Product-Management Mastery: It takes (at least) 3

Poduct Management is, at once, an art, a craft and a science of setting, sharing and driving teams toward a product vision that will deliver significant values to its users. Becoming a Master Product Manager requires a broad range of skills from a deep knowledge of project management and work back plans to a strong ability to build lasting relationships with others and keep them motivated. In this article, I give my view on how to define Mastery in Product Management and how to know when you are getting there for your product. Spoiler alert: It takes three.read more >

The trinity of products: Quality, Resources and Time

You’ve heard the old saw: “Fast, good or cheap—pick two.” You can get good quality quickly, but it won’t be cheap. You can get a great price and have it ASAP but the quality will likely be suspect. Or you can have great quality at a great price but expect to wait for it. Developing products is a lot like that. It’s a flurry of constant choices—and compromises—that are about quality, cost and speed. Living within these constraints can be challenging, but living without constraints will almost certainly result in failure. What’s a product manager to do?read more >

It all comes down to communication

It’s a great feeling. You come out of a productive meeting you’ve chaired happy because everyone seemed to be on the same page. They all knew what was expected of them—your requests were very specific—and the next steps you outlined were clear and meaningful. Wonderful! Then, three days later, people are asking each other if they were even at the same meeting. Just because it was clear to you doesn’t mean it was clear to them. And whose fault is that? Sorry to say, but it was probably yours.read more >

Planning for success: What if your product is a hit?

When it comes to new products and feature introductions, we’ve all seen our share of successes—and flops that hit the floor with a loud and sudden THUD. Some launches were an instant hit while some got almost no traction—and certainly displayed no stickiness. But when success strikes, does all hell have to break loose? Can we prevent the process from collapsing under the heavy load? Perhaps we need to properly plan for success.read more >

The next step: Aircraft ownership

Once you’ve experienced the joy of flying, you will almost certainly do your very best to rationalize owning your own airplane (or, at least, a share in one). It’s good to recognize that while any analysis you conduct will be biased, having numbers will certainly help “sell” the business case for ownership to your spouse. Here’s how to put together the numbers.read more >

Product Managers: Dare to make products crafted with care

Generally speaking, craftspeople take great care and pride in their work—their passion for what they do shows in the final product. Some craftspeople, however, are still remembered decades, even centuries, later. Here’s just one example. Of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of stringed instruments in the world today, only 1,100, or so, were made by Antonio Stradivari, the great Italian luthier. Almost 300 years ago, he hand-built what are widely acknowledged as the finest violins and cellos (and a few other instruments) on the planet. His are still the standard to which all other luthiers aspire. Despite now living in the age of technology and automation, we must follow in Stradivari’s footsteps. Our #1 priority should be building products that are crafted with care and designed to delight.read more >

Better decision making: Business lessons from the aviation world

In the aviation world, safety is given a lot of attention—and rightfully so. Redundancy and checklists are everywhere and there is very strict regulation where everything is codified. As importantly, there are aviation-related organizations whose main focus is on learning from past mistakes. The business world could certainly learn a thing or two from the aviation industry.read more >

Why you should pay for the software you use

Pirates (more accurately called “thieves”) have lurked around in the background of the high-technology world since commercial software was first made available to personal-computer owners back in the olden days. When people think of digital piracy, however, they most often relate it to software. But piracy can be extended to anything available in a digital format on a local device—including mobile units—where the cost of producing perfect copies is almost zero. Even more, digital piracy may soon be found in the physical-goods world thanks to the growing popularity of 3D printers. The problem is, piracy (more accurately called “theft”) can eventually lead to a product’s development being stopped in its tracks because of a lack of funding for future versions. And that may well be the biggest reason to lose your bandanna, eye patch and big golden earring and start ponying up for what you use.read more >

Getting my wings wet: The freedom of flying floatplanes

A private pilot’s license is really just a license to learn. Even if you don’t plan to become a commercial airline pilot, there is an extensive array of flying experiences that will put a smile on your face. Learning to fly a floatplane, for example, is something that not only broadens your flying experience, but also opens up a whole raft—pun intended—of landing fields across Ontario and beyond. While a pile of fun, it also opens up the possibility of more difficult take-offs and landings—which is why I also suggest egress training (a fancy name for learning how to extract yourself from the cabin when you’re in trouble in the water).read more >

The amazing business model of Santa, Inc.

When the success of your organization depends on global delivery within a window of just 24 hours, it’s imperative for your logistics and delivery systems to be flawless. Add to that a strict focus on delighting the customers using processes that rely heavy on outsourcing and you can see just what a challenge it would be. Wait a minute! There’s also that whole “deliver significant shareholder value and growth, year after year” thing. Daunting? Yes. But not for Santa, Inc. read more >

Product Managers: Doing nothing is a lot of work

It’s a question every product manager faces: What do you do, exactly? I got it from a newly appointed Executive Vice President of Marketing, to whom all the Product Managers reported, about eight years ago. After a short reflection, my answer was simple. Sort of. They do nothing—but it’s a lot of work.read more >

Passion and care: Business lessons from the top chefs

Check out the Netflix show, Chef’s Table or the PBS series, The Mind of a Chef (also on Netflix), and you will witness some of the world’s top chefs and how they achieve stardom by focusing on passion, customer care and a deep attention to detail. You will see how the whole experience they deliver is crafted with care. These are techniques that can be used by just about any business, large or small, in their own strategies, culture and operations to achieve their success in their own fields.read more >

Start with the media release, not the MRD, when developing new products

When you develop a new product, you must make sure the customer is front and centre throughout the development cycle. The standard document in most product-management methodologies is the market-requirement document (MRD). While this is useful, you should really start with an internal “media release,” complete with the kinds of reviews you would like to see. This release will show both how you want to present the product and how you want it to be perceived by users. More importantly, it will enable anyone working on the development to see—even feel—the product and—and this is the whole point—make sure it is crafted with care.read more >

What does it take to learn to fly?

Always dreamed of flying? Me, too. So, six years ago I dipped into my savings and went to ground school. With as many hours (or more) of hangar talk under my belt as actual flying time, I thought I would offer some tips to others contemplating getting a private pilot’s license. My most important piece of advice? Don’t wait another minute. Go for it!read more >

Microsoft’s transition to a customer-centric company

When you think about a large customer-centric technology company, you will almost certainly think of Apple. One that almost certainly didn’t make it to the top of your list was Microsoft. Yet, it is clear that the Redmond, Washington, giant is undergoing a massive transformation and is reinventing itself as leader in customer delight, crafting every product and service with care.read more >

Getting the pricing right is harder than it seems

Setting pricing seems easy. You understand the value you provide to your users and how much they are willing to pay. Armed with that information, you set the price. But if you sell in more than one country or through partners, you very quickly add a whole new level of complexity that makes the whole exercise, well, fun. read more >

What is “customer delight”?

“Customer delight” is about putting a smile on someone’s face after they’ve used your product. It’s about putting the elements in place that will create an emotional link between the user and the product. It requires not only a clear understanding of why, but also a relentless attention to detail at every touch point—a “crafted with care” mentality.read more >