Tag Archives: Product Management

The Potential of Agile

silver bullet

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.

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Playing Whack-A-Mole With Risk

Man playing whack-a-mole carnival game

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.

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Outside-In User Story Example

thumbnails in a messaging app identifying conversation members

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.

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Minimum Valuable Problem

redacted use case dependency thumbnail

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.

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Professional Services and Improving Your Product

Prioritization at whiteboard

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?

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Customer Churn and SaaS

Revenue by Cohort thumbnail

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.

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You Don’t Know Jack (or Jill)

Candles

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.

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Why Not What – An Example

Obscenely complicated WW2 U-Boat controls

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.

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