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Showing posts from 2013

Competitive Mindshare Maps

Why You Need a Competitive Mindshare Map The core of your product strategy lies in your product's positioning and unique value proposition (UVP). It should drive nearly all product decisions, including the roadmap, feature prioritization, marketing messages, and sales approaches. A sound unique value proposition depends on: Value . It should convey the value of your product. Value is rooted in the problems your product solves. Competitive landscape . It should differentiate your product from available alternatives. Perception . It should acknowledge perceived weaknesses of the product and perceived strengths of competing products. Surprisingly, most companies take the value of their products for granted and don't bother to explicitly formulate a unique value proposition. For others, determining a unique value proposition is haphazard, with little or no process guiding the decision. At best, they focus on the value and pay insufficient attention to perceptions a

Lean Startup Concepts

Now that you've had a largely buzzword-free introduction to lean startup methods , you may be interested in a bit deeper understanding of the concepts and terminology.  Lean startup methods incorporate scientific methods and principles of agile development to help practitioners learn markets quickly and reliably and deliver successful products.  But lean startup enthusiasts and practitioners throw around a lot of terminology and concepts that may seem alien or not particularly meaningful to you. Let's examine and demystify the basic lean startup terminology with a rich and concise conceptual model . To view the model of lean startup concepts, click the image below: Lean startup concepts fall within four different clusters: hypotheses, learning, market, and product. Hypotheses Forming hypotheses is a component of lean startup methods. The business model represents the strategy driving more tactical product decisions, and it consists of a set of hypotheses . T

What Is Lean Startup? Here's What You Need to Know

You've probably heard a lot of buzz about "lean startups".  You may wonder if it's mere hype, applies just to tiny bootstrap ventures, or if adopting some lean startup methods might actually benefit your company. One of the top problems companies face as they make product decisions is that the process of learning the market, and learning what makes the product successful, is slow and unreliable . Sometimes they suffer analysis paralysis, swerve from one big deal to the next, allow conventional industry wisdom to stifle innovation, or squabble over uninformed personal opinions. In other cases, they make decisions quickly but fail to learn from their inevitable mistakes until after they've invested exorbitant amounts of time and money. If you find that your organization is facing this problem, it's worthwhile to consider lean startup methods. Just as scientists use the scientific method to learn how the universe works, your product team can apply

5 Ways Companies Make Product Decisions

In the last blog entry, we reviewed the  four problems that companies face, or are trying to overcome, as they make product decisions .  Now we'll look at the ways that most companies make their product decisions. Companies that develop, market, and sell products and solutions make strategic and ongoing tactical decisions.  They decide what features to include in their products, what messages they will use to communicate the value of their products, what marketing tactics they will use, what prospective customers they will target, and many day-to-day choices. Whether or not these decisions are deliberate or ad hoc, most companies use some combination of the following ways of making product decisions. (A downloadable "map" that summarizes the product decision landscape is included at the end of this article.) Customer Wants Product decisions based on feature requests, focus groups, and what prospects and customers say they want. Companies are selling products to

4 Problems Companies Face in Making Product Decisions

Introduction Why is product management important? Whether or not they employ product managers, companies make daily decisions about how to develop, market, and sell their products. As they make these decisions, companies typically face - or are trying to overcome - four general problems. The Problems   Products don't provide value to prospective buyers and users. Products that don't deliver value generally don't succeed in the marketplace. Value comes from solving problems that prospective customers face. "Cool" technologies and feature-laden products, if they don't help customers solve or avoid compelling problems, don't provide value that lead to usage or sales. Effective product management identifies a set of prospect problems that drive an overarching value proposition, and it empowers the entire product team to deliver and communicate that value.   Developers don't know what to build, and why . Developing

Talents of Great Product Managers

The Responsibilities Product managers lead the process of making strategic decisions about what should go in a product and how to market and sell it. Ideally, they base these decisions on in-depth knowledge of the market - prospective buyers and users, the problems they face, and the competition - and apply sound marketing principles to make the decisions. They build a shared understanding of the market, the business model, and the strategy among members of the team. Talent, not Industry Experience But how can a hiring manager identify a product manager that will excel at performing these duties?  As Buckingham and Coffman advise, the most successful managers select candidates based on talent, and not so much for experience .  Thus the typical product manager job posting that lists experience in the industry as a prerequisite is misguided.  Read more on the topic of industry experience and product management . What Is Talent? According to Buckingham and Coffman, a talent is

Join Me at ProductCamp Austin 11

Join me Saturday, July 20th, 2013 for ProductCamp Austin 11 .  ProductCamp is an "unconference" where product management and marketing professionals teach, learn, and network. Two years ago, John Milburn, Scott Sehlhorst , Paul Young , and I led a session on "The Future of Product Management". We noted that the "lean startup" movement was on the rise and would soon become a focus of product management discussion and debate. Sure enough, "lean startup" is all the rage these days, or at least talking about it is. Yet to the extent product managers have embraced lean startup concepts, most of them have barely put them into practice.  They've done little more than compose a business model canvas or used the "minimum viable product (MVP)" buzzword a few times.  How can product managers move beyond these basics, put lean startup methods into practice, and derive real value from them? I've proposed a session called "Let

Join Me at ProductCamp Austin 10

Join me Saturday, February 16th, 2013 for ProductCamp Austin 10 .  ProductCamp is an "unconference" where product management and marketing professionals teach, learn, and network. I've attended almost every ProductCamp Austin event since I and others helped founder Paul Young organize the first one, which took place June 14, 2008. I'm looking forward to seeing some fresh faces such as Hilary Corna, Jessica Tunon, Chris Hample, as well as catching up with old friends like Colleen Heubaum, John Milburn, Prabhakar Gopalan, Scott Sehlhorst, Joshua Duncan, Elizabeth Quintanilla, Devin Ellis, Mike Boudreaux, and Amanda McGuckin Hager. This time, I hope to lead a session called "Trouble with Tribbles: The Dos and Don'ts of Prospect Interviews": Prospect interviews are a critical part of product management and lean startup methods. But most people take the wrong approach, leading to unreliable or misleading market learnings. In this session, we'll e