For a company to do this once — i.e. have one successful product — can mean they have created an innovation, but it doesn’t mean the company is innovative?
Because to be an innovative company, means to be able to repeatedly identify and create new products and have them succeed in the market. A lot of companies can do it once, but to do it 2, 3, 4 or more times is what it means to be innovative. It’s a characteristic of the company, not simply an activity the company engages in.
Nice piece from Saeed at On Product Management. Yes, to be an innovator more than once is the trick. And it has to be baked in to the company culture.
Do you rely on customer references for closing deals, working the press, and communicating with the analysts? Attendees in the Effective Product Marketing class learn that the customer database decays at a rate of 3% each month. In a year, more than a third of all customer information is invalid. Who is keeping those references alive and up-to-date?
Further, it's easier to keep a customer than to get one! We go to all the trouble and expense of acquiring a customer and then make little effort to maintain the customer. Unfortunately, dissatisfied customers don't complain; they just disappear!
What are you doing to maintain your customer relationships? Social media and sales visits are great but are you connecting with customers consistently? And are you connecting with all of them, or just the few that are buying?
Top companies realize how vital training is to their success and continue to invest in it, even in trying times.
The "Training Top 125" survey reveals that the average company dedicates 2.9% of its payroll budget for on-going training, while the top companies allocate 6.7%. Either way, training is a great way to get your team up-to-speed on the latest techniques.
Maybe it's time to send your team to one of the great seminars at Pragmatic Marketing. Learn more about product management, product marketing, roadmapping, agile, and launch. More at http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/seminars
A friend asked me for some advice on searching for a job. The one interview question I always have trouble with is "What is your weakness?" I never really knew what a good answer would be. Mine? "I don't tolerate incompetence well." Not a really good response I fear. So I found this:
"What is your greatest weakness?"
Be careful with this one. Most interview guides will tell you to answer it with a positive trait disguised as a weakness. For example, "I tend to expect others to work as hard as I do," or "I'm a bit of a perfectionist." Interviewers have heard these "canned" answers over and over again. To stand out, be more original and state a true weakness, but then emphasize what you've done to overcome it. For example: "I've had trouble delegating duties to others because I felt I could do things better myself. This has sometimes backfired because I'd end up with more than I could handle and the quality of my work would suffer. But I've taken courses in time management and learned effective delegation techniques, and I feel I've overcome this weakness."
For a typical job interview, see the Cranky Product Manager's Generic Job Interview video series.
There are few things more frustrating than knowing you have to do something that doesn't really add much value. Going in to the office every day can be one of them. You have a high-speed internet connection at home, a fast and powerful computer, a phone and pretty much everything you need to be productive. You even have a CD of office noise you can play in the background to make you feel like you're at the office. The problem is you have a boss that doesn't like the idea of you not being in the office.
SharedStatus is my new project management solution. David Alison has a blog that I've been following with lots of tips for managing the projects in your life.
Let’s assume (and this is a big assumption) that the company has the skills, internal experience and discipline to build version 1 of this more complex product. That’s great, but it’s only 1 part of equation. Let’s look at everything else that needs to happen:
If you build it, will they come? And if so, can you market it? Sell it? Support it? Saeed asks some challenging questions in this insightful post.
My daughter has started a business. She's seen a huge interest in homeschooling and is now focusing on it full-time. With a market of 3+ million families, she's got a target rich environment. Everyone we meet knows someone with homeschool kids.
As with any job she has more to do and only so much time. Where to begin?
I've given her a new rule: allocate one day per week to each of the Pragmatic 'P's. Problem, product, promotion, place.
Monday is for problems: Interviews, reading, reviewing existing research, planning new research. Honing her buyer and user personas.
Tuesday is for product: Updating, reviewing, assessing the products she offers.
Wednesday is for promotion: Participating on blogs and discussion forums, writing ebooks, evaluating promotional opportunities, attending trade shows and events.
Thursday is for Place (sales): distribution strategy, evaluating wins and losses, comparing the sales cycle to the buying cycle.
In other words, a product manager or entrepreneur should not spend every day in sales mode or development mode but be sure to spend time planning and researching too.
In my first job as a product manager, I was based in Virginia but my developers were in California. Once a month, I traveled there for a week of development planning and review meetings--what we'd now call demos and retrospectives. They'd show me what they were working on, solicit my ideas on the prototypes and initial designs; I'd tell them what I had learned from the market since my last visit. Updates on wins and losses, current revenue for the quarter, results of interviews and surveys.
And with that, I would leave them alone until next time.
In the remaining three weeks I'd allocate a week at corporate to work with marketing, support, finance, whoever and a week allocated for sales calls and customer visits. That left a week in my home office to do the writing part of product management.
Whether you do this on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, successful product managers focus on every aspect of the business of their product(s). Don't get caught up in sales support or working with development to the detriment of the rest.
What techniques do you use to focus on the business?
If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?
I hope so. If not, you're wasting away.
No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there's a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.
Hurry, go do that.
Opportunity is everywhere. Hurry. Go do that.
It takes 20 minutes to concentrate and the average workplace has an interruption every three minutes. No wonder you can't get any work done.
How do you overcome this? Schedule time for your work.
Got a big webinar or presentation coming up? Got a length document to write? Need time to prepare for an upcoming meeting?
Schedule a meeting with yourself and put it on your calendar.
Got a big stack of things to do? Block a half-day or a full-day on your calendar and work from home. You'd be amazed how much work you can accomplish in a few hours of uninterrupted time.
Some may find it annoying but when I'm back from a trip I schedule my time carefully. I generally only have a day or two to run my personal errands and connect with colleagues before I'm back out on the road for another training session. So I try to schedule those days fairly carefully to optimize my time.
As they say, if you don't manage your schedule, someone else will.
If you’re calling someone because you have something you would like to sell them, then you better not commit one of the following sins or you can forget about a call back.
Leaving a voice mail is a good practice when setting up appointments. Having a hard time getting call backs? Maybe you're breaking one of these rules.
Over the last month, I have been interviewing a lot of candidates for various open positions - software product managers, directors of business development and project managers. During the course of looking through resumes, interviewing candidates, I have come across many mistakes that candidates are making. Given this, I thought it is worthy of a blog post.
Whether you're looking or hiring, these tips from Gopal are pretty handy. Not the final point: a thank-you letter. HIRING managers should do this too!
I am a product manager, but what that really means is that I produce software. Just like a producer in the entertainment business, my job is to understand what the consumer is going to buy, make sure that it gets built, and ensure it is done for a profit.
The producer vs director analogy is powerful. In the entertainment business, a producer owns the business while the director owns the art. The strategic product manager is a business leader while the team lead in development focuses on the art of the product--the innovation. Whether you call it a product manager, a product marketing manager, a product owner, or any number of other titles, the one who knows the market and defines the business is the product producer. It's a strategic role.
What's your role in creating great products? Are you the producer or the director... or the janitor?
Do you struggle with time management? With our always-on culture, it's often hard to find the time to get your work done.
Dennis Snow offers this view on the Pomodoro technique for managing his time and I think it will work as well for many product managers.
The Pomodoro technique requires blocking 25 minutes at a time to really dive into a project. Another technique involves blocking a full day for product management. See http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/topics/01/0105sj/ for more on Product Management Thursdays.
Ether way, if you don't manage your time, someone else will.
What techniques do you use for time management?
Recently, I discovered one of the reasons the speeches are so good… TED’s organisers send upcoming speakers a stone tablet, engraved with the ‘TED Commandments”.
Learn the 10 Commandments of public speaking--particularly true for productCamps--in Tim's post.
I received a confidential internal document today via email... sent to the wrong recipient. It seems like today's email programs should be smart enough to question this. Imagine a new feature: when I mail a document with "confidential" in the text or attachment, check that all recipients are in the same domain as the sender. If not, warn the user and also send a log record to the IT staff.
The feature would catch mistakes but also rat out people (I'm thinking "Kevin") who send confidential documents to customers.
Until that day, always check your email addresses a second time whenever you send confidential documents.
Imagine you’re on the first slide of your powerpoint presentation and want to move to the next slide. Your remote control has two buttons. They are unmarked, but one button points up and one button points down. Which button do you press? Now, spend five minutes watching this video of Don Norman speaking at Business of Software 2009.
The effective marketer uses the language of the persona in all customer communication, not industry gobbledygook. The same should be true in hiring, right? Speak in the language of the "buyer" (candidate). But how often do you read job descriptions that do this?
I met you during a session this past February. Our company has an extremely Pragmatic-focused product management department [YAY!] and I wondered if you might have further book/course recommendations in the following areas:
That’s a good way to shut down someone who is trying to use sparse “I know someone who…” stories to second-guess a decision. But in general, it’s not true. The plural of anecdotes IS data – as long as you’ve collected them properly and challenged them rigorously.
Nice article from Cindy about being the messenger of the market.