I’ll be attending Product Camp South Florida on June 8, 2013. Will you?
To register & for more information, visit http://pcampsfl.eventbrite.com
A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.—John le Carré.
David John Moore Cornwell, pen name John le Carré, is a British author of espionage novels. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Cornwell worked for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, when he began writing novels under a pen name. Wikipedia
I’ve been reviewing job descriptions for product managers and product owners and something’s missing. The responsibilities include “representing the customer” and “being expert on the market.” Then they list a bunch of meetings and artifacts and office work.
How can you know the market if you’re not in the market?
Another client is developing a program for on-going customer interaction, including a “customer adoption” program for the executives, outbound calling trees for top-tier customers, and online forums for all customers. And of course, frequent visits to clients by product managers and product owners.
Haven’t you found clients to be the best source of positive information about your product? After all, your company colleagues can only see the problems and flaws as they strive to improve (which is good). But customers will tell you stories about how your product helps them do their jobs, and improves their value to the company and to their clients.
Need some good news? Call a client today.
Need help? Check out my Pragmatic Marketing implementation assistance.
In recent years, we’ve seen new definitions for old titles and many new titles being created. We’ve got product managers, product marketing managers, product owners, business analysts, product strategists, product line managers, and portfolio managers.
Let’s keep it simple. There are four types of skills needed to define and deliver products to market. Product leaders (by whatever title) attempt to support the team with all four types of knowledge but it’s rare to find all of these capabilities in a single person.
Technology expertise is about how the product works. From their daily interactions, product managers pick up a deep understanding of product and technical capabilities; they achieve this by playing with the product, by discussing it with customers and developers, by reading and reading and reading. For a technology expert, the product almost becomes their personal hobby. They think of themselves as product experts.
Typical titles: product manager, product owner, technical product manager, business analyst
Market expertise is a focus on geographic or vertical markets, either by country or by industry. They know how business is done in that market. They know the major players, and the jargon or colloquialisms of the market. Market experts define themselves by the market they serve: “I’m a banker” or “I support BRIC.”
Typical titles: industry manager, product marketing manager, field marketing manager
Domain expertise is about the discipline your product supports, such as security, fraud detection, or education. Domain experts know (and often define) the standards for the discipline and can explain the latest thinking in that area. They understand the problems that your product endeavors to solve, regardless of the market or industry. And for a domain expert, your product is merely one way of addressing the problems of their specialty. Domain experts define themselves not by the product but by their topic area.
Typical titles: product scientist, principal product manager
Business expertise is where your traditional business leader or MBA graduate brings strength. These experts know the mechanics of business and can apply that knowledge to your product. A business-oriented expert knows how to use research to determine product feasibility, can determine how the product generates profit with lots of financial analysis to back it up. Ideally these business skills need to be combined with one of the other skills or provided as a support role for the other areas of expertise.
Typical titles: product strategist, product leader, portfolio manager
You can see why product leaders struggle in some areas and breeze through others. Most of us understand these four product management skill sets inherently and we also realize that it’s difficult to find one person with all four skills.
And it explains the difficulty you and your colleagues sometimes have when connecting with customers. The sales people who don’t know the industry jargon or the marketers who seem insensitive to the customs of different countries or the developers who don’t understand why a capability is critical to customers.
Think about the skills you have and the skills you need for your organization. Consider the requests you’re getting from development, marketing, sales, customer support, partners, and so on. Determine which expertise is needed to accurately support these requests.
My article, Stop Treating Software Development Like Factory Work, has been published on Digital Growth Insights.
In the old days, machine time was expensive and people were cheap. So developers spent days, weeks, even months designing solutions on paper before they put them into the machine. Programming in those days involved flowcharts, pseudo-code, and many, many reviews. And then personal computers came along.
Read the full article here.
Why don’t you go to the carwash more often?
When it’s a beautiful sunny day, many drivers think, “Hey, how about getting the ol’ car washed?” And then they check the weather forecast on their phone. After all, why bother to get the car washed if it’s just gonna rain tomorrow?
So the people who run car washing services see ups and downs in their revenue, entirely dependent on the weather forecast.
Is there another way?
What if customers had the option to get the car washed again within 7 days? Or what if the car wash sold a membership, a “subscription” approach? “Get your car washed up to 6 times per month.”
Understanding why people do not buy is critical to pricing. Once you understand the origin of their reluctance to buy, you can package your offering in a way that overcomes their objections.
How might you package your offerings in a form that customers will embrace?
There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.—Henry Kissinger
Henry Alfred Kissinger is a German-born American writer, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, he served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. After his term, his opinion was still sought by some subsequent US presidents and other world leaders. Learn more…
A recent survey reveals product managers and product marketing managers spend 46% of their time in firefighting. With so much time focused on operational issues and emergencies, when are you going to work on the critical core documents that drive your product strategically?
Let’s look ahead just a bit. Sometime in the next few months, you’ll need to prepare a business case or a product plan or a strategic roadmap. The usual approach is to pull a few all-nighters and hope you don’t get tagged by anyone for additional detail. However, I’ve always kept a binder (or a folder) filled with the living documents of my product. A financial plan, a prioritized backlog, personas, positioning, roadmap.
Start working on those now! Complete one document at a time.
And then when it’s crunch time, if you’ve been working on the core items of the business of your product, it’s more of a copy-and-paste exercise. It’s edit, not compose. Much easier.
In my coaching sessions, I help teams identify which activities are important and then assess how well they’re being done–not surprisingly, the most important product activities are usually the ones which are being done poorly. With a simple red-yellow-green indicator, we can identify which activities need our attention. My goal is to help teams turn those important areas to green–showing a high level of performance.
Need help? Check out my Pragmatic Marketing implementation assistance.