In today’s tough job climate, it is more important than ever to clearly articulate what value you can deliver to an organization. Whether you are currently employed or are looking for a job, being able to set yourself apart is essential.
So I'm reading Dr No by Ian Fleming and I read this:
Strangways would drop into the chair beside her and pick up the other pair of headphones and, at exactly six twenty-eight, he would take over from her and wait for the sudden hollowness in the ether that meant that WWW in London was coming in to acknowledge.
from Dr No by Ian Fleming
Waitaminute! Did Berners-Lee get the WWW node from Ian Fleming? Or has London always been WWW? And I thought the web was invented in Switzerland.
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Many of Apple's finished gadgets, from iPods to iPads, are assembled at industrial compounds like the one in Longhua. And when it comes to guarding Apple's secrets, Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, and other suppliers throughout the region leave little to chance.
On May 1, American Airlines will begin charging for a pillow and blanket set on all domestic flights, as well as those to or from Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Central America, according to American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith. The $8 charge buys a blue fleece blanket and an inflatable neck pillow that fliers can use in flight and keep for future use.
Customers want to know that you have a process for planning and prioritization. Most customers don't really mind being told "no"-- they mind being ignored. So the next time you have a group of customers onsite, think about a simple presentation (and maybe it's a single slide) that shows your planning process. Maybe you should show them your prioritization system and get their feedback. For more on prioritization, see http://pragmaticmarketing.typepad.com/productmarketing/2010/02/setting_prioritites.html
If you've ever had to review a long list of requirements, you'll appreciate this. I was recently asked:
I wonder if you have insights on good feature/function/backlog prioritization – especially when there are a ton of them (700+). Specifically, best practices for how to store and retrieve the important ideas, while being able to ignore the ones that will never matter. Some think we need to store any and all ideas so that we don’t forget them, but the noise is overwhelming and the organization of the content is impossible.
A fast way is to rate all 700 with +1 or -1. Give it a +1 if it'll help many of our customers; a -1 if it'll hurt some of our customers. You can use a 0 for neither good nor bad. Then set aside all those with a -1 and just look at the +1 items.
Now rate them using a five point scale. I use: 5 Evaluators: Minimum purchase criteria 4 Potentials: Lose time or money due to problem 3 Customers: Difficult to achieve primary goal 2 Customers: Difficult to achieve non-primary goal 1 Other: Not in target market segment
or you might use: 50: solving the problem will make money for customers 40: solving the problem will save money for customers 30: they think it will make/save money 20: an existing customer wants the problem solved 10: a cool feature idea
Ideally, I'd like to have some assessment of how many customers are affected. You can count the number of requests or you can survey a set of customers. I've also been impressed with the choice model approach found at www.uservoice.com
You'll find it's easier to get valid ratings when you're talking about problems than features. People always seem to want more features, even the dumb ones. But asking "do you have this problem" seems to get better results. And yes, you want to write down all the problems and feature ideas, even the dumb ones. (After all, how many of those dumb ones came from your executive team?)
The most important thing is to figure some way to include the market in your decision making. Employee voting is rarely a good idea.
Robin the product manager has yet another request from Kevin, the world's worst sales person:
"I can't sell your product without a competitive checklist showing how we're better than bigsoftware.com"
He attached something that he's been using:
More developers than Oracle
More marketing spend than Microsoft
Better implementation assistance than SAP
SaaS-ier than Salesforce.com
More carpeted areas than our leading competitor
Poor Robin. How does she deal with this request? She knows that checklists are the sales tool for followers and losers. Only the leader can win at the checklist game, and the smart leaders don't even play. Nobody wants to see the leader thump their chests and no buyers believe the followers' claims that they're better than the leader. Great competitive strategy lies in positioning, not in feature lists.
What's a product manager to do?
Robin should do a competitive assessment of her product compared to each major competitor. Then analyze the key strengths of her product and the distinctive competence of her company. Finally, she should position her product around the established positions of her competitors.
Competitor A is great--if you want your data hosted and managed by a vendor
Competitor B is great--if you have a small installation
Competitor C is great--if you're always connected to the internet
Don't play the leaders game; play your own game. What strengths do you bring to the equation? What do you offer that is truly unique? And are those strengths valued by your potential clients?
Unique is how you start a sales cycle; better is how you win. You can't just claim to be better in every area than the leader. (Well, you can claim it but you won't be believed.)
Play to your strengths; don't play the leader's game.
A common sight in agile shops is the product owner shuffling his user stories.
"This before that. Oh this is a good one. Ooh, move that one to later."
It sure seems that many people use a prioritization scheme based in opinion, deal-of-the-day, and "whoever I talked to last."
In Requirements That Work we recommend a prioritizing formula grounded in market problems: how many people experience it and how bad is it?
In a recent session, Adrian shared this scale representing the impact of the problem on customers:
50: solving the problem will make money for customers 40: solving the problem will save money for customers 30: they think it will make/save money 20: an existing customer wants the problem solved 10: a cool feature idea
The challenge of prioritizing is that we have more ideas than we have resources. Don't you? So we must learn to prioritize.
And what did we learn from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one."
When prioritizing, choose a scheme that is simple and objective, which aligns the product strategy with the market and its problems. Try to use a formula to represent the product strategy so that your team makes changes to the formula and doesn't just move around individual items.
What is the impact of the problem on the persona? Let's get that right.