The pop-culture concept of a silver bullet – a simple solution to a hard problem – is a dangerous idea. It can be used to over-promise, and doom a team to under-delivery. When an executive, too far removed from what makes creating products hard thinks of “agile” as a silver bullet it becomes difficult to manage expectations.
Continue reading The Potential of Agile
Assumptions are interesting things – we all make them all the time, and we rarely acknowledge that we’re doing it. When it comes to developing a product strategy – or even making decisions about how best to create a product, one of these assumptions is likely to be what causes us to fail. We can, however, reduce the chance of that happening.
Continue reading Playing Whack-A-Mole With Risk
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
Software as a Service is not a one and done transactional offering. A product or business built on SaaS is built on the subscription model – recurring revenue is half of what drives the business (and valuation). The other half is the rate of growth of that recurring revenue. Customer Churn is the loss of existing customers and the slope that makes growing a subscription business an uphill climb.
Continue reading Customer Churn and SaaS
You’ve got some shiny new segmentation data about prospective customers; how much they earn, where they are located, how old they are. How does that help you make decisions about your product? You know this information, but you don’t really know your audience, or why they might become your customers.
Continue reading You Don’t Know Jack (or Jill)
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
We hear a lot about building products which are “good enough” or “just barely good enough.” How do we know what “good enough” means for our customers? No one really tells us.
Continue reading Good Enough
Your product roadmap is a view of what you are building right now, in the near future, and in the more distant future. Or is your roadmap a view of why you are building whatever you’re building right now, in the near future, and in the more distant future?
Your roadmap is both – but one is more important than the other – and product managers need to be able to view the roadmap both ways.
Continue reading Opposite Views of a Product Roadmap