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.

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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.

It was certainly not the answer he was expecting, and I somehow felt compelled to provide a further explanation to my boss’s boss if, for no other reason, than to keep my job.

But at least I got his attention.

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Passion and care: Business lessons from the top chefs

In recent months, I’ve found myself watching numerous food-related documentaries. From the Netflix show, Chef’s Table, to the PBS series, The Mind of a Chef (also available on Netflix), it’s fascinating to see the passion displayed by these culinary geniuses. It’s also interesting to see how they focus on every detail, how they all craft the unique experience they provide with care in an effort to achieve customer delight.

These shows also share glimpses of the journey some of them took to find their own voice, their unique value proposition that enables them to stand out. While each of these chefs have very different culinary styles and experiences, they offer amazing examples of customer delight. And although the lessons they teach are from the culinary world, they can be used by companies of any size and in any sector to achieve similar success.

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

Most product-management methodologies offer an organized series of steps, from the more strategic aspects to the tactical execution. One of the key pieces that is almost universally considered a key deliverable by product managers is the market-requirement document, often simply called the MRD. These steps and documents are very fact-based and almost always lack a way to share the big picture and the emotion you want to create.

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Microsoft’s transition to a customer-centric company

High-technology products can be divided into many different categories. One such segmentation is to divide products into those you want to use vs. those you have to use.

For the first group, many Apple products almost certainly come to mind. Its devices are beautiful and designed to enhance the overall user experience. Together, the hardware and software are recognized as being among the best—if not the very best—around.

When it comes to products you have to use, however, did Microsoft come to mind?

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