowhere, but they are actually the result of the proper combination of actions that can lead to cascades (he’ll explain that) creating transformational change. There are many examples, but I remember when Toms Shoes became a big thing — it was like suddenly, everywhere you turned someone was talking about Toms Shoes.
Greg will tell us how that happens and what is needed to make it happen. That’s something Everyday Innovators should be aware of.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:49] What led you to write this book?
We always underestimate the transformation. We think that our job is done once we get a product into the market, but getting users to adopt is often the longest and most difficult part of the process. In 2004, I found myself running a news organization in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the Orange Revolution. Thousands of people would stop and do the same thing in unison; everything went viral all the time. I thought that it would be great for customers and employees to do that. I learned that successful transformations all ended up with the same set of principles that allowed them to drive change, and that became Cascades. The value of the product for the consumer comes from using the product for their own purposes, which might be different from your reasons for creating that product.
[9:33] Can you explain what you mean when you say transformational change is built on small groups that interact with each other in a loosely connected manner with a united purpose?
When you say “cascade,” everyone knows what you mean because it’s a colloquial term. But it’s also a technical term driven by small groups loosely connected. The most vivid example in the real world is Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, which has more than 20,o00 people attend services. What makes it work is networks of small prayer groups that meet throughout the week and create strong bonds that drive the passion. We all belong to a lot of groups at work and in other parts of our lives. Information spreads through these small groups as people share among people in their networks. Leadership comes in to unite those groups around a sense of shared purpose and inspire and empower their members. Social movements often fail because they don’t have a strong leader giving direction and implementing values.
[18:52] Where do influencers fit into this picture?
The influencer concept has a lot of resonance because it seems right, but research shows that long chains of influence are much more effective than a few concentrated people. The chain stops unless the influencer’s followers keep it going. People often confuse celebrity with influencer, when in reality they are very different things. When you feel like you have to convince people, you’ve picked the wrong product.
[22:56] How do these concepts apply to creating new products?
When you are trying to create something new or innovative, you want to find a “hair on fire” use case. This is someone who has a problem that needs to be solved so badly that they’re willing to work with the little glitches along the way. Before you create a market, you need to have a customer. You can’t expect commitment up front; participation must...]]>
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TEI 224: Integrating Scrum into other processes including Stage-Gate – with Mike Cohn https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-224-integrating-scrum-into-other-processes-including-stage-gate-with-mike-cohn/ Mon, 08 Apr 2019 09:55:52 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14719 Commit to the process and work through challenges to achieve product success. Many of the companies I have worked with this year want to make their product development and management capability more agile. They sometimes express their current process is too linear, rigid, and heavy as well as not providing the shorter time-to-market they want. […] Commit to the process and work through challenges to achieve product success. Many of the companies I have worked with this year want to make their product development and management capability more agile. They sometimes express their current process i... Many of the companies I have worked with this year want to make their product development and management capability more agile. They sometimes express their current process is too linear, rigid, and heavy as well as not providing the shorter time-to-market they want. Most often they are using something that is of a stage-gate nature, but being more agile doesn’t mean throwing away a stage-gate framework.
However, it does mean adopting agile philosophy and processes. This is what our guest, Mike Cohn has been doing for more than 20 years — building high-performing software development teams and organizations through the use of agile and Scrum. He’s worked with startups and some of the largest organizations in the world and has valuable experience to share with us.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:20] Why do organizations adopt the scrum approach?
Many organizations have an ad-hoc development approach with no formal processes in place so there’s nothing in place across the organizations. Other organizations have too many processes in place and need to speed things up as the business cycle becomes quicker.
[4:50] What are the challenges organizations face when adopting scrum?
Some people think that scrum is just something developers do and no one else is affected by it. Not everyone has to adopt scrum, but everyone has to stop doing things that work against scrum. For example, sales can’t make promises without talking to developers. Most people transition pretty well into scrum, but occasionally HR has to get involved when issues arise. There are other instances where management doesn’t understand the philosophy and they think it means they can change things all the time.
[7:42] How do you help align expectations with reality?
In a pre-agile world, teams would still make plans and promises that were mostly false. It’s still possible for agile teams to make long-term commitments, but it’s difficult to do so with precision. For example, it’s very possible to give a broad overview of what you’ll deliver in six months. Planning with accuracy isn’t hard, but planning with precision is nearly impossible.
[14:53] What must change to adopt agile?
Teams have to be empowered so they can be self-organizing. They’re given a problem and plenty of room to figure out how to solve it, which requires giving the team freedom to make it happen. One of the earliest agile projects was a team in Japan that was tasked with making a photocopier that was state of the art at half the price in two years. They thought it was impossible at first, but with the freedom to work, they took ownership of the problem and solved it. A stakeholder can define what success is, but the team needs to determine how to deliver that success.
[19:30] What makes a good product owner vs. a product manager?
Ideally, it’s one person who is both externally and internally focused. However, it’s often difficult for one person to have the time to do both of those jobs well. The more common scenario is to have a product manager who is externally focused and a product owner who is internally focused. It’s important to make sure they have a good working relationships and one isn’t trying to overtake the other. Normally the product owner is a little more analytical and organized, while the product manager is more extroverted and focused on the big picture.
[22:47] Are there other things that surprise organizations about moving toward a scrum model?
People think that scrum will fix the problems in the organization. It won’t, but it will help expose the problems. Be prepared for some roughness when you first transition. If you work at it, you’ll get past those problems and life on the othe...]]>
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TEI 223: Applying JTBD to make products customers love – with Brian Rhea https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-223-applying-jtbd-to-make-products-customers-love-with-brian-rhea/ Mon, 01 Apr 2019 11:41:44 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14699 Find out what makes your customer “hire” your product. You don’t have to listen very long to this podcast to know that I place the emphasis of product management on the creation of customer value. If we understand the needs or problems of our customers and solve them in a way that creates value for […] Find out what makes your customer “hire” your product. You don’t have to listen very long to this podcast to know that I place the emphasis of product management on the creation of customer value. If we understand the needs or problems of our customers... You don’t have to listen very long to this podcast to know that I place the emphasis of product management on the creation of customer value. If we understand the needs or problems of our customers and solve them in a way that creates value for them, we, in turn, create value for ourselves and our organization.
A handy tool that has emerged to more deeply understand the needs of customers is the Jobs To Be Done (JBTD) framework. This tool helps product developers and managers to look at the actual customer problem in a more specific way, asking what job the customer hired the product for. Some quick examples include:

* Milkshakes “hired” by morning commuters to satisfy them during a long drive.
* Cordless drills hired by homeowners who need to hang curtains (they need a hole for a curtain rod, but their job is blocking light or adding beauty)
* Snicker bars that are hired to quickly satisfy an empty stomach when there isn’t time for other snacks or food

We’ve discussed the tool a couple of times in the past with practitioners involved in its development. First is Tony Ulwick, who along with Clayton Christensen, is credited as the founders of JBTD. That was episode 106. Second is Chris Spiek, who works with Bob Moesta, another co-creator of JBTD, who shared useful examples of applying the framework in episode 057.
It’s time for another look at JTBD and for that we are joined by Brian Rhea, a product practitioner who helps startups build better products.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:55] What is Jobs To Be Done?
The basic idea is that customers don’t buy products, they hire them to do a job or improve their life in the same way a company would hire an employee to help with a pain point in the business. It’s helpful to remember that people don’t care about your product; they care about themselves and the progress they want to make. They hire a product to help them do that.
[9:57] Can you give us some examples of JTBD in action?
Someone in a Slack group I’m in just launched a time tracking application. He was receiving support requests asking to bulk add time at the end of the month. He was confused about why people would want to do that, but we encouraged him to talk to his customers. He ended up finding out that his customers were forgetting to properly track their time and determined that what he really needed were regular reminders for people to track their time. Usually, these insights are held in customer support — they hear about the hacks people are using to get around missing features or functionality. Product managers should be talking to customer support regularly.
As another example, I was working with a camp management client whose system only supported PDFs. I heard that camp staff were converting JPGs to PDFs because people were taking pictures of their registration forms from their phones. We ended up adding the ability for the system to accept JPG files.
[17:30] How should someone get started with JTBD?
Start with interviews. A lot of times, people will think they need to start by identifying the job to be done and then find out how their product is helping people do that. That’s not the correct approach because products are hired for many jobs. You need to find out what those jobs are through interviews. There are two types of JTBD interviews — one that’s very task oriented and one that’s more qualitative and emotionally focused. I recommend the qualitative method for anyone who is new to JTBD. You are asking people to tell you the story of how they came to buy the product. You’re trying to understand all of the forces at play on that person. It’s your job as the interviewer to pull out of them the functional, emotional,]]>
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TEI 222: Presenting new products at trade shows and events – with Amy McWhirter https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-222-presenting-new-products-at-trade-shows-and-events-with-amy-mcwhirter/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 09:55:19 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14693 Learn how to cut through the noise and make human connections presenting new products A lot of new products are announced at trade shows and other events, such as CES for consumer electronics, International Builders Show for construction materials, and the National Association of Music Merchants for all things musical. For many product people, participating […] Learn how to cut through the noise and make human connections presenting new products A lot of new products are announced at trade shows and other events, such as CES for consumer electronics, International Builders Show for construction materials, A lot of new products are announced at trade shows and other events, such as CES for consumer electronics, International Builders Show for construction materials, and the National Association of Music Merchants for all things musical. For many product people, participating in their industry trade show each year is one of the most important things they do.
The real pros who know how to launch products at trade shows are the ones who know how to compete for attention in noisy and crowded environments. It’s a real skill. They quickly capture interest and generate opportunities.
Consequently, they have knowledge and experience Everyday Innovators should have as well.
Which is why I spoke with one of the handfuls of people who large brands trust to announce their products at trade shows. She is Amy McWhirter, corporate event host, emcee, and trade show presenter. Her superpower is engaging audiences in an authentic way that creates connection.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:54] You’ve helped launch numerous products, but you’re not a product manager. Tell us about your work.
I am a professional trade show presenter. I do not work for any of the companies I represent, but people often think that I do. I am hired to talk about a product or service at a trade show. I started as an actor doing commercials and corporate videos. I presented at auto shows and other B2C events and discovered that there was a whole B2B trade show world. That’s where I’ve been ever since.
[8:02] Who from the organization typically hires you?
It’s usually marketing or an events manager. There’s always a product marketing person or a director of marketing involved. The CMO may also be included. Sometimes I meet people at trade shows who see what I do and want me to come work for them.
[10:31] What is a product launch that stands out in your mind?
I just finished a series of two shows for a company for the second year. Rinnai just launched its tankless water heaters in the U.S. The company is well known around the world, but not in the United States. They recently made some changes that made the water heaters much easier to install. We wanted to get the word out that the products were less expensive and easy to install.
[12:05] How did you work with the company?
The director of marketing contacted me a few months before their two big shows. I started by working on the script with the marketing team. We used animations behind the screens as visuals and crafted the presentation from there. This was my experience using a touch screen at a show, and people were very engaged an interested. I personalized the script to make it sound natural and relatable. I also had to time out the script so it fit with the animation.
[16:40] What are the elements of a good presentation?
The standard attention span is 5-6 minutes. It’s enough to grab attention and encourage people to learn more. People’s attention spans are shorter than they used to be. The content should speak to how the product will address a customer’s pain points and end with a call to action. Most often, that’s coming into the booth for a demo. The visuals are also important — what’s compelling and what will tell your story the best? PowerPoint is still used, but increasingly people are adding animation or video to it. Audio is another important component, and having a dedicated A/V person is key.
[22:49] How should the content be structured?
Avoid marketing speak. The content should not sound like a brochure. You are trying to connect to people on a human level. The content can be high level and still draw people in. One of my clients used an “I Love Lucy” theme last year. Not everyone knew the reference,]]>
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TEI 221: How product managers can determine the price of a new product – with Patrick Campbell https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-221-how-product-managers-can-determine-the-price-of-a-new-product-with-patrick-campbell/ Mon, 18 Mar 2019 09:55:55 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14675 Focus on customers, not competitors, to drive product success. Are your products not generating the revenue they should be just because you didn’t price them right? Pricing is a key concern of not only product managers and leaders but also the executives of organizations. Knowing the right price for a product is a challenge, especially […] Focus on customers, not competitors, to drive product success. Are your products not generating the revenue they should be just because you didn’t price them right? Pricing is a key concern of not only product managers and leaders but also the executiv... Are your products not generating the revenue they should be just because you didn’t price them right? Pricing is a key concern of not only product managers and leaders but also the executives of organizations.
Knowing the right price for a product is a challenge, especially if the product is new to the market. But, how to you determine the right price?
If your pricing strategy resembles a dart board, there is a better way. You just need to know the steps and what data to collect to determine the right price.
Our guest, CEO and co-founder of ProfitWell, Patrick Campbell, is a pricing pro and he shares the steps to determining the price of any product. Before founding ProfitWell, he served as an Economist at Google.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:50] How did you become a pricing expert?
I started working in the intelligence community, which is all about using data to hunt bad guys. It was interesting, but I didn’t find government work very exciting as a young person. I got a job at Google in a sales ops role and built a lead scoring model for sales. I then moved into the startup world and started working on pricing. I saw that the people I worked with put so much work into their products but didn’t put nearly that level of effort into pricing. I decided to strike out on my own and focus specifically on pricing and have been doing that for about 6 years.
[6:56] ProfitWell focuses on pricing for SaaS products, but does the philosophy behind it apply to other products?
We primarily serve the subscription space, but we started off agnostic to the company we took on. We’ve worked on with Hallmark, Reebok, and nonsubscription companies in other industries. Our algorithms are fine-tuned to subscription companies, but our content is a good fit for everyone.
[8:16] Can you give us an example of how your model works?
Let’s say we’re starting a CRM or a media site where we’re going to publish content about a specific niche. The biggest thing to understand is that it’s not about your existing data, it’s about getting fresh data from your customers to understand the value from that customer’s perspective. This where people go wrong when they look at things like competitive benchmarks. This approach assumes that your competitors have done their pricing homework, which most have not.
[11:56] How should someone begin thinking about a pricing strategy?
The first thing you have to think about is who you’re targeting and what we call persona-pricing-fit. Start with a spreadsheet that has customer profiles in each column and value metrics in the rows (how do they want to pay, what are their most valued features, etc.). Then just fill in the sections and add your confidence level. This helps to centralize your thinking about pricing and understand who you are building the product for.
[17:04] What comes next in the process?
Next comes validating and adjusting based on what you find. This happens through collecting survey data. You can use market panel companies if you don’t have access to the people you want. In the survey, show them the product and give them a landing page’s worth of information, make sure they understand the information, then ask some pricing questions. You want to understand at what point they feel the product is too expensive and at what point they think it’s too cheap. With enough data, you can put together a pricing elasticity curve and validate your personal assumptions. The big thing to keep in mind is that you’re not trying to be perfect, you’re trying to hedge risk and understand what users value. It’s an interactive process as you grow and change your product.
[23:49] What do you do with the data once you have it?
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TEI 220: What makes a good product manager & who shouldn’t be one – with Marc Abraham https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-220-what-makes-a-good-product-manager-who-shouldnt-be-one-with-marc-abraham/ Mon, 11 Mar 2019 09:55:52 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14667 It’s all about creativity, curiosity, and customer focus for product managers. This is a listener requested episode. Several Everyday Innovators have asked, “What are the qualities of a good product manager?” While many listeners are already good product managers, a little self-reflection from time to time on your strengths and how to be an even better […] It’s all about creativity, curiosity, and customer focus for product managers. This is a listener requested episode. Several Everyday Innovators have asked, “What are the qualities of a good product manager? This is a listener requested episode. Several Everyday Innovators have asked, “What are the qualities of a good product manager?” While many listeners are already good product managers, a little self-reflection from time to time on your strengths and how to be an even better product manager is valuable to your career as well as to those who you work with.
One listener put this in a different light and asked who should not be a product manager. I thought that was a really insightful question.
So, the following discussion addresses both topics:  qualities of a good product manager and who should not pursue a career in product management.
To help us explore these topics, our guest is Marc Abraham, coordinator at ProductTank and author of the book My Product Management Toolkit: Tools and Techniques to Become an Outstanding Product Manager.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:35] How did you get into product management?
I started as a corporate lawyer. My first role after that was as a project manager for digital products. That was a great way of getting into the world of digital and understanding how to build products and work with stakeholders. I became interested in product management because I thought there had to be more than just managing schedules and budgets. It took me a while to make the transition from project management to product management. I got my first product management job in 2011 and have been learning ever since.
[5:55] What do you hear from others about why they got into product management?
I typically hear people talking about the desire to solve problems for customers and the need for creativity. Some people get into product management because they want to gain more influence at the organization. My response is that you’re not going to become the next CEO so if that’s your only goal, you are probably going to be disappointed. It requires a lot of teamwork and collaboration.
[10:19] What do you see as the most important value of a good product manager?
It’s a close call in my mind between being customer focused and being curious. Ultimately, a product manager’s role is to serve the customer. If you deliver customer value, you’ll be helping the business by default. It doesn’t mean you have to blindly follow what the customer says, but you should always be thinking about them. Curiosity is all about not being afraid to ask “why?” and use it as a technique to break something down and gain a better understanding. I also expect product managers to be curious about their customers and about new trends in the market. That curiosity drives innovation and product improvement.
[20:24] What are some other attributes that make a good product manager?
One that comes to mind is being value-driven as opposed to output-driven. Product managers should always be thinking about whether they are delivering value for the customer figure out ways to test that your initial assumptions held true. Another one is the ability to learn and iterate. There’s no set formula you can apply to creating successful products, so you need to be able to learn quickly and adapt accordingly, then try again if needed.
[25:11] Where should concern about revenue fit into the mix?
You should always think about the revenue aspect of your product and whether people will find the product or service compelling enough to spend money on. However, there are parts of the customer experience that are not related to revenue and it’s harder to make the case for doing those things if revenue is your main focus.
[27:57] Are there characteristics that make someone not a good fit for product management?
People looking to become the next CEO typically do not do well because they’re o...]]>
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TEI 219: How Cisco innovates to beat competitors and deliver value – with Alex Goryachev https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-219-how-cisco-innovates-to-beat-competitors-and-deliver-value-with-alex-goryachev/ Mon, 04 Mar 2019 10:55:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14655 The surprising ways middle managers can drive innovation and product management. I love hearing how companies improve their innovation capabilities and foster a culture of innovation. Anytime I hear such stories, I always find lessons for how other organizations can also improve their capability. In my experience, this best occurs by enabling the largest number […] The surprising ways middle managers can drive innovation and product management. I love hearing how companies improve their innovation capabilities and foster a culture of innovation. Anytime I hear such stories, I love hearing how companies improve their innovation capabilities and foster a culture of innovation. Anytime I hear such stories, I always find lessons for how other organizations can also improve their capability.
In my experience, this best occurs by enabling the largest number of employees to participate in innovation activities. More employees thinking and acting like innovators results in more innovation for the organization.
Cisco has had a program for the last four years that is built around an Innovation Challenge and Innovation Centers. It grew out of work with startups that expanded to Cisco employees.
To learn about this, our guest is the Managing Director of the Cisco Innovation Centers, Alex Goryachev. Alex enjoys turning disruptive concepts into emerging business models. He has a good cross-functional background for doing so, serving in senior roles in product development, marketing, finance, and sales.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:25] What does your role entail?
Cisco has more than 74,000 employees, many of whom do not have innovation in their title but have it in their mindset. I connect employees with our 14 innovation centers around the world and oversee the teams who are responsible for innovation. Our innovation centers are places where we can create new technologies and act on ideas. We work in conjunction with universities, government, and other partners.
[4:20] How do you connect employees to innovation?
I used to run start-up competitions at Cisco and would field calls from employees asking to participate. I had to tell them no because the competitions were not open to employees. I realized that this was not a good approach so we created a cross-functional program for employees to innovate and execute their visions. Innovation is not about invention, it’s about execution. We’re looking for people who will stand up and act on their ideas and put in the time to make it happen. We ask managers to give us a percentage of the employee’s time to work on their idea. If the idea advances, the employee can choose to pursue it full-time within the company. The culture is very cross-functional and focuses on making sure people are involved in many projects.
[9:10] How are middle managers important to innovation?
At the end of the day, middle managers have the most control. The only thing that individuals have control over is their time because they don’t have budgets or teams. Senior leadership only controls the strategy. Middle managers control tactics and execution. We see clusters of great ideas that come from teams managed by certain people within the company. Once the culture of innovation is implanted in a team, it tends to take hold. At the end of the day, our manager designs our experience at work and can do a lot to promote a culture of innovation.
[12:50] What do these managers do to drive innovation?
They are open to new ideas that are not in their field and are willing to listen to ideas that come from other people. Innovation comes from inclusion and diversity and hearing different points of view. Every organization has silos, but innovative managers know how to develop cross-functional teams. You can have a lonely inventor, but you can’t have a lonely innovator. You need to have a team to drive innovation.
[16:08] Do these collaborations happen through structured programs, or is it more organic?
It’s a little of both. Innovation is fluid and there’s a culture that exists within a team. We do run an annual challenge that’s more focused and has a milestone-based approach. It really evangelizes the idea of being an innovator. The challenges have three phases: idea collection, judging, and implementation. About 50 percent of Cisco’s workforce partic...]]>
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TEI 217: 50% of what makes product managers successful that most are missing – with Paresh Shah https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-217-50-of-what-makes-product-managers-successful-that-most-are-missing-with-paresh-shah/ Mon, 25 Feb 2019 10:55:23 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14637 Learn how to go from “gear head” to “group head.” Two spheres of capabilities are needed for product managers to be successful. One is competency in the processes, practices, and tools of product management. That is where I spend much of my time helping product managers and teams. The other sphere is competency in what […] Learn how to go from “gear head” to “group head.” Two spheres of capabilities are needed for product managers to be successful. One is competency in the processes, practices, and tools of product management. Two spheres of capabilities are needed for product managers to be successful. One is competency in the processes, practices, and tools of product management. That is where I spend much of my time helping product managers and teams.
The other sphere is competency in what is often called the soft skills and aligned with leadership. It is this sphere that many people find more difficult to master, especially those of us from technical backgrounds. But, without these competencies, you are severely limiting your potential.
My passion is inspiring and equipping product managers and leaders. To that end, this is one of the most important discussions we have had yet on this podcast. At one point in the discussion with our guest, my passion for helping you and other product managers came out in the form of a few tears. Hopefully, that will make sense when you hear it.
My guest is Paresh Shah, who is pursuing his passion of helping engineers transform into innovators, intrapreneurs, and inspiring leaders. Paresh taps into his experience as a mechanical engineer, Harvard MBA, serial entrepreneur, leadership coach, and other roles to inspire you to future-proof your career, innovate more efficiently, and advance faster.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:02] Tell us about your program and how it came about.
Product managers are the nexus in companies because they work at the intersection of many functions from engineering to marketing. As companies want to become innovators, one of the primary areas we advise CEOs to look to is product managers. Product managers are the least appreciated, most overworked, and most talented resources many companies have. Few people know what they do and they rarely have management authority over the people they’re expected to corral. They are the people who can create innovation and transform a company’s culture.
[11:55] How do you help product managers become leaders?
We have created the 7 7 7 leadership transformation model. The idea is to transform gear heads into group heads. Group heads are leaders in an organization, the people that others always go to for help, even if they don’t have direct reports. We help organizations solve four big problems every organization faces: disruption, employee motivation, customer trust, and alignment of purpose and social responsibility. Only 3 in 10 employees are motivated and engaged by their work. Group heads are the most motivated people and create an innovation environment around them. They also have a likability and a believability that resonates with customers and vendors.
[17:15] What is a lifter leader?
Lifters exhibit the mind shift of consequences and are attuned to authenticity. We help people get out of their own heads and develop empathy to listen to customers and authenticity and integrity to inspire people who work for us. In the future hopefully, we’ll be able to monitor these skills just like we can analytics on a dashboard. Lifters are ordinary leaders who elevate their customers, their coworkers, their community, and their companies in the process. We identify the 7 great strengths and the 7 blind spots that gear heads have, and deliver the 7 essential upgrades that are needed to go from gear head to group head.
[23:12] What are the 7 great strengths?
Gear heads are great at problem-solving, being detail-oriented, analysis, innovation, working independently, being action-oriented, and critical thinking. We love solving problems and getting into the weeds to figure out what’s going on. We like putting things together and seeing our products out there in the world making a difference, but we’re often not as skilled at working with people, who are much more variable than products and technology.
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TEI 216: Avoid disruption and create new value for customers – with Thales Teixeira, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-216-avoid-disruption-and-create-new-value-for-customers-with-thales-teixeira-phd/ Mon, 18 Feb 2019 10:55:28 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14614 Map your value chain and rethink your business model to stay ahead of the curve. Many companies have faced disruption. Of course, Uber and Airbnb are the poster children of disruption, but there are many more. Kodak was displaced by the digital camera. Blockbuster’s physical doors could not stay open in the face of Netflix’s […] Map your value chain and rethink your business model to stay ahead of the curve. Many companies have faced disruption. Of course, Uber and Airbnb are the poster children of disruption, but there are many more. Many companies have faced disruption. Of course, Uber and Airbnb are the poster children of disruption, but there are many more. Kodak was displaced by the digital camera. Blockbuster’s physical doors could not stay open in the face of Netflix’s virtual service. Borders Books failed in the wake of Amazon.
Some companies have also managed to continue in the face of industry disruption, such as Best Buy and Barnes & Noble.
What companies, both big and small, established and startup, can do to avoid disruption is the topic of this discussion. Our guest is Dr. Thales Teixeira, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School and research of digital disruption.
He has a new book examining disruption titled Unlocking the Customer Value Chain. We discuss how value is now being created for customers.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:21] How did your book come about?
I visited my first startup in 2010 and visited Mark Zuckerberg and other executives at Facebook. I asked them how they were planning to disrupt the media industry and found they had a clear plan for doing so. Since then, I’ve had similar conversations with Netflix, Airbnb, and many others who were all doing versions of the same thing. The book is about that common pattern of disruption across industries.
[4:55] Your book covers a few key terms — decoupling, disruption, and the consumer’s role. Can you define those?
I use different terminology for disruption than some people do. For me, it happens when you have an established big company in any industry that loses a significant amount of market share to a disruptor in a short period of time. For example, Uber stole a large portion of market share from taxis, and Dollar Shave Club took market share from Gillette.
The customer value chain is the process by which customers evaluate which product will be the best fit for them. Customers have to go through it to acquire the goods they want, whether it’s cosmetics or appliances. Decoupling is the breaking of the links in the customer value chain. For example, Birchbox makes it easier for customers to test beauty products. It does not try to replicate Sephora, but it makes one part of the process much easier from the consumer perspective.
[9:22] What are some of the ways that startups decouple the customer value chain?
Many of them use value capturing activities or new ways of doing things that the customer might not have enjoyed previously. For example, if you don’t like going to the store, a service like Birchbox or Zappos makes it easier to replicate the experience of trying products from the comfort of home. Uber is cheaper than cabs and eliminates the need for the consumer to physically hail a taxi. No matter what type of product or service you have, all you can do is create more value for customers, reduce value capturing activity, or eliminate value eroding activity.
[16:02] What’s at stake for established companies that are not paying attention to disruption?
A large portion of market share is at stake. A generation ago, market share gains and losses were less than 1 percent between established brands like Pepsi and Coke or Ford and GM. We’ve seen startups capturing 30-40 percent of market share, which is very disruptive. No one seems to be immune from it, regardless of industry. In response to this, companies typically blame technology and build their own technologies. We have yet to see an example of a company that made its own technology and been successful. The other response is to try to buy out the startup. This does not stop the bleeding. In the end, customers are what’s disrupting your business. Their behaviors are changing rapidly and startups can more easily accommodate their needs.
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TEI 215: The best way product managers should use the Value Proposition Canvas – with Alan Smith https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-215-the-best-way-product-managers-should-use-the-value-proposition-canvas-with-alan-smith/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 10:55:26 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14597 Understand a customer’s jobs, pains, and gains for effective product management Figuring out what your customer wants and needs from your product or service is the heart of product management. That is the beginning of how we create products that customers love. And, there are tools to help you do that. In this discussion, you […] Understand a customer’s jobs, pains, and gains for effective product management Figuring out what your customer wants and needs from your product or service is the heart of product management. That is the beginning of how we create products that custom... Figuring out what your customer wants and needs from your product or service is the heart of product management. That is the beginning of how we create products that customers love.
And, there are tools to help you do that. In this discussion, you will learn about a tool that has been available for a few years, but I rarely find product leaders and managers using it. It’s called the Value Proposition Canvas.
We explored the concept of value proposition back in episode 123 with Alex Osterwalder. Now we talk with his co-founder Alan Smith. Together they started Strategyzer, which may be best known for their award-winning books Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design and related training.
Alan is a multitalented designer and UX professional. He loves building tools to help drive strategy and innovation in organizations, which makes him a great person to talk with us, Everyday Innovators.
The Value Proposition Canvas consists of two sides:

* customer segment profile, and
* the value map


Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:03] How did the Value Proposition Canvas come about?
We looked at how people were actually using the Business Model Canvas. We found that people couldn’t express the value proposition in one or two post-it notes. They were trying to express their customers’ problems and goals and the signal to us was that it was a separate problem. It sounds simple, but it’s really hard to do and there are a million ways to do it.
[6:22] Can you give us an example of how it’s been used?
In the early days of Strategyzer, we built an iPad app for the Business Model Canvas. We created a roadmap filled with what we thought were logical features to add. We zoomed into the value proposition and saw that very few of the features we wanted to add were going to add value to the customer or address issues they had. In 60 minutes of working with the Value Proposition Canvas, we realized our roadmap was wrong and scrapped it completely.
[12:34] What is the Customer Segment Profile?
We based it on the Jobs to be Done model and tried to make it a little more actionable. What are the risks associated with getting something done? What current solutions are not working? We call those the pains. Then, there are the gains, which are the opposite. You can define a job as a series of tasks or a larger narrative – either will work in the Value Proposition Canvas.
[17:04] What’s the best way to use the Customer Segment Profile?
It’s best if you have some customers already. Have your team go through them and pick out the jobs, pains, and gains. If you don’t have customer interviews, try to get people together to think through jobs, pains, and gains in person. Then, determine which of the jobs matter most to the customers. You can also map functional, social, or emotional jobs to determine whether they are internal or external.
[23:57] What is the Value Map?
The value map has three parts. Products and Services, the Pain Relievers, and Gain Creators. Everyone can list products and services, but the other two are more difficult. The pain relievers and gain creators focus on what those specific features allow a customer to do or what pain a feature eliminates for them.
[27:29] How does Value Proposition Canvas relate to a Minimum Viable Product?
You’ll have ideas that feel so natural and so right, but when you try to add them to the Value Proposition Canvas, you’ll see that they don’t meet your customers’ needs at all. It’s important to keep the customer job, pains, and gains in mind, even if you are trying to build a minimum viable product. Finding the jobs that are least served provides a good path toward crea...]]>
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TEI 214: Want more innovation? Build a partner program – with Ed Krause https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-214-want-more-innovation-build-a-partner-program-with-ed-krause/ Mon, 04 Feb 2019 10:55:47 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14577 Choose the right university partners to drive research and innovation Let’s face it, the smartest people don’t all work in your organization. The thought has been shared by many leaders, such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and is originally attributed to Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and UNIX contributor. He said, “The […] Choose the right university partners to drive research and innovation Let’s face it, the smartest people don’t all work in your organization. The thought has been shared by many leaders, such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Let’s face it, the smartest people don’t all work in your organization. The thought has been shared by many leaders, such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and is originally attributed to Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and UNIX contributor. He said,
“The smartest people in the world don’t all work for us; most of them work for someone else.”
To benefit from the creativity of smart people who are external to your organization, you need a way to find and attract them to contribute their brain power. There are time-tested ways to accomplish this, including traditional open innovation, incubators, and startups.
Another approach is a partner program. Ford Motor Company has used this approach for decades. By continuously learning and improving, they are a leader in the approach with answers for others considering a partner program.
To explain how their system works and tips for implementing a partner program, Ed Krause joins us. He is the Global Manager External Alliances Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Company. He has global responsibility for developing cutting edge technology and competitive advantage for Ford by developing relationships and collaborative projects involving universities and partner companies.
Anyone interested in open innovation or a more formal partner program will find this discussion valuable.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:26] What types of partnerships do you manage at Ford?
My team is responsible for our global R&D alliances with universities, national laboratories, and a few companies. The bulk of the work is with universities. Ford has been working with universities since the 1950s and formed our first strategic alliance with MIT . In 2006, we added Michigan and Northwestern to the program. To date, we’ve given 950 awards, or unrestricted grants, to universities.
[4:42] What was the motivation to start the alliance program?
Universities in the 1990s looked ahead and forecast a significant decline in government funding. At the same time, internal corporate research labs were also becoming financially difficult and companies were looking for a different model. At Ford, our CEO served on the board with the president of MIT and they decided Ford and MIT would form a new alliance model. We quickly learned that spending money is easy but getting value is more difficult. We’ve evolved the model over time to increase the value to the company.
[6:53] What types of projects come out of the university partnerships?
When we first came out with our Sync system (a voice-controlled entertainment/calling system), there was concern that it would be distracting and shouldn’t be allowed in vehicles. We had the data, but the regulators didn’t believe us because they thought the data was biased. We worked with the University of Michigan to gather thousands of hours of independent driving data to validate what we knew was the case. Another example is an F-150 trailer backup feature that was proven to be possible at the University of Michigan. We took their idea and applied our production processes to it.
[13:12] What are the characteristics of a successful partnership?
It has to be a win-win at the alliance level. It’s always a win for the universities because they receive funding and industry-relevant research problems to work on. Ford needs appropriate IP rights to give us the ability to put the work into production. Not every project is successful, but we’ve had enough success to justify growing the alliance program. There’s a huge overlap between what’s academically interesting and what’s relevant to us. We’ve been able to move beyond fundamental research and students are earning their PhDs by doing this work.
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TEI 213: Doing things that don’t scale is the secret to successful product management – with Abdo Riani https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-213-doing-things-that-dont-scale-is-the-secret-to-successful-product-management-with-abdo-riani/ Mon, 28 Jan 2019 10:55:52 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14570 Become the product to drive quick launches and lasting success Recently I was helping the product leaders and managers in a large non-profit organization improve their performance. When we discussed the use of MVPs, minimal viable products, one question asked was if the MVP approach applies to services. The answer is yes, and our guest […] Become the product to drive quick launches and lasting success Recently I was helping the product leaders and managers in a large non-profit organization improve their performance. When we discussed the use of MVPs, minimal viable products, Recently I was helping the product leaders and managers in a large non-profit organization improve their performance. When we discussed the use of MVPs, minimal viable products, one question asked was if the MVP approach applies to services. The answer is yes, and our guest shares an example that led to a new recycling business. The MVP approach, or if you prefer, the MVE for minimal viable experiments, is a significant philosophical shift for some people. It means doing the minimum needed to learn what creates value for a customer–aligned with solving a problem or satisfying a job they want done, before creating a complete product. I think of it as a series of small, fast, and inexpensive experiments that help us learn what a product should be.
Our guest is Abdo Riani, serial entrepreneur and founder of StartupCircle, which connects successful entrepreneurs with rising founders to help them move their ideas and businesses forward with actionable and relevant advice.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[4:43] What do you mean by not scaling in the beginning?
Doing things that don’t scale means going to market under the condition of the unavailability of the product. When I was a sophomore in college, I wanted to create a venture that rewarded users for eco-friendly actions. I became the one connecting people with the nearest recycling facility and the one who updated their points. It allowed me to go to market quickly and generate $20,000 in pre-sales that provided a foundation for me to learn more about customers and scale up from there.
[9:13] Where did the idea for the recycling business come from?
I read an article about how no one was innovating in the recycling space apart from hardware. I started ideating about how we could solve the problem of getting more people to recycle. I thought that people would be more motivated to recycle if they could earn rewards from a local business. I also wanted to help local businesses by increasing their customer base.
[11:45] How did you validate the approach?
The next step was fundraising. I spoke with more than 50 investors over 8 months but was not successful. All the investors wanted proof that the product would work, but I didn’t have money to build the product. That’s when I changed my approach to scalability. I knew I needed one recycling facility, one local business, and one interested user. I found the user on campus and went with them to the recycling facility to experience the transaction with them. I did the same thing with the small business. These experiences allowed me to learn about some things that needed to change before scaling the product. I recruited 10 more users from a local environmental club and did the same thing but with a more automated process. I added more and more users until the recycling company became interested in investing in the product. I was able to continue scaling from there. People were motivated by helping the environment and by the rewards they were receiving.
[19:50] What was the recycling situation like when you started?
The nearest recycling facility was 2-3 miles away from the area I was targeting, so people needed the motivation to go there. They could put their recycling outside, but there was another option if they wanted to go the extra mile. I found my users by being very active in communities where people were likely to like my product. I hosted events and spoke to groups to build awareness. As I built that awareness, people started asking to fund my solution by prepaying for it. I also brought value to local businesses by promoting them.
[24:58] Where there any pivot points along the way where things didn’t work the way you thought they would?
Recycling facilities were not interested in small quantities; they made money by part...]]>
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TEI 212: Lean-driven innovation for product managers – with Norbert Majerus https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-212-lean-driven-innovation-for-product-managers-with-norbert-majerus/ Mon, 21 Jan 2019 10:55:27 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14552 Learning from 40 years of innovation experience. The principles of Lean-Driven Innovation lead to more value for customers and faster value capture (e.g., revenue) for organizations. The principles can be applied to any industry, but for our guest, they grew out of the R&D and product development practices at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Our […] Learning from 40 years of innovation experience. The principles of Lean-Driven Innovation lead to more value for customers and faster value capture (e.g., revenue) for organizations. The principles can be applied to any industry, but for our guest, The principles of Lean-Driven Innovation lead to more value for customers and faster value capture (e.g., revenue) for organizations. The principles can be applied to any industry, but for our guest, they grew out of the R&D and product development practices at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Our guest is Norbert Majerus, who was the Lean Champion in Innovation at Goodyear, where he worked for nearly 40 years before recently retiring. Now he enjoys sharing his experience with others. He captures much of the practices he learned in his new book, Lean-Driven Innovation.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:50] You were a Lean Champion at Goodyear. What does that involve?
I spent 39 years at Goodyear in R&D and innovation. The company gave me an opportunity to take those ideas and develop them into a plan. The last 15 years of my year were in Lean. The challenge was to apply the Lean concepts to R&D. We developed a simple process that works well and I’ve seen it in many companies since.
[4:39] Why did you write a book about lean innovation?
I’ve had very little formal innovation training. I learned everything by doing the work, making mistakes and learning from them. I’m happy Goodyear gave me the opportunity to share with others so they can learn from those mistakes and hopefully avoid doing the same thing.
[6:31] You outline several principles in your book. The first is to focus on the customer need.
The biggest innovations over the past 30 years did not come from marketing surveys; they came from engineers or others seeing customers struggle. They match that paint point with a technical solution. Engineers used to be very good at that, but I’m afraid they’ve lost the ability to develop empathy for customer problems. To me, that is a crucial part of innovation. There was a time when we were drowning in customer suggestions, and it just wasn’t a very useful approach to innovation.
[9:42] Explore the full design space
Many times as engineers, we find ourselves walking a straight line through space instead of exploring the whole design space. Once you know you are working on a specific customer need, you should explore all avenues available to you. Think about how a superhero would fix the problem or how would a company like Google or Amazon tackle the problem. How would you solve the problem if you had no restrictions? If this is done well, you’ll solve the problem you had originally, plus some others that you didn’t know existed at the outset.
[14:15] Work in small cycles
One way to work is to start with a big business plan only to go to their company for funding and be turned down. Big plans are often associated with a lot of money and high risk. It’s much better to split up the risk and work on a lot of little pieces one step at a time. It becomes an experiment instead of a big project. After you’ve done the experiment, you can do another one and then another one after that and you have an engaged group of leaders to support you. Startups work this way all the time. I encourage companies to make money available for these activities.
[18:04] Put the most important question first
At one point in my career, I was working on a team trying to create a plastic tire. We spent millions of dollars and built machines, mold, and everything else you needed to make them. We tested it on a Department of Transportation tire test and it failed, which lead Goodyear to pass on further development. We should have done that test as soon as we had our first prototype, but we didn’t.  It was our most important question. Another example: Right before I retired, someone figured out how to recycle tires, but the recycled tires were very expensive. The engineers tried to sell them and found that pe...]]>
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TEI 211: Most product managers are not using surveys correctly and how to fix that – with Matt Champagne, PhD. https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-211-most-product-managers-are-not-using-surveys-correctly-with-matt-champagne-phd/ Mon, 14 Jan 2019 10:55:45 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14545 Create more loyal customers by designing surveys people actually want to complete. Many product managers and product marketers are using surveys incorrectly. We like surveys because they are relatively quick and inexpensive compared to other tools, such as customer interviews. While they can help us confirm what we think are the needs of customers and […] Create more loyal customers by designing surveys people actually want to complete. Many product managers and product marketers are using surveys incorrectly. We like surveys because they are relatively quick and inexpensive compared to other tools, Many product managers and product marketers are using surveys incorrectly. We like surveys because they are relatively quick and inexpensive compared to other tools, such as customer interviews.
While they can help us confirm what we think are the needs of customers and provide customer experience information, they are not something most customers look forward to participating in.
My guest has a different experience. He creates surveys that not only have insanely high response rates but that actually create more loyal customers. Imagine that–surveys as a tool to make loyal customers.
He is Matt Champagne, researcher, university professor, author, serial entrepreneur, and most importantly a survey and feedback expert. He has implemented systems in more than 600 organizations to drastically improve customer retention, learning, and performance.
We discuss his 9 Principles of Customer Feedback.
Get Matt’s infographic that helps to explain the system.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:15] Why do we survey customers?
We all know that we should survey our customers and organizations create surveys all the time. We need to learn from our customers, but 98 percent of surveys are done incorrectly because they’re not structured the right way and are not asking the right questions. Survey tools are made to get people to take more surveys so they don’t create surveys correctly. If you’re the one who created the survey, you rarely see the problems, but when someone else looks at it, they’ll see it right away.
[8:07] What’s your framework for collecting customer feedback?
My framework is called the 9 Principles of Customer Feedback and it’s based on about 6 million data points over the past 25 years. The principles come from psychology and focus on how to get the highest response rate, the most meaningful results, and the most loyal customers. If you satisfy the principles in your survey, those outcomes will follow. People will take your surveys again and again without getting survey fatigue.
[9:58] How do you use surveys to create more loyal customers?
Everyone thinks people hate surveys, but it’s the only instrument we have to get into people’s minds to understand what they want and expect. If you design great questions and give people the right rewards for getting involved, people will feel like they have a stake in the organization and that their voice matters. We want our customers to stay and they want to stay, but they move on because we don’t ask them the right questions in the right way at the right time.
[12:44] Principle: Timing and frequency
We never ask the questions when it matters. We tend to ask surveys at the end of an event, meal, etc. This is called the autopsy approach. Asking the questions while the event is still going on will elicit more meaningful responses because it lets people know that something can be changed based on their feedback. A good server in a restaurant will ask how the meal is going and then make adjustments based on the feedback. Good surveys scale that same behavior.
[15:54] Principle: Closing the loop
Following up with the people who gave you feedback is so critical, but it’s rarely done. People want to know that their voice was heard, how it made a difference, and how others responded.
[18:13] Principle: Internal incentives
This means understanding what motivates people to answer your questions. People often think this is a giveaway or something similar. Closing the loop is more of an incentive than any monetary gift or handout. You are giving people something they couldn’t get anywhere else about the product and people...]]> Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 37:41 TEI 210: Make time to accomplish what you need to today- with John Zeratsky https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-210-make-time-to-accomplish-what-you-need-to-today-with-john-zeratksy/ Mon, 07 Jan 2019 10:55:33 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14528 A simple framework for product managers to increase focus and eliminate distractions from your day. How would you like to get more done this year? That begins by getting more done today and our guest has the four-part framework for making that happen. This is not just another time management approach, but what the creators […] A simple framework for product managers to increase focus and eliminate distractions from your day. How would you like to get more done this year? That begins by getting more done today and our guest has the four-part framework for making that happen.
How would you like to get more done this year? That begins by getting more done today and our guest has the four-part framework for making that happen.
This is not just another time management approach, but what the creators and authors of the Google Design Sprint found to be the practices to get more done.
Our guest is John Zeratsky co-author of Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, He previously wrote the New York Times bestseller Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, which describes the Google Design Spring process invented by Jake Knapp. By the way, Jake is the other co-author of the four-part Make Time framework we are about to discuss in detail.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:51] How did you become interested in time management?
As a kid, I would spend hours on end diving into something that interested me and it was the best feeling. A lot of what I do now is trying to get back to that feeling. After I graduated college, I went to work at a startup called Feedburner, which was later acquired by Google. I didn’t have much experience and burned out on productivity, organization, and time management. Jake and I realized that our experience finding a better way might be useful to others in their day-to-day lives. With the book, we wanted to create something that was lightweight but effective and customizable.
[10:52] You highlight a four-part framework in the book: Highlight, Laser, Energize, Reflect. Let’s start with Highlight.
The idea behind highlight is to choose one thing that you want to prioritize or protect in your day. Find one medium-sized activity that you can build your day around. It has a powerful effect on your ability to have a good day. If you can make time for the highlight, the rest of the day is gravy. For me, it’s usually something that requires deep work and uninterrupted focus. I like to wake up early and work on it during the first few hours of the day. My co-author is not a morning person and came up with some strategies to work on his highlight in the evening after his kids go to bed.
[14:10] Next up is Laser. Tell us about that.
This is all about having laser-like focus and removing the distractions that our phones and computers bring. Laser is about reconfiguring those technologies so we can take back the time we spend on our phones or watching TV. If you put those hours together, you wind up with the equivalent of a full-time job that we’re not intentionally doing. We don’t wake up thinking we’ll spend 2-3 hours staring at our phones, it just happens. Jake and I worked on some of those technology products so we know how much effort goes into making them compelling and attention-grabbing as possible.
[20:50] Let’s talk about Energize.
This is all about building energy for your body and your brain so you can make the most of the things that are important to you. Our perspective is that the modern world encourages our brains and our bodies to be separate, but they are very much connected. When our body feels better, our brain works better and vice versa. We suggest ways that people can approach diet and exercise with this relationship in mind. We recommend finding time for 20 minutes of movement each day. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym; walking is a great activity and something everyone can do.
[26:23] The last part of the framework is Reflect.
As the name suggests, this is all about taking a few minutes each day to reflect on the day. We suggest a simple series of questions that takes about two minutes: What did you make time for? Which of the tactics in the book did you use and did they work? What can you do differently tomorrow? For example,]]>
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TEI 209: Predictive analytics for product managers – with Brian Brinkmann https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-209-predictive-analytics-for-product-managers-with-brian-brinkmann/ Mon, 31 Dec 2018 10:55:35 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14477 Use data to predict customer behavior and design better products. Do you know which customers are most likely to stop using your product in the next month? Or, what actions your best customers take with your product when they start using it? With the right data, product managers not only know the answers to such […] Use data to predict customer behavior and design better products. Do you know which customers are most likely to stop using your product in the next month? Or, what actions your best customers take with your product when they start using it? Do you know which customers are most likely to stop using your product in the next month? Or, what actions your best customers take with your product when they start using it?
With the right data, product managers not only know the answers to such questions, but they also know what actions to take to keep customers and a whole lot more.
This is the area of predictive analytics and our guest is Brian Brinkmann, the VP of Products for a company involved in the revolution of business intelligence tools, leading to greater predictive capabilities. That company is Logi.
Brian is the perfect person to learn predictive analytics from because he is also a classic product manager, recognizing the value of customer interactions along with predictive data.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:53] What was your path into product management?
My first job in electrical engineering was in control systems for power plants, which led to a project designing user interfaces for those control systems. I learned about human-computer interaction and how to involve people in the process. From there, I went back to school for a dual degree MBA and Master of Engineering Management. I knew I wanted to go into product management, but needed some experience in the field. I worked as a strategic consultant and then eventually made my way into marketing and product management. My story is proof that you do not need a specific background to get into product management. If you want to do it, you’ll learn the skills you need to be successful.
[8:25] How do analytics figure into your work?
Product managers of applications like CRMs and healthcare management platforms know their business very well but often misunderstand how complicated analytics are. They need to get those analytics into the user experience so that the end users can get the data they need.
[10:22] What kinds of insights are you looking for in analytics?
We are looking to see why things happened and what will happen moving forward. If you can figure out what might happen, you can begin taking actions against it. A financial company wants to flag a fraudulent transaction right away. An iOT company wants to know that a machine failure is coming so they can try to prevent it from happening. It’s also a good way to understand customer acquisition and how to hold on to a customer. It’s much easier to maintain a relationship than it is to start a new one.
[13:38] Can you give an example?
If you are a $50 million per year business and your churn rate is 6 percent, if you can reduce it by half a percent, you’ll save $500,000. Everyone is excited about artificial intelligence and machine analytics, but we advise people to start by determining what their business problems are and what’s the best way to solve them. Otherwise, you are just using technology for technology’s sake. We also work with healthcare organizations to determine how likely someone is to be a no-show for an appointment based on their profile and past behavior. If someone is not likely to show up, they can send a reminder. Businesses can also use predictive analytics to determine if they are overstaffed or understaffed on a given day.
[17:40] How can product managers use predictive analytics to make decisions for their business?
The outcomes are as good as the data use you use to train the models. There might be seasonality involved or other factors. We advise people to monitor their models and track to see how well it did compared to its predictive outcome. You always need to be testing your assumptions and make sure the model is working. You have to be mindful that models will work in certain circumstances but not in others. There are people who will take action based on what those models say,]]>
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TEI 208: Use Projectopia to focus your projects, prioritize features and meet deadlines – with Andy Rosic https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-208-use-projectopia-to-focus-your-projects-prioritize-features-and-meet-deadlines-with-andy-rosic/ Mon, 24 Dec 2018 10:55:00 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14463 A path to less stressful projects at any scale. If you have ever thought that a project you worked on had too much drama and unnecessary conflict — that the project should have been easier for everyone involved — then this episode is for you. We explore how to have less stressful projects by using […] A path to less stressful projects at any scale. If you have ever thought that a project you worked on had too much drama and unnecessary conflict — that the project should have been easier for everyone involved — then this episode is for you. If you have ever thought that a project you worked on had too much drama and unnecessary conflict — that the project should have been easier for everyone involved — then this episode is for you.
We explore how to have less stressful projects by using Projectopia, our guest’s 8-step method project planning. With this method, he says you can crush your big projects; and you can do it without stress, and with clarity, direction, and efficiency.
In addition to our discussion about how to use Projectopia, you can get a free guide…
>>> Just click here for the free Projectopia Guide
Our guest is Andy Rosic, currently the Innovation Product Manager at Home Depot, mentor to startups, and former founder of software companies.
 
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:26] How did you make the transition from products into projects?
I’ve been a product manager for two decades, but products are always projects. Being a startup founder, you need to wear so many hats and everything feels stressful and like it takes too long. I began thinking a lot about how to remove stress and one of the strategies I used was to have fewer things on my mind. I started thinking about projects the same way. I started mapping out the entire project so I could delegate certain parts and forget about them.
[5:06] Where did the name Projectopia come from?
I was teaching a lot of people the method to my madness and didn’t have something to call it. I got onto the idea of growth hacking and creating growth while removing constraints. He made me realize I needed a catchy name for what I was doing. Projectopia ties into that idea of a stress-free environment that I’m trying to create.
[8:12] Can you give us an example of how Projectopia works?
I like to use building a website as an example. Your boss comes to you and says he wants you to build a new website for the organization. You begin generating a list of what you really need — a home page, blog, eCommerce, etc. Your brain begins filling in the gaps and, much like going on vacation, you pack too much because you haven’t mapped anything out.
[11:25] How can we prevent overpacking on a project?
You need to engage the team who is going to be doing this project with you. For a website, you probably have designers, developers, and people to help you with content. Think about the shortest path to a live website and figure out what you need to get there. You can start to lay out those elements and prioritize which items you need first.
[14:13] How do you turn this way of thinking into a project?
You can be the one to point out that you’ve packed too much and start thinking about what you need on day one to launch your website. You as a leader need to decide what is the target goal and what you need to get there. For example, phase one might be launching a website and phase two might be adding eCommerce or having a great content strategy. You can’t launch a website quickly if you try to do all of those things. Capture them and catalog them to work on later once the site is live.
[17:55] Who owns this process?
Anyone can be a leader in these situations. If the project manager is not doing a good job, then give it a shot yourself. This is the opportunity to show that you are thinking about the larger group and making sure that everyone is bought into what you are trying to create. Having people come to you at the end with ideas or feature requests creates more stress, which you are trying to avoid in the first place. Get everyone excited around the first goal of launching a website in a week and then come back to their other ideas.]]>
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TEI 207: How product managers become change managers – with Amy Radin https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-207-how-product-managers-become-change-managers-with-amy-radin/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:55:24 +0000 https://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=14448 Driving successful innovation at large organizations Could it be that innovation is simple? I did say simple, not easy. The two words are often confused. A completed activity can be viewed as simple when the processes involved are known. No one that has been on innovation projects would say it was easy. The activities and […] Driving successful innovation at large organizations Could it be that innovation is simple? I did say simple, not easy. The two words are often confused. A completed activity can be viewed as simple when the processes involved are known. Could it be that innovation is simple? I did say simple, not easy. The two words are often confused. A completed activity can be viewed as simple when the processes involved are known. No one that has been on innovation projects would say it was easy. The activities and processes that allow us to uncover a customer problem or invent a new technology, develop solutions, and ultimately launch products customers love are challenging, but they are not a mystery. We discuss them on this podcast frequently.
Several frameworks exist to help make what is certainly not easy approachable and ultimately simple. Our guest shares a 9-part framework she used as a Fortune100 Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer. With it, you might see how innovation can actually be simple.
Our guest is Amy Radin, a nationally recognized thought leader on how to deliver innovation for sustainable, business-changing impact. The framework we’ll discuss is also the topic of her new book, The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation in Any Company.
Amy provided an infographic of her 9-part framework. Click the image below to get the full-size infographic.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:04] Can you give us an overview of your work in innovation?
The first chapter of my career was doing direct marketing for American Express, which led to a role leading the digital transformation team at Citi. I saw that what I did as a marketer in using data to deliver personalized products and services to customers seemed pretty relevant to corporate innovation. The environment at Citi was very conservative; I was recruited to figure out what the value of digital was to the business and how we could leverage it. The CEO asked me to make the company more innovative, which made me realize that there is a discipline called innovation and I set up a skunkworks on my team.
[4:48] Are there any of those skunkworks projects that might now be Citi products we know?
In 2004, we observed a trend in transit systems that wanted to bring contactless payments to avoid lines and move people through the system quickly. We struck a three-way partnership between Citi, MasterCard, and the New York Metro Transit Authority to do a pilot on one of the subway lines in Manhattan. All of our interests aligned to make the pilot happened. We implemented this before iPhones came out so we used RFID tags on keychains. The work we did on that project helped develop RFID technology that’s used today for mobile payments.
[6:25] How does Design Thinking fit into your approach?
I have never been a formal student of design thinking, but I’ve learned over the years that my philosophy is very much aligned with it because I focus on defining who the user is and what the problems is on their terms. I think pretty much anything is technologically possible, but you need to have the right people in the right room to champion an idea. You also need to overcome policy, process, and governance that was not built to accommodate innovation. Big companies are all about continuity and that’s not compatible with innovation. We are naturally risk-averse and that impacts all areas of our lives and how we think about change.
[13:30] The model you outline in the book has nine parts. The first one is Discover.
Great innovations come from a starting point of understanding your users and what problem they are experiencing. You need to solve the problem at a rational level and at an emotional level — listen with your ears and with your eyes. I saw this firsthand when I got to go into people’s homes and observe their banking hab...]]>
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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 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 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 ...]]>
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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 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 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...]]>
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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 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 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.]]>
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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 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 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...]]>
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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 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 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?
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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 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 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 ...]]>
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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 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. 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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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 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 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.
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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 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. 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...]]>
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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 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. 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.]]>
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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,]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 31:57
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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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,]]>
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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.]]>
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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?
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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?
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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, part 1 – 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 http://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 http://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 http://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 http://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 http://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. My work in this area began by asking what a wise leade...]]>
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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 http://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 http://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 http://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 http://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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TEI 131: Charting change for product managers-with Braden Kelley https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-131-charting-change-for-product-managers-with-braden-kelley/ Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11249 As product managers and innovators we are often at the center of change because our work involves creating something new, which itself is change. Further, we need to persuade and influence others to change their perspective and embrace our ideas for building better products. Sometimes the change is small, like a new feature to a […] As product managers and innovators we are often at the center of change because our work involves creating something new, which itself is change. Further, we need to persuade and influence others to change their perspective and embrace our ideas for bu... As product managers and innovators we are often at the center of change because our work involves creating something new, which itself is change. Further, we need to persuade and influence others to change their perspective and embrace our ideas for building better products.
Sometimes the change is small, like a new feature to a product, while others it is large, like acquiring another company.
Adding change management tools to our product management toolbox is wise, which is why I am bringing you the one and only creator of the Change Planning Toolkit. He also wrote the book, Charting Change: A Visual Toolkit for Making Change Stick. And, he is a recurring guest. Back in episode 024 he discussed five keys to developing an innovation culture. His name is Braden Kelley.
In addition to being a speaker and executive trainer, he has helped numerous organizations increase their revenue and cut their costs through the creation of innovative strategies, organizational change, and improved organizational performance.
I am glad to welcome Braden back to discuss change with us.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some concepts discussed:

* [3:26] People don’t automatically resist change. They resist change they don’t like or don’t want. If they want the change, they will support it.


* [5:53] Change is definitely not easy; 70% of change efforts fail. That’s why Braden created the Change Planning Toolkit. As an innovator, he was being tasked with change initiatives and needed a toolkit to be successful. The Toolkit is based on what we’ve learned from Agile, Lean Startup, and change management methodologies.


* [13:26] The framework for effectively dealing with a change initiative is called Architecting with Change and begins with Strategy and ends with Change Maintenance. See the figure below.


 

* [18:23] Using a tentative approach to making a change can be dangerous. For example, a leader sharing that we’ll try something new for 6 months and try something else if it doesn’t work may result in employees waiting out the 6 months for things to return to normal.


* [20:26] There are 8 change mindsets in organizations that can be harnessed for success: (1) mover and shaker, (2) thrill seeker, (3) mission driven, (4) action oriented, (5) expert minded, (6) reward hunger, (7) team player, and (8) teachers.


* [24:33] Even with good planning,  not everyone can be turned into a supporter. Those involved in a change can be characterized as (1) strong supporters, (2) tepid supporters, (3) disaffected, (4) passive resisters, and (5) passionate resisters.


* [28:33] Creating and conveying a compelling vision of the future after the change is critical to the success of the change. This quote sums it up well, “Nobody cares what’s over the horizon unless you send back some pictures and a map of how to get there.”


* [30:45] The chance of success greatly increases when you get the right people involved from the beginning and they are involved in building the plan. Those that will be impacted by the change should contribute to the plan.

 
Useful links:

* Change Planning Tools
* Disruptive Innovation Toolkit, including the Experiment Canvas
* Braden’s book, Charting Change: A Visual Toolkit for Making Change Stick

 
Innovation Quote
“True innovation requires that you consciously leave the breadcrumb trail behind for others to follow and come join you.” – Braden Kelley
 
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TEI 130: Avoiding product management dogma – with Chris Spagnuolo https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-130-avoiding-product-management-dogma-with-chris-spagnuolo/ Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11200   I met my guest at a Product Camp and learned that we shared a perspective about innovation and product management processes. He sums up this perspective as being “anti-dogma.” There is a good deal of dogma around processes and too often processes are applied blindly without knowing the details required to use the process […]   I met my guest at a Product Camp and learned that we shared a perspective about innovation and product management processes. He sums up this perspective as being “anti-dogma.” There is a good deal of dogma around processes and too often processes are... I met my guest at a Product Camp and learned that we shared a perspective about innovation and product management processes. He sums up this perspective as being “anti-dogma.” There is a good deal of dogma around processes and too often processes are applied blindly without knowing the details required to use the process wisely in a specific situation and culture.<br /> <br /> In this interview, we discuss the issue of process dogma as well as a toolbox approach to the work a product manager does.<br /> <br /> My guest is Chris Spagnuolo. Chris is a product management and innovation consultant who works with organizations of all sizes to deeply understand their portfolio and product challenges and help them design opportunities to improve. He has led cross-functional, collaborative, agile product teams at organizations of all sizes and successfully founded three startups. He avoids dogma and instead focuses on generating insights through deep understanding of the organizations that he works with to identify a sustainable, adaptable journey for them to achieve their goals. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 34:20 TEI 129: How product managers can better work with Sales – with Keith Hawk https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-129-how-product-managers-can-better-work-with-sales-with-keith-hawk/ Mon, 19 Jun 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11142   In this episode, we are talking about sales people and how product managers can improve their work with sales people. For some product managers, sales professionals are a source of tension, maybe because they overpromise and make product commitments without first coordinating with product management. For other product managers, sales professionals provide access to […]   In this episode, we are talking about sales people and how product managers can improve their work with sales people. For some product managers, sales professionals are a source of tension, maybe because they overpromise and make product commitments ...  
In this episode, we are talking about sales people and how product managers can improve their work with sales people. For some product managers, sales professionals are a source of tension, maybe because they overpromise and make product commitments without first coordinating with product management. For other product managers, sales professionals provide access to customers and help arrange problem-discovery interviews. They are an ally to product management.
Regardless of your working relationship with sales professionals, there is room for improvement. To explore this topic you would be hard-pressed to find anyone better than my guest, Keith Hawk. Keith has incredible street cred for this topic as he worked in a technology support role early in this career, working with sales professionals and product management. From there he served as the Director of Technology Support, Director of Marketing, VP Customer Support, and recently retired from his long-term role as the Senior Vice President of Sales for LexisNexis, a multi-billion dollar organization with over 10,000 employees. Keith has a very rich background in the information industry and he has played a broad role in the development of LexisNexis as a company. He is also the author of the book Get-Real Selling: Your Personal Coach for REAL Sales Excellence, which greatly influenced my thoughts on the function of Sales.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some concepts discussed:

* Business-to-Business sales is about one thing – helping to make other people’s businesses more successful. Aspects of this include helping them help their customers, improving the economics of their business, and improving the personal quality of their lives.


* A poor sales person can be thought of as a bag diver – a walking, talking brochure that is just spitting out product features until they find a feature or a product someone cares about — reaching into their bag of brochures over and over.


* 3 things a good sales professional wants from product managers are:

* Availability – open communication to discuss opportunities that may require a new product feature or an entirely new product.




* Interaction – product managers that can interact with customers and understand how customers actually use products and feel their challenges.
* Formalize – define the relationship between Sales and Product Management and schedule periodic collaboration to share successes and opportunities.




* When a sales person overcommits with a customer, promising a capability that doesn’t currently exist, a big girl, big boy talk is needed between Sales and Product Management leadership. Ask if this was our money, would it be in our best interest and the best interest of the customer to create the new capability. A foundation of expectations – values and standards to live by – should exist between Sales and Product Management.


* Product Management and Sales leadership need to set ground rules for customer discovery meetings and general interactions.


* Product managers can have customer discovery meetings with sales people during the early stages of a customer sales cycle, before a sales person has created a recommendation for the customer, without concern of the meeting becoming a sales meeting.


* To avoid Sales too frequently engaging product managers to meet with customers, consider if sales engineers are needed. Also, set an expectation between Sales and Product Management for how much of a product manager’s time can be devoted to direct support of Sales, such as 10% of their time.

 
Useful links:

* Keith’s book,
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TEI 128: Creating better product teams – with Nate Walkingshaw https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-128-creating-better-product-teams-with-nate-walkingshaw/ Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11122   Back in episode 121 I had the pleasure of talking with Richard Banfield, one of three authors of the new book Product Leadership. Then, in episode 125 I spoke with Martin Eriksson, who also is a co-author of the book. So, it seemed only proper that I make this a true trifecta by interviewing […]   Back in episode 121 I had the pleasure of talking with Richard Banfield, one of three authors of the new book Product Leadership. Then, in episode 125 I spoke with Martin Eriksson, who also is a co-author of the book. So,  
Back in episode 121 I had the pleasure of talking with Richard Banfield, one of three authors of the new book Product Leadership. Then, in episode 125 I spoke with Martin Eriksson, who also is a co-author of the book. So, it seemed only proper that I make this a true trifecta by interviewing the third co-author, which is Nate Walkingshaw. I was especially eager to do this after Richard told me that Nate is the smartest product person he knows. Nate has some firm opinions on product teams and how to structure teams to work well. You may have seen his thought-provoking post on Mind the Product titled, “Agile Died While You Were Doing Your Standup.” In our discussion, we touch on concepts from that post but dive deeper into team structures and needs for modern product teams.
Nate has started successful companies in the medical and fitness markets and has had many product experiences. Later he became the Chief Product Officer for Pluralsight, the largest providers of online technology learning, where he built a user-centered product team. In 2016 his role expanded to Chief Experience Officer where he oversees Development, Content, and Product Marketing.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some concepts discussed:

* Nate’s new book,
Product Leadership, is now available. It is the first book focused on product leadership for product managers.


* Software as a Service (SaaS) has forced teams to change. The feedback loop between users and developers is now “end-of-the-day” – hours, not days.


* Siloed teams won’t work today – product teams must be fully integrated.


* Corporate strategy and technology strategy must be aligned.


* The three key elements for teams that increase velocity are:

* Vision – is there a clear vision for each product team and are they connected to the vision?
* Strategy – do team members know the product strategy and how their work fits into the strategy of the team and the organization?
* Autonomy – do team members have the freedom to explore the execution of the strategy for the team?




* Velocity also increases when team members experience first-hand how customers respond to using the product and to changes when they are made. Web collaboration tools are used with customers for real-time interactions.


* Compensate teams, not individuals, for meeting objectives.

Useful links’

* New Book – Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams
* Pluralsite—technology training and where Nate is Chief Experience Officer

 
Innovation Quote
“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” ― Eric Hoffer
 
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.
]]> Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 43:10 TEI 127: B2B product management – with Jeff Lash https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-127-b2b-product-management-with-jeff-lash/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11103   This is a listener suggested episode, which I love doing. I enjoy receiving requests from listeners asking for specific topics to explore. Several people have had questions about B2B product management. A B2B company sells its products to other organizations while a B2C company provides its products to consumers. To explore this topic, I […]   This is a listener suggested episode, which I love doing. I enjoy receiving requests from listeners asking for specific topics to explore. Several people have had questions about B2B product management. A B2B company sells its products to other organ...  
This is a listener suggested episode, which I love doing. I enjoy receiving requests from listeners asking for specific topics to explore. Several people have had questions about B2B product management. A B2B company sells its products to other organizations while a B2C company provides its products to consumers.
To explore this topic, I asked Jeff Lash to join us. Jeff is a recognized thought leader in product management, with over a decade of experience in the development of Web-based products and SaaS systems. His product management career includes both new product launches and major turnarounds of existing product lines, as well as creation of the product management role into organizations. He has significant expertise in customer understanding, new product innovation, agile product management, user experience design, and product development processes. He is a Vice President at SiriusDecisions, a research and advisory company for B2B organizations.
While the focus of our discussion is on product management for B2B companies, there are tips and practices B2C product managers will find valuable too.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* How does B2B product management differ from B2C? The B2B product group is like a smaller business in a larger business. B2B product managers are generally responsible for an entire product while a B2C product manager may be responsible for a portion of a product, for example, the Search capability of a product. While there are many similarities, I’m starting to see some trends in differences, such as with the importance of user experience design. Also, B2B product managers are more involved in enabling and helping the sales team be successful.

 

* How do B2B sales models impact product management? Direct or indirect sale channels are part of the B2B product manager’s tools and responsibilities. Product Management is interlocked with the Marketing and Sales function of an organization. Product managers can get overloaded by Sales and sucked into helping too much with questions and customer calls instead of doing the work of product management. Organizations that excel have balance. They have clear responsibilities for product managers in terms of how they support Sales and well-communicated ground rules. Also, Product Marketing exists as a function to transfer knowledge of the product to rest of the organization. We see alignment between the executives responsible for Product Management, Marketing, and Sales.

 

* How do buying roles impact product management? This is a key difference with B2B product management compared to B2C. In a B2B environment, there are multiple buyers, such as Decision Maker, Champion, Influencer, and GateKeeper, in addition to the actual users of the product. Product managers need to address personas for each of the roles involved in the buying process and also help Sales understand these roles and vice-versa.

 

* How can product managers avoid the “one-off” practice that some B2B organizations find themselves in – customizing a product for each customer? Organizational culture is a key influencer to this situation. Some cultures permit sales professionals to write new product capabilities into customer contracts and then product management has to find a way to satisfy the expectations created by Sales. This is a poor practice. Executives need to be in alignment and have a clear means of addressing specific customer requests. One technique is to have an agreed upon percentage of product management and development resources to respond to requests from Sales. For example, 20% of the roadmap is set aside to be sales opportunity driven. Also, when new product functionality is needed to “close” a deal or keep a customer,]]>
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TEI 126: Mapping innovation – with Greg Satell https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-126-mapping-innovation-with-greg-satell/ Mon, 29 May 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11073   A brand new book for product managers and innovators hits physical and virtual shelves this week. It’s titled Mapping Innovation and my guest, Greg Satell, is the author. We talk about some of the concepts from the book and other writing he has done, including while there is no one-way right way for companies […]   A brand new book for product managers and innovators hits physical and virtual shelves this week. It’s titled Mapping Innovation and my guest, Greg Satell, is the author. We talk about some of the concepts from the book and other writing he has done,... A brand new book for product managers and innovators hits physical and virtual shelves this week. It's titled Mapping Innovation and my guest, Greg Satell, is the author. We talk about some of the concepts from the book and other writing he has done, including while there is no one-way right way for companies to innovate, there are patterns, as well as a framework for different types of innovations and skills needed for each.<br /> <br /> Greg has several international business experiences building and managing media businesses. He last served as the SVP of Strategy and Innovation at Moxie Interactive, a leading marketing services organizations. Lately he has been writing and speaking about innovation and I'm glad he is speaking with us, in this interview. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 31:59 TEI 125: Product management communities of practice – with Martin Eriksson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-125-product-management-communities-of-practice-with-martin-eriksson/ Mon, 22 May 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=11000   You are not alone as a product manager or innovator if you have had to explain your job to people you work with. It’s not uncommon. While your role is vital to the creation of successful products, it is not always understood by others. It can also be a lonely role because of that. […]   You are not alone as a product manager or innovator if you have had to explain your job to people you work with. It’s not uncommon. While your role is vital to the creation of successful products, it is not always understood by others.  
You are not alone as a product manager or innovator if you have had to explain your job to people you work with. It’s not uncommon. While your role is vital to the creation of successful products, it is not always understood by others. It can also be a lonely role because of that. Even though product managers frequently collaborate with others, they don’t often interact with other product managers – people who actually understand their job along with the joys, frustrations, and pains it brings.
What is a product manager or innovator to do? My guest has the answer, and it is one I have experienced and valued myself – participating in communities of practice.
My guest is a co-author of the book, Product Leadership, which was the topic of episode 121 with one of the other co-authors. He started his career as a web designer and developer but found his real talent was translating between design, development, and business people. After several startups in his native Stockholm, he has led product teams at Monster, the Financial Times, Huddle, and Covestor in London and Boston. You may recognize him as the founder of ProductTank, a meetup for product managers, and co-founder of Mind the Product, a blog and training resource for product managers. His name is Martin Eriksson. Our discussion covers why product managers need to be part of a community of practice and, if you are not already, how to join or start one.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* Please share an update on your Product Leadership book.  It’s being released next week, at the end of May. Details are available at Productleadershipbook.com. We interviewed 75-100 product leaders to understand the challenges with product leadership and how to overcome them. We are discussing the book at some upcoming meetups as well as the Mind the Product annual conference in June in San Francisco.

 

* What is a community of practice? If you look at established professions like Law, Engineering, or Project Management, you find strong professional groups where people come together to learn from each other and explore what is new. That is a community of practice. It may take the form of a meetup, professional association, or another form of group.

 

* Why do product managers need to be part of a community of practice? Product managers can feel a bit alone on the job. We may be the only product manager on a team. You don’t have anyone to complain to about the work and bounce ideas off of that also understands the role. You can feel like Engineering is ganging up on you, Business Leadership is putting undue pressure on you, or Sales is ignoring you.  You need get out of that environment at times and talk to peers in similar situations and know that you really are not alone. You need a tribe of your own to be part of.

 

* What should product managers expect from a productive community of practice? Product managers need to be curious and always learning. The pace of change in industries and technologies requires product managers to be learning and striving to stay in front of the meaningful changes. The ability to learn from your peers is the most important aspect of a community of practice. You also get to hear about the challenges others are facing. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that others encounter similar issues.

 

* What are opportunities for product managers? One group that has been around is Product Camp. It’s a one-day unconference, generally with no set agenda that self-organizes shortly before the conference or even the morning of the conference by the attendees. Product Tank that I started has more than a 100 locations around the world. It is a fairly standardized format, with meetings taking place in the evenings after work ...]]>
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TEI 124: Business design for product managers – with Jay Peters https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-124-business-design-for-product-managers-with-jay-peters/ Mon, 15 May 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10927 Product managers and innovators want more influence in an organization so they can better create value for customers. Without influence, we can’t build support for our ideas and convince others to help us. Influence also allows us to be more strategic in our work, which is the same thing executive leaders want from product management. […] Product managers and innovators want more influence in an organization so they can better create value for customers. Without influence, we can’t build support for our ideas and convince others to help us. Influence also allows us to be more strategic ... Product managers and innovators want more influence in an organization so they can better create value for customers. Without influence, we can’t build support for our ideas and convince others to help us. Influence also allows us to be more strategic in our work, which is the same thing executive leaders want from product management. When I share that this podcast and my training helps product managers become product masters, increasing influence is the key factor involved for the product manager. Part of the journey to mastery is thinking more strategically and more in terms of value not only to customers but to the organization as a whole. This means moving from involvement in the design of products to involvement in the design of businesses.
And that is exactly what today’s guest is here to talk with us about — thinking of business design through the lens of product management and innovation. My guest is Jay Peters, Managing Director for PARK USA. PARK is one of the leading experts in the management of design and innovation. They consult, coach and educate on how to maximize the value of design.
Product managers and innovators learn about four areas of Design Value from the interview:

* More profit,
* More brand equity,
* More innovation, and
* Faster change.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* What is Design Value in an organization and why is it important?  It simply means the value that design can create for organizations. The challenge is to identify the contributions that design can bring to an organization. Value is often measured using the triple bottom line — economic, social, and environmental dimensions. In addition to organizational profit, you ask how the organization is doing good for the community and for the environment. For design value, there are four main categories for contributions: profits, brand equity, innovation, and change. Design is about the approach, strategy, and methodology for making improvements in each category.

 

* What is the profit category?  This is the economic component of the triple bottom line. Design can help drive profits several different ways. It can help sell more of the same offer or product or create a premium product to sell at a higher price. Design can also help decrease manufacturing or marketing costs.

 

* What is the brand equity category? Design can help increase brand exposure, loyalty, awareness, and desirability. It is really about brand positioning and recognition. Design can have a significant impact on driving a brand strategy.

 

* What is the innovation category? Design can help innovation from a consumer or desirability standpoint, which can lead to improved innovation and faster time to market. It can also produce more intellectual property, contributing to improved value for the organization.

 

* What is the change category? This impacts organizational culture or society. Design can help organizations foster a culture of innovation and creativity. It can help society with some of its most challenging problems such as issues around pollution, homelessness, etc. Change is always resisted until those involved understand the benefits of making the change. Change can be accomplished top down, with senior leadership driving the change, or from the bottom up, such as a product team pushing for change improve value for customers.


 
Useful links

* Jay is with PARK, guiding design leaders
* Design blog Jay contributes to – Empowering design leaders

 
Innovation Quotes
“Great design management and leadership adds great value to the t...]]>
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TEI 123: A product management view of Value Proposition Design – with Alex Osterwalder https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-123-a-product-management-view-of-value-proposition-design-with-alex-osterwalder/ Mon, 08 May 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10865   This interview is rather meta. It’s a discussion about a book; not about the book itself, but about the product management decisions for creating the book. This is the story of recognizing a problem a target market has and addressing it with a product. You likely already know my guest, Alex Osterwalder, as the […]   This interview is rather meta. It’s a discussion about a book; not about the book itself, but about the product management decisions for creating the book. This is the story of recognizing a problem a target market has and addressing it with a produc...  
This interview is rather meta. It’s a discussion about a book; not about the book itself, but about the product management decisions for creating the book. This is the story of recognizing a problem a target market has and addressing it with a product.
You likely already know my guest, Alex Osterwalder, as the inventor of the Business Model Canvas — a one-page business model — and author of the related book Business Model Generation. He is also the 2015 winner of the prestigious Thinkers50 Strategy Award and is ranked as the #15 most influential business thinker by Thinkers 50. Further, in 2013 he won the inaugural Innovation Luminary Award by the European Union. He more recently co-authored the book Value Proposition Design, which in a way, is the topic of our discussion.
However, I didn’t want to ask him the same questions he has been asked a hundred times that you can find in other interviews. Instead, I asked him to discuss the book from the perspective of a product manager — identifying the need for the book, its target market, the value it creates for customers and for his organization, as well as how the name was chosen. So, you not only get some insights into what Value Proposition Design is, you also get to see the book as a product and the product management thinking that went into its creation.
If you are new to Value Proposition Design, think of it as the third leg of a stool consisting of Lean Startup and Design Thinking as the other legs — all three are similar in intent and each provides valuable tools, arguably with Alex’s tools being most valuable to product managers who think like product leaders — or in my words, product masters.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* Why was this product needed – the Value Proposition Design book? There were two triggers. The first one was that the Business Model Generation book was pretty successful and a lot of people started using the business model canvas. What we didn’t realize is that some people were repurposing the business model canvas to sketch out their value proposition. The business model canvas was never designed to help with that particular job. The only job to be done was how to sketch a business model. So we tried to figure out what would another tool be to satisfy the need. So that was the origin of the tool – addressing an unmet need of our existing customers. The second tool customers needed was the value proposition canvas. It’s like zooming in. The business model is the big picture perspective and you zoom into the value proposition. The other trigger was that we learned so much over the year since we launched Business Model Generation that we had a huge need to share that learning. We built upon what was working, integrating customer development and lean startup approaches into the new book with what we were learning as well.  Also, we had just launched the Strategyzer brand and the book was an opportunity to promote the brand with “Strategyzer” on the cover.

 

* What opportunities would the book create for your company? The original vision for Strategyzer was to be the SAP of strategy, or the strategic operating system. We wanted to build the enterprise software that would help senior leaders manage strategy, manage innovation, and create new growth engines. It’s like strategy support tools, computer-aided design for strategy. So that was the original vision. Ultimately what we learned over time was we need three pillars to realize the vision. One is the tools and the concepts and the content. How do we help business people better solve these jobs to be done? How do they create business models, value propositions, etc.? You do that with the right tools and right processes. We teach it to them with content. The second pillar is the platform.]]>
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TEI 122: The elements of value for product managers – with Paul Jackson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-122-the-elements-of-value-for-product-managers-with-paul-jackson/ Mon, 01 May 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10816 Listen Now to the Interview   Ok, I admit it, value is my most overused word. It’s because I love the word. What do product managers and innovators create for customers? Value! How about organizations? They create value. What do customers want? The products they purchase must provide value — more value for them than […] Listen Now to the Interview   Ok, I admit it, value is my most overused word. It’s because I love the word. What do product managers and innovators create for customers? Value! How about organizations? They create value. What do customers want?  
Ok, I admit it, value is my most overused word. It’s because I love the word. What do product managers and innovators create for customers? Value! How about organizations? They create value. What do customers want? The products they purchase must provide value — more value for them than other product options provide. How do product managers want to be seen by those that they work with? As someone who is valuable –again, creating value. Yes, value is central to product management and innovation.
It’s also an important term to my guest who has explored various models of value. He is the author of the weekly Pivot Product Hits, a newsletter for product managers on digital product strategy. He has been a Product Manager, creating digital products and services, for over 15 years, and is currently the Managing Director of Castle in the UK. His name is Paul Jackson.
In the discussion, you will learn:

* What is important about creating value.
* The Almquist model of value.
* How to discover what customers’ value.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* How did the Pivot Product Hits newsletter come about? The name came about as I was looking for a Twitter handle around the time that the Lean Startup book was published. The notion of a pivot caught my attention and the handle was available. At the time, I had worked for 10 years as a user experience designer and for a few years as a product manager. I sensed that product management was going to become a significant discipline in the future. At the time there were few British bloggers writing about product management. I wanted to be one of them and write about my observations. My early posts were about bringing lean practices to corporate settings. While that is rather standard now, at the time is was a very new concept for rigid corporate environments.

 

* Frame the concept of value for us. Value is extremely relevant in product management conversations. It is at the heart of challenges product managers face. Consumer choice and the decisions involved when making product purchases are not rational. We make decisions based on a subjective view of gains and losses. The constitution of value is grounded in these irrational decisions but refracted through the lens of gains and losses. In the world of digital applications, there are far too many choices available to consumers. The ability to understand what informs consumer choice is a ninja skill for product managers to make their products stand out from competitors and appeal to users.

 

* What are the elements of value? There are many value models to consider, from Alan Klement’s Job Story to Alex Osterwalder’s Value Proposition Canvas. One of the most exciting contributions to this topic is from Eric Almquist and team at Bain. Extending Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they represent the elements of value as a pyramid stacked in four layers (shown below). All together, they identified 30 elements of value. The four layers, starting at the bottom are: Functional Elements, Emotional Elements, Life Changing Elements, and Social Impact Elements. Many products directly compete on functional elements of value. However, Almquist’s research shows the opportunity to find Blue Oceans and increase profit margins is by competing on emotional elements of value. Apple is a good example that does this well. An interesting finding is that the best companies in a category are only better than their competitors on around 8-9 value elements. Consequently, success does not mean excelling in all 30 elements of value. Parity on most elements while excelling in 5-8 elements important to consumers is a good starting point.

 

 

]]>
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TEI 121: How top product managers launch awesome products and build successful teams- with Richard Banfield https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-121-how-top-product-managers-launch-awesome-products-and-build-successful-teams-with-richard-banfield/ Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10765 Listen to the Interview   As you know from my Product Mastery Roadmap, product masters are the product leaders who have influence throughout an organization to launch awesome products customers love and to build successful product teams. And, this is exactly the topic I discuss with my guest. Richard Banfield has co-authored an exciting new […] Listen to the Interview   As you know from my Product Mastery Roadmap, product masters are the product leaders who have influence throughout an organization to launch awesome products customers love and to build successful product teams. And,  
As you know from my Product Mastery Roadmap, product masters are the product leaders who have influence throughout an organization to launch awesome products customers love and to build successful product teams. And, this is exactly the topic I discuss with my guest.
Richard Banfield has co-authored an exciting new book for product managers along with Martin Eriksson, the founder of ProductTank, and Nate Walkingshaw, Chief Experience Officer at Pluralsight. The title of the book is Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams. It is available for pre-order on Amazon and at http://productleadershipbook.com/.
The pre-publication version I was able to read was excellent and I’m looking forward to getting the final version when it is released in May. This discussion with Richard will give you a preview and valuable insights for becoming a product leader.
Richard is the CEO of Fresh Tilled Soil, where he leads strategic vision. He’s also a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.
Whether you are a new product manager or one with 10+ years of experience, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this interview.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators

* How do you contrast product managers from product leaders? Many product managers don’t think of themselves as leaders. As product managers become more influential in delivering value to customers their role becomes more oriented towards leadership. Further, to guide, drive, and help the product team deliver value, you need to exhibit leadership qualities. We address the questions of what does it mean to be a good manager and what does it mean to be a good leader. Beyond a leader’s style, a key question is what are you connecting – are you connecting the product vision to the roles of team members, influencing the progress of the organization, etc.

 

* How did the book come about? The motivation for the book was curiosity. All three of the authors have a lot of experience creating products. My company alone has developed over 700 products, which has resulted in a massive knowledge. However, I began wondering if my experience was similar to others and what I was missing. I started asking others about their product development and management experiences – what they saw working and what didn’t work. Those conversations were the start of the book. The book is a reflection of what questions the profession is asking. It addresses the questions you’ll hear at a product conference or meetup.

 

* What does it take to be a great product leader? The process for becoming a successful product leader will vary from person to person but there are some patterns of good product leaders. First, they are team players. They are good with human beings and bringing the best out of them. Next, you have to be a life-long learner. You also have to “embrace the suck.” There will be challenging times getting a product to market. Sometimes the work just sucks and you have to persevere. Leaders embrace these moments and working with the team to solve the challenges. They act and think team-first. Further, depending on the stage of the organization, they will have multiple hats (roles) to wear – they help where help is needed. The softer skills are also vital – writing, communicating, managing your time, negotiating, selling, persuading others with your ideas. Another key quality is “grace under fire” and being able to manage yourself well while leading others.

 

* My preview of the book included a checklist for becoming a great produc...]]>
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TEI 120: Product development and management at Snap-on – with Ben Brenton, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-120-product-development-and-management-at-snap-on-with-ben-brenton-phd/ Mon, 17 Apr 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10713 Listen to the Interview   I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing guests with incredible insights for us product managers and innovators and today’s guest cuts through a lot of noise and presents clear principles for creating more successful products. My guest is the Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Innovation for Snap-on, the leading […] Listen to the Interview   I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing guests with incredible insights for us product managers and innovators and today’s guest cuts through a lot of noise and presents clear principles for creating more successful products.  
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing guests with incredible insights for us product managers and innovators and today’s guest cuts through a lot of noise and presents clear principles for creating more successful products. My guest is the Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Innovation for Snap-on, the leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, diagnostics and equipment solutions for professional users. His role is to drive innovative products, solutions and processes that fundamentally change the markets Snap-on serves and enhance customer perception of its brands. He has helped to create, support and institutionalize a culture at Snap-on that embraces creativity, risk, change and fearless innovation. As you hear in the interview, prior to joining Snap-on, he spent 4 years in Marketing at PepsiCo, most recently as the Director of Innovation for the Frito-Lay Convenience Foods division. Before joining PepsiCo, he was Marketing Director of New Products at Kraft Foods. He has over 20 years of experience focused on new product development, marketing and innovation. His name is Ben Brenton and I expect you’ll find what he shared to be as valuable as I did.
We had to conduct the interview by phone, so the audio quality is a little different than normal, but not distracting.
 
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators

* Tell us about your move from the food and beverage industry to SnapOn. I had earned a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition. I ended up at Kraft Foods in biotechnology doing basic research. After a couple of years, I moved to being a manager in product development. About nine years into my career, I made another move, which was to marketing. I continued to work on a number of products. A few years later I had the opportunity to join PepsiCo. Four years into my career there, I was contacted by SnapOn, who was seeking a role that was new to me – Chief Innovation Officer. I was hired to create a culture of fearless innovation constructed around customer insights. This might seem to be a weird transition as I didn’t know anything about metallurgy or the products. However, the essence of my work is putting innovation processes in place that can be used across any industry and keeping the customer at the center of innovation. That work is not unique to a specific industry. It’s also important to note that we’re not only a tool company for professionals – 40% of our business is software development.

 

* What are the key parts to the product development and management process you use? One of the first things I did was to make sure all of our product groups had a basic Stage-Gate process. This provided each group a product development process. After this, there were three guidelines that were put in place:

* All product work needed to be based on customer insights. This means product teams are out talking to end-users and watching them do their work. This creates an understanding of specific needs.
* We would check in with customers throughout the development process. Products used to be developed internally and then only shown to customers for feedback after functional prototypes that were ready for manufacturing were developed. Now we use rapid prototyping tools throughout the development process and get customer feedback early and more frequently.
* After launch, we circle back with marketing and sales people and assess and improve the delivery of messages appropriate for a product and the needs of customers.



 

* Do you have a story of a product’s journey you can share? One that reflects the need of observing customers (end users) involves an examination of the wind power industry. Technicians at times have to climb out of the generator housing and onto th...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 45:47
TEI 119: The 17th Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey results – with Rebecca Kalogeris https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-119-the-17th-annual-product-management-and-marketing-survey-results-with-rebecca-kalogeris/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10606 Listen to the Interview   Are you like other product managers and innovators? Do you spend your time like most do? Are the challenges you encounter different from other product managers? These types of questions are explored each year in the Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey. I explored the results of last year’s survey […] Listen to the Interview   Are you like other product managers and innovators? Do you spend your time like most do? Are the challenges you encounter different from other product managers? These types of questions are explored each year in the Annual Pro... Are you like other product managers and innovators? Do you spend your time like most do? Are the challenges you encounter different from other product managers? These types of questions are explored each year in the Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey. I explored the results of last year’s survey on The Everyday Innovator, and it is time to do it again for the 2017 survey.<br /> <br /> My guest is returning for a second time to tell us about the pulse of product management as indicated by the survey. She is Rebecca Kalogeris, Vice President of Marketing for Pragmatic Marketing. Before joining Pragmatic Marketing, Rebecca managed product management and marketing teams at a variety of software companies. Among her marketing responsibilities is pouring through the survey results of the annual study, so she is the perfect person to discuss the state of product management with.<br /> <br /> In the interview, you’ll discover:<br /> <br /> - Who do product managers tend to report to,<br /> - How many product managers organizations generally have,<br /> - The key challenges product managers face, and<br /> - What would make product managers more effective. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 41:53 TEI 118: Tools for data-driven product management – with Shah Ahmed https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-118-tools-for-data-driven-product-management-with-shah-ahmed/ Mon, 03 Apr 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10590 Listen to the Interview   I call listeners to this podcast Everyday Innovators. That means something. We are wired in such a way that makes us curious about problems people have, but we don’t stop there. Our real curiosity is how can we develop a product, or enhance a product, that solves a problem and […] Listen to the Interview   I call listeners to this podcast Everyday Innovators. That means something. We are wired in such a way that makes us curious about problems people have, but we don’t stop there. Our real curiosity is how can we develop a produ...  
I call listeners to this podcast Everyday Innovators. That means something. We are wired in such a way that makes us curious about problems people have, but we don’t stop there. Our real curiosity is how can we develop a product, or enhance a product, that solves a problem and creates value for customers. This is the world of product managers and innovators. And, as an Everyday Innovator, you are part of this world.
Some Everyday Innovators have emailed me asking to discuss tools for product managers. There are a lot of ways to think about tools, such as the innovation tools Evan Shellshear talked about in episode 113.
A common request is software tools for product managers and this is the episode for that topic. To help me, I found a company that maintains a list of software tools they use in their own work. They also add to the list other tools that could be used. In all, the list contains 87 tools. To discuss what is on this list, I spoke with Shah Ahmed, a project manager at the company, which is Indicative, a behavioral data analytics company. Shah works on developing products and manages implementations of their platform.  Previously, he was a management consultant for Deloitte, focusing on large-scale technology changes for Fortune 500 companies.  His interest in building product started when he worked at a startup incubator at Cornell University during his undergrad.
If you have been wanting to hear about product management software tools, now is the time.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
The discussion is based on the blog post, “87 Most Essential Tools for Data-Driven Product Management.” We discussed tools in 11 categories:

* Mindmapping
* Flowcharts & Diagrams
* User Research
* Roadmapping
* Wireframing
* Prototyping
* Usability Testing
* Agile Project Management
* A/B Testing
* Heatmapping
* Analytics

Listen to the interview for the discussion and refer to the original blog post for the tools in each category.
 
Useful links for product managers:

* Indicative’s list of product management software tools
* Shah’s LinkedIn profile
* Indicative — Analytics that tell you how to grow your business

 
Innovation Quote
“There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.” -Enrico Ferm
 
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 117: How Pitney Bowes built a Product Management Council – with Felicia Anderson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-117-how-pitney-bowes-built-a-product-management-council-with-felicia-anderson/ Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10566 Listen to the Interview I took notice when Pitney Bowes created a Product Management Council, and I wanted to learn what they are doing with this council. Anytime an organization puts a focus on their product development and management capability, I expect good things to come of it. That’s because products are the revenue engine […] Listen to the Interview I took notice when Pitney Bowes created a Product Management Council, and I wanted to learn what they are doing with this council. Anytime an organization puts a focus on their product development and management capability, I took notice when Pitney Bowes created a Product Management Council, and I wanted to learn what they are doing with this council. Anytime an organization puts a focus on their product development and management capability, I expect good things to come of it. That’s because products are the revenue engine of organizations and the better job we as product managers and innovators can do creating products that provide customers value, the better it is for our organization.
To find out about this focus that Pitney Bowes has placed on product, I spoke with Felicia Anderson. She is the Senior Director of the Product Management Council and Launch Management at Pitney Bowes. She helps product managers build their skills to increase product launch success and deliver greater business impact.
In our discussion, you’ll learn:

* tips for improving the product management capability of your organization,
* how to construct a vision of the product management team, and
* a simple way to get started through lunch-and-learn meetings.

 

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators

* Let’s start with some context — what is the business of Pitney Bowes? At Pitney, we help our clients combine both physical technologies and digital technologies to conduct commerce. So as we like to say, we’re the craftsmen of commerce.

 

* What is the charter/purpose of the Product Management Council? Our vision is to help our product managers increase their capabilities so that they can have a greater business impact. We believe product management is essential to fueling the growth of the company and increasing the innovation that we’re able to bring to market. At Pitney and in other companies, product management is often distributed throughout the organization and what we’re trying to do with the Product Management Council initiative is to bring that together so that we see each other as a community and we have a place to have a voice jointly.

 

* What were the events that led to the creation of a Product Management Council? Last Spring, which was before I had joined, our CEO was talking to his executive team and he asked the question, “Who’s responsible for the care and feeding of the product managers?” Because they are distributed in the business units and even in the lines of business within the business units, there wasn’t really a single person or a single set of people who were responsible for the development of product management. As a result of those discussions came this idea of establishing a product management council.

 

* How is the Council structured? There are two pieces to the product management council initiative. One is the product management leadership team. That’s our executive sponsors and the leaders of each of our five business units. That size of that team is 22 people. We meet monthly and discuss the issues that are at top of mind regarding product management. The second piece, of course, is the broader community itself. It’s the 225 people throughout the organization that comprises the product management community. Most of them are product managers, that’s product managers and their management, and also related stakeholders. We have 30 or 35 people from marketing as well. Some other key stakeholders, like learning and development in HR, also are in that community.

 

* What activities have you done? Each year or each period we agree at the top level what are our focus areas. So we have different components occurring regularly. The gemstone activity is our annual summit. Once a year we get all of our product managers, in fact, everybody in the product management community, in person, face to face, for a two-day meeting. We just happened to have that PM summit last week.]]>
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TEI 116: How to transition into product management – with Charles Du https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-116-how-to-transition-into-product-management-with-charles-du/ Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10542 Listen to the Interview One of the questions I am asked by listeners is how do you become a product manager. For example, Melissa emailed me and said: “I’d like to hear more about transitioning to a product management role in software – getting yourself up to speed on the technical aspects that product managers […] Listen to the Interview One of the questions I am asked by listeners is how do you become a product manager. For example, Melissa emailed me and said: “I’d like to hear more about transitioning to a product management role in software – getting yoursel... One of the questions I am asked by listeners is how do you become a product manager. For example, Melissa emailed me and said: "I’d like to hear more about transitioning to a product management role in software – getting yourself up to speed on the technical aspects that product managers needs to know to interact with developers."<br /> <br /> This came up more recently when I opened my IDEA Framework eCourse that teaches the essential base of knowledge for becoming a product leader and doubling your product success. Many people asked if this would help them get into product management and I told them that while they need the skills it teaches to be successful as a product manager, it is for existing product managers -- ones with at least a year of experience, not ones transitioning or who are brand new to the role.<br /> <br /> So, I contacted someone who specializes in helping people become product managers and to get grounded as a new product manager. He has trained thousands of people on these topics, including leading workshops at General Assembly, Stanford, and for other schools. He also worked as a software product manager at NASA, Apple, Ticketmaster, and Live Nation.<br /> <br /> And, if you regularly listen to The Everyday Innovator, you’ll recognize him as a returning guest, having shared specific tips for how to prepare for a product management interview back in episode 67. His name is Charles Du and this is a discussion you will enjoy and find valuable if:<br /> <br /> - you want to be a product manager, or<br /> - are brand new to the role of product management, or<br /> - you wish to do a better job mentoring product managers. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 42:11 TEI 115: 6 areas of expertise effective product managers need – with Steve Johnson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-115-6-areas-of-expertise-effective-product-managers-need-with-steve-johnson/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 11:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10521 Listen to the Interview Product managers and product teams have the challenge of creating market-winning products — those are products that customers love and that create value for customers and the organization. Some product managers are not as effective as they could be, or they have actually become less effective over time. According to my […] Listen to the Interview Product managers and product teams have the challenge of creating market-winning products — those are products that customers love and that create value for customers and the organization. Product managers and product teams have the challenge of creating market-winning products — those are products that customers love and that create value for customers and the organization. Some product managers are not as effective as they could be, or they have actually become less effective over time. According to my guest, an effective product manager has six types of expertise. We’ll explore each in just a minute. This interview also gives me the opportunity to interview a legend in product management, along with providing you a glimpse at a side of him you may not know — as singer and songwriter.
He 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. He has launched dozens of product offerings. Before founding Under10, his product management consulting company, he was a Pragmatic Marketing instructor for over 15 years. His name is Steve Johnson.
In the interview you will learn the six areas of expertise that effective product managers need:

* Technology,
* Operations,
* Process,
* Domain,
* Market, and
* Business.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* What is the Umbrella Song about? Steve is not only a product management legend, he is also a singer and songwriter. Listen to the interview to hear a portion of the Umbrella song or visit his music on iTunes.


* What do product managers want their executive team to know about product management? One thing product managers want executives to know is that a sentence from a senior leader about what they want can be months of work for a product team. On the other hand, executives want their product managers to be more strategic – to be more business savvy.



* What expertise does a product manager need to be effective?  First up is Technology expertise. I see a lot of “purple squirrel” job posts for product managers. Purple squirrels are the perfect candidate who can start tomorrow and hit the street running and is willing to work for peanuts. Many purple squirrel job posts have a strong preference for technology expertise. There seems to be a feeling that you need to have a deep technical understanding or you can’t play the game. Product managers need to be technical enough to understand the questions from development. But in a lot of cases, a strong technical expertise ends up meaning you basically are part of the development team and not really part of product management. The development team has to have technical expertise for the types of products developed.


* Next is Operations expertise. Operations cover different contexts depending on the product. I’ve been working on a software system for product managers and am finding myself more involved with operational questions. Examples include how much storage space will each customer need as part of a SaaS solution. I’m thinking about operation-related factors, such as performance requirements, capacity requirements, etc.


* Then Process expertise. Many organizations have a lot of process around development, but not other places. I find that really good product managers tend to see things as a process. I have a simple example. I took my parents to dinner earlier this week and I walked up to the salad bar. The plates for the salad bar were on the far left and the big bowl of lettuce was on the far right and all the toppings were in the middle. I immediately thought the plates are on the wrong side.]]>
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TEI 114: New product managers share insights about the role and making the transition into product management – with 3 millennial product managers https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-114-new-product-managers-share-insights-about-the-role-and-making-the-transition-into-product-management-with-3-millennial-product-managers/ Mon, 06 Mar 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10493 Listen to the Interview This is the where product managers learn to be product masters. Product masters are the leaders of products in organizations and this episode is a very special one as I have not one but three guests who are all on their way to becoming product masters. This episode came about with […] Listen to the Interview This is the where product managers learn to be product masters. Product masters are the leaders of products in organizations and this episode is a very special one as I have not one but three guests who are all on their way to b... This is the where product managers learn to be product masters. Product masters are the leaders of products in organizations and this episode is a very special one as I have not one but three guests who are all on their way to becoming product masters. This episode came about with the help of one of my customers — Soren — who is in my IDEA Framework eCourse, which teaches the essential base of skills that lead to being a product master. We were discussing topics for this podcast and he shared how he would love to hear from other millennial product managers. He said that the experts I often interview provide valuable insights for him, but that he would also like to hear from product managers who are younger in their career and still figuring out what it means to be a product manager.
I not only thought that was a great idea but knowing Soren, I also thought he would be a great guest to share advice from his experience. He found two other young product managers so we could have a variety of experiences to learn from.

They are each in their 20’s and have been working as a product manager for 6 months to about 3 years.
Both new and more experienced product managers should listen to this discussion as there is something for all of us. Specifically, younger product managers will learn:

* Challenges product managers must deal with,
* Tips for improving your effectiveness, and
* The one thing each of the guests wish they knew about product management sooner in their careers.

For experienced product managers, please listen carefully to what motivates and frustrates these younger product managers and how you could be a mentor to other product managers, also helping them become product masters.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed – given the richness of the panel discussion, this summary is sparse. The discussion really needs to be listened to.

* What was your motivation for working in product management? The opportunity to be creative along with the ability to deliver what you want to create value for customers. The responsibility was appealing. It’s more of an abstract challenge and allows me to be more of a big-picture thinker. The creative freedom drew me in. I enjoy taking an idea from its start and seeing it through to its finish in the form of a product. Being a product manager means never being bored – there are always new things to do and learn.

 

* What frustrates you about the role of product manager? It’s challenging to define my role at times – what am I really? The work can vary a good deal. It’s also difficult to know what I should be spending my time on and knowing what is important from day to day. Finding my place in the organization and gaining the influence I need are other challenges. I have to develop my influence with the executive team.

 

* What is one thing you have learned that has improved your product work? It was important to understand that product descriptions and requirements from various stakeholders are not always accurate and need to be carefully validated. Also, as most products fail to meet their objectives, you can’t fall in love with your product. Instead, love the problem, but not the product. You also have to develop good business knowledge and learn how to manage stakeholders. And maybe most important, get a mentor who can help you with understanding not only product management but also the business.

 

* What would you tell a new product manager that you wish you had known when you started as a product manager?

* Protect your time; share your big ideas with others; start small; show rather than tell.
* Don’t be shy, ask for feedback;  it is a collaborative role and your job is...]]>
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TEI 113: Innovation tools – with Evan Shellshear https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-113-innovation-tools-with-evan-shellshear/ Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10438 Listen to the Interview A frequent question lately has been what tools are used by product managers and innovators. In this episode, we are addressing some tools for innovation. I’ll cover product management tools in a future episode. To discuss innovation tools, I talked to the one person who has literally written the book on […] Listen to the Interview A frequent question lately has been what tools are used by product managers and innovators. In this episode, we are addressing some tools for innovation. I’ll cover product management tools in a future episode. A frequent question lately has been what tools are used by product managers and innovators. In this episode, we are addressing some tools for innovation. I’ll cover product management tools in a future episode. To discuss innovation tools, I talked to the one person who has literally written the book on innovation tools, which appropriately is also titled, Innovation Tools.
My guest and bestselling author is Even Shellshear. Evan’s focus is on industry transforming technologies and methodologies, from software to consulting. His background is in economics and game theory. He is also the founder of Simultek, a company that leverages game theory to elicit people’s true preferences.
In our discussion, product managers and innovators will learn:

* using crowdsourcing as a catalyst for innovation and avoiding crowd slap,
* tools for early prototyping,
* using and avoiding problems with behavioral innovation, and
* business model innovation.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* Why did you write Innovation Tools? When people think of innovation, Lean Startup often comes to mind. There is a gap between the theory of Lean Startup and other such methodologies and actual execution. When people express the gap, they understand the methodology but are missing a concrete set of low-risk tools to make innovation a reality. The Lean Startup is really about managing risk. It’s a risk management methodology and framework to help people launch new ideas and companies in a low-risk fashion. What was missing was not just a set of tools to implement that but a set of tools that were centered around low-risk activities and risk-minimizing execution strategies. I set out to fill that gap and help people find risk-minimizing tools out there to help you implement something like Lean Startup. The impetus for the book was many conversations with people saying, “Yeah, look, I get it but I need to do something, to get my hands dirty. What’s out there?” That was the reason why I wrote that book, to help people with this important piece.

 

* Let’s talk through some of the tools. Tell us about Crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is important because it’s been a massive catalyst for driving innovation. We know that the crowd has a huge number of perspectives and great expertise. What you’re doing with crowdsourcing is you’re tapping into that expertise, that desire for people who know something special, to give you that something special. That’s really the challenge and the benefit of crowdsourcing. The other part of crowdsourcing is where you flip it. Instead of reaching out to the crowd and asking for solutions or ideas, you reach out to the crowd and ask for funding to launch a solution to a problem.

 

* What are the pros and cons of Crowdsourcing? There’s a thing called the crowd slap, which is where some companies like Chevrolet have tried to source the crowd for ad campaigns or other ideas and because of the company’s image in society, instead of people taking it seriously, they ridiculed the company. However, the biggest challenge around crowdsourcing is managing the crowd and having the right expectations from the beginning. As an example, in 2006, IBM ran their Innovation Jam. They received 46,000 contributions, which they then reduced down to 31 ideas for further refinement. That’s less than 0.1 % of all ideas contributed. If we say that it took someone five minutes to consider every idea, 160 24-hour days would be required to go through all those ideas, or about 480 work days, or roughly two years of one person’s time. This is the challenge with crowdsourcing. It’s understanding what you’re going to get out of it, what the work requirement is, and what the other options could be for less effort....]]>
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TEI 112: Lean marketing for product managers – with Joe Dager https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-112-lean-marketing-for-product-managers-with-joe-dager/ Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10407 Lean concepts are being applied across organizations, but what about applying them to marketing? To explore how Lean benefits marketing, I talked with someone who has helped many organizations fuse Lean practices into marketing. That person is Joe Dager. As product managers are frequently involved with aspects of marketing, I thought these concepts would be […] Lean concepts are being applied across organizations, but what about applying them to marketing? To explore how Lean benefits marketing, I talked with someone who has helped many organizations fuse Lean practices into marketing. Joe Dager describes himself as the chief antagonist of Business901, a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to sales, marketing, and service.  His process thinking comes from over thirty years in marketing within a wide variety of industries as applied with Lean concepts. Joe has been part of several start-ups, a few turnarounds and now works creating digital marketing processes, primarily with SaaS-type companies.
From the discussion, product managers and innovators will learn:

* what Lean marketing is,
* how to measure the benefits of Lean in marketing,
* the steps for fusing Lean into your marketing work,
* helpful tools to use, and
* how to navigate the necessary culture change.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* What is Lean marketing? It is really a learning cycle and one where product managers should be involved. It is applying the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle that is the basis of scientific learning to marketing. Lean marketing is an iterative approach to marketing.


* How do you view Lean? I always laugh and say anyone over the age of 35-40 thinks of traditional lean with roots in Toyota manufacturing. Anybody under that age, lean is Lean Startup from Eric Ries. I think of lean as PDCA. It is the continuous improvement with a recognition of standard work. That’s SDCA — Standard Work, Do, Check, Act. In contrast, Lean Startup, is EDCA — Explore, Do, Check, Act. So that’s what you need. You need all three components: PDCA, SDCA, and EDCA.


* What metrics should Lean marketing use? Start with understanding exactly the markets you’re in and the customers you’re addressing. You have to see what your marketing experiment is framed around before considering metrics. Let’s take an example. If you conduct an experiment with a metric of how many signups during a period of time for a digital product and another experiment that doesn’t have a clear metric, which one do you start with? The one where you have metrics. When you think of all the data that’s available, my advice is to just keep it simple. The first thing you have to do is determine who’s going to be looking at the measurements and then also how often they’re going to be looking at them, as well as what they’re going to use out of the metrics. It’s really starting with a feedback plan that identifies how you’re going to measure aspects of a marketing experiment. Then see what tools you’re using and what’s available very quickly to you.


* What are the steps for starting with Lean marketing? Start by not calling it lean. What you basically do is the typical marketing process when you start any marketing plan, which is first examining existing customers. Identify current buying behavior — what you do and what they do. That is your standard work. Then you decide where you want to go next. You create one or two experiments to dig deeper that could be used to improve your standard work. Then you iterate to close the gap between where you are and where you want to go. A great tool to use to do all that is lean A3. It’s just a one page document where the left side is Plan and the right side is Do, Check, Act. That’s how I’ve introduced it to a lot of companies.


* What tools can be used? In addition to the lean A3,]]>
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TEI 111: How SPICES help product managers build insanely great products – with David Fradin https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-111-how-spices-help-product-managers-build-insanely-great-products-with-david-fradin/ Mon, 13 Feb 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10383 Listen to the Interview A book caught my attention recently, and when I investigated the author, I was even more intrigued. The book is “Building Insanely Great Products,” written by David Fradin. David has trained thousands of managers throughout the world. He infuses his workshops with insights and experiences gained as a product leader at […] Listen to the Interview A book caught my attention recently, and when I investigated the author, I was even more intrigued. The book is “Building Insanely Great Products,” written by David Fradin. David has trained thousands of managers throughout the ... A book caught my attention recently, and when I investigated the author, I was even more intrigued. The book is “Building Insanely Great Products," written by David Fradin.<br /> <br /> David has trained thousands of managers throughout the world. He infuses his workshops with insights and experiences gained as a product leader at companies like Apple & HP.<br /> <br /> In our discussion you will learn the six keys to building insanely great products, that is remembered using the acronym SPICES, which is for:<br /> <br /> - strategy,<br /> - process,<br /> - information,<br /> - customers,<br /> - employees, and<br /> - systems & tools. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 41:23 TEI 110: How GE’s FirstBuild creates products – with Taylor Dawson https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-110-how-ges-firstbuild-creates-products-with-taylor-dawson/ Mon, 06 Feb 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10263 Listen to the Interview We have seen significant increases in large companies creating some type of innovation lab or starting a partnership with an innovation lab. One benefit is that the innovation lab can run at a different pace than the organization. The lab has more freedom to try quick experiments and explore new areas […] Listen to the Interview We have seen significant increases in large companies creating some type of innovation lab or starting a partnership with an innovation lab. One benefit is that the innovation lab can run at a different pace than the organizatio... We have seen significant increases in large companies creating some type of innovation lab or starting a partnership with an innovation lab. One benefit is that the innovation lab can run at a different pace than the organization. The lab has more freedom to try quick experiments and explore new areas that may be deemed too risky for the large organization. One lab that caught my attention when I first learned of it a few years ago was FirstBuild, which describes itself as the “place where ideas come to life.” FirstBuild is a creation of GE Appliances. They have created an open community with access to world-class engineering and design talent for exploring ideas and creating home appliances.
I plan to visit FirstBuild in a few months to learn more, but for now, I spoke with Taylor Dawson, their Product Evangelist. Taylor’s background is in mechanical design engineering, having spent time at Lexmark International and then GE Appliances. In our discussion, you will learn:

* Why FirstBuild was created and how it helps GE,
* How they identify product ideas and potential market segments,
* Why they use crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo, and
* Why a prototype is worth a thousand meetings.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* How did FirstBuild start? Eric Ries was a consultant to the GE executive team. This resulted in an initiative called Fast Works. It was an experiment to try lean startup principles at GE. Essentially an internal VC panel was created where employees could pitch ideas and seek sponsorship from a senior leader. Several good things came out of that program, but we also recognized that many barriers were still in place hampering innovation. After asking questions how to create an environment that could operate more like a start up, FirstBuild was born. The result was an open innovation business separate from GE. We created an online community where members could share ideas, participate in challenges, and collaborate. We also created a maker space that anyone from the local community can use. They can bring ideas and make something new. The combination of these approaches infuse FirstBuild with a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit as well as providing access to world-class engineers and creative minds.

 

* Where to product ideas come from? A great example to talk about is Opal, our nugget ice maker. GE already had nugget ice technology. The team that developed it was trying to find a way to get it into a GE refrigerator. I was aware of this effort. We also saw part of our online community discussing nugget ice. Putting the two together was pretty straightforward, leading to the concept of a countertop nugget ice maker. We shared some specifics with the online community – a countertop unit that would hold 3 pounds of ice, make a 1 pound of ice an hour and cost $500. For the nugget ice enthusiasts, this was an appealing product concept. Often our product ideas come from the seemingly random intersection of technology we have access to and what happens in our maker space and online community. Serendipity is at work.


 

* How do you use design challenges? When we encounter a problem, we can create a challenge in our online community. We try to give the most basic possible specification and frame the problem in a very general way. The great thing about design challenges is we will receive so many completely different concepts. It gives us the opportunity to choose what’s going to be the core that the product is built around. We usually provide a specific monetary incentive for winning a design challenge. If we plan to use a crowdfunding campaign for the product, we sometimes offer a percentage of the campaign to the challenge winner.

]]>
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TEI 109: How product managers can design the organization they want – with John Latham, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-109-how-product-managers-can-design-the-organization-they-want-with-john-latham-phd/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10240 Product managers have unique experiences and competencies that equip them for senior leadership roles. Many CEOs come from a product management background, including the last 8 CEOs of Proctor & Gamble. But, what should the product manager turned senior leader (or one who is planning on being a leader in the future) do to help […] Product managers have unique experiences and competencies that equip them for senior leadership roles. Many CEOs come from a product management background, including the last 8 CEOs of Proctor & Gamble. But, But, what should the product manager turned senior leader (or one who is planning on being a leader in the future) do to help his or her organization be more successful, and just as importantly, be the type of organization where people are motivated and want to work?
Well, that is the topic of this episode. My guest is John Latham who is sharing insights from his latest book, [Re]Create the Organization You Really Want. This is a book I have been encouraging John to write for several years, and I am delighted he has. You see, John has a rare combination of having performed research with leaders of world-renown organizations that moved from being good organizations to being the very best in their industry. He also has decades of experience helping organizations reach higher levels of performance. In the discussion, you’ll hear why product managers are suited to be organizational designers — treating the organization as a product to improve.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* What led to the creation of [Re]Create the Organization You Really Want? The book presents a definition of what it means to be a great organization and provides the framework for creating a great organization. Great organizations create financial results while creating value for all stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, workforce, community, and the natural environment. Being great means creating financial results in a way that also creates value for these stakeholders, resulting in a sustainable organization. The book is a culmination of 30 years of professional practice helping organizations be great and research into such organizations. The catalyst for the book was research of CEOs who had successfully recreated their organizations to win the Baldrige Award. This research, combined with other research and professional experience, led to the frameworks presented in the book, providing a roadmap for leaders to create great organizations.

 

* Why are organization design and leading transformation an important topic now? The short answer is we have tried everything else, and we are still struggling to make organizations that perform at their full potential. Organization design is the alignment of four cornerstones: (1) stakeholders, (2) strategy, (3) systems, and (4) scorecard. These cornerstones are held together by a supporting organizational culture. It’s an important topic today because the pace of change is increasing along with the increasing complexity of business environments.

 

* What challenges do product managers face in becoming organization designers? Product managers are ideally suited to take on the challenge of designing the organization. They understand the organizational system better than those working in isolated functional silos. Also, they are accustomed to working with products that create value for customers and thinking about how to design in a value-creation manner.  Yet, they face three big challenges. First, is taking a dynamic system’s perspective to the overall organization. It is not something that is taught in business schools. Second, is a product manager’s ego. Collaboration is essential to organization design, and collaboration is something that product managers tend to have experience with, but it is all-to-easy for the ego to get in the way and we all need to be aware of this. The third is curiosity. While product managers may be curious about meeting customers’ needs and wants, they need to develop curiosity for improving the organization also – such as conducting experiments to see what works and what doesn’t.]]>
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TEI 108: Communicating design in product management – with Latif Nanji https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-108-communicating-design-in-product-management-with-latif-nanji/ Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10187 Listen to the Interview The role of product management is encompassing more design and the need to integrate design capabilities into the product team. It is a topic that Latif Nanji is passionate about, along with designing products customers love. Latif is the CEO of Roadmunk, which creates road mapping software for the enterprise.  Roadmunk […] Listen to the Interview The role of product management is encompassing more design and the need to integrate design capabilities into the product team. It is a topic that Latif Nanji is passionate about, along with designing products customers love. The role of product management is encompassing more design and the need to integrate design capabilities into the product team. It is a topic that Latif Nanji is passionate about, along with designing products customers love. Latif is the CEO of Roadmunk, which creates road mapping software for the enterprise. Roadmunk was built out of Latif’s frustration to create well-designed roadmaps quickly for stakeholders.<br /> <br /> Latif shares that product managers’ ever changing roles now involve understanding and leveraging UX and UI. The challenge is how product managers properly align design principles into their work and what values product management needs to champion.<br /> <br /> In this interview you will learn a 5 element framework for communicating design in product management:<br /> <br /> - empathy in product management and design,<br /> - language of design,<br /> - data around design,<br /> - executive buy-in, and<br /> - designing the MSP. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 41:40 TEI 107: Create group flow for radical innovation – with Laurie Buss https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-107-create-group-flow-for-radical-innovation-with-laurie-buss/ Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10164 Listen to the Interview I’m very interested in how innovation can be made better and one category of tools is related to team performance – higher performing teams can create products that produce higher value. One particular tool is Group Flow, which was the topic of a paper published by The International Council on Systems […] Listen to the Interview I’m very interested in how innovation can be made better and one category of tools is related to team performance – higher performing teams can create products that produce higher value. One particular tool is Group Flow, I'm very interested in how innovation can be made better and one category of tools is related to team performance - higher performing teams can create products that produce higher value.<br /> <br /> One particular tool is Group Flow, which was the topic of a paper published by The International Council on Systems Engineering titled “Group Flow: the Genesis of Innovation.” Its author is Laurie Buss, who I interviewed to learn how teams can create group flow. When I discovered Laurie's work, I felt like I found a kindred spirit based on how she describes innovation, which is, that …<br /> <br /> Innovation is key to the continued growth of established economies, not only for the creation of new designs, products, services, and markets but also for the development and retention of top-performing employees.<br /> <br /> She has a degree from UCLA in Aerospace Engineering and is highly regarded in the international satellite industry, working with numerous large organizations in spacecraft design and test, launch, operations, and many other aspects that require innovative thinking. She also has a new book coming out in the second quarter of 2017 with a working title of "Brainpower Redemption."<br /> <br /> In this interview Laurie shares concrete steps to facilitate group flow, which includes 4 elements that are easily remembered using FLOW as an acronym:<br /> <br /> -Focus,<br /> -Location,<br /> -O (for round table), and<br /> -Work tools. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 47:57 TEI 106: Jobs to be done – with Tony Ulwick https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-106-jobs-to-be-done-with-tony-ulwick/ Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10122 Listen to the Interview I have a returning guest, Tony Ulwick, who is sharing 6 tools from his new book, Jobs to Be Done: Theory to Practice. Tony is well known for the creation of Outcome Driven Innovation and as the founder of Strategyn. When ODI was published in the Harvard Business Review, they declared […] Listen to the Interview I have a returning guest, Tony Ulwick, who is sharing 6 tools from his new book, Jobs to Be Done: Theory to Practice. Tony is well known for the creation of Outcome Driven Innovation and as the founder of Strategyn. I have a returning guest, Tony Ulwick, who is sharing 6 tools from his new book, Jobs to Be Done: Theory to Practice. Tony is well known for the creation of Outcome Driven Innovation and as the founder of Strategyn. When ODI was published in the Harvard Business Review, they declared it one of “the ideas that will profoundly affect business as we forge ahead in today’s complex times.”<br /> <br /> From the discussion, product managers and innovators will know how to apply Jobs to Be Done by applying 6 steps:<br /> <br /> - Define the customer’s “job-to-be-done”<br /> - Uncover the customer’s needs<br /> - Quantify the degree to which each outcome is underserved<br /> - Discover hidden segments of opportunity<br /> - Align existing products with market opportunities<br /> - Conceptualize new products to address unmet needs Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 50:05 TEI 105: Highlights from valuable 2016 interviews with savvy product management insiders – with Chad McAllister, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-105-highlights-from-valuable-2016-interviews-with-savvy-product-management-insiders-with-chad-mcallister-phd/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=10069 Welcome to the second anniversary of the Everyday Innovator — another 52 episodes of discussions with skilled product managers and savvy insiders. In this year in review I share highlights from several of the discussions – emphasizing concepts and tools product managers and innovators should know. Just like my 2015 Year in review, there are […] Welcome to the second anniversary of the Everyday Innovator — another 52 episodes of discussions with skilled product managers and savvy insiders. In this year in review I share highlights from several of the discussions – emphasizing concepts and tool... Welcome to the second year anniversary of the Everyday Innovator -- another 52 episodes of discussions with skilled product managers and savvy insiders. In this year in review I share highlights from several of the discussions – emphasizing concepts and tools product managers and innovators should know. Just like my 2015 Year in review, there a lot of key concepts shared in these episodes.<br /> <br /> The review of interviews below is organized into 6 topics:<br /> <br /> why product managers should become leaders of organizations,<br /> the skills that correlate to 25% higher pay for product managers,<br /> examples of product management in action at companies,<br /> Design Thinking and its applications,<br /> tips for interviewing for a product management role, and<br /> specific innovation approaches & tools.<br /> And, the review concludes with a few of my favorite quotes from guests. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 40:22 TEI 104: Storytelling for innovation – with Michael Margolis https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-104-storytelling-for-innovation-with-michael-margolis/ Mon, 26 Dec 2016 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9945 My guest today discusses another valuable topic related to the skills that all product managers need and that, according to a 2016 study, results in a 25% increase in pay. If you want to see the full list of topics, go to www.TheEverydayInnovator.com/podcast. The topic is how to use storytelling to share ideas and persuade […] My guest today discusses another valuable topic related to the skills that all product managers need and that, according to a 2016 study, results in a 25% increase in pay. If you want to see the full list of topics, go to www.TheEverydayInnovator. The topic is how to use storytelling to share ideas and persuade others to join you. My guest is Michael Margolis. He is the CEO and founder of Get Storied, which serves leaders, innovators, and trailblazers who have a world-changing agenda. He helps those who are inventing the future and need to get their story straight, because ideas don’t sell themselves. He has helped Google, NASA, Greenpeace, Deloitte, and Facebook, among others. His work has been featured in Fast Company, TIME, and Wired.
In our discussion, product managers will learn about the three principles for effective storytelling:

* context,
* emotion, and
* evidence.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* Our topic for this discussion is pitching and presenting disruptive innovation through storytelling. Let’s start by framing the nature of storytelling — what is storytelling about? It’s narrative strategy. It’s the process of how you take anything that is an idea — a product, a service, any business transformation — and get others to see what you see. Storytelling is how you convey that idea in a way they can identify with it, that they can relate to it, and they want to be a part of it. It’s in many ways the holy grail of what every innovator and human-centered designer is trying to solve.


* What are the principles to crafting a story that influences others? The principles are Context, Emotion, and Evidence.


* What is Context? This is a really important principle as it relates to idea adoption. Most of us lead with data. If you start your story with the data, the story is dead on arrival because you haven’t provided any context. You might get people nodding their heads, but they’re not really on board. They’re not leaning in. They’re not accepting your story as their story. Context is when you start a story you start with the where. What I mean by that is, where am I? When you start a story, what your audience is trying to figure out is where the story takes place. What world are you asking them to step into? What’s that ecosystem, universe, or more simply, context? Paint that picture for them and then quickly capture their imagination. If you can’t get them curious and leaning in, you’re going to have a hard time carrying that attention through the rest of your presentation.


* What about Emotion? This is where you  need to show and get people to feel how much you care about who’s at the heart of this story. Who’s at the heart of the story is usually a customer or a key internal stakeholder. You’re telling a story in a way that shows that you get what they’re going through. You’re showing the emotional impact this has on people’s lives.


* How does Evidence fit in? This is where you bring in the data. You demonstrate that you have a right to tell the story and that this story is real. The evidence is the proof. A caution is to not answer all the questions your audience would have. You want to let the story continue.

 
Useful links:

* Get Storied website.
* How to tell a world-changing story video series.
* Undeniable Story online course that teaches storytelling for innovation and change.
* Follow Michael on Twitter

 
Innovation Quote
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Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 48:16
TEI 103: How Karcher developed a new product that captured the market – with Bill Ott https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-103-how-karcher-developed-a-new-product-that-captured-the-market-with-bill-ott/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9762 Listen to the Interview This interview is a great discussion about a product story — from how the product concept was developed all the way through launch, including industry awards the product has received. My guest is Bill Ott, Executive Vice President of the product development organization at Kärcher. They are the world’s leading manufacturer […] Listen to the Interview This interview is a great discussion about a product story — from how the product concept was developed all the way through launch, including industry awards the product has received. My guest is Bill Ott,
This interview is a great discussion about a product story — from how the product concept was developed all the way through launch, including industry awards the product has received. My guest is Bill Ott, Executive Vice President of the product development organization at Kärcher. They are the world’s leading manufacturer of cleaning equipment. Bill is a hands-on executive with global experience in private, Fortune 500 and start-up environments within the consumer, commercial and industrial sectors. Bill started his career as a design engineer and progressed from an individual contributor to management roles while working for IBM, Thomson Consumer Electronics and Philips Electronics.
In our discussion, product managers will learn about:

* identifying customer needs,
* using Voice of the Customer research to uncover and prioritize needs,
* navigating the Lean cycle of Build, Measure, and Learn, and
* launching successfully.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* Where does this product story start? Karcher North America is the market leader in carpet extraction cleaning. The core product line was 15 years old and in need of innovation.

 

* How did you identify what the customer needed? Our goal for improving the product line was to decrease the time it took to clean carpet by 30%. That formed the basis of our fundamental requirements and resulted in what we call a concept definition package. We added objectives of reducing work effort that causes fatigue and adding agility so the carpet cleaning machine could work in small spaces like hotel rooms. Our Concept Team takes it from there. The Concept Team consists of the product manager, an industrial designer, an engineer and a project manager. They have the responsibility of developing the concept that ultimately goes to development. Next is voice of the customer (VOC) research.

 

* How was the VOC research conducted? We have a skilled group of ethnographic researchers. We do interviews as well, but a lot of the time we actual watch the operators use the equipment and visually observe reactions, how they go about doing their job, where the pain points are, and ultimately creating a map of the processes they use. We conducted VOC research with existing customers that matched our target market for the new product: universities, schools, hotels, airports, office buildings, and casinos – anywhere with large amounts of carpet.

 

* What happened after the VOC research? We accumulated a long list of needs from VOC research. We apply the Build, Measure, Learn cycle from the lean startup methodology. Our designers conduct brainstorming and use affinity diagramming to organize ideas for solving the needs. Those ideas are narrowed, focusing on the highest potential, and then prototyping of the ideas begins. We invite some customers to our lab to provide feedback, helping with the “measure” part of the lean cycle. Then we learn from the feedback and conduct another round of Build, Measure, Learn. Another tool we rely on is Value Stream Mapping. We have a lean master who facilitates a meeting with the Concept Team to map out the complete process from the point in time that the operator shows up to clean carpet to putting the machine back in the closet, including when the space with the carpet can be used again. This helps us identify areas of waste to eliminate.

 

* What is the finished product?


 
For more, listen to the interview or read the transcript below.
 
Useful links:

* Bill’s LinkedIn profile
*
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 46:40
TEI 102: Executive coaching for product managers – with Evan Roth https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-102-executive-coaching-for-product-managers-with-evan-roth/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9731 I’ve been fortunate to have excellent mentors at different times during my career. I’ve seen an interesting trend in the last few years – the rise of the personal coach. This is a type of mentor. A personal coach can help you in many ways, all of which are generally related to improving performance and […] I’ve been fortunate to have excellent mentors at different times during my career. I’ve seen an interesting trend in the last few years – the rise of the personal coach. This is a type of mentor. A personal coach can help you in many ways, I've been fortunate to have excellent mentors at different times during my career. I've seen an interesting trend in the last few years - the rise of the personal coach. This is a type of mentor. A personal coach can help you in many ways, all of which are generally related to improving performance and success -- identifying objectives, holding you accountable for taking action, providing unbiased feedback, and at times just helping you get out of your own way by identifying how you're limiting your success.<br /> <br /> Recently I was talking with the head of product for a global company and he mentioned he had been meeting with a coach. I was curious about this because I noticed a change in him and I asked how the coach helped. His response made me more curious and I wanted to talk with his coach myself, which I do in this interview. My guest is Evan Roth, a certified executive coach that works with both individual executives and as well as their teams. Evan has 30+ years' real-world corporate experience in leadership and organizational development, accounting and finance, business strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and international operations. He happens to be based in Denver, Colorado, near my home, but thanks to Skype, he works with clients across the globe.<br /> <br /> In our discussion, you will learn about:<br /> <br /> - limiting beliefs,<br /> - assumptions and interpretations,<br /> - my personal example of being in quicksand, and<br /> - how to have more energy. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 43:55 TEI 101: 9 traits of highly innovative people- with Tamara Kleinberg https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-101-9-traits-of-highly-innovative-people-with-tamara-kleinberg/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9685 Listen to the Interview I’m a big believer in people playing to their strengths, and this includes product team members and others involved in innovation. Not everyone has the same strengths – if we did, that would be a bit boring. Realizing how people approach innovation and their strengths is something Tamara Kleinberg accomplishes. Tamara […] Listen to the Interview I’m a big believer in people playing to their strengths, and this includes product team members and others involved in innovation. Not everyone has the same strengths – if we did, that would be a bit boring. I’m a big believer in people playing to their strengths, and this includes product team members and others involved in innovation. Not everyone has the same strengths – if we did, that would be a bit boring. Realizing how people approach innovation and their strengths is something Tamara Kleinberg accomplishes. Tamara has spent more years than she’ll admit brimming with ideas and launching and running entrepreneurial businesses. She is known for her ability to innovate from ideation to implementation and has brought to market products for very large brands. For the past 18 years she has advised companies such as Disney, Procter & Gamble, General Mills and Otterbox on fostering innovative ideas and people. She has run multi-million dollar businesses and launched a few of her own, including Launch Street, which provides resources for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.
In the interview, we discuss nine traits of innovators and how to identify the trait(s) that is your strength. The traits are:

* Collaborative
* Experiential
* Futuristic
* Fluid
* Imaginative
* Inquisitive
* Instinctual
* Risk Taker
* Tweaker

 
Also, you will learn the two most important things to say after you present a new idea.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* What is the backstory on your Innovation Quotient Edge? The Innovation Quotient Edge (IQE) is the culmination of 20+ years of work and experience. I started my career in brand strategy and innovation in New York City in a big firm and in advertising on Madison Avenue. Then I branched off, with most of my work being in new product development for Fortune 500 consumer goods companies—Procter and Gamble, General Mills, Clorox, etc. Time and again I would hand innovative ideas to these brilliant people in these great companies. Yet a lot of them wouldn’t make it to market. Their ability to be innovative and drive change they needed to get the results was suffering. So I stepped back and thought about what was occurring. I always believed that if we did one or two things, we’d all be innovative. But in my work and research, what I actually discovered blew my assumptions out the door, about how innovation works. What I discovered is that we’re all innovative, but how we innovate is unique to each of us. In fact, there are nine human triggers of innovation and the combination of your top two triggers make your unique innovator profile.

 

* What are the nine traits? The image  below provides a good summary of the nine traits. Listen to the interview to hear details about each.


 

What is the language of innovation? When we present ideas we often force people into a yes or no vote. We share the idea and ask “What do you think?” Most people hate ideas that are new. We are programmed to poke holes in them. Instead, when presenting a new idea, ask:

* “What would you do to strengthen this idea?” and then
* “What holes do you see and how would you fill them?”




 
Useful links:

* Special resources from Tamara just for listeners, diving deeper into the
Language of Innovation.
* Tamara’s website
* How entrepreneurs elevate communities and change the world: Tamara G. Kleinberg at TEDxCSU
* Connect with Tamara on LinkedIn

 
Innovation Quote
“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be s...]]> Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 42:54 TEI 100: Celebrating 100 episodes for product managers – with host Chad McAllister https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-100-celebrating-100-episodes-for-product-managers-with-host-chad-mcallister/ Mon, 28 Nov 2016 12:50:00 +0000 http://productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9603 Welcome to the 100th episode of The Everyday Innovator podcast. I have a little something different for this episode, being this is kind of a big milestone, the 100th episode. I don’t have a guest today, and I’ll tell you more about that in the episode recording. For the 100th episode, I cover four topics: […] Welcome to the 100th episode of The Everyday Innovator podcast. I have a little something different for this episode, being this is kind of a big milestone, the 100th episode. I don’t have a guest today, and I’ll tell you more about that in the episode... Welcome to the 100th episode of The Everyday Innovator podcast. I have a little something different for this episode, being this is kind of a big milestone, the 100th episode. I don’t have a guest today, and I’ll tell you more about that in the episode recording.<br /> <br /> For the 100th episode, I cover four topics:<br /> <br /> - An opportunity to get The Everyday Innovator coffee cup.<br /> - Learning from self-reflection to increase your empathy and influence, using my self-reflection as an example.<br /> - Why the podcast and blog is named The Everyday Innovator.<br /> - Answers to product manager questions: advice for new product managers, where product management is heading, and why launches go bad.<br /> Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 33:31 TEI 099: Speaking with confidence and gravitas – with Caroline Goyder https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-099-speaking-with-confidence-with-caroline-goyder/ Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:52:22 +0000 http://memberpress.productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9398 Have you ever wondered why some people earn attention and respect when they speak and others don’t? According to my guest, the secret to their success can be summed up in one word: gravitas. With gravitas, you can express yourself clearly and with the passion and confidence to persuade, influence and engage listeners. And that […] Have you ever wondered why some people earn attention and respect when they speak and others don’t? According to my guest, the secret to their success can be summed up in one word: gravitas. With gravitas, you can express yourself clearly and with the ... Have you ever wondered why some people earn attention and respect when they speak and others don't? According to my guest, the secret to their success can be summed up in one word: gravitas. With gravitas, you can express yourself clearly and with the passion and confidence to persuade, influence and engage listeners.<br /> <br /> And that is exactly a capability product managers and innovators need.<br /> <br /> My guest is Caroline Goyder, who has worked for many years as a voice teacher at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She spent the last decade developing a system to help her non-acting clients perform with poise, presence and power. She has been named one of Britain’s top coaches. And, her passion is helping people from all walks of life sound, and feel their best.<br /> <br /> From the interview, you will learn:<br /> <br /> - What it means to speak with gravitas.<br /> - Why anyone can learn to speak more persuasively.<br /> - How to speak truth to power – in a way that influences senior managers and leaders. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 41:56 TEI 098: When product managers’ good ideas are not enough-with Samuel Bacharach https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-098-when-product-managers-good-ideas-are-not-enough-with-samuel-bacharach-phd/ Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:49:39 +0000 http://memberpress.productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9390 I have a great guest for us to learn from – the author of a new book, The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough. Doesn’t that sum up the challenge of being a product manager – when your good idea is not enough. My guest, Professor Samuel B. Bacharach, argues that in […] I have a great guest for us to learn from – the author of a new book, The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough. Doesn’t that sum up the challenge of being a product manager – when your good idea is not enough. My guest, Professor Samuel B. My guest, Professor Samuel B. Bacharach, argues that in order to implement any innovation — no matter how great your idea — that you must be an “agenda mover.”  He’s analyzed how leaders such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther King, Jr. have been able to turn their ideas into action.  He has also spent years teaching the skills that enable people to move agendas. Today he helps leaders of Fortune 500 companies apply the steps to move their ideas forward. He is also an organizational behavior professor at Cornell University and the co-founder of the Bacharach Leadership Group.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:

* In your latest book you shared “If you cannot move your agenda, you are not a leader.” What do you mean by that?  We tend to over-dramatize what we mean by leaders and what it takes to innovate. We live in a culture where we tend to see leadership as a heroic quality, the charismatic person like the Lone Ranger who is coming to save you. That’s total nonsense. We should begin with the assumption that all leaders are individuals trying to get some action taken, to move something forward. This being the case, the litmus test in leadership is what you get done.  How many leaders do you remember for ideas they had or simply for their charisma? What gets remembered is their capacity to move the ideas forward. Thomas Edison once said, “A good idea without execution is hallucination.” Well, that’s my notion. Can you move the idea? Can you execute? There is no leadership without it.


* The challenge with innovation is it means change – and change brings fear. How do leaders address the fear of change — of something new? This is the $64,000 question. If you begin with the assumption, which is a premier assumption, that people will resist change, the issue quickly becomes more complicated than initially suspected.  I’ll elaborate on that — you see, opposing innovation and opposing change is like opposing apple pie, even when there’s not a lot of sugar in it! No one ever comes and tells you, “This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. Forget it.” And no one tells you in the corporate world, “We’re against change, forget it.” It’s a lot subtler than that. People resist by playing a game of, “Yes, but did you think about this…” Given that there’s room to play this game, it demands from you, as someone trying to move change and innovation, that you seriously anticipate the possible resistance. That means you need to methodically understand arguments of resistance. There are not many arguments people can make against you. Further, you can develop the skills to justify and move your agenda. You must begin to really work on getting the buy-in. And you can’t drop the ball – you must take action to sustain the momentum.


* What are the skills for moving your agenda? When I talk about skills, I’m talking about the capacity to anticipate, mobilize, negotiate, and sustain momentum. These are things you can actually learn. We’ve trained people all around the world in these skills, and some of them were the least charismatic people you could think of. You examine what are you really trying to do in any setting. What are we really trying to do? You are trying to get someone to shift their priorities to align them, at least in some capacity, with your priorities. You’re trying to get someone to shift their resources to support what you’re trying to do. It’s going to happen because you were methodical and deeply understood the perspectives and needs of those you want to influence.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:49
TEI 097: How product managers pitch and sell ideas to managers – with Chris Westfall https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-097-how-product-managers-pitch-and-sell-ideas-to-managers-with-chris-westfall/ Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:07:33 +0000 http://memberpress.productinnovationeducators.com/?p=9350 The topic of this episode is another in a series of interviews I’m doing focused on the four skills that enable a 25% higher income for product managers and increasing their influence. The 4 skills were discussed back in episode 073 and include: Pitch artist – the ability to present and sell your ideas and […] The topic of this episode is another in a series of interviews I’m doing focused on the four skills that enable a 25% higher income for product managers and increasing their influence. The 4 skills were discussed back in episode 073 and include: Pitch ... episode 073 and include:

* Pitch artist – the ability to present and sell your ideas and conclusions.
* Exec debater — being the president of the product and standing up for what is needed and challenging executive teams.
* Inspire others — great products are built by great teams but these aren’t necessarily teams that product managers personally manage. Instead, product managers need to inspire them and share the vision of the product.
* Truth to power – being good at raising inconvenient truths and not running away from an unpopular message.

This interview focuses on being a pitch artist and my guest, Chris Westfall, is a world-class pitch artist – having won the US National Elevator Pitch Championship. He is also the official “pitch coach” at the fifth-largest university in the United States, where his strategies have helped raise millions of dollars for student start-ups, launching over 50 businesses and creating hundreds of jobs. He’s coached clients onto Shark Tank, Shark Tank Australia and Dragon’s Den, and successfully re-branded products and services around the globe. His message to product managers and organizations to understand the new rules of engagement is simple: use authentic persuasion that’s not pushy, “sales-y” or fake.
In this interview, you’ll learn about:

* when pitches are important,
* why product managers must be good pitch artists, and
* how to give a good pitch.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* How did winning the US National Elevator Pitch Championship impact you? I was surprised and thrilled. The recognition really started me on a path to share the skills that I’ve developed over the course of my career and the knowledge I gained based on a great deal of research. I wanted to help others engineer persuasive conversations. That’s really what my work has been about since receiving the honor.


* When are pitches important? Anytime you want to persuade someone is the time to prepare a pitch. Someone could mean your boss, the people on your team, a person that you’re meeting for the first time who could have an impact on your business or your life. It also means influencing the people and the relationships that matter most to you. Maybe that’s your wife, your boyfriend,  or your kids. The idea that a pitch just happens in an elevator or that it’s 30 seconds long is a myth. It’s an artificial construct. What’s real and what happens every day, is there are people looking at you and they’re wondering, what is it that we might be able to do together? What are your ideas, and if you have great ideas, those ideas deserve to be heard properly. Having a pitch is really nothing more than understanding how to have a persuasive conversation.


* How can product managers construct an effective pitch? All pitches are about change. If a product manager is pitching an idea, that is about change too. Constructing and delivering an effective pitch follows these steps:

* Start with your listener or audience – understand what is in their best interest. The context always trumps content.
* Consider what they haven’t heard before – what would be surprising or unexpected to them. People listen more closely to the unexpected and are more likely to give you a “tell me more” response.
* Contemplate the questions that you hope you get asked and those you hope you don’t get asked.
]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 40:15
TEI 096: Conjoint analysis for product managers- with Brian Ottum, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-096-conjoint-analysis-for-product-managers-with-brian-ottum-phd/ Mon, 31 Oct 2016 11:50:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=6148 Listen to the Interview This episode is about market research – what’s in your toolbox for conducting consumer and market research? Does it include Conjoint Analysis? Well, if not, it will after you listen to this episode. To explore the topic and walk through an example of using Conjoint Analysis, I tracked down a previous […] Listen to the Interview This episode is about market research – what’s in your toolbox for conducting consumer and market research? Does it include Conjoint Analysis? Well, if not, it will after you listen to this episode. This episode is about market research - what's in your toolbox for conducting consumer and market research? Does it include Conjoint Analysis? Well, if not, it will after you listen to this episode. To explore the topic and walk through an example of using Conjoint Analysis, I tracked down a previous guest, way back in episode 008. In that episode we discussed quantitative and qualitative research tools but didn't go into details about applying Conjoint.<br /> <br /> My guest is Brian Ottum, a market research specialist with 30 years experience in new product development. He started as a chemical engineer and joined Procter Gamble, contributing to Charmin, Pampers, and other products you know. He went on to earn a PhD in Market Research. Today, he helps companies with product development. He has also developed a new online course called “Tools for Early Innovation.” It’s a little over an hour of videos, case studies and downloadable materials. The usual price is $30 but he is making it available to listeners of this podcast for just $10 for a limited time – until the end of January, 2017. See the link section below to get the discount.<br /> <br /> In this interview, you’ll learn about:<br /> <br /> - the types of information Conjoint Analysis can provide, such as pricing specifics,<br /> - when to use Conjoint, and<br /> - the specific steps for using Conjoint. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 45:08 TEI 095: Product line roadmapping for product managers – with Paul O’Connor https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-095-product-line-roadmapping-for-product-managers-with-paul-oconnor/ Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:50:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=6109 Listen to the Interview The last episode was on the topic of product roadmaps and today we extend that topic by considering product line roadmaps – roadmaps for product lines and product families. The person who has turned that topic into his professional career is Paul O’Connor. He is the founder and managing director of […] Listen to the Interview The last episode was on the topic of product roadmaps and today we extend that topic by considering product line roadmaps – roadmaps for product lines and product families. The person who has turned that topic into his professio... The last episode was on the topic of product roadmaps and today we extend that topic by considering product line roadmaps - roadmaps for product lines and product families.<br /> <br /> The person who has turned that topic into his professional career is Paul O’Connor. He is the founder and managing director of The Adept Group and he has had significant impact on the field of new product development over the past thirty years. During this time, he has developed and implemented a number of innovative approaches to creativity, innovation, and productivity in NPD. He is truly one of the savvy insiders that can go both board and deep on many topics related to new product development.<br /> <br /> In this interview, you’ll learn about:<br /> <br /> What is a product line and a product line strategy,<br /> How are platforms related to product lines,<br /> How product line roadmaps differ from product roadmaps, and<br /> Why product line roadmapping is important. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 37:46 TEI 094: Creating product roadmaps for product managers – with Jim Semick https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-094-creating-product-roadmaps-for-product-managers-with-jim-semick/ Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:50:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=6067 Listen to the Interview I’ve had some requests from listeners to explore product roadmaps, so I had a discussion with Jim Semick. He is co-founder of ProductPlan, which creates roadmap software for product teams. Jim has helped launch new products generating hundreds of millions in revenue, including being part of the founding team at AppFolio […] Listen to the Interview I’ve had some requests from listeners to explore product roadmaps, so I had a discussion with Jim Semick. He is co-founder of ProductPlan, which creates roadmap software for product teams.
I’ve had some requests from listeners to explore product roadmaps, so I had a discussion with Jim Semick. He is co-founder of ProductPlan, which creates roadmap software for product teams.
Jim has helped launch new products generating hundreds of millions in revenue, including being part of the founding team at AppFolio for property management, responsible for the requirements and launch of GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix), as well as spending time at Microsoft.
In the interview we discuss:

* The purpose of a product roadmap,
* Various ways roadmaps look,
* How roadmaps help product teams and organizations, and
* The best practices for constructing product roadmaps.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is the purpose of a roadmap? A product roadmap is used by most companies to communicate what they’ll be building over the near term and possibly over the longer term. It is also a tool for showing the product strategy, the why behind what they’re building. A lot of companies feel that the product roadmap is simply the backlog, but that’s not the best way to communicate the strategy. A feature list isn’t a product roadmap. The product roadmap needs to tie back to the strategy. A product roadmap is usually a visual document and communicates the why behind what you’re doing.

 

* What do roadmaps look like? They can take on different forms. It depends on the company, the type of product, and where it is in its lifecycle. Examples can be found here. Some startups, for example, use a Kanban-style roadmap, which is simply putting what you’re going to be building into certain buckets: what is planned, what is approved, what’s in development, and what’s been delivered. That’s a typical style for a smaller organization or maybe a new product. The more traditional product roadmap looks something like a Gantt chart, which is a timeline-style. It communicates what you’re going to build and the expected start and end date for each part of the work. Twelve months is a typical time-frame for showing what you’re going to build. But there are some caveats. For example, organizations moving to an agile development process may have greater uncertainty over a longer period. From a product manager’s perspective, showing a 12-month roadmap is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you want to communicate where you’re headed and inform executive stakeholders. But on the other hand, things tend to change. Competitors come on the scene and release different features, the market and the underlying technologies used can evolve, and of course, customer tends and priorities change over time. You need to communicate to executives what is likely to change the farther the plans are in the future.

 

* How do roadmaps help product teams? A couple of areas are creating collaboration and setting priorities. Most product teams use some sort of mechanism to score and prioritize features. Some of them do it ad hoc — having a conversation about customer value, and maybe T-shirt sizing level-of-effort. The benefit of having a product roadmap and then also a mechanism to prioritize what goes on the roadmap is that you’re having the conversation to begin with. The roadmap becomes an important collaboration tool.

 

* How much detail should go into a product roadmap? If you’re an agile organization and you’re working in epics and stories,the roadmap should be at that epic level. Otherwise, if you’re at the story level, that is a product roadmap that is like a project plan. A good product roadmap brings it up a level where it’s not project management-orien...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 39:21
TEI 093: Identifying the ideal customer – with Tom Schwab https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-093-identifying-the-ideal-customer-with-tom-schwab/ Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:50:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=6023 Listen to the Interview According to my guest, “Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be an ideal customer.” Of course, then my first question is how do we find the ideal customer for a product or service. Thankfully, my guest, Tom Schwab, had some ideas. Tom is the founder […] Listen to the Interview According to my guest, “Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be an ideal customer.” Of course, then my first question is how do we find the ideal customer for a product or service. According to my guest, "Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be an ideal customer." Of course, then my first question is how do we find the ideal customer for a product or service.<br /> <br /> Thankfully, my guest, Tom Schwab, had some ideas. Tom is the founder of Interview Valet and his previous background is in medical device products.<br /> <br /> In this interview you will learn:<br /> <br /> - Why marketing should start with the customer,<br /> - How to identify the ideal customer, and<br /> - What we can learn from the ideal customer for a product. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 34:45 TEI 092: Innovation mantras from R&D-with Dana A. Oliver https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-092-innovation-mantras-from-rd-with-dana-a-oliver/ Mon, 03 Oct 2016 11:50:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5979 Listen to the Interview Research and development is tightly coupled with product management and innovation. To learn how an R&D person thinks about innovation, I talked with Dana A. Oliver, who has 30 impressive years of experience in R&D groups. He now focuses on writing and coaching, after leaving Medtronic, the medical device company, where […] Listen to the Interview Research and development is tightly coupled with product management and innovation. To learn how an R&D person thinks about innovation, I talked with Dana A. Oliver, who has 30 impressive years of experience in R&D groups. Research and development is tightly coupled with product management and innovation. To learn how an R&D person thinks about innovation, I talked with Dana A. Oliver, who has 30 impressive years of experience in R&D groups. He now focuses on writing and coaching, after leaving Medtronic, the medical device company, where he was the Senior Director of R&D.<br /> <br /> He has also written two books. His first is Mantra Leadership and his second and most recent is Mantra Design. In Mantra Design he shares 14 principles, or mantras, for innovation and developing premium priced, patent protected, and market share leading products.<br /> <br /> We discuss a few of his mantras and then explore the future of R&D. The mantras discussed include:<br /> <br /> -Innovate, Buy or Die<br /> -Learn Your Customer’s World!<br /> -Innovation begins with the Eye<br /> -It Takes a Long Tim to Get to Simple Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:05 TEI 091: How product managers can influence virtual teams – with Hassan Osman https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-091-how-product-managers-can-influence-virtual-teams-with-hassan-osman/ Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5938 Listen to the Interview This episode is about virtual teams. Many of us are part of virtual teams and we have felt the pain of virtual teams that don’t work well. Virtual teams are becoming more common in organizations and especially product management and innovation where the product team is often scattered across multiple time […] Listen to the Interview This episode is about virtual teams. Many of us are part of virtual teams and we have felt the pain of virtual teams that don’t work well. Virtual teams are becoming more common in organizations and especially product management... This episode is about virtual teams. Many of us are part of virtual teams and we have felt the pain of virtual teams that don’t work well. Virtual teams are becoming more common in organizations and especially product management and innovation where the product team is often scattered across multiple time zones.
I found someone who has worked with and learned from hundreds of virtual teams. He is currently the PMO manager at Cisco Systems, where he leads virtual teams all around the world.
He is also the author of two Amazon best-selling books. The first one is Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees. His most recent book is Don’t Reply All: 18 Email Tactics That Help You Write Better Emails and Improve Communication with Your Team. His name is Hassan Osman.
In the interview we focus on:

* the nature of virtual teams,
* building trust, and
* what you need to do to run an effective virtual team meeting.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What are virtual teams? A virtual team is simply a team that is spread across either time or physical location, or both. It would have been a lot easier to recognize a virtual team 15-20 years ago, when email and internet was starting out. However, today, I could argue that every single team is a virtual team. Let me give you an example. I have a friend who is the CEO of a startup company in Cambridge. They have an office in Harvard Square. One room is a big open floor space where everyone is sitting facing the wall. I said to him, “It must be really cool if you need to ask one of your team members to do something for you. You just swivel in your chair and yell it out.” And he said, “Well actually, no.” He sends them an email. I found that a little bit intriguing and asked why. He shared that it is easier to track what information was exchanged than relying on the verbal interactions and that it avoided interruptions. Even though the team members sit next to each other, they are interacting as a virtual team.

 

* What are some of the common issues encountered managing virtual teams? Simple issues for some virtual teams are dealing with different time zones and speaking accents. Another can be the lack of facial expressions and body language cues. Obviously when you’re dealing with either asynchronous communication, such as IM or email, you’re not getting that flavor of the nonverbal communication. That can result in miscommunication or misinterpretation of intent, which could create conflict. Using webcams, for example, can help. Another thing that really affects virtual teams is that lack of cohesion. We as human beings are very social in nature, and with virtual teams, you may be working alone much of the time. You don’t have the same level of interaction that you have with co-located physical teams.

 

* What are your experiences building trust in virtual teams? Trust is a very nebulous concept. It’s not like an on-off switch where you either have trust or you don’t have trust. It’s more of a spectrum where there’s varying degrees of trust among the team and among managers and their direct employees. So it becomes this very tough thing to manage, right? Because it’s very tough to manage, it’s very hard to kind of nail down. How do you define it? Trust is equal to reliability plus likeability. Meaning, if you want to increase trust among your team, you either have to increase reliability, or increase likeability, or both. Reliability is the simple concept that judges if a person who has been given a job can actually do that job. Do they have the proper skill set to actually accomplish what they need to accomplish? But the other factor, the likeability factor,]]>
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TEI 090: Agile product portfolio management- with Brent Barton https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-090-agile-product-portfolio-management-with-brent-barton/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5903 We have explored the topic of product portfolio management in previous episodes, but not from an Agile perspective. That is the topic for this episode – Agile portfolio management. Each week I talk with a savvy insider to help us understand an aspect of product management and innovation. This time my guest is one of […] We have explored the topic of product portfolio management in previous episodes, but not from an Agile perspective. That is the topic for this episode – Agile portfolio management. Each week I talk with a savvy insider to help us understand an aspect o... Each week I talk with a savvy insider to help us understand an aspect of product management and innovation. This time my guest is one of the very first Certified Scrum Trainers, who has been implementing Scrum in organizations for more than a decade and has another decade of experience in software technology. He is also a Principle at SolutionsIQ, a firm that helps organizations adopt Agile practices.
In this episode, product managers and innovators will learn:

* the difference between product portfolio management and Agile portfolio management,
* how to create Agile portfolios,
* how to navigate some of the common issues encountered with Agile portfolio management,
* and the importance of keeping high-performing teams intact.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is Agile portfolio management? We need to start by defining business agility, which is leveraging iterative delivery capability and actively managing organization investments. Long term investments often get the focus but we need to be able to more quickly adjust short-term investments. As the business environment is changing more quickly, we need to be able to respond more quickly. We need to recognize that a few mistakes will be made along the way. We need to be able to adjust our shorter term commitments more quickly. That helps us think about Agile portfolio management, where we still have longer-term investments but also the need to adjust more quickly in the shorter term.

 

* How do you apply an Agile mindset to portfolio management? Agile emphasizes small intact teams. Teams that stay together out-perform teams that are broken apart when a project ends and then rebuilt for another project. This is an important influence of Agile on portfolio management and how project resources are used. Also, technologists need to be involved in portfolio management decisions or you can expect bad decisions to be made. The implication of technology-related decisions need to be incorporated into portfolio decisions. Further, portfolios need to be smaller to move the decision making closer to those best equipped to be involved in the decisions. This suggests that a portfolio of portfolios is needed in organizations so we can move authority and accountability down into the organization.

 

* How can an Agile portfolio be constructed? Start with considering the right size for a portfolio, which can lead organizations to realize they need a portfolio of portfolios. Portfolios are better managed if they are not too large. At the other extreme, not every organization needs a portfolio and portfolio management should be resisted until it is actually needed. An example would be an organization that only has one product. They should enjoy being able to focus on product management without adding complexities by incorporating portfolio management. A portfolio reflects a supply and demand balance and the supply-side constrains the portfolios, which is the capacity of knowledge workers. These employees cannot be easily exchanged and their availability provides the opportunities and constraints. Portfolios should be constructed around value streams. To determine the right size for portfolios and how Agile portfolios should be constructed, use these 5 simple rules (see related blog post below in the Useful Links section):


* All work is forced ranked.
* Operate on “good enough” data.
* Near-term capacity is fixed.
* Each unique value-based delivery capability has a portfolio
* Each portfolio has one “intake system.”

 

]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 68:05
TEI 089: Intelligent disobedience for product managers-with Bob McGannon https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-089-intelligent-disobedience-for-product-managers-with-bob-mcgannon/ Mon, 12 Sep 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5870 Are there times that product managers need to be disobedient – not do what they were asked to do? To explore the topic I spoke with Bob McGannon who has great experience with this through the lens of project management. As the purpose of a project is to develop a product or service, product managers […] Are there times that product managers need to be disobedient – not do what they were asked to do? To explore the topic I spoke with Bob McGannon who has great experience with this through the lens of project management. Are there times that product managers need to be disobedient – not do what they were asked to do? To explore the topic I spoke with Bob McGannon who has great experience with this through the lens of project management. As the purpose of a project is to develop a product or service, product managers and innovators have much they can learn from the field of project management.<br /> <br /> Bob is vice-president of Mindavation, a company that focuses on helping businesses increase their capabilities in portfolio, program, and project management. Bob has set up project management programs on three continents. He has 25 years of IT, project management, and project analysis experience, 18 of those years with IBM.<br /> <br /> In the discussion you’ll learn:<br /> <br /> - the value of project management,<br /> - three key project management skills product managers must have,<br /> - what intelligent disobedience is, and<br /> - how product managers can exercise intelligent disobedience. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 53:12 TEI 088: Product management for preparing the next generation of innovation leaders- with Youth Digital https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-088-product-management-for-preparing-the-next-generation-of-innovation-leaders-with-youth-digital/ Mon, 05 Sep 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5825 My son got to meet his heroes. Not sports players, astronauts, or Marvel comics characters. He met the people behind Youth Digital, his favorite source for online tech courses. We traveled to their headquarters in Chapel Hills, North Carolina. What they are all about is creating the next generation of creators, focused on kids ages […] My son got to meet his heroes. Not sports players, astronauts, or Marvel comics characters. He met the people behind Youth Digital, his favorite source for online tech courses. We traveled to their headquarters in Chapel Hills, North Carolina. My son got to meet his heroes. Not sport players, astronauts, or Marvel comics’ characters. He met the people behind Youth Digital, his favorite source for online tech courses. We traveled to their headquarters in Chapel Hills, North Carolina. What they are all about is creating the next generation of creators, focused on kids ages 8 to 14. My son discovered their courses when he was 10 and he is devouring them as fast as he can, learning about Java programming, 3D graphics and animation, computer game design, and more - and frequently laughing in the process.<br /> <br /> While at their office we had the opportunity to talk with Justin Richards, the CEO and founder of Youth Digital, and Aaron Sharp, the head of Product Development.<br /> <br /> The interview serves two purposes. We explore the product management aspects of the company and I expect product managers and innovators will find the topics useful. We also discuss another topic I love - preparing the next generation to be leaders in technology and innovation - which is something their products are all about. Most of us have kids in our lives, whether they be nephews and nieces, our own children, or other children we influence and because of this, I want you to know about the work Youth Digital is doing. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 50:56 TEI 087: Metrics and successful product management – with Saeed Khan https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-087-metrics-and-successful-product-management-with-saeed-khan/ Mon, 29 Aug 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5792 Listen to the Interview I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Saeed Khan. He started the On Product Management blog and has been a career product manager, working in Toronto, Canada and Silicon Valley. He is also a frequent speaker at product management events, including ProductCamps. I saw a presentation Saeed did on the topic of […] Listen to the Interview I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Saeed Khan. He started the On Product Management blog and has been a career product manager, working in Toronto, Canada and Silicon Valley. He is also a frequent speaker at product managem... I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Saeed Khan. He started the On Product Management blog and has been a career product manager, working in Toronto, Canada and Silicon Valley. He is also a frequent speaker at product management events, including ProductCamps.<br /> <br /> I saw a presentation Saeed did on the topic of successfully using product management metrics. I wanted to explore this topic with him along with what else it takes to be a good product manager, which is what we did in this discussion.<br /> <br /> In the interview Saeed shares four categories of metrics and his 6-stage product model:<br /> <br /> - Build It,<br /> - Nail It,<br /> - Scale It,<br /> - Extend It,<br /> - Milk It, and<br /> - End It. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 53:19 TEI 086: Manufacturing serendipity, open innovation, and product management – with Kevin Stark, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-086-manufacturing-serendipity-open-innovation-and-product-management-with-kevin-stark-phd/ Mon, 22 Aug 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5750 Listen to the Interview You’ve likely heard of the curse of knowledge or sometimes it is called the curse of the expert. It occurs when our knowledge leads us down predictable paths, likely not considering other possible solutions to problems but only those that are familiar to us. This is cognitive bias and is the […] Listen to the Interview You’ve likely heard of the curse of knowledge or sometimes it is called the curse of the expert. It occurs when our knowledge leads us down predictable paths, likely not considering other possible solutions to problems but only ... You’ve likely heard of the curse of knowledge or sometimes it is called the curse of the expert. It occurs when our knowledge leads us down predictable paths, likely not considering other possible solutions to problems but only those that are familiar to us. This is cognitive bias and is the topic I asked my guest about, which lead to discussing open innovation and how to manufacture serendipity. His name is Kevin Stark and he is the VP of Technology Solutions at NineSigma, a global innovation firm. They have helped Kraft, NFL, NASA, L’Oréal, Unilever, PepsiCo, Pfizer and other companies create an open innovation workplace, leading to breakthrough products.<br /> <br /> As you will hear towards the end of the interview, many of these companies share their stories using open innovation on the NineSights website - a great resource for learning what they did. The link is below.<br /> <br /> In this discussion, product managers can learn:<br /> <br /> - how to identify and avoid cognitive bias,<br /> - how to create an open innovation workplace,<br /> - problems to anticipate and avoid. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 38:55 TEI 085: Managing product teams – with Todd Dewett, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-085-managing-product-teams-with-todd-dewett-phd/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5698 Listen to the Interview Product managers often work in diverse teams and need good team management skills to be successful. To explore managing teams, I invited a frequent keynote speaker and coach who companies invite to teach them about improving teams and their work. He is Dr. Todd Dewett, a best-selling author, popular trainer on […] Listen to the Interview Product managers often work in diverse teams and need good team management skills to be successful. To explore managing teams, I invited a frequent keynote speaker and coach who companies invite to teach them about improving tea... Product managers often work in diverse teams and need good team management skills to be successful. To explore managing teams, I invited a frequent keynote speaker and coach who companies invite to teach them about improving teams and their work. He is Dr. Todd Dewett, a best-selling author, popular trainer on Lynda.com, a TEDx speaker, and an Inc. Top 100 leadership speaker. His latest book is Show Your Ink: Stories About Leadership and Life. He is also a former award-winning professor who has since spoken to and advised hundreds of thousands of professionals around the world. When you listen to the interview you will no doubt hear that he has huge enthusiasm for helping people.<br /> <br /> In this discussion, product managers can learn:<br /> <br /> -the value of feedback,<br /> -leading when you have no actual authority,<br /> -conflict management, and<br /> -two actions for being a better team leader. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 33:19 TEI 084: Product portfolio management – with Carrie Nauyalis https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-084-product-portfolio-management-with-carrie-nauyalis/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5651 Product portfolio management is concerned with selecting the right products to develop, making trade-off decisions, and generally maximizing the value of the product portfolio. It is an important activity in organizations that have more than one product, but it is also an activity that is difficult to learn about. I sought to find an expert […] Product portfolio management is concerned with selecting the right products to develop, making trade-off decisions, and generally maximizing the value of the product portfolio. It is an important activity in organizations that have more than one produc... In this interview, you will learn…

* What portfolio management is,
* the goals of portfolio management,
* constructing and managing portfolios, and
* common mistakes you can avoid.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is product portfolio management? It is  the discipline and framework for applying the two most precious organizational resources—your people and your money—to get the greatest value out of your investment. If you think about portfolio management like you do with your 401K, it’s the same concept, but you’re applying it to innovation. It’s about making tradeoff decisions and balance decisions to achieve your corporate or innovation strategies.


* What are the goals of portfolio management? The primary goal is value maximization. Dr. Cooper and Dr. Edgett of Stage-Gate fame use that phrase — value maximization.  We have don’t a ton of research and the biggest pain point is too much work for resources (people). That’s actually a portfolio management problem. You could be looking at one single project or product myopically and saying it is a good idea without the context of a larger or broader portfolio. So you’re missing that perspective of how that one idea fits in the greater good – the portfolio of projects. Some things to consider – do we already have multiple products in that space, will it cannibalize something else, are we hitting one market too hard and having a gap in another one? Many of these questions deal with the need to have balance in a portfolio, for example, reasonable percentages of resources on breakthrough projects vs customer satisfaction projects.


* What are the ways to construct a portfolio? This is one of those questions where it depends. There’s no one right answer and it really does vary pretty widely. Automotive or pharma, which have really long cycle times, versus a CPG company that has extremely short cycle times, will have portfolios constructed differently. In most cases, the portfolio is a mix of things. And, you can have multiple portfolios with a project showing up in different ways so that different people in the organization can see it the way that they want and how they think about it. There are top-down portfolios with goals set by senior leadership. As an example, a goal may be to deliver existing products to a new market- to enter the new market and grow revenue by X percent. It’s a conscious decision at the executive level. On the flipside is the bottom-up approach. That might be a situation where product features are driving a particular product, and customer requests are driving features. There are also dozens of other portfolio types. You might have a portfolio by region, by brand, by product line, etc.


* How are portfolios managed and controlled? It depends again on the business and the frequency, but a trend is establishing some kind of a project and portfolio management office. They call them Centers of Excellence. Having a place for the discipline, for the people, process,]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 54:47
TEI 083: Trend-driven innovation for product managers – with Max Luthy https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-083-trend-driven-innovation-for-product-managers-with-max-luthy/ Mon, 01 Aug 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5601 Trends can be a product manager’s best friend. They can propel products, increasing adoption by customers, or if misread, they may have costly consequences of wasted resources, too much inventory, and lost opportunities. Product managers know about the importance of trends, but are often already overwhelmed and don’t make time to study trends. Are there […] Trends can be a product manager’s best friend. They can propel products, increasing adoption by customers, or if misread, they may have costly consequences of wasted resources, too much inventory, and lost opportunities. Trends can be a product manager's best friend. They can propel products, increasing adoption by customers, or if misread, they may have costly consequences of wasted resources, too much inventory, and lost opportunities.<br /> <br /> Product managers know about the importance of trends, but are often already overwhelmed and don’t make time to study trends. Are there ways to make trend identification easier? To find out and learn about identifying and using trends, I contacted Max Luthy.<br /> <br /> He is the Director of Trends & Insights at TrendWatching, a company that scans the globe identifying emerging consumer trends and changes in trends. He is also the co-author of the book Trend-Driven Innovation.<br /> <br /> In the interview, you will learn the steps to apply trend-driven innovation...<br /> <br /> Scan,<br /> Focus,<br /> Generate,<br /> Execute, and<br /> Culture. Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 37:47 TEI 082: Design Thinking and Action Learning for product managers – with Chuck Appleby, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-082-design-thinking-and-action-learning-for-product-managers-with-chuck-appleby-phd/ Mon, 25 Jul 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5563 Listen to the Interview Product management is about change – the change that creating new products involves. Along the way, product managers need to learn about customers and their needs, consider problems from different perspectives, and collaborate with others. A person with deep experience in doing these things and helping groups and organizations identify and […] Listen to the Interview Product management is about change – the change that creating new products involves. Along the way, product managers need to learn about customers and their needs, consider problems from different perspectives,
Product management is about change – the change that creating new products involves. Along the way, product managers need to learn about customers and their needs, consider problems from different perspectives, and collaborate with others. A person with deep experience in doing these things and helping groups and organizations identify and push through barriers of innovation is Chuck Appleby. He is a leadership and organization development consultant with over 30 years of management, consulting, and coaching experience in government, industry, and non-profits.
In the interview we discuss two valuable tools for product managers and organizations wishing to solve problems for themselves and customers:

* Action Learning, and
* Design Thinking.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Tell us about the work you were doing that created the need to study Design Thinking. For years and years I had been helping companies solve tough problems using Action Learning. This is a method developed at the Cavendish Physics Lab in Cambridge University by professor Reg Revans, who had gotten very concerned that the world was changing so fast that we would never achieve the kind of speed of innovation that was needed to keep up with change. Action Learning helps people think about problems from new perspectives that lead to better solutions. However, Action Learning is a bit analytical and didn’t have that creative spark that I was looking for. This led me to Design Thinking. Today I use a framework that leverages Action Learning and Design Thinking that is simply Discover, Design, Deploy, and Sustain.

 

* What are the steps to applying Action Learning? There are  five steps, which are generally completed in one group session that is two to three hours long. The steps are:

* First: The problem-owner describes the challenge or problem in 3-5 minutes.
* Second: This is the framing step and is the most challenging of all the steps. The objective is to get people focused on the desired future state. Consider what is going on in today’s reality, what the external forces are, what underlying assumptions are being made, and what is the core challenge to address.
* Third: Next is solutioning, which is a problem-solving step. With the problem now clearly understood, solutioning usually comes naturally.
* Fourth: Then we commit to action based on the solution chosen.
* Fifth: The final step is reflection on the entire process and assessing how the group did and what could be done better next time.



 

* What is an example of applying Design Thinking? A recent example was with the Department of Human Services in Arlington and the Arlington County Public Library, specifically.  The central challenge, which is seen in all businesses, was not engaging with certain groups of customers. In the case of the library, they were not seeing teenagers, 30-somethings, or recent immigrants using the library. To consider the situation, we created three teams to interview those three cohorts (see link to video below that explores this). The groups didn’t ask about the library. In fact, the questions they developed had nothing to do with the library, except it focused on the library’s mission, which is a love of reading, access to information, and building community. So those were the questions that were asked. The insight that came out was, “We like to meet new people doing fun things.” So the library came up with a couple of great ideas, one of which, designed to reach 30-somethings,  was an annual ball to raise money for literacy. 30-somethings piled in and began to make a connection with the library.

 

* What do you need to have to make Design Thinking successful?]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 36:34
TEI 081: Innovation Wars & creating products customers want – with Scott Bales https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-081-innovation-wars-creating-products-customers-want-with-scott-bales/ Mon, 18 Jul 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5515 Listen to the Interview How can product managers help their organizations become more innovative? That is the topic of this discussion with the author of Innovation Wars: Driving Successful Corporate Innovation Programs. The author is Scott Bale, a technology & innovation evangelist. Scott has been a serial entrepreneur, speaker at TEDx, and now runs Innovation […] Listen to the Interview How can product managers help their organizations become more innovative? That is the topic of this discussion with the author of Innovation Wars: Driving Successful Corporate Innovation Programs. The author is Scott Bale,
How can product managers help their organizations become more innovative? That is the topic of this discussion with the author of Innovation Wars: Driving Successful Corporate Innovation Programs.
The author is Scott Bale, a technology & innovation evangelist. Scott has been a serial entrepreneur, speaker at TEDx, and now runs Innovation Labs Asia, based in Singapore. In the interview, Scott shares a model for helping organizations be more innovative that consists of 4 C’s:

* Context
* Culture development
* Capability, and
* Collaboration

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Your book Innovation Wars is a guide book for product managers to help their organizations become more innovative. It addresses several tools for taking the guess work out of creating and launching successful products. Let’s start by talking about how you get your customers to innovate for you. Can you tell us about that? Innovation is a very creative process. The reason to co-create with customers is to ensure you are building products that customers need and want. There are many examples of companies that have done this but that are not well-known for it, including Apple, Tesla, and Facebook. Also, look at the related problems or jobs customers need to solve. For example, when someone gets a mortgage, they likely will be moving and moving is painful. A bank that provided a mortgage that also helped you move would create a competitive advantage.


* How can we start with co-creating? I use a framework inspired from the world of Design Thinking that I call the 4 C model: Context, Culture development, Capability, and Collaboration. Co-creating is part of Capability. Start with what facts you know about your customer. Then identify their aspirations and goals – the job they need done. Knowing that, identify the obstacle or challenge in achieving the goal. Uncover what they have already tried to solve the problem and what their existing behaviors are. These are the early adopters who want to solve the problem but have not found a satisfactory solution yet and represents a persona to find early adopters.


* Can you take us through rest of the 4 C model? The first C is context – how do you structure yourself and create an environment for innovation. Next is Culture development, which is developing a culture of curiosity, experimentation, and the role of failure. Capability is the third C. This involves quantifying the value of an idea and the elements we discussed previously. Lean Startup practices can be used here. The final C is Collaboration – look for partners and others in the supply chain of a product to add value.


* What else do we need to know? We need to apply Assumption Exploration. This is where hypotheses are created and tested to better understand the customer problem. You need to examine what you are assuming about the customer problem and solution. Focus first on the assumptions with the deepest impact and risk and design an experiment to test these assumptions. Steve Blank’s work to test hypotheses is the basis of this exploration. Interviews with people representing the persona you created can be used to test hypotheses. If an assumption is wrong, refocus the persona or the problem to solve and test again. When conducting the assumption tests, look for patterns that invalidate or validate an assumption.

 
Useful links:

* Innovation Wars, Scott’s newest book
* Scott’s website
* Scott’s LinkedIn Profile

 
Innovation Quote
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TEI 080: Innovate like a startup – with Michael Docherty https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-080-innovate-like-a-startup-with-michael-docherty/ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5476 When established companies decide they need to be more innovative, they often talk in terms of acting more like a startup. But acting like a startup is much more challenging in reality, especially for larger organizations. Instead, established companies can partner with startups. Doing so is the topic of the book, Collective Disruption: How Corporations […] When established companies decide they need to be more innovative, they often talk in terms of acting more like a startup. But acting like a startup is much more challenging in reality, especially for larger organizations. Instead, I expect you’ll find value in the discussion if you have interests in innovation from either the startup perspective or the larger organization perspective.
In this interview you will learn what Collective Disruption is and the 4-stage framework for applying it:

* Discover,
* Define,
* Incubate, and
* Integrate.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Your book, Collective Disruption, is about transformative innovation. Let’s start with a definition of transformative innovation. Innovation is bringing new value to market. Let’s call core innovation all those things you need to do to keep your current business healthy and growing at least at a moderate rate. Transformative innovation involves disruptive opportunities, those things that are new business models and whole new sources of growth.

 

* How can startups help larger companies with transformative innovation? You first have to start with the question why do the large companies need help.  Consumers and customers expect more, there’s more competition and options, and product lifecycles are shrinking every year. One statistic talks about 75% of the current S&P 500 being off that list within the next 7 years. What we used to call permanent isn’t permanent anymore, and that’s why the old approach to innovation doesn’t work anymore – core innovation is not enough. Companies need to make transformative innovation a bigger part of their growth strategy. Here’s where startups come in. What makes established companies great are all of the systems and engines of growth they have around optimizing their brands and distribution and business models. But when it comes to starting something new, all of those things that help you optimize a big company, are the exact same things that get in your way in building new business models. That’s really why companies are looking to startups as a way to fuel growth.

 

* What are the benefits to the startup that gets involved with a larger company? First is to have a built-in exit partner. Next is to have a partner that can help you reverse engineer your startup in a way that in the end gives you a better result [examples are in the interview]. Another is that, especially for early-stage startups, the VC market is a very different than it was 10 years ago. Strategic investments from corporates can be a great alternative to that.

 

* You call this ability for startups to help larger companies with innovation “collective disruption”. You define a 4 stage framework for applying collective disruption. How does this work? It starts with Discover. The Discover phase is really around leveraging startups and the innovation ecosystem generally, as a way to fuel your strategy.  Companies should be  saying, “Let’s look at, based on the areas where we want to play, who are the key players in those spaces, and what relationships can we build in order to bring new competencies to the table?” So you start to think about developing an innovation strategy that isn’t just about what you can do well, but also about what other companies that you have relationships with or...]]>
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TEI 079: Cross the chasm using the target market model – with Chasm Institute’s Michael Eckhardt https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-079-cross-the-chasm-using-the-target-market-model-with-chasm-institutes-michael-eckhardt/ Mon, 04 Jul 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5438 I read Crossing the Chasm when it was published in 1991. The third edition was released last year, with updated examples of how companies successfully increased the market for their new products. The book introduced me to the “target market model,” which had a significant impact on how I thought about the relationship between product […] I read Crossing the Chasm when it was published in 1991. The third edition was released last year, with updated examples of how companies successfully increased the market for their new products. The book introduced me to the “target market model, To explore this model, I asked Michael Eckhardt to tell us about it and what it means to cross the chasm. He is a Managing Director & Senior Workshop Leader at Chasm Institute, a consultancy to tech companies.  He joined Chasm after careers at Price Waterhouse, Harbridge Consulting, HP and PepsiCo, and has since worked with over 90 tech-based businesses, spanning 500+ client engagements, over the past 15 years.
In this interview you will learn:

* the Chasm Institute market development model,
*  how to determine the specific stage of the product category your new product is competing in, and
* what is required to successfully move from one stage to the next in the target market model.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:



* What is the relationship between the Crossing the Chasm book by Geoffrey Moore and the Chasm Institute? Both have existed for more than 15 years. Moore is chairman of the Chasm Institute and I am the managing director. The latest edition of the Chasm book has 25 all new examples of recognizable companies that have crossed the chasm – taking technology and disruptive products to market and getting them into mainstream markets. The Chasm Institute helps high-tech teams learn, apply, and implement best practices in market development strategy.






* How does the Product Life Cycle model differ from Target Market model? The diagrams below are helpful to compare the models.



Product Life Cycle (PLC) Model

The PLC is in place in most companies. It is used by product managers and others in organizations to make decisions about launching a product, managing it, and obsoleting it.
 
Target Market Model

The Target Market model is about the product category stage the product is in and how mature that category is.  The stages of the model convey how customers’ buying behavior changes depending on product category maturity. The stages are (the interview includes product examples for the stages):

*
Early market – when the product category is new. 80% of the total customers’ requirements need to be fulfilled in the product. This is where a minimum viable product (MVP) is used to understand the needs of the customers.



*
Chasm – to cross the chasm, the 80% whole product from the Early Market must now develop into a 100% whole product. Not a perfect product, but 100% of what the pragmatist customer in the Bowling Alley needs to satisfy their compelling reason to buy (CRTB). This 100% whole product can be best thought of as: “Everything the pragmatist customer needs – and nothing they don’t need – to get their compelling reason to buy fulfilled, so they can confidently buy and use.”



*
Bowling Alley – the first pin or niche that the product can be a whole product for, then identifying adjacent niches that would also buy the product, knocking down niches (market segments) to create rapid growth.



*
Tornado – this is the stage of hyper growth that is characterized by not only offering a whole product but a friction-free product. This is one that is easy to buy, understand, and use.

]]>
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TEI 078: Traditional vs Agile project management for product managers–with Chuck Cobb https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-078-traditional-vs-agile-project-management-for-product-managers-with-chuck-cobb-phd/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5398 Listen to the Interview Project management is an important tool for product managers and an area where we have choices. I often hear Agile practitioners talk about the evils of more planned methodologies, like Waterfall and Stage-Gate. Like most things, these areas are not so black and white and the nuances are important. My guest, […] Listen to the Interview Project management is an important tool for product managers and an area where we have choices. I often hear Agile practitioners talk about the evils of more planned methodologies, like Waterfall and Stage-Gate. Project management is an important tool for product managers and an area where we have choices. I often hear Agile practitioners talk about the evils of more planned methodologies, like Waterfall and Stage-Gate. Like most things, these areas are not so black and white and the nuances are important. My guest, Chuck Cobb, is the perfect person to address these topics. He is the author of the best-selling book “The Project Manager’s Guide to Mastering Agile” as well as four other books on Agile Project Management and Business Excellence. He has also developed a very successful online training curriculum on Agile Project Management, including a free course he is offering to listeners.
In this interview you will learn:

* how to compare waterfall and agile approaches,
* the problems agile project management strives to solve,
* why both planned and adaptive approaches need to be used, and
* common issues encountered when adopting agile project management.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Let’s start by describing the two big general concepts we are discussing – traditional vs agile project management. To start with, waterfall and agile are widely misused terms. In a strict sense, waterfall was developed by Winston Royce in the 1970s. It means a phase-gate approach with approvals between phases. In today’s world when people say waterfall, the word is used loosely and generally it means anything that’s plan-driven and not agile. The term agile also has many different meanings to different people. Many people talk about agile as if it were a specific methodology. Scrum is very widely used and when people say agile they typically mean Scrum. So the word agile has some broad meanings as well. Many people see the choice between plan-driven and agile as mutually exclusive and that’s not accurate. It’s more like a continuous spectrum of alternatives from heavily plan-driven at one extreme to heavily adaptive at the other extreme. It’s more a matter of fitting the methodology to the project and to the business rather than force-fitting a project and a business to one of those extremes.


* When should a plan-driven approach be used? A plan-driven approach works in situations that have low levels of uncertainty, like building a bridge across a river. If you have a situation that is relatively straight-forward, it’s well-defined, it’s repeatable, a plan-driven approach is a good choice as you can take the lessons you’ve learned on one project and do better on the next project because it’s similar and follows the same model.


* When should agile be used? Agile works best in environments with high levels of uncertainty. An example is finding a cure for cancer. If you were to develop a project plan for finding a cure for cancer, it would be ridiculous to try to develop a detailed plan with schedule and cost information. There’s just too much uncertainty. It’s a wasted effort to try to develop a detailed plan. In that kind of situation, people are more concerned about the goal of finding a cure for cancer than they are about having a detailed cost and schedule breakdown of what it’s going to take to get there. It’s based on an empirical process control model. The word empirical means based on observation, meaning that as you go through the project, you’re continuously adjusting both the product and the process to complete the product.


* Often when waterfall and agile approaches are discussed, the conversation quickly becomes one of “waterfall is bad” and “agile is good.” Is it that simple? No, it’s not. Saying agile is better than waterfall is like saying a car is better than a boat. They are two different things, and each has advantages or disadvantages based on the env...]]>
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TEI 077: Scaling lean product management – with Ash Maurya https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-077-scaling-lean-product-management-with-ash-maurya/ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5359 Listen to the Interview I’m bringing back an incredible guest who I first interviewed way back in episode 10 – one of the first interviews I did. He wrote the step-by-step guide for implementing Lean startup practices, titled Running Lean, created the Lean Canvas tool, and blogs regularly about these topics at www.leanstack.com. His name […] Listen to the Interview I’m bringing back an incredible guest who I first interviewed way back in episode 10 – one of the first interviews I did. He wrote the step-by-step guide for implementing Lean startup practices, titled Running Lean, I’m bringing back an incredible guest who I first interviewed way back in episode 10 – one of the first interviews I did. He wrote the step-by-step guide for implementing Lean startup practices, titled Running Lean, created the Lean Canvas tool, and blogs regularly about these topics at www.leanstack.com.
His name is Ash Maurya. Now he has a new book about applying Lean Startup principles to go from new product concept to a product that is achieving predictable success with customers. The book is titled Scaling Lean: Mastering the Key Metrics for Startup Growth. And while it is written in the context of startup growth, the concepts apply to any product management effort that involves creating a new product or improving an existing one – from startups to large enterprises.
You will learn three aspects of scaling lean:

* Using metrics
* Prioritizing waste
* Practices to achieve success

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What have you discovered applying Lean practices that led to your new book, Scaling Lean? The last book came out of me struggling with the starting stages of a product: how do you go and deal with the market uncertainties that arise. A lot of it is based in firsthand experiential learning. Since it came out, I continued writing, I continued speaking, and then even went into teaching workshops. In doing so, there were a number of questions that repeatedly surfaced. Many of them were about what comes next. We know how to start with Lean canvases, how to describe a business model, how to build the minimum viable product, but as the team begins to grow, how do we practice Lean both as a methodology and as a process? As we start adding customers, we actually start getting pulled in many different directions. The questions I began to hear, and my own process of looking for answers, is how this second book came about.

 

* What examples do you cover in the book and which one can we focus on for our discussion? The examples in the book draw from case studies, retrospectively at times, looking at companies like Facebook, Tesla, AirBnB, Dropbox,  and HubSpot. I use them to illustrate a lot of the concepts. However, I always feel that it is a lot more tangible and practical for me to speak from firsthand experience, and in the book I address a product that I built using the techniques of Scaling Lean, called User Cycle. The domain is irrelevant. The point is I had built a home-grown system, I began socializing with a handful of potential customers, and then I went through the Scaling Lean process very rigorously.

 

* Running Lean shared metrics to monitor product/market fit. What are the Scaling Lean metrics? In the business plan [using the Lean Canvas] there’s both the business model story and the forecasting section where we do some Excel magic wizardry. I kind of joke because we go too far there like we do with the business plan and we start working with thousands of numbers when we don’t really need to. I was looking for a better way to estimate whether a business model is worth pursuing in the first place, beyond the story. Any useful metric must measure customer behavior. The metrics that I dive into in the book is what I call the Customer Factory Blueprint, heavily influenced by Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics [AARRR]. These are the acquisition, activation, referral, revenue and retention. Those are the five anchors of macrometrics that make sense. The more important thing is that with these five basic metrics, and sometimes even fewer, you can estimate a business model.

 

* What aspects of waste are important to recognize? A definition would be helpful. Waste is any human activity that consumes resources ...]]>
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TEI 076: Effectively pitching your ideas and influencing others – with Nancy Duarte https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-076-effectively-pitching-your-ideas-and-influencing-others-with-nancy-duarte/ Mon, 13 Jun 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5317 The 2016 Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey identified four skills that are responsible for a significant increase in personal income. Product managers that excel in these four areas earn 25% more than product managers who don’t. One of these skills is called “pitch artist” and is defined as, “the ability to stand up to […] The 2016 Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey identified four skills that are responsible for a significant increase in personal income. Product managers that excel in these four areas earn 25% more than product managers who don’t. Nancy is a communication expert who’s been featured in several publications including Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company. Her firm has created thousands of presentations for the world’s top institutions, including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, GE, Google, TED, and the World Bank and has taught many more people how to create effective presentations. She’s also the author of Resonate, Slide:ology, the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, and co-author of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols.
There was so much to cover that the interview is in two parts with each addressing a different topic.
In Part 1,  Nancy shares how product managers can effectively communicate ideas and influence others to support their ideas. She takes us on a journey through story telling, movies, and tribal traditions, sharing what it means to be an idea Torchbearer through five stages:

* dream,
* leap,
* fight,
* climb, and
* arrive.

I had a special co-host, Dr. John Latham, guide the discussion in Part 2.  Nancy shared her experience taking a small innovative company and scaling it without losing what makes it innovative.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Part 1: How Product Managers can Effectively Communicate

* How has your thinking on effectively communicating ideas evolved over time? My first writing on communicating dealt with the micro view – how to create effective and compelling slides. Over time I have examined the bigger picture. Illuminate zooms out beyond the presentation and connects with the purpose of the presentation, such as driving change and transforming a group or organization.


* You call innovators Torchbearers – why? [In Illuminate I shared…”Leaders aren’t just the people at the top of the org chart—a leader is anyone who can see a better future and rally people to reach it. Whether you’re an executive, entrepreneur, or individual contributor, you have the potential to motivate people through your words and actions.” Anyone involved with product management and innovation is certainly included in that list.] In fact, Illuminate is written for innovators and how they can influence others to join their plans. If we called them leaders, it wouldn’t really capture what we were trying to convey. We landed on torchbearers and travelers. We were actually inspired by Frodo [in Lord of the Rings] in the sense that he was the bearer of a ring and it came with a burden. You have to be called to be a leader but then you have to accept it, almost like a mantle, but so many people just pass it by. We really liked the concept of bearing a torch, because in situations where you need a torch, usually it’s dark and damp and scary and not well-lit and unknown. You don’t know where you’re going and you need a torch. A torch basically illuminates enough right in front of you to make the next few steps bearable and understandable. That’s what communication does. It casts just enough light for people to join you and say, “I could go there, that’s not that scary.” That’s why we really like this concept of torchbearer and travelers, because it’s a journey and the leader should be on the journey with the team and und...]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 47:09
TEI 075: Building product lifecycle excellence – with Kimberly Wiefling https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-075-building-product-lifecycle-excellence-with-kimberly-wiefling/ Mon, 06 Jun 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5277 Listen to the Interview This episode is about the product lifecycle and developing products customers want. As the pressure to get products to market faster increases, little room is left for learning through mistakes. My guest knows this well and has helped numerous companies improve their processes and results developing products. She has worked all […] Listen to the Interview This episode is about the product lifecycle and developing products customers want. As the pressure to get products to market faster increases, little room is left for learning through mistakes. This episode is about the product lifecycle and developing products customers want. As the pressure to get products to market faster increases, little room is left for learning through mistakes. My guest knows this well and has helped numerous companies improve their processes and results developing products. She has worked all over the US, Europe and Asia, including traveling to Japan more than 100 times to help Japanese companies globalize. Her superpower is bringing people with diverse backgrounds and cultures together, across borders and boundaries of every kind, to achieve what none could do alone.
Her name is Kimberly Wiefling and she shares the three elements needed for product excellence:

* executive sponsorship,
* cross-functional core teams, and
* the customer.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* We need a common understanding of what a product lifecycle is before we can begin understanding product lifecycle excellence. How do you define a product lifecycle?  A product lifecycle is some kind of system or process that helps you take an idea to a product or service, build it, test it, ship it and support it routinely in the hands of the customer. [Unlike the Product Life Cycle, which explains the life of a product in the market place from launch/introduction through decline and discontinuation.]


* What is the state of product lifecycle in most companies – what problems exist / what are the results? It’s really changed over the years. Back when I first started doing product development program leadership, there was a lack of process discipline, and there were people who felt that this was creativity and we couldn’t put boundaries on their creativity by having some kind of methodology. Then it swung to the other extreme with processes, phases, milestones and deliverables. Then we got agile and iterations and process discipline around it. So it’s gone the spectrum from no process to a whole lot of process which may or may not be adding value and is not always used correctly.


* What are the elements needed for PLC excellence? The three big areas you have are the executive sponsorship, the cross-functional core teams, and the customer.


* Why are executive sponsors important? They remove barriers, provide resources, and keep what is important to the organization reflected in the product. Executive sponsors also provide direction for the seemingly impossible. There’s a famous example of that where the head of Toyota at one point said we’re going to have a hybrid car. His engineers didn’t quite get that, and he came back again and again and said, no, we will have a car like this, I don’t care if it makes engineering sense, or even economic sense, or even if it makes ecological sense. We are going to be the thought leader in this area.


* The next element is cross-functional core teams. Tell us about that. You can’t just put together a product or a service like a Frankenstein, just stitched together. It will just be a monster. You need a cross-functional core team that is involved with the product concept at the beginning and stays together throughout the process, not handing the project off to others between stages of work. The core team provides continuity.


* What about the third element, the customer? You need to create something that, in the whole, has the qualities that are being looked for by the customer and the market. One tool to use to create what customers want is prototyping. I’ve worked with a lot of companies doing leadership development programs. Part of this is to form teams of four or five people that work on real projects. The projects that make the most progress are those that get something on paper, like a drawing, show it to the various stakeholders,]]>
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TEI 074: Content Marketing for Product Managers – with Jerod Morris https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-074-content-marketing-for-product-managers-with-jerod-morris/ Mon, 30 May 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5240 Listen to the Interview The topic for this episode is one I have wanted to explore for a long time – the connection between product management and content marketing. If you look at a recent marketing textbook, you’ll see sections that address product management and likely some coverage of content marketing as well. I have […] Listen to the Interview The topic for this episode is one I have wanted to explore for a long time – the connection between product management and content marketing. If you look at a recent marketing textbook, The topic for this episode is one I have wanted to explore for a long time – the connection between product management and content marketing. If you look at a recent marketing textbook, you’ll see sections that address product management and likely some coverage of content marketing as well. I have found similarities between the two and I went to the most authoritative source I know for content marketing – the folks at CopyBlogger, which is now Rainmaker Digital. They have been writing and teaching about content market for several years. My guest is VP of Marketing for Rainmaker Digital. He also creates educational content and digital products that help people develop and grow rewarding, profitable online businesses. The content he creates for Rainmaker Digital includes The Showrunner Podcast (with Jon Nastor) and The Digital Entrepreneur podcast (with Brian Clark).
His name is Jerod Morris and I hope you enjoy the discussion as much as I did, learning:

* what content marketing is,
* how content marketing and product management are similar, and
* applying content marketing to product management.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Let’s dive into an area that product managers and innovators need to know but few do – content marketing. Can you unpack that… what is content marketing? It’s free content to educate customers. It takes various forms, such as articles, videos, and podcasts that allow potential customers to get to know you or your product, then like you, then trust you.

 

* I would like to get your insights into a few of the fundamental concepts that cross content marketing and product management… namely, identifying a market that matters, understanding your customers’ problem, and validating a product concept. People can make a mistake with product development by first creating the product and then trying to fit it to a market after it is created. We teach the inverse of that, which is to identify a market, build an audience with participants in that market, and then use your relationship with that audience and the insights you gain from them to inform the development of your product. We can end up wasting time and money by developing something that people don’t want because we didn’t take the time to develop the relationship and listen to our audience.

 

* What are some ways content marketers learn about their customers/audience and problems they have that need solving? You begin with a notion of who your market is and over time learn more about them. Every single time you share a piece of content, it’s an opportunity for your target market, or your hypothesis of the target market, to interact with it and give you more information. You may realize that the people who are responding to this content are skewing in one direction or another. It can inform your choices and influence what you thought. It will give you much better insights into the market and their problems. Then with their responses you can adjust as you need to and figure out what you need to do differently, what you need to double-down on, and what may be missing that is an opportunity for you to create a product to fill that need. It’s all about getting feedback from the audience.

 

* Once we have a product concept that might solve a customer problem, how can we validate it really meets their needs? Once you have a minimum viable product, you need to get your audience to use it and provide feedback. The feedback mechanisms are straight forward and include emails, phone calls, forums, and social media (such as private Facebook groups).

 
Useful links:

* Rainmaker Digital,]]>
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TEI 073: The pulse of product management and 4 skills that match a 25% increase in pay – with Rebecca Kalogeris https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-073-the-pulse-of-product-management-and-4-skills-that-match-a-25-increase-in-pay-with-rebecca-kalogeris/ Mon, 23 May 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5194 I have a great guest, Rebecca Kalogeris, to help us understand the pulse of product management. We discussed a number of factors, such as what department product management reports to in companies and what product managers say the future holds for the profession of product management, but I was most interested to learn the 4 […] I have a great guest, Rebecca Kalogeris, to help us understand the pulse of product management. We discussed a number of factors, such as what department product management reports to in companies and what product managers say the future holds for the ... Rebecca is the Vice President of Marketing for Pragmatic Marketing. Prior to joining Pragmatic Marketing, Rebecca managed product management and marketing teams at a variety of software companies. I invited Rebecca to discuss the findings from Pragmatic Marketing’s 16th Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is the purpose of the Product Management and Marketing Survey? We run the survey every year to learn what’s changing, what’s staying the same, and where the problems are. The survey data gives us insights to the people we serve.


* What’s the story behind this year’s theme – comic book super heroes? When you’re creating products, really great products that delight and sell, it’s a herculean effort. Behind that effort in most companies are the product teams, but they’re often the unsung heroes. A lot of our own family and friends don’t really understand what we do.  That hero image and their secret identity, that combination of things match up with what product management and product marketing people do and who they are – superheroes.


* What do you know about the people who participated in the survey? We had 2549 people respond to the survey. They were from 57 countries and 45 states. Most have 10+ years of experience. 35% had been product owners before becoming a product manager while 21% joined product management from a sales role. 42% have a graduate degree and 71% hold at least one professional certification.


* Where are they spending most of their time – on what tasks? About 75% of their time is on tactical tasks, which includes putting out fires. 20% of their time is supporting Sales – answering questions and conducting product demonstrations. Only 5 hours/month is spent interviewing customers. We also learned that less than 20% of respondents are doing win/loss analysis. With 75% of their time on tactical activities, 25% is spent on strategic activities – creating business plans, conducting market research identifying potential future partners, and the like. We asked how they would like to spend their time and they want a 50/50 split between strategic and tactical activities.


* I saw a number of so-called soft skills in the findings, such as consensus building, empathy, and inspiring others. Which are most valued? We identified 7 skills that together we call the it factor. That’s when you know a person is going to go somewhere because they’ve got it. Four skills stand out in an important way – they were correlated with a 25% increase in earnings and those who had them were twice as likely to be an executive. The four skills are:

* Pitch artist – the ability to present and sell your ideas and conclusions.
* Exec debater — being the president of the product and standing up for what is needed and challenging executive teams.
* Inspire others — great products are built by great teams but these aren’t necessarily teams that product managers personally manage. Instead, product managers need to inspire them and share the vision of the product.
* Truth to power – being good at raising inconvenient truths and not running away from an unpopular message.




* What did the participants say the future of product management looks like? Businesses need to be agile and the use of Agile methodologies is not just fo...]]>
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TEI 072: The 7Ps of successful consumer products – with designer and CEO Tracy Hazzard https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-072-the-7ps-of-successful-consumer-products-with-designer-and-ceo-tracy-hazzard/ Mon, 16 May 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5155 My guest, Tracy Hazzard, is known as the “Product Whisperer.” She is CEO of industrial design firm Hazz Design and the co-designer of many consumer products you buy at retail stores every day. Tracy is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and for more than 20 years she has been creating for […] My guest, Tracy Hazzard, is known as the “Product Whisperer.” She is CEO of industrial design firm Hazz Design and the co-designer of many consumer products you buy at retail stores every day. Tracy is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design an... Among the topics discussed is her 7P process to successfully designing and launching consumer products:

* Prove It – concept has a market
* Plan It – best plan for project
* Price It – competitive products and margins
* Prototype It – design and prototype
* Protect It – provisional IP protection
* Predict It – sales forecasting
* Produce It – make it real

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* As an innovator and designer who has contributed to 250+ consumer products, what is a product category you especially enjoyed working on and why? I’ve done a lot of office chairs and got my start working at Herman Miller on the original mesh structural chair that became synonymous with the tech boom. I’ve also worked on a lot of products for kids as well as gaming accessories.


* What has your experience taught you about “right-fitting” a product or service? The concept of the MVP – minimal viable product – places too much emphasis on minimal. It’s the least you can do for someone and I want to provide the most value that someone cares about. So I call it maximum valuable product. I don’t want to embed it with tons of bloat and tons of features just to be feature-heavy, but I really want to have it have the maximum impact value, the maximum design impact that my target consumer wants. That is what it means to “right-fit” a product.


* Where do we get started – what are the steps to product right-fitting? There are 7 Ps to right-fitting. The first is Prove It. We’re proving that the concept has a market — that the right product and the right market have a match together. We start with a hypothesis with what we believe might be the key feature, or one or two of them, and we test each and see how they work and how they resonate. Prove It is market research, competitive research and social research.


* Tell us about the next step – Plan It.  That’s where we really lay out the best plan for the process. We plan out on paper all of the launch process for that product. We spend a lot of time on this step making sure it’s dialed in and right.


* Third is Price It. We haven’t made anything yet and we’re already figuring out the price, but that’s because if you can’t get the right price, then it’s not a right fit. Price makes choices for us in materials, it determines the key design criteria and key product criteria that we’re going to go forward with. It also influences what we keep and what we don’t in the other features.


* Next is Prototype It. We try to work in almost any material that is necessary for the product. So if it’s got fabric on it, it’s got to be upholstered and we use an upholstery shop. We have built our own sort of resource team there, where we can have pretty much anything. So we can have glass made, we can have plastics made, we can see inside something, we can laser-cut something, we can bend metal. We can do whatever we need there, including paint it so it looks right.


* Then comes Protect It. We don’t go for patenting unless we absolutely have to. We’ll file a provisional at this stage. With the retail cycles in product categories, you want to wait as long as possible before you start revealing details.

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TEI 071: How product managers can conduct Voice of the Customer research- with Gerry Katz https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-071-how-product-managers-can-conduct-voice-of-the-customer-research-with-gerry-katz/ Mon, 09 May 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5114 This discussion is about Voice of the Customer (VOC). When it comes to VOC experts, there are only a handful of people that match the experience of my guest today, helping hundreds of companies with VOC research and training many more practitioners. His name is Gerry Katz. He is also the author of several published […] This discussion is about Voice of the Customer (VOC). When it comes to VOC experts, there are only a handful of people that match the experience of my guest today, helping hundreds of companies with VOC research and training many more practitioners. This discussion is about Voice of the Customer (VOC). When it comes to VOC experts, there are only a handful of people that match the experience of my guest today, helping hundreds of companies with VOC research and training many more practitioners.
His name is Gerry Katz. He is also the author of several published papers on the topic, a contributor to professional books, guest lecturer at MIT, Harvard, and other top schools.
 
During the interview, you’ll hear us discuss:

* what VOC is and is not,
* the 4-step approach for using VOC, and
* tips for conducting VOC interviews.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is VOC? In a nutshell, it is the process of gathering and understanding customer needs. While that sounds ridiculously simplistic, it actually isn’t. There are so many pitfalls, or so many rookie mistakes that people make in trying to understand customer needs, that an entire science has grown up around this area.


* What is not VOC but is often mistaken for it? To start with, it’s not asking what customers want. If you ask Mr. or Mrs. Customer, tell me what you want, tell me what you need, the customer thinks they’re supposed to go into solution mode and start describing the exact features and the exact solutions they want. Now, unfortunately most customers aren’t all that creative, and so all they do is play back features and solutions that already exist in the marketplace. If you take that as your guidance, almost by definition, you will never do better than a me-too product. Instead, a much better approach is to ask about customer’s experiences. Another misunderstanding is thinking of VOC as any kind of market research. VOC is actually a subset of the entire field of market research. VOC also is treated as a means of measuring customer satisfaction, but that is not its purpose. Other tools, such as the Net Promoter Score, measure satisfaction.


* What are the roots of VOC?  John Houser published a famous paper called The House of Quality, which was the first important English language description of a Japanese product development technique called QFD, or Quality Function Deployment. In order to do QFD, you have to start off with a detailed list of customer needs. Abby Griffin, a dissertation student of John’s, decided a good doctoral dissertation would be to study how companies understand customer needs in support of new product development and innovation. Her dissertation won the thesis prize at MIT and her and John turned it into the journal paper that essentially coined the term and created the field. The paper was published in 1993 in the journal titled Marketing Science. In the paper, they offered a four-part definition of Voice of the Customer. I won’t go into great detail, because we only have a half hour, but the parts are a (1) detailed list of customer wants and needs, (2) expressed in the customers’ own words, (3) organized into a hierarchy, and (4) prioritized by the customer.


* How can a product manager conduct VOC research? It starts off with a series of one-on-one interviews. We conduct face-to-face interviews, and in some cases they have to be done by telephone. You will create 2-3 times as many needs if you record the interviews, transcribe them, and then analyze from a transcript, as opposed to the more usual process of note-taking, even if a colleague records needs while you interview. After conducting 30-40 interviews and transcribing them, it’s time to pull out the needs – perhaps around 100 unique needs — from the transcriptions and enter them into a database. Then create an affinity diagram of the needs by associating related needs into groupings called buckets. Abby’s research showed that customers are likely to affinitize differently from the way researchers...]]>
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TEI 070: Innovation and product management at Chick-fil-A – with Steve Nedvidek https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-070-innovation-and-product-management-at-chick-fil-a-with-steve-nedvidek/ Mon, 02 May 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5072 I visited a few dozen Chick-fil-A restaurants across several states while I was on a year-long RV trip interviewing innovators. It was one of several restaurants I frequented. I was surprised and delighted with the consistently pleasant customer experience. That level of consistency is difficult for any chain of restaurants to achieve. It is one […] I visited a few dozen Chick-fil-A restaurants across several states while I was on a year-long RV trip interviewing innovators. It was one of several restaurants I frequented. I was surprised and delighted with the consistently pleasant customer experi... At the end of the interview Steve shared that Chick-fil-A is a case study in Nancy Duarte’s new book, Illuminate, which shares the steps for effectively communicating your ideas and getting others to support them. Nancy will be a guest in a future interview.
In this interview we discuss:

* The relationship between improv acting and innovation
* Three questions to increase organizational innovation
* How “Hatch” – the Chick-fil-A innovation lab – is used
* Design Thinking influences at Chick-fil-A

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Many people are interested in what it takes to be an innovation leader. What was your path to becoming responsible for building the innovation muscles at Chick-fil-A?  I started as an associate producer in the training video area, utilizing some of my background in theater and communications. I then moved to marketing for about 16 years in a variety of roles. In 2010 I started to focus on innovation as a discipline for Chick-fil-A and became part of a group that was committed to building the innovation muscle at Chick-fil-A. I’ve been a part of the innovation dialogue since then. My primary job right now is helping us learn how to coach, train, and socialize innovation in the organization so that we stimulate progress as well as preserve the core of the business.


* How did your work in theater and improv influence your work and innovation? I have my master’s in theater and I always wanted to use my creativity either in an advertising agency or somehow in the arts world. When I joined Chick-fil-A, I didn’t know how I was going to make that work. But I have parlayed my theater experience into a very nice career of spreading creativity in every role that I have had at Chick-fil-A by just asking the questions of “what if” versus “what is.” That is a very powerful question for innovators – “what if.”


* What actions have you taken to increase innovation at Chick-fil-A? We first had to understand the current state of innovation in the organization – how people thought about innovation. We surveyed employees and asked three very important questions:

* What is innovation?  We learned there was no common definition or process in place.
* Do we have a culture of innovation? Instead of a culture of innovation we had a culture of continuous improvement.
* Why or why not? We had a culture that feared failure and was unsure what would happen if an employee failed.



We created classes, that we still teach monthly, about the meaning of innovation to us and our processes for innovation. We went to d.school and learned about Design Thinking. We also created Hatch, a dedicated innovation environment.

* Tell us about Hatch. We opened Hatch, an 80,000 square feet facility, on 12-12-2012 to be a place where we can try out new ideas, create prototypes, bring in customers for feedback, and safely innovate without the fear of failure. It is the place where we try new things, fail,]]>
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TEI 069: 4 reasons you should expand to an educational market- with Product Manager Bill Cullen https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-069-3-reasons-you-should-expand-to-an-educational-market-with-product-manager-bill-cullen/ Mon, 25 Apr 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5043 If you want your own BB-8 droid, you can buy one from Sphero, a company in Boulder, CO. BB-8 is the adorable droid in Star Wars, The Force Awakens. It is a round ball that rolls across the ground with a head that always stays on top of the ball. Sphero fuses robotic and digital […] If you want your own BB-8 droid, you can buy one from Sphero, a company in Boulder, CO. BB-8 is the adorable droid in Star Wars, The Force Awakens. It is a round ball that rolls across the ground with a head that always stays on top of the ball. Sphero fuses robotic and digital technology into an immersive entertainment experience. They make other droids besides BB-8. The original product is named after the company – Sphero. It is basically a white sphere a little lager than a pool cue ball that you control with your smartphone to roll around the room and play games with. I bought one after seeing it in a Discovery store.
In 2014 the company did something really smart – they started creating education curriculum that teaches kids how to code using a Sphero device. What started as a meetup for kids to learn about robtoics and coding is now an expanding library of free lessons for teachers and students. And, in the process of learning how to code, the lessons also teach about music, engineering, math, science, art, writing, and more. They have found a way to bring learning and playing together. This educational program is called SPRK (spark).
The product manager for SPRK is Bill Cullen and I had the pleasure of talking with him about the SPRK program.
In this interview, you will hear the benefits of incorporating an education market into your product plans, including…

* expanding the overall market,
* creating passionate customers,
* increasing speed of innovation through community involvement, and
* adding community-generated products.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Tell us about the SPRK program – how it got started and what its purpose is? SPRK stands for schools, parents, robots, kids. SPRK started as a meet-up for kids called Sphero Rangers. We noticed that as more kids participated, one of the things they always wanted to do was program the robot. Over time, as the product came to market, everyone spent extra time having meetups with interested kids or educators to program the robots. It developed over time to more people being interested and we created some really rudimentary mobile apps to program the robots. That was the beginning of the SPRK program. I added a community and a platform that we’re calling the Lightning Lab that we launched recently. It’s a place for people to share what they’ve programmed for the robot and projects that they’ve done. Educators can create and find structured content to bring into the classroom.



* What are your responsibilities as the product manager for SPRK? I’m involved on both hardware and software aspects of our product lines. On the hardware side, I manage our current product in both the retail and educational channels and contribute to the design of the next version. We have a team of hardware and electrical engineers that I work with directly to do prototyping and refine the industrial design to get the product completed. On the software side there’s a huge amount of innovation in the last year and this coming year, too, because of the community we’ve built. On the software side we are building the tools to make programming for Sphero in a way that people are inspired to share what they have done and put it all in the same place so that it’s easily accessible for anyone. We’re on that journey right now with Lightning Lab. If you have a robot and you’re just a retail customer, and you bought it to go play with, you can have that experience, but you can also download the Lightning Lab app. And here’s the Easter Egg – the app lets you program any of our products, not just the Sphero SPRK edition.


* Product managers are innovators and business people. From a business perspective, how has SPRK – entering the education market – impacted the overall comp...]]>
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TEI 068: Making product concepts easy to understand- with Lee LeFever https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-068-making-product-concepts-easy-to-understand-with-lee-lefever/ Mon, 18 Apr 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=5023 Product managers must be effective communicators. We have ideas and product concepts to share, but the best idea will fall flat if not properly explained in terms our audience understands and appreciates. Further, if the idea is complicated, we have to find ways to make it easy to understand.   This is the world that […] Product managers must be effective communicators. We have ideas and product concepts to share, but the best idea will fall flat if not properly explained in terms our audience understands and appreciates. Further, if the idea is complicated,  
This is the world that my guest, Lee LeFever operates in. He is the author of The Art of Explanation – Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand.
 
In this interview, Lee shares the 3-step approach to explaining any product idea – the 3Ps of…

* planning,
* packaging, and
* presenting.

 
Lee has also made a free eCourse available for learning how to share your ideas in ways that audiences fall in love with them. The free eCourse is called Explainer’s Secret Weapon.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Product managers always need to explain ideas clearly, but there are two times that are most challenging and most important – explaining a new product concept to stakeholders, especially those who fund projects, and explaining a new product to customers. Is your framework applicable to both situations? Absolutely because they both require you to think really hard about your audience and empathize with them. That’s what I mean by thinking hard about your audience – empathy is something that has to be part of your process because explanations live or die based on how they’re perceived by your audience. Put yourself in their shoes and think, how is this going to sound to them. The problem is, when we’re busy, when we’re under pressure, when we have deadlines, that sometimes falls by the wayside and we revert back to the language that worked for us in other settings. I think you’ve really got to get out of your head and into somebody else’s head to make communication effective.


* Let’s discuss the three components of your framework – the 3 P’s: Plan, Package, Present. What steps do product managers take to plan for such a communication? Planning is thinking about a situation and asking questions about what you are communicating. Sure, you’ll consider if the information is factually correct, that it is the right information to communicate, this it is branded correctly, etc. But there’s a question that is THE question… is this understandable? Are you using familiar language that people are going to actually be able to understand? That’s the real message of the plan part of developing explanation is making understanding a priority and being very intentional about that. To plan correctly, consider these three guidelines:



* Anticipate needs of the audience
* Focus on the purpose you wish to achieve
* Ask if your message is understandable to the audience



* What is involved in the second P, Package? Packaging is the process of looking at the facts and the information you want to communicate and then figuring out a way or thinking through how to put that information into a world the audience will understand. An example that I use for this is superstitions and fables. Fables are a great example. Sometimes I say, “do you really think it’s bad luck to walk under a ladder, or is it really just not a good idea?” I think it’s really just not a good idea, but it doesn’t work just to tell someone they shouldn’t walk under a ladder. You have to repackage it and turn it into something that’s actually useful for them. I think there’s a lot of ways to repackage ideas, but the things that are most effective is to look at the facts you’re trying to communicate and ask what’s the context? Is there a story that you can tell or an anecdote that you can use to explain these f...]]>
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TEI 067: Master the product manager interview – with interviewing coach Charles Du https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-067-master-the-product-manager-interview-with-interviewing-coach-charles-du/ Mon, 11 Apr 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4984 In this interview you are going to learn simple structures for answering product management interview questions. This is useful for anyone wanting to start a career in product management or making a move to another company as well as for product leaders who interview candidates. My guest, Charles Du (Do), is a UX Designer, SCRUM […] In this interview you are going to learn simple structures for answering product management interview questions. This is useful for anyone wanting to start a career in product management or making a move to another company as well as for product leader... My guest, Charles Du (Do), is a UX Designer, SCRUM practitioner, and award-winning product manager and coach. He led the design of NASA’s first iPhone app, which received NASA’s software of the year award.
Charles teaches product management in many venues and I tracked him down after I saw a course he recently launched on Udemy titled “Master the Product Manager Interview.”
In this interview, you’ll learn:

* what your first response should be to any scenario question,
* how to respond to any general question,
* three steps for the perfect answer to estimation questions, and
* five steps for the perfect answer to product vision questions.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* You have taught product management classes in the past and have now created training for doing well in interviews for a product management job. How did this new training come about? In addition to teaching online, I also teach in-person product management workshops. I found that students often asked about getting product management jobs. Questions like how they can ace an interview and what are common questions? I realized that there are many different types of questions that interviewers ask and that I could teach how to answer the questions in a really easy to consume course.


* Who is the training for? It is valuable for anyone pursuing product management positions. The examples I use are from the software industry, but the structured responses I teach apply to product management, not to specific industries.


* We don’t have time to go through all types of questions that may be asked in an interview – which one should product managers who are interviewing master first?  That is the MIQ – the Most Important Question. It is actually a question the candidate will ask during the interview. At the beginning of every interview, you’ll be asked some type of question like, tell me about your background, or walk me through your experience. This is where you fit in the MIQ. Reply with,  “I’d be happy to share my background, but before I start, can I ask, what are the top 3 qualities you look for in ideal candidates?” The MIQ is basically a question that the candidate asks, to flush out all the things that the interviewer cares about. The reason that this is really important is because the earlier you ask this question, the more contextual you can make all your answers during the rest of the interview.


* What are the 3 qualities that employers typically look for? I have not found a lot of variety in how the interviewer responds to the MIQ question. They usually are looking for someone with product vision, execution ability, and leadership skills – these are the 3 big buckets. Knowing this, you can prepare examples from your past experiences that fit into each one of these buckets.


* What is an estimation question and how do you structure a response to one? An example is, “how many golf balls can you fit into a bathroom?” The interviewer wants to see your thought process – they are not looking for a right answer to the question but are examining your analysis skills. The perfect response is structured in 3 steps:


* Clarify the question. Ask details, such as what is in the bathroom, is it in a one-bedroom apartment or luxury house, etc.
* Provide a rough estimate that is structured with variables and an equation. The variables would be the volume of the bathroom, the volume of everything in the bathroom,]]>
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TEI 066: Conducting customer research – with co-founder Jane Boutelle https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-066-conducting-consumer-research-with-co-founder-jane-boutelle/ Mon, 04 Apr 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4942 Need a better customer research approach? This is the interview to listen to. My guest has an impressive background in product management, having served in product manager roles at Apple, Intuit, and other companies before co-founding a company that solves an important problem for product managers—getting the voice of the customer in a timely and […] Need a better customer research approach? This is the interview to listen to. My guest has an impressive background in product management, having served in product manager roles at Apple, Intuit, and other companies before co-founding a company that so... In this interview Jane shares some of the problems product managers encounter when conducting and then sharing customer research data as well as how to improve these processes.
In this interview, you’ll learn:

* how customer research is often piecemeal
* the need to have a 360 understanding of customers, and
* ways to create an online customer community as an advisory board.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Since you co-founded a company dealing with the voice of the customer, let’s start with your experiences with market research and uncovering the voice of the customer. I was the first product manager at Intuit for Quickbooks. We used ethnography to better understand our customers in their own homes.  It was called “follow-me-home” and I learned a lot in the process. However, in many organizations the consumer research work comes in little bits and pieces that doesn’t provide a cohesive picture and takes too long. Often what the last customer says is what is most heard. Also, many people in organizations don’t have the opportunity to get as close to customers as they want to.  A window to accurately view the customer is needed.


* Your company, Digsite, must address some of these customer research issues – what problem was Digsite created to solve? It’s all about understanding customers, differences in market segments, their actual needs, how they are responding to your offerings and those of competitors… what really makes customers tick.  We developed a custom system for creating online communities for consumer research that empowers companies to really know their customers.


* What are product managers at a medium to large-size companies likely missing in their approach to customer research? We are seeing a few things. Companies doing good ethnographic research find that it tends to be expensive and time consuming. Usability testing is frequently encountered and companies are using good online platforms for that, but in the process, they are missing a 360 degree view of customer – what really makes them tick. They need to move beyond usability testing to really understand consumers.


* What does customer research look like using Digsite? We create a community of customers for the product team and organization to learn from. We recruit customers for the community based on the product team’s objectives. It is essentially a little advisory team that the product team has access to throughout the product development project. Communities are typically 20-25 representative customers but can be up to 100 people. We conduct Digsite Sprints where a company can get critical feedback and insights in just a week.


* Product managers are always learning and I expect you have learned a lot as Digsite has grown – what is an insight about customer research you have discovered while at Digsite? We really need to make sure that we’re thinking about research, not as an end, but as a real means to understand. It is important not to let the research process get in the way of  what you’re trying to accomplish. The thing that I’ve seen at Digsite is that we can give an organization a research capability that aligns with their business needs and answers the questions they need to ask about their customers.

 
Useful links:

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TEI 065: Keeping innovation simple – with Brad Barbera https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-065-keeping-innovation-simple-with-brad-barbera/ Mon, 28 Mar 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4897 Just about every CEO talks about innovation but making it happen in their organizations is not easy. My guest agrees – stating that innovation is not easy, but it is simple. And, to show us how simple innovation can be, he just released the book, “Keep Innovation Simple: Lead with Clarity and Focus in a […] Just about every CEO talks about innovation but making it happen in their organizations is not easy. My guest agrees – stating that innovation is not easy, but it is simple. And, to show us how simple innovation can be, he just released the book, He is a speaker, writer, consultant, trainer, and coach for innovation and product management leaders. His new book is available on Amazon and the eBook version contains frequent links to videos, websites, research reports, and more. You can review portions of the book at no cost on his website at www.3point14innovation.com.
In the following interview you will learn the 3 C’s to keep innovation simple:

* Creation,
* Conversion, and
* Control.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Why did you write this book – Keep Innovation Simple? There were three reasons that really drove me to write it. From my experience with the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), I knew a lot of great thought leaders, great academics doing wonderful research, and it seemed to be hard to get the results of their research into the hands of innovators and companies. The second reason is when organizations try to do innovation projects they often over-complicate things. Lastly, I read a lot of business books and the vast majority of them take themselves way too seriously. I wanted to write a book that readers could have a little fun with.


* How do you define innovation? I define innovation as the intersection of three overlapping areas – novelty, value, and execution. All three are needed for innovation to occur. Novelty means you’re offering something new. Value means it provides benefit to its users. Execution means it is created in a manner that mutually benefits both its users and its developers.


* In the book you make a distinction between innovation best practices and evidence-based practices – tell us about the difference. The challenge that I found while developing the book was that there really is no such thing as a best practice. Because innovative organizations are always improving how they innovate, if something is a best practice today, it may be a second or third best practice tomorrow. Also, what works at my organization may not be what works at your organization. So it’s best practice for me, but not necessarily best practice for you. Finally, there’s a whole lot of things that people think they know but that really aren’t true. So I changed my approach from calling it a best practice to evidenced-based practices. What I’ve tried to deliver are the results of objective, peer-reviewed, rigorous research that has gone into what separates the people who really do well with innovation and those who don’t.


* You address innovation in terms of 3 C’s – creation, conversion, and control. What do you mean by control? Together, I called the three C’s the innovation engine. The first C is control and it consists of four parts. You start with a mission, move on to culture, then to strategy, and then portfolio management. You have to do them in that order because they build on each other. Mission is really why your organization exists and what you’re trying to achieve. Culture is the operating system of how your organization functions. Strategy is the how of achieving the why in the mission. We know what we want to do, this is how we’re going to go about doing it. Portfolio management are the projects we’re actually going to be working on and how we’re going to apply resources to those projects.


* Tell us about the next C, creation. Creation has three pieces.]]>
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TEI 064: Help your product team go fast using Lean Startup practices – with Tristan Kromer https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-064-help-product-team-go-fast-lean-startup-practices-tristan-kromer/ Mon, 21 Mar 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4858 Product managers and innovators are using Lean Startup practices to create products customers love. But, many product managers are still learning about the right ways to apply Lean Startup to their work. To find some answers, I interviewed Tristan Kromer. His bio shares that he “helps product teams go fast.” He does this by coaching […] Product managers and innovators are using Lean Startup practices to create products customers love. But, many product managers are still learning about the right ways to apply Lean Startup to their work. To find some answers, With his remaining hours, Tristan volunteers his time with Lean Startup Circle and blogs at GrasshopperHerder.com.
In this discussion, you will learn about:

* prioritizing product features,
* tools to validate product concepts, and
* what customers value.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* A few milestones in your past include a philosophy undergrad, being a bandleader and music producer, Marketing VP, and a startup co-founder. What is the thread through your experiences that led to Lean coaching? Except for philosophy, they all have creativity in common. The music industry is shockingly similar to the tech industry. It’s basically a bunch of people running around claiming to be rock stars of one form or another and trying to become famous while desperately looking for money . You have the same types of personalities and the same product development problems. They both want to bridge the gap between your delusions about what the world wants, your reality distortion field, your inward facing reality distortion field, and what people actually want and desire. So it’s a question of bridging that gap.


* Why is there so much interest in Lean principles from startups and organizations of all sizes? One reason is because it’s the latest buzzword and bestselling book by the same name. Eric Ries is absolutely brilliant and does amazing things that appear magical but are not.  We have successful disruptive companies, such as Dropbox, who have used it, adding to the interest.


* If we have a concept for a product but have done nothing else yet, what is the first thing we should do? I want to reframe the question. The job of a startup is to find a repeatable business model. A startup is any sort of organization that exists in a highly uncertain and risky environment or situation. Because of that, a startup has to essentially identify risks and eliminate them as quickly as possible. Knowing if customers will buy the product or not is a key risk area that is often considered.  Several tools can be used to determine if customers will commit to buying the product (a few are discussed by name). But that is only one area of risk. Once that is addressed, there may be technical risk, distribution risk, product use risk, etc. Clearly addressing risk leads to a repeatable business model.


* What is an example of addressing risk? Let’s talk about evaluative experiments. If you have a clear hypothesis about who your customer is and what they want, you can run an experiment that will give you a relatively clear answer. For example, say my target segment is skateboarders who are 20 years old and had a broken arm within the past three weeks. My product concept is a magical cast that heals their broken arm in half the time of traditional casts. My hypothesis is that if I show them a specific landing page, they will purchase the product – a simple if-this-then-that hypothesis. I set a fail condition for the hypothesis to be 20% – if less than 20% commit to purchasing, the hypothesis fails.  I show that landing page to one hundred skateboarders. If less than 20% sign up, clearly this product is a bad idea or it’s unbelievable.


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TEI 063: Product management in large and small companies – with Ellen Chisa https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-063-product-management-in-large-and-small-companies-with-ellen-chisa/ Mon, 14 Mar 2016 11:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4823 Product management work changes from company to company and from one industry to the next. A key factor influencing the work is the size of the organization. Product managers at a large company like Microsoft will have a different scope of responsibilities than a product manager in a small startup.  To explore these differences and […] Product management work changes from company to company and from one industry to the next. A key factor influencing the work is the size of the organization. Product managers at a large company like Microsoft will have a different scope of responsibili... In this interview, you will learn:

* Differences working as a product manager in large and small companies.
* What is rewarding about the work in organizations of very different sizes.
* The challenges product managers can expect based on size of the company.

During the discussion with Ellen I made an error attributing the quote, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late,” to the wrong person. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Founder, made this important statement. My apologies to Reid!
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:
What was most rewarding in your work as product (program) manager at Microsoft? At Microsoft the role is aligned with marketing and involves getting into the technical details for what should be developed. Their product managers must have very good technical skills. The most rewarding aspect of working in a large organization with a large customer base is the number of people your work impacts. You may be making a small change to a product but that change impacts a very large number of users, making their day better. Also, you get a lot of practice with the fundamentals of product management because you have time to go through the process the way it is supposed to be done, considering the problem more deeply, who are the stakeholders, who do I need to coordinate with, etc.
What are some challenges product managers face in large enterprises? I never could tell the impact I was making in the organization versus other product managers. The scope of control is limited. The requirements are pretty specific by the time they get to a product manager. Also, I would see some stakeholders infrequently compared to a start-up environment. For example, I would have a legal review once a year and not coordinate with the legal team outside of that review.
Now for the other side of the spectrum – what is your role at the startup and what do you like? The startup is Lola Travel. I started as an intern as part of my Harvard Business School MBA program. My technical and business background was what they needed. The role is so much fun because you have large impacts on the product. We rapidly iterate product versions, getting customer feedback between each one. This creates a near-continuous feedback loop which I find rewarding. I see how my work is directly making a difference in the product and to  customers.
What are the challenges working in the startup?  I tend to be a perfectionist and have to decide what are the most important aspects of a product to address and which ones must wait. It is also a balance between deciding when some part of the product is “good enough” and when another one must be excellent. We try to keep the focus on the user when making these decisions and judging what wi...]]>
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TEI 062: Stage-Gate, agile Stage-Gate, and innovation tools used by 80% of the Fortune 1000 – with Mitch Kemp of Stage-Gate International https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-062-stage-gate-agile-stage-gate-and-innovation-tools-used-by-80-of-the-fortune-1000-with-mitch-kemp-of-stage-gate-international/ Mon, 07 Mar 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4778 One of the frequent topics I am asked about is processes for new product development. Sometimes the topic is approached from the perspective of an innovation framework, which includes how ideas are discovered for product concepts, or it is focused on developing a concept into a product. Both are addressed by the Stage-Gate system. Stage-Gate […] One of the frequent topics I am asked about is processes for new product development. Sometimes the topic is approached from the perspective of an innovation framework, which includes how ideas are discovered for product concepts, To explore Stage-Gate, I interviewed Mitch Kemp. He is the Managing Director of Stage-Gate International for their business in the United States. Mitch is a Stage-Gate practitioner and coach, specializing in enterprise transformation, strategy, and high value results. He has a broad industry background that includes industrial manufacturing, high tech, financial services and government, working with well-recognized companies across the globe.
In this interview, you will learn:

* who uses Stage-Gate and why
* framework basics, and
* adding agility to Stage-Gate.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:
 

* How did Stage-Gate come into existence?  Stage-Gate has a 30 year history. It started with Dr. Bob Cooper and Dr. Scott Edgett’s  fundamental research on what makes companies better innovators. The results of that research was a set of best practices that  evolved into what we know commonly as Stage-Gate. But really, there are four key drivers that we found to drive innovation results. One is of course the Stage-Gate process. The other drivers are innovation strategy, portfolio management, and innovation culture. Together, those four drivers create our Innovation Performance Framework with Stage-Gate as the foundation. A philosophy is embedded in this framework, which is to do the right projects and to do those projects right.


* Who uses stage-gate and why?  80% of the Fortune 1000 uses Stage-Gate-like process. Sometimes they call it Stage-Gate or they use other terms. It is used in businesses of all sizes, but by the time revenue exceeds $100 million dollars, the organization really needs a Stage-Gate system. Other factors are the complexity of the business, the number of products developed, and the competitive environment.


* What are the Stage-Gate basics we should know? All organizations will use stages tailored to their environment, but there are three primary stages with gates in between:

* Scoping: We begin with a scoping stage that is two to four-weeks in duration. This involves preliminary market and customer research to understand a problem and its needs. Also, technical feasibility of a solution is investigated.
* Business case: A business case is developed to assess and justify pursuing the product concept. The business case is used to determine if the project deserves further investment.
* Develop: This is the stage where the product concept is developed into an actual product – physical goods or intangible service.
* Between each stage is a gate, which is a meeting of senior managers who decide if the project should continue to the next stage.




* A frequent topic I encounter with medium to large organizations is the need for a flexible or agile Stage-Gate, which implies some rigidity to the original Stage-Gate and the need to adapt it to groups doing agile development. How has Stage-Gate International responded to this?  Stage-Gate is about making sure you have the right information to make a business decision. Agile is a project management technique and you need the best project management technique for the technology that you’re developing.  The technique is actually independent of Stage-Gate.]]>
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TEI061: Product managers are uniquely prepared to transform organizations for greater success – with John Latham, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei061-product-managers-are-uniquely-prepared-to-transform-organizations-for-greater-success-with-john-latham-phd/ Mon, 29 Feb 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4741 Most people, when asked, would share they want to work in a better organization. And, most organizational leaders would like to improve their company. How to accomplish both objectives is answered by organizational design. Product managers and innovators have an important role in this. The cross-functional nature of product management uniquely equips product managers to […] Most people, when asked, would share they want to work in a better organization. And, most organizational leaders would like to improve their company. How to accomplish both objectives is answered by organizational design. To learn about becoming an organizational architect, I interviewed John Latham, who is a social scientist and organizational architect with over 35 years of experience helping organizations improve their performance. Some of his clients include Boeing, Kawasaki, Tata, The Ritz-Carlton, British Airways, Motorola, Department of Energy and Lockheed Martin. John has deeply researched leadership and organizational design. His award-winning research has appeared in several journal articles including IDSA’s Innovation journal and the American Society for Quality.
In this interview, you will learn:

* what it means to be an organizational architect,
* why product managers are uniquely equipped to become organizational architects, and
* how to accomplish this.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What has been your path to helping organizations transform for higher performance and to become the organization the leaders and employees really want? There’s really no established career path for transforming organizations and that’s one of the many parallels with the listeners who are product managers. There’s no established career path or university degree that you can go get. My first interest in these kinds of things – the interaction between people, processes and technology was when I was teaching at a flight simulator and we were tasked with developing a cockpit resource management training program, which essentially was the combination of leadership, team dynamics, and problem solving in a high-speed environment with both a technical system (the airplane) and an external environment which was often unpredictable. I became very interested in team dynamics and leadership and how all that interacted with the situation.  After that I became interested in organizations in general and encountered the same issues. I was involved with process improvement initiatives back in the quality movement in the ’80s and ’90s and this led me pretty quickly to overall organization assessment and improvement using performance excellence models like the Baldrige Criteria and other models that address everything from leadership and strategy and customer market focus to people processes and information and analysis.  I also spent a lot of time working with and researching successful organizations and how they did the transformation and sustained it.


* You’ve written several books and articles – including ones that have won prominent awards for their contributions to this area of organizational transformation. In an article published  in “Innovation” from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), you shared “Most organizations are like VCR’s blinking 12:00. They are poorly designed, out of date, and ill-prepared to survive, let alone thrive, in the modern environment.” What did you mean by that statement? There’s plenty of great organizations out there, but I’ve seen many that have a ton of documents, procedures, and artifacts that nobody really reads or pays attention to. It reminded me of all the features and functions that used to be on the VCR that didn’t get used. We used play, stop, record, and rewind.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 51:43
TEI 060: Design Thinking for greater innovation – with IBM Design Director Karel Vredenburg https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-060-designing-businesses-for-greater-innovation-with-ibm-design-director-karel-vredenburg/ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4709 I expect you’ll enjoy this wonderful discussion with the world-wide director of design at IBM, Karel Vredenburg. In this role, he leads design efforts, applying Design Thinking. He also conducts organizational transformation design workshops with senior executives at major companies around the world. Karel introduced User-Centered Design at IBM in 1993 and assumed a company-wide role […] I expect you’ll enjoy this wonderful discussion with the world-wide director of design at IBM, Karel Vredenburg. In this role, he leads design efforts, applying Design Thinking. He also conducts organizational transformation design workshops with senio... Karel introduced User-Centered Design at IBM in 1993 and assumed a company-wide role only two years later. He has written over 60 conference and journal publications, authored a book titled “User-Centered Design: An Integrated Approach,” contributed chapters to other edited books, and has served as editor for special issues of notable design journals.  He also hosts the Life Habits podcast, which helps you learn new habits to optimize your life so that you can stay sane in this crazy world.
I tracked Karel down after seeing he was a keynote speaker at the Product Innovation Management annual conference, where he spoke on the topic of “The Power of Design for Business.”
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of a few questions discussed:


* How did you get your start in User-Centered Design? It was not a career path I was seeking. I was working on a PhD in cognitive science that led to examining the social phenomenon of a gender difference in computer use. That caused me to dig deeper, leading to research on how to increase the enjoyment of using computers, reduce anxiety, and related topics. My research results became very popular and one day a person at IBM called me and asked if I had thought of joining IBM. I decided to try it for a year and am still there, 27 years later.




* You introduced UCD to IBM and rapidly went on to be responsible for design at IBM worldwide. This would lead me to believe that you think of design from the traditional cognitive science perspective of human-computer interactions. Yet, your keynote speech at the Product Innovation Management conference had a much broader context – design as a team sport involving all the functions of a company. How has your perspective of Design evolved? It has evolved in interesting ways. Most recently, there is a new movement focusing on design.  IBM accelerated its design emphasis by purchasing a company that did not provide a technology advantage for us but a design advantage. The company was using the latest methods of Design Thinking from David Kelly and the d.school at Stanford (e.g., Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford). They had taken those principles and put them on steroids for the purposes of business. We are embedding them in the culture at IBM. We do this by focusing on three different areas: (1) people, (2) places, and (3) practices – the 3 P’s of IBM design. For people, we are increasing the number of designers on staff, hiring over 500 in the last couple years with around 1100 in the company now.  Places are studios designed to accelerate Design Thinking and experiential learning among a small team, such as two products managers, two designers, and two engineers. We now have 26 studios around the world. The practices piece is all about the IBM Design Thinking framework, which is grounded in having empathy for the user. We can use this method to create absolutely anything, whether it’s a process, a back-end system, or the way to run your child’s soccer team. You start with deeply understanding the user and then being able to look at their experience, what pain points they have, and then creating solutions to those pain points. In the process you get clarity on which of the ideas are better than others and then create prototypes, gather feedback, and iterate.




* In your roles you have worked with numerous product managers and product teams. What would you tell new product managers to help them be more successful in their careers? Become a T-shaped person.]]>
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TEI 059: Leading product teams and scaling a business- with Mike Paschal, Product EVP https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-059-leading-product-teams-and-scaling-a-business-with-mike-paschal-product-evp/ Mon, 15 Feb 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4660 Leading engineering teams from a strategic perspective of creating competitive products can be the source of a company’s growth. I interviewed Mike Paschal to explore this dimension of product development, management, and innovation. In our discussion he shares his experience building and leading engineering teams and applying the 3 P’s of business – people, product, […] Leading engineering teams from a strategic perspective of creating competitive products can be the source of a company’s growth. I interviewed Mike Paschal to explore this dimension of product development, management, and innovation.  
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
A few questions discussed:

* How did you get into product roles in the beginning of your career?  I was working as a software engineer on a blood analyzer product. The software engineering team volunteered me to be the project leader and interact with rest of the organization because none of them wanted to. In doing this work, I discovered that I had a talent for bringing people together to solve problems and come up with new ideas. That was the start that led to other roles as engineering manager and development manager.


* How do you get people working effectively together on problems? When I was at Sun Microsystems, I learned a valuable lesson from my boss, Rich Green. He said, “Mike, people on your staff are smart. You’re a smart guy; they’re smart too, and you won’t be the smartest one in the group. What you have to do is get them all going in the right direction. You have to get them all on the same page.” When I brought the team together, I would let the discussion progress for a while and then I would end it by saying, “Okay, here’s the idea and let’s summarize it. Does anybody have a better idea?” When no better ideas are offered, the discussion tends to be over and everyone is moving in the same direction. Another approach I used when working with people that had much deeper knowledge in an area than I had was to share a half-baked idea. I would bring the team together and share an idea. The experts would start attacking the idea but in the process uncover gems that others built upon. It was an effective way to get people to collaborate – being willing to offer an incomplete idea, have it cut up and dissected to foster collaboration among the group.


* What is a barrier that prevents a company from scaling – to go from being a $10M company to a $100M company? You have to confront the brutal facts. This means being honest about what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, your position in the market, your product weaknesses and defects, issues with your support process, and the experience you create for your customer. There must be transparency in the organization and a willingness to confront problems. Another issue is not having what Jim Collins calls the Hedgehog concept. This is the intersection of what you’re passionate about, what you’re best at, and what generates revenue. Companies need to understand their hedgehog – what they are better at than anyone else.

Useful links:

* Mike’s LinkedIn Profile

 
Innovation Quote
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt
 
Listen Now to the Interview
 

Raw Transcript
 
Thanks!
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TEI 058: How to 5X your product management career- with Allan Neil & Chad McAllister, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-058-how-to-5x-your-product-management-career-with-allan-neil-chad-mcallister-phd/ Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4608 I have a special guest today from the Great White North. It is cold at home in Colorado as I write this, but it was much colder at Allan Neil’s home in Toronto, Canada. Allan is a fellow product management podcaster, hosting Ready Product Radio. Allan asked if he could interview me for his podcast […] I have a special guest today from the Great White North. It is cold at home in Colorado as I write this, but it was much colder at Allan Neil’s home in Toronto, Canada. Allan is a fellow product management podcaster, hosting Ready Product Radio. In our discussion, I share my personal journey to product management and how my experiences – successes and failures – along with focused education on product management and innovation, led to creating the Product Mastery Roadmap that shows how product managers become PRODUCT MASTERS. The Roadmap charts the path for product managers to 5X, or more, their product success rate as well as their career success.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* For people new to Ready Product Radio, what is a good first episode to listen to?  Episode 15 is a recap of my 2015 interviews and is a great place to start (see links below).


* Chad, how did you get started in product management? After studying electrical engineering in college, I joined a small company. Within six months the office had tripled in size and we are rapidly becoming more of a software company than an engineering company. I enjoyed working with customers, understanding the problem they wanted a solution to, and developing prototypes of product concepts. I had the opportunity to work with a group of potential customers for a week in their offices. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was essentially doing ethnographic research. After that week I had a clear understanding of the problems they needed to solve and their work environment, which allowed me to build a prototype that later turned into a very successful product. My journey learning about product management involved leading software development teams, investigating project management, diving into product management concepts, and eventually earning a PhD in Innovation. Along the way I added certifications in product management, new product development, and innovation.


* When did you start training other product managers? In 2006 I earned the New Product Development Professional certification from PDMA. It integrated 6 knowledge areas in a way that helped me make a lot of sense out of product development and management. The knowledge areas include: (1) Business and Product Strategy, (2) Product Development Process, (3) Portfolio Management, (4) Leading, Managing, and Working with Teams and People, (5) Project and Product Tools and Metrics, and (6) Market and Customer Research. After this, I started helping the Denver, Colorado PDMA group prepare people for the NPDP exam. A friend, Lynne Vanarsdale, created a pilot for a study group program that met in person and I evolved that ultimately to an online study group and then an eCourse. I have helped many people prepare for and pass the NPDP certification exam. Later, I got involved with AIPMM, helping to lead creation of their Certified Innovation Leadership (CIL) program. I developed and refined online eCourses for both the NPDP and CIL certifications with valuable help from Jama Bradley, who first taught me the NPDP concepts. From there, companies began contacting me to conduct product management and innovation workshops and assessments for them. Today, I also facilitate product and innovation management courses for Colorado State University, Boston University, and Walden University. I have trained product managers at Microsoft, Kind Snacks, Level 3, Kohler, John Deer, J.D. Power, GHX, FedEx, Cummins, Compassion, Clorox, Cisco, Mastercard, SAIC, Thomson Reuters,]]>
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TEI 057: Applying the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework – with Chris Spiek https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-057-applying-the-jobs-to-be-done-framework-with-chris-spiek/ Mon, 01 Feb 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4563 The Lean Startup approach has brought a lot of visibility to the importance of getting out of your office and interacting with actual customers. And you do that so you can understand the details of their problems related to the solution or product you envision as a product manager and innovator. However, accomplishing this brings […] The Lean Startup approach has brought a lot of visibility to the importance of getting out of your office and interacting with actual customers. And you do that so you can understand the details of their problems related to the solution or product you ... However, accomplishing this brings up questions like: who do we talk with, what do we ask them, and what information is most important. The practical answers to all these questions is in a framework called Jobs-to-be-Done. When used properly, it positions product managers to greatly increase the success of the products they develop – because the products are solving a real job the customer has in a way the customer recognizes as being most valuable to them and easiest to choose.
To learn about this framework, I went to the source – the person who runs the website http://Jobstobedone.org, which has the support of Clayton Christensen, who was one of the original creators of the framework. This person is Chris Spiek. Chris is a software programmer who discovered the Jobs-to-be-Done framework and used it to create successful software products customers loved. He has also been a founder and co-founded his current company, the Re-Wired Group, which is a firm based in Michigan that creates improved products and new products for their clients by applying Jobs-to-be-Done.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Your background is in software development. What took you from that to product management? I was involved in custom software development. Customers often pushed for more features, making negotiations and managing scope creep very challenging. I realized I needed to learn more about what the customers of my customer really needed. That led me to learning about customer personas, big data, and more. At the same time, I started doing work for Bob Moesta, who was one of the co-creators, along with Clay Christensen, of the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework. His specifications for products were a bit different from what everyone else was doing, yet they were always wildly successful. In 2008 Bob and I started the Rewired Group to apply, refine, and teach the JTBD framework.

 

* You tell people that “you develop great products that people want to buy using Jobs-to-be-Done.” How do you describe JTBD? It’s a way of gaining an understanding of how someone decides to purchase something new.  For example, think about the last product you purchased and ask: what was your motivation to make the purchase, what was your thought process, and how did your opinions change over time? At its core, it is a framework for thinking about how purchasing decisions are made. An example is buying a shovel to dig a hole. If you are the product manager trying to sell more shovels, the traditional approach is to think about what would make the customer love your shovel more. This might lead to different colors, lighter-weight materials, etc. Instead, JTBD prompts us to change the perspective and ask why the customer needs to dig a hole and what are the other ways this could be accomplished. This leads to realizing that the shovel is not competing with other shovels at the hardware store but with other ways of getting a hole dug.

 

* How are jobs identified? Can you walk us through an example using JTBD – who was interviewed, what questions were asked, what was discovered? One of the first applications was for the Snickers candy bar. The Snickers bar was competing head-to-head with Milky Way. Both were Mars’ products, similar to each other, and one was going to be retired. Bob Moesta was asked to help the Snickers’ product team. Bob ended up talking with people who purchased Snickers and people who purchased Milky Ways,]]>
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TEI 056: 5 steps to becoming an innovative company – with innovation VP Michael Wynblatt https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-056-5-steps-to-becoming-an-innovative-company-with-innovation-vp-michael-wynblatt/ Mon, 25 Jan 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4517 Most companies talk about wanting to be more innovative, but few take the steps needed. In this discussion, I discovered the five steps organizations can take to be more innovative, from someone who has successfully executed the steps many times. Recently, Ingersoll Rand was ranked #9 for Innovation in Fortune’s Most Admired Companies 2015. They […] Most companies talk about wanting to be more innovative, but few take the steps needed. In this discussion, I discovered the five steps organizations can take to be more innovative, from someone who has successfully executed the steps many times. Recently, Ingersoll Rand was ranked #9 for Innovation in Fortune’s Most Admired Companies 2015. They made the #9 ranking the very first year they appeared on the Fortune list – a great accomplishment.  Clearly something is changing at the company in terms of innovation, and this change is being driven by Michael Wynblatt.  He is the Vice President of Innovation & Emerging Technology at Ingersoll Rand. He has also led innovation at other companies, helping more than 40 technology-based products come to market. This includes serving as the VP of Innovation for Eaton Corporation and the VP and Chief Technology Officer at the Siemens Technology to Business Center. Throughout these roles he has learned a great deal about helping companies become more innovative and specifically how to create a culture that breeds innovation.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is the charter of your role as VP of Innovation and Emerging Technology at Ingersoll Rand? My main responsibility is to build the innovation capability of the entire organization. This includes developing processes, tools, and methods and then providing training for these. I also have a team that models and demonstrates what good innovation process looks like.


* How did that role come into existence? The role has existed for 3.5 years.  The need for the role came about because the company has been undergoing a transformation to take advantage of the synergies between the businesses through a business operating system. We are creating functional expertise around a lot of different areas, including human resources and engineering and operations, and innovation was one of those.


* At the Back End of Innovation conference you spoke on creating an innovative culture in large organizations. You know a lot about this as you have accomplished it at three large industrial companies. What does it mean to have a culture of innovation? Culture is how the company behaves and what we do. To have a culture of innovation, you need three things. (1)  Your leadership must aggressively promote the expectation that you should identify new ideas. (2) Resources actually get prioritized for taking action on groundbreaking ideas. (3) Your employees prefer to join the teams that are working on those game-changing kind of topics.


* You created a series of steps for creating an innovative culture. What is the first step? Step 0 (I start with 0 because I was trained as a computer scientist) is setting expectations that creating an innovation culture is a multi-year journey. In one experience I had, the first three years of the journey didn’t product a lot of success but that dramatically changed after year three. It takes time to get the culture thinking and acting differently.


* What is the next step – Step 1 in your numbering system? Step 1 is adopting an innovation methodology. Any innovation methodology is better than none – find one that works for your organization. A key here is what I call standardizing the antidote. Identify the real barriers that are preventing innovation today. Pick one or two that are really critical and make doing the opposite the standard in the company. That is how barriers are removed.


* What is Step 2? Next, you’re going to need some examples of success and people to create the successes. I call this step building the army – those people eager to be trained with the right skills and can hit the ground running in a very short order to create success. The specialists are the soldiers and the success ...]]>
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TEI 055: Solving challenges organizations create with product management and innovation – with Rich Mironov https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-055-solving-challenges-organizations-create-with-product-management-and-innovation-with-product-manager-rich-mironov/ Mon, 18 Jan 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4438 Rich Mironov is a legend in the world of product management. He is the founder of Product Camp, a collaborative unconference for product managers and marketers that has spread across the world. He also is the author of the book The Art of Product Management: Lessons from a Silicon Valley Innovator. Today he provides full-time […] Rich Mironov is a legend in the world of product management. He is the founder of Product Camp, a collaborative unconference for product managers and marketers that has spread across the world. He also is the author of the book The Art of Product Manag... While our discussion is in the context of software product management, much of the insights apply to product managers in any industry.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* You coach a lot of people who are new to product management. What do you hear are the reasons people want to be product managers?  Typically three reasons or explanations are given. People becoming product managers want to make a difference in the products that are created. They also want to have influence. This influence can be from a positive or negative position. The positive position is the desire to help guide product selection and overall product strategy. A negative position is people seeking power for themselves. For people that are seeking personal power, they will likely be disappointed in their choice of product management. Further, they’re not the people others want to work with. A related reason that people get into product management is to be involved early in the product development process to help guide the creation of the right product – products that customers love.


* For all of its appeal, the role of product management has challenges – what are the frustrations people encounter in the role? Many of the challenges lie outside the scope of the individual product manager. One challenge is sales teams that are given free reign to close deals by committing to new features that don’t yet exist in products. Pressure can also come from the engineering/development side if a culture of “making it perfect” exists. There are no perfect products, only ones that customers love and buy. Another issue is making too much of an investment too early in architecture. For software products, the architecture needs to be sufficient for the current product, not for some future scale that may never happen. A key challenge is not having sufficient time to talk with customers. For product managers to be effective, they need to be spending about 30% of their time externally with customers and the remaining 70% focused on internal work. Finding that 30% is a real issue for many product managers. If they’re not working closely with customers, they cannot reasonably know customers needs, emerging trends, and the direction of the market.


* Organizations are creating many of these challenges. What is your advice to product managers to navigate them and increase their influence in the organization? Great sales people are masters at understanding other people, and in this sense, product managers need to be salespeople. A good tool product managers can use in understanding others is the Myers-Briggs temperament assessment. This is also related to the ability to talk with customers in a way that helps to uncover unmet problems without making assumptions or adding bias. The most important tool product managers have to overcome challenges is providing evidence from customers and evidence can only be collected if they are spending sufficient time with customers.


* Organizations are also trying many approaches to being innovative. It is the current mantra – to be more innovative. Let’s discuss what is not working and is working. The number one thing that seems like wasted effort is the so-called innovation day. Employees are excused from their regular activities and responsibilities and brought together to be innovative. Making innovation a one-time activity removes innovation from reg...]]>
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TEI 054: 5 Steps for selecting the best product ideas – with SVP Peter Duggan https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-054-selecting-the-best-product-ideas-with-svp-peter-duggan/ Mon, 11 Jan 2016 12:55:32 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4469 The discussion with my guest is about selecting ideas to be developed into products. Many organizations encourage employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders to provide ideas for products, but only a few companies successfully manage organizing the ideas, selecting the best one, and executing well to turn ideas into valuable products. Peter Duggan, a SVP […] The discussion with my guest is about selecting ideas to be developed into products. Many organizations encourage employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders to provide ideas for products, but only a few companies successfully manage organiz... Peter Duggan, a SVP and Head of Product Management & Development for Computershare Investor Services, has created a simple and effective 5 step process for selecting the best ideas for new products. He shared some of these concepts in a workshop at the Product Innovation Management annual conference and I am delighted to have him share the 5 steps with us.
After listening, you’ll know how to help your organization become idea-selecting ninjas through 5 simple steps.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Before we can select product ideas, we have to first have ideas – how are ideas generated in your organization? How we don’t generate ideas is important to describe first– we don’t run campaigns with catchy names, that imply that idea generation is a temporary activity. Instead, we solicit ideas on a regular basis from employees that are close to the front lines. We tell employees that no idea is a bad idea – the objective is to generate lots of ideas and then to select those ideas with the most value for the organization. When ideas are selected, we also ask for the employee to identify the purpose of the idea, such as generating additional revenue, saving expense, improving client satisfaction, etc.


* The first element is cataloging- what is involved? Every idea is placed into an Excel spreadsheet – we like keeping the system easy and avoid using complicated software. A template is used to collect specific information about the idea, such as its purpose, potential worth to the company, etc. The list of ideas in the spreadsheet is essentially a pipeline, like a sales pipeline. As ideas move through the pipeline, actions are taken, including seeing the idea developed.


* The second element – sizing – how is that accomplished? This involves noting all the assumptions made, including specifics related to the purpose of the idea. For example, if it’s a revenue-generating idea, how large is the target market, what is the potential price of the product, how large of an effort is creating the product, what are the timing considerations for getting the product to market, how complex is the project, and what other stakeholders need to be involved.


* Prioritizing is the third element. What is your experience with prioritizing? A key question is what is the capability of the organization to manage change – the capacity to accomplish projects. The number of projects need to be maximized and aligned with the capabilities of the organization and the availability of required stakeholders. Consequently, the highest priority ideas need to be identified and balanced against the needs of the organization, considering the short term and the longer term objectives, and the availability of resources.


* Next is selecting – the fourth element. How is selecting accomplished? The highest priority ideas are evaluated by a team. Those selected enter a flexible stage-gate development process. Ideas that enter development are managed as a portfolio, aligned to the organization’s strategy. Each idea is assigned to a product manager. The portfolio is organized by the original purpose of the idea, either (1) revenue-generating, (2) expense saving, or (3) client-satisfaction improving. Ideas that are not selected stay in the idea pipeline but are moved to a “hold” state for revaluation in the future.


]]>
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TEI 053: The 26 Most Important Concepts for Product Managers and Innovators – with Chad McAllister, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-053-the-26-most-important-concepts-for-product-managers-and-innovators-with-chad-mcallister-phd/ Mon, 04 Jan 2016 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4341 Welcome to the one year anniversary of this podcast. I’m excited to review the key concepts I found most useful for product managers and innovators from the last 52 episodes. I heard Tim Ferriss do something similar on his podcast and thought it was really helpful and I think you will find it valuable for […] Welcome to the one year anniversary of this podcast. I’m excited to review the key concepts I found most useful for product managers and innovators from the last 52 episodes. I heard Tim Ferriss do something similar on his podcast and thought it was re...  
Before jumping in, I have some exciting news to share – thanks largely to this podcast, I was named a “Product Management Top 40 Influencer for 2015” on the Product Management Year in Review site. I’m honored and humbled to be on the list. I have had the pleasure of interviewing some of my fellow influencers. Others I have not yet interviewed but do follow, including Eric Ries, Steve Blank, and Guy Kawasaki.
 
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
 
Product Mastery Roadmap™
The Product Mastery Roadmap™ shows how a product manager becomes a product master, dramatically increasing the number of right products created – those that customers want and love – while also increasing your influence in the organization.
The Roadmap goes through four levels towards mastery – Competent, Proficient, Expert, and Master. The first level, gaining competence, is where most product managers need to start. At this level you learn details of ideation, product development, and evolving products once they are launched. This builds your base towards product mastery.
and learn how to go from product manager to product master.
 
Product Management & Innovation Year In Review
TEI 002: The Product Manager’s Two Most Powerful Questions: Ask “What Else” and “Why” for Understanding Users – with Industrial Designer Darshan Rane.
Understand what users need and value by:

* observing
* asking “correct” questions – the ones that avoid assumptions
* “walking in their shoes”

 
TEI 003: Innovation Lessons-Learned Creating StudioPress–Test Feasibility, Identify Trends, and More – with Copyblogger Product Officer Brian Gardner
Test product concepts and the business model with customers before beginning development. As an example, Brian asked people if they would buy a WordPress theme before he started creating it.
 
TEI 005: How Relying on Aggregate Marketing Data Can Doom New Product Development – with CEO George Farkas
Watch out for those who say “we know what the customer needs” – the way to know is to iterate and co-develop prototypes with customers.
 
TEI 007: Simple Steps for Using the Minimal Viable Product Approach to Create a Product Customers Love–with Mixergy Founder Andrew Warner
Andrew shared his minimal viable product (MVP) approach he used for creating a training product. The MVP was built entirely around a set of landing pages and used the approach of getting customers first and...]]>
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TEI 052: The Simple Approach for all Product Managers and Innovators to be Effective Communicators – with Curtis Fletcher https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-052-the-simple-approach-for-all-product-managers-and-innovators-to-be-effective-communicators-with-curtis-fletcher/ Mon, 28 Dec 2015 12:55:11 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4288 Great product managers must interact with people across the organization and possess the ability to influence stakeholders at all levels, including the very top of the company. Further, they are skilled in developing rapport with customers to gain deep insights into their problems and what they value. All of this requires effective communication and learning […] Great product managers must interact with people across the organization and possess the ability to influence stakeholders at all levels, including the very top of the company. Further, they are skilled in developing rapport with customers to gain deep... Curtis has been a product manager at Oracle, a Customer Experience expert for several organizations, a CTO, and has served in other leadership roles. Today he coaches executives and their management teams to be more effective communicators and presenters.
I met Curtis at the SCORRE conference, which is all about becoming a better speaker. He was my coach for the 3 day experience. Improving my speaking was on my personal development list this year because I want this podcast to offer you even more value, which means I need to become a better communicator.
To this end, there are a number of things I have done already. Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy, has a great course I took for interviewing people. Alex Blumberg, the creator of the StartUp podcast, formerly the producer of This American Life at NPR, held a two day interview course that I found insightful. But now it was time to work on my actual communication clarity, so off to SCORRE I went.
In this interview, Curtis and I discuss three parts of a simple framework that will help focus your communications and be more effective.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is the purpose of SCORRE and how did it come about? Ken Davis created the SCORRE communication system and the SCORRE conference.  He is a bit of a preacher, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, but primarily he has made his living as a comedian. He recognized that he had the ability to captivate an audience and that he could share his method to others. SCORRE was created to teach communicating with more focus and clarity. (One of my personal observations from attending the SCORRE conference was the number of attendees that recognized they were presenters who could entertain audiences but who were not effective in delivering a message their audience could remember. SCORRE teaches both how to captivate attention and communicate in a way that audiences remember your key points.)


* What are the two types of presentations a person can give? All presentations or speeches can only accomplish one of two things – you’re either trying to train or trying to persuade your audience. There are no other types of presentations. When you realize your purpose is only one or the other of these, it shapes how you think about and design your presentations. The core question is what you want your audience to do – are you training them to do something or are you persuading them to take some action?


* SCORRE is an acronym – what does it stand for? The details of the system are in the book titled The Secrets of Dynamic Communication (see link below). We didn’t have time to discuss all of the elements, but they are:

* S = Subject
* C = Central Theme
* O = Objective
* R = Rationale
* R = Resources
* E = Evaluation




* A key lesson I learned from the SCORRE conference is to begin any form of communication by having a clear objective in mind. How is an objective created?
When product managers are asked to speak on a topic, such as the product roadmap or the findings of market research, don’t start preparing what you want to talk about. Instead, first ask what you want the audience to do when the presentation is done. This will be centered around a verb – I want you to buy, I want you to go do, etc.]]>
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TEI 051: Creating Strategic Narratives and Imagineering Your Innovation Process – with Joe Tankersley https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-051-creating-strategic-narratives-and-imagineering-your-innovation-process-with-joe-tankersley/ Mon, 21 Dec 2015 12:55:21 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4261 I learned what a Walt Disney Imagineer was when my kids started watching the Disney Imagineering videos about science and engineering. Imagineers are known as the dreamers, doers, and the masterminds of magic at Disney. They create what we see and experience at Disney properties. I was fortunate to speak with Joe Tankersley, who was an Imagineer […] I learned what a Walt Disney Imagineer was when my kids started watching the Disney Imagineering videos about science and engineering. Imagineers are known as the dreamers, doers, and the masterminds of magic at Disney. I was fortunate to speak with Joe Tankersley, who was an Imagineer for almost two decades. Today he helps organizations improve their innovation process through the power of narrative. How product managers can use narrative was the topic of his keynote speech at the Product Innovation Management conference. I caught up with him to discuss the topic further.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* You talk about two tools for helping organizations improve the development of new products and services – foresight and narrative. Let’s start with foresight – what is that? Foresight is a series of practices designed to help groups and organizations anticipate challenges and opportunities beyond their traditional time range. It is not about predicting the future but about getting a sense of likely changes. Most people start with trends scanning, but if this is all you do, you will likely miss the underlying drivers of the trends. Foresight examines the reasons why trends exist. Culture, technology, social, economic, and political drivers need to be considered. It takes an outside-in perspective by envisioning what will be happening in the world in the future and how that impacts your organization.


* What is narrative and how is it related to foresight? Narrative is story and is the most effective way to explore possible futures. We use scenarios to consider the range of potential futures – the worst case, the best case, and what may occur under specific circumstances. Story gives us a way of exploring the holistic system. (Interestingly, the topic of story and innovation has come up frequently in previous interviews.) You apply foresight and narrative because you believe you have some role in creating the future. The story becomes a guide to help you think about where you want to go.


* How are you using story in organizations to help them become more innovative? One approach is to examine a range of scenarios for the future and then create scenario vignettes – small stories – that are focused on a particular market segment and products. This helps us to imagine what the needs of customers will be in the future and provides the foundation for envisioning a future product. This is not necessarily about creating a product today for users in 10-15 years, but recognizing what steps need to be taken starting today to prepare for customers’ needs in 10 to 15 years.  You will never create the story you started with and used as a guide, but you will create new technologies, new capabilities, and anticipate challenges that better prepare you for the future regardless of where you actually end up.


* How can a group or product manager apply the tools of foresight and narrative to improve innovation? You begin by considering what you know, which leads to an understanding of what you don’t know. This expands your horizons and thinking about potential alternative futures. Imagination is a big part of this – you have to think beyond the world that you live in. These become the stories that guide your path towards the future. Unlike traditional persona work that creates a description of the ideal customer, the narratives begin with describing the future circumstances that customers will find themselves in. Considering the future is built around asking a series of if-this-then-that questions and basing the answers on the results of reasonable research. An important element is understanding the rate of change in technology, why things change,]]>
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TEI 050: Use design heuristics to improve idea generation – with Seda Yilmaz, PhD https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-050-use-design-heuristics-to-improve-idea-generation-with-seda-yilmaz-phd/ Mon, 14 Dec 2015 12:55:10 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4221 I’ve been highlighting aspects of Design Thinking in several episodes and I continue with this episode that considers how idea generation can be improved using design heuristics. I discussed the topic with Seda Yilmaz,  a professor in the Department of Industrial Design at Iowa State University. She earned her PhD in Design Science from the University […] I’ve been highlighting aspects of Design Thinking in several episodes and I continue with this episode that considers how idea generation can be improved using design heuristics. I discussed the topic with Seda Yilmaz, I’ve been highlighting aspects of Design Thinking in several episodes and I continue with this episode that considers how idea generation can be improved using design heuristics. I discussed the topic with Seda Yilmaz,  a professor in the Department of Industrial Design at Iowa State University. She earned her PhD in Design Science from the University of Michigan. Seda and three colleagues from the fields of psychology, industrial design, and engineering wrote a chapter in the Design Thinking: New Product Development Essentials book titled Boosting Creativity in Idea Generation using Design Heuristics . The discussion is about how 77 design heuristics can improve the ideation activity of Design Thinking and product development.
 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What is a design heuristic? First, the concept of a heuristic comes from the cognitive science domain. It is a simple rule of thumb for making a judgment. They tend to be used by experts who have developed knowledge of rules of thumb and an understanding of when they can and cannot be applied based on experience. A design heuristic is a prompt that encourages exploration of a variety of ideas during product ideation (idea generation). Seda and her fellow researchers use a set of 77 design heuristics that help guide product designers and engineers in considering non-obvious solutions to customers’ problems.


* How did you identify the 77 design heuristics? Three data sources were used. The first one was from an analysis of award winning products. The second was from a behavioral study of design experts and students. The third was a case study performed by an expert designer with over 40 years of experience. Each data source led to identifying design heuristics. Together the three data sources produced 130 design heuristics. After analyzing each and identifying ones that should be combined, 77 heuristics emerged.


* What are some examples of design heuristics? Each of the heuristics have names and are described on cards (similar to playing cards). The prompts are intentionally simple to make them easy to learn and easy to implement. One is Designing for Specific Users. It prompts designing product functions for a specific target user. Another example is Reconfigure, which looks at changing the way product components are configured. The figures below are two additional examples, Reorient and Add to Existing Product, from the design heuristic Cards available at Design Heuristics.


 
 

 

* What are examples of applying design heuristics to generate ideas for new products? Rubbermaid made use of the Flatten heuristic when creating rubber storage containers that collapse like an accordion to save space when not being used and easily expand when needed. Cover or Wrap is a heuristic for improving a product, which was used by company that created a cloth covering for a teapot to keep the tea hotter longer. Nest is a heuristic often seen in containers that fit one inside another as well as in wooden Russian nesting dolls.


* When it comes to the traditional activities employed in Design Thinking of empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing, where are the design heuristics most helpful?  The ideation activity is a perfect spot to use the design heuristics. They help designers consider many options to improve ideation outcomes.

 
Useful links:

* Design Heuristics website with the “cards” containing 77 design heuristics.
* Seda’s LinkedIn profile and
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 35:21
TEI 049: The right and wrong way to use a business case – with Steven Haines https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-049-the-right-and-wrong-way-to-use-a-business-case-with-steven-haines/ Mon, 07 Dec 2015 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4160 Several years ago I was part of a group of product management professionals and we all felt that our profession lacked a good how-to guide that product managers could use. We considered writing one ourselves but life was a little too busy for us at the time. A few years later The Product Manager’s Desk […] Several years ago I was part of a group of product management professionals and we all felt that our profession lacked a good how-to guide that product managers could use. We considered writing one ourselves but life was a little too busy for us at the... I asked him to join me to discuss an important topic that hasn’t been discussed yet on this show, which is the business case tool. We talk about the right and wrong ways to use a business case and how this tool can improve your success and save you headaches as a product manager.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* Where did you develop your product management experience? Steve is an accidental product manager, coming from the world of financial analysis. He had the opportunity at AT&T to gain international business experience by taking on a product management role. Steve found product management to be a perfect fit for him because he looks at products as businesses and he wanted to deepen his business experience. He became part of a product management task force at AT&T. AT&T created the task force after recognizing other large multinationals’ success came from product management leadership. Product management is a core business function that integrates the other functions of the organization. To illustrate this, picture a picket fence with the vertical boards representing the traditional functions of companies (e.g., Development, Production, Marketing, Sales, etc.) and the horizontal boards representing the cross-functional role of product management.
* What is a Business Case? It is one of the most helpful instruments a company can have at its disposal. Essentially, it is a justification for making an investment that allows decision-makers to say yes to good investments and no to poor investments. The complexity of a business case varies by its use. A new-to-the-company product would require a more extensive business case than would an extension to an existing product. A fledgling business case is needed when considering a new product concept. This can be a one-page opportunity statement. Questions it addresses include: what’s going on in the market, why is the investment important, and what strategic advantage does it provide the company? Business case authors should consider if it was their own money, would they invest in this product concept? Exploring these questions in the form of a fledgling business case creates collaboration within the company. Fundamentally, the business case is a decision tool to decide to move forward and make additional investment in the concept or not.
* What are examples of not using a business case appropriately? When Steve is helping an organization with an audit of their product management practices and he asks to see the business case of a product, more than 90% of the time the business case is not available. They are missing an opportunity by not using the business case as a strategic instrument to help align the portfolio of products to the company strategy. Also, companies are spending insufficient efforts on market research to validate product concepts. Too often companies assume what customers want without actually validating it with them. The proper use of a business case includes a reflection of wh...]]>
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TEI 048: Guiding Innovation at IBM and other Large Organizations – with CINO Linda Bernardi https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-048-guiding-innovation-at-ibm-and-other-large-organizations-with-cino-linda-bernardi/ Mon, 30 Nov 2015 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4126 If you have wondered what it means to do innovation at a large company, you are in the right place. I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Bernardi, IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer responsible for Cloud and the Internet of Things. She is also a startup founder & CEO, strategic advisor to large organizations, and author […] If you have wondered what it means to do innovation at a large company, you are in the right place. I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Bernardi, IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer responsible for Cloud and the Internet of Things. I caught her literally between planes so the audio quality is a little different than normal as I called her phone, but it’s still good for listening.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* How long have you been in your Chief Innovation role? Linda has been the Chief Innovation Officer at IBM for the last year, focusing on the Internet of Things and the Cloud and looking at where these are headed in the future. Her unofficial title is Chief Disruption Officer – changing the organization for real advancement and innovation.
* Give us a sense of what the role involves at IBM. The culture of the 103-year-old company has many strengths but also a strong sense of how things are traditionally done. Disruption is needed and is a natural part of growth. It is required because everything in technology is changing. IBM is thinking about change in terms of the products and services it develops as well as its culture. What is unique about IBM is its ability to solve very complex problems, and it has done so for over 100 years. Change is coming both internally and through external acquisitions. The IBM of 2015 looks very different than it did even five years ago.
* How are you being a disruptor at IBM? There are two components to that: culture and technology. Culture involves being able to think differently. The culture is changing from one that is selling IT products and services to one that is helping customers transform themselves. For those that have been at IBM, this can be an uncomfortable transition, while for the new hires who are not tied to the traditional ways of doing business, it is easy to adopt. The same is true for any change, such as switching hands you hold a toothbrush in. Any type of disruption brings about change and associated discomfort, whether it be personal change or large organizational change. Some people get paralyzed when they are disrupted, and being able to remain flexible is very important. To be a disruptor in an organization, sometimes it is necessary to take action and ask for forgiveness later. Technology has transformed from a series of organized and long-term steps, such as moving from central computing to client-server to personal computers, and now has erupted in choices (e.g., open source database systems versus proprietary systems) and mobile devices and expectations to have access to information from anywhere.
* What characteristics or attitudes make a person good at leading innovation? A recognition is needed that the business will change – it always does. There are many examples of companies that did not effectively deal with the change, such as Kodak, Nokia, Blackberry, Polaroid, etc. Each was excellent at what they did, but they did not effectively deal with the disruption that was occurring to their business model. Consequently, one sign of leadership for innovation is being willing to do new things imperfectly to identify new opportunities. The forces outside of a company – the market – are significant. The market is way ahead of what companies are currently doing. This is another significant disruptive force.
* How do you watch for and identify market trends? You have to be ahead of the game. While listening to customers is important, if you’re only listening, you’re reacting and behind of what is occurring. Companies need to create differentiating technology capabilities.]]>
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TEI 047: Lessons from Design Thinking for Using Design in the FFE – with Giulia Calabretta, PhD. https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-047-lessons-from-design-thinking-for-using-design-in-the-ffe-with-giulia-calabretta-phd/ Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4076 I am doing another interview in my Design Thinking series and the topic of this episode is the impact of moving design principles into what is commonly called the Fuzzy Front End (FFE). I personally prefer the term Managed Front End, because, while it is fuzzy, full of unknowns and chaotic at times, it is […] I am doing another interview in my Design Thinking series and the topic of this episode is the impact of moving design principles into what is commonly called the Fuzzy Front End (FFE). I personally prefer the term Managed Front End, because, Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* What drew you into the field of design? Giulia’s background is in business and management and she has always been interested in innovation. She believes Designers have the best tools for helping companies with innovation. Designers are human centered and should be part of the innovation plans of companies. When they are, the innovations are much more successful.
* We need a common understanding of the FFE. How do you describe this early stage of product innovation? It is a messy moment in the innovation process. It begins when people in the company wish to do something new, recognizing a customer need or problem they can take action on to solve. This involves searching for opportunities, idea generation, and idea selection aligned with what is best for the company.
* What challenges exist in the FFE? Uncertainty is a key challenge. Companies don’t know exactly what course of action to take and if they will be successful with the course taken. To deal with the uncertainty, some companies will attempt to collect too much information and then have the challenge of knowing what to do with it. They may also involve numerous people throughout the organization in an effort to limit risk but this greatly complicates the decision-making process.
* What design practices help with problem definition? One way designers help is to broaden the perspective on innovation. They are good at reformulating specific objectives to consider the broader reasons behind them. An example is public transportation company 9292 in the Netherlands. They provide services to help people understand their best options for public transportation to get from one place to another. When Google maps became popular, 9292 found their service was being used less. They enlisted designers, asking them to create a new website to bring customers back. Instead, the designers asked the company what they really wanted to achieve and after a series of creative workshops (generative sessions) determined that the larger goal was creating deeper relationships with customers. After reformulating the problem, they determined that a new website was not the best solution. Instead, they created a series of personalized mobile services for smart phones, elevating 9292 to be the preferred public transportation planner in the Netherlands.
* How does design help us manage information in the FFE? In dealing with uncertainty in the FFE, an overwhelming amount of information can be collected while still not necessarily having the information actually needed. Designers have creative ways of doing user research as opposed to traditional market research to determine what customers really want and consider valuable. An example is Context Mapping, which is a visual journaling process consumers can do without a researcher present to map their behavior over a period of time. An example is applying Context Mapping to understand the relationships between a consumer’s shopping behavior and their eating behavior. The consumer takes pictures over the course of a few days of him or her cooking, eating, shopping, etc.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 37:06
TEI 046: Building a Global Innovation Capability at a Large Enterprise – with Caterpillar Director of Innovation Ken Gray https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-046-building-a-global-innovation-capability-at-a-large-enterprise-with-caterpillar-director-of-innovation-ken-gray/ Mon, 16 Nov 2015 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=4031 When it comes to innovation, there are significant distinctions between startups and large enterprises. Startups have the advantage of agility and ability to rapidly change directions because they are not encumbered with legacy systems and organizational constraints. Large enterprises have access to greater resources and an established brand but also have erected barriers to innovation […] When it comes to innovation, there are significant distinctions between startups and large enterprises. Startups have the advantage of agility and ability to rapidly change directions because they are not encumbered with legacy systems and organization... When it comes to innovation, there are significant distinctions between startups and large enterprises. Startups have the advantage of agility and ability to rapidly change directions because they are not encumbered with legacy systems and organizational constraints. Large enterprises have access to greater resources and an established brand but also have erected barriers to innovation over time and inertia to change has set in. Such enterprises often reach a point where they realize that their existing culture, processes, and structure have limited their innovation to the point of harming the organization. I frequently have conversations with leaders of companies about these very issues.
What should large companies do that wish to be more innovative? A place to start is benchmarking the actions Caterpillar is taking to overcome innovation barriers they created over many years and turn the organization into an innovation machine. To explore their actions, I had the sincere pleasure of talking with Ken Gray, Caterpillar’s global Director of Innovation. Ken has worn many hats at Caterpillar, including mechanical engineer, product manager, global product manager, and leader. He is well suited for the Innovation role.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

* When did you start your career at Caterpillar? Ken has worked for Caterpillar for 33 years. He made the decision in second grade, telling his mom he was going to become an engineer and work for Caterpillar when he grew up.


* You have been an engineer, project manager, product manager, program manager, and in other management and leadership roles.  What principles guide your leadership philosophy? Ken uses the “kitchen table” approach to managing his team. The term comes from his experiences growing up in his home where dinner time at the kitchen table was used to explore any topic – nothing was off-limits. It was the time to bring up tough subjects and hone listening skills. At Caterpillar, his teams are rankless and anyone can share anything. People are encouraged to be brave. When difficult topics need to be discussed, his team members preface the conversation with “we need kitchen table time.” Organizations need to practice open communication regularly so when the tough issues arise, people are willing to share them with leaders. Listening is an active process that requires empathetic and attentive listening while asking clarifying questions as well as questions that help team members learn.


* The role you are in now is new to the organization, the Caterpillar Director of Innovation. How did this role and the associated Analytics and Innovation Division come into existence? Given the large size of the organization (global operations with 110,000 employees), Caterpillar has found pockets of innovation in the company but topline performance of the business has been essentially flat since 2009. Executive leadership recognized the organization must be more innovative to continue growing the top line. This resulted in the creation of the Analytics and Innovation Division. The analytics dimension results from the large amount of data collected from machines Caterpillar makes. It is this data that, coupled with ideas from any other sources, helps to drive innovations. Consequently, the analytics group and innovation group needed to be as close as possible, resulting in a single division.


* How is your role structured related to increasing innovation at Caterpillar? Ken is trying to create new viable businesses for Caterpillar. While the group will continue looking at innovations related to existing machines, the goal is new business development. Ken structures his work into three innovation categories:

* Core – doing what Caterpillar already does but doing it better.]]>
Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters clean 46:08
TEI 045: Understand What Customers Need Before Developing a Product – with Tony Ulwick https://productinnovationeducators.com/blog/tei-045-understand-what-customers-need-before-developing-a-product-with-tony-ulwick/ Mon, 09 Nov 2015 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.productinnovationeducators.com/blog/?p=3988 In this episode I’m talking with the creator of an entire category of product innovation – one that significantly changed how I think about the process of innovation. Clayton Christensen said his approaches “bring discipline and predictability to the often random process of innovation.” The category of innovation is known as ODI, Outcome-Driven Innovation, and […] In this episode I’m talking with the creator of an entire category of product innovation – one that significantly changed how I think about the process of innovation. Clayton Christensen said his approaches “bring discipline and predictability to the o...