As Steven Haines first told me, “strategy first, roadmap second.” There is a step between the two – deciding which problems you will focus on solving with your product. Strategy defines the context for product strategy, and your product roadmap is a planning (and communication) tool for executing your product strategy. Understanding how problems are framed in your market is critical to developing a successful product strategy.
Continue reading Market Problem Framing Example
Understanding your users is critical to developing good products. A “complete” understanding is sometimes required, and always comes at a cost. A contextualized understanding is valuable but less so, and costly but less so. Even a shallow understanding of your users provides value by preventing some dysfunctional behaviors. You do not always need to develop personas before developing products.
Continue reading Progressively Elaborated Users
Being “outside-in”, “outcome-based”, and “market-driven” is particularly important for creating successful products. The problem is that just saying the words is not enough to help someone shift their thinking. For those of us who are already thinking this way, the phrases become touchstones or short-hand. For folks who are not there yet, these may sound like platitudes or empty words. I know many people who want to switch their roles from “do these things” to “solve these problems.” They have to change their organizations. This example may help get the point across.
Continue reading Outside-In User Story Example
Defining and building a good minimum viable product is much harder than it sounds. Finding that “one thing” you can do, which people want, is really about a lot more than picking one thing. It is a combination of solving the minimum valuable problem and all of the other things that go with it. Solving for both the outside-in needs and the inside-out goals is critical.
Continue reading Minimum Valuable Problem
How do you work with professional services, consulting, field engineers, etc. to make your product better? Do you just treat their inputs as yet another channel for feature requests, or do you engage them as an incredibly potent market-sensing capability?
Continue reading Professional Services and Improving Your Product
If you ask someone if they require encryption on their device, first of all, you will likely get one of two answers – yes or no – useful for segmenting your market or developing persona. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a better answer – “you’re asking the wrong question!”
Continue reading Encryption is not Binary
Product owners are likely to find themselves alone in the organizational wilderness. Their organizations expect them to connect the towers of long-term strategic planning with the frontiers of great new products. Iterative and incremental development of solutions can bring these two worlds together. There’s always a gap between strategy and execution – and product owners are ideally positioned to help fill that gap.
What we need is a survival guide – a set of principles, tools, and techniques; learned and applied in a two-day “camp” with industry-leading experts in agile product management and product ownership.
Continue reading Product Owner Survival Camp
Forbes quoted Steve Jobs as saying “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” This is a really enlightened perspective – and a way to enforce focus from the top down. Before you can drive a “this goal is more important than that goal” focus, you have to make sure you’re actually focusing on the goals.
Continue reading Why Not What – An Example
Continuing the series on root causes of product failure, this article looks at the impact of focusing on the wrong user goals. Even if you have picked the right users, you may have picked the wrong goals – creating a product your customers don’t really need, or solving problems that your customers don’t care about solving.
Continue reading Why Do Products Fail? – Picking the Wrong User Goals
Exploring the reasons that a product might fail in the market is a useful way to triage and assess what you need to do to prevent the failure of your product. Instead of taking the “do these things” approach as a prescriptive recipe for product managers, I’m approaching the exact same topic from the opposite direction. I was inspired in part to explore this approach when thinking about the Remember the Future innovation game. Instead of asking “What will the system have done?” in order to gain insights what it could be built to do, I’m asking “Why did your product fail?” in order to prevent the most likely causes of failure.