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Ten Tips For New Product Managers

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Ten Tips For New Product Managers

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  1. Ten Tips For New Product Managers Presented by Jeff Lash jeff@jefflash.com www.jefflash.com www.goodproductmanager.com

  2. Four types of “new” Product Managers

  3. Ten Tips • Spend time with customers • Ask “dumb” questions • Let go of your past • Surround yourself with experts • Gather data • Focus • Concentrate on what, not how • Communicate, communicate, communicate • Sell your product internally • Do whatever it takes

  4. Spend time with customers The single most important thing a product manager can do is to understand the market The best way to understand the market is to spend time with customers Customer: Uploaded to flickr by David Kozlowski flickr.com/photos/traveller2020/539548225/

  5. Spend time with customers: To Do • Spend more time with customers than with colleagues • Set goals for customer visits • Establish a regular schedule for customer interactions • Bring colleagues along with you • Bring back information to share

  6. Ask “dumb” questions “Dumb” questions are really more about when they get asked than about what you are asking New product managers have the luxury of asking naïve questions Ask as many questions as possible as soon as possible Who to ask? Customers, colleagues, stakeholders, superiors, partners, competitors… sign - ? question mark: Uploaded to flickr by Leo Reynolds flickr.com/photos/lwr/12364944/

  7. Ask “dumb” questions: To Do • Develop a list of initial questions • Generate additional questions each timeone is answered • Make note of interesting answers for future reference • Ask the same question to different peopleand compare answers

  8. Let go of your past • What were you in your “past” life? Whatever it was, you’re a product manager now • There is a natural instinct for product managers to gravitate towards the function of the business from which they came – resist it 141 Thursday - letting go: Uploaded to flickr by roujo flickr.com/photos/tekmagika/474086212/

  9. Let go of your past: To Do • Audit the time you are spending on each areaof the product • Have an open conversation with colleagues in your former role • Discuss experiences and establish boundaries • Think hard before overruling decisions • Review regularly to discuss progress

  10. Surround yourself with experts • Product managers can not and should notdo it all alone • Your success depends on others • Do not try to be an expert in everything • Leverage the expertise of others in certain areas • Look for “formal” and “informal” advisors • Experts do not just have to be within your organization

  11. Surround yourself with experts: To Do • Identify areas important to product’s success • Identify internal experts in targeted areas • Enlist experts as Trusted Advisors • Utilize advisors for decision-making, planning, support and overcoming obstacles

  12. Gather data • “In a truly consumer-driven company, decisions are based on data… so the person with the best data wins.” – Scott Cook; Founder, Intuit • Lots of different types of data… • Internal data • External data • Market data • Product data Data: Uploaded to flickr by kokeshi flickr.com/photos/kokeshi/119345900/

  13. Gather data: To Do • Gather existing market research and industry data – primary and secondary • Identify information gaps and develop plans to fill them • Gather existing product performance data • Identify missing and desired information and leverage colleagues to obtain • If desired data is not available, quantify the value of it in order to obtain support for projects to gather it

  14. Ten Tips • Spend time with customers • Ask “dumb” questions • Let go of your past • Surround yourself with experts • Gather data • Focus • Concentrate on what, not how • Communicate, communicate, communicate • Sell your product internally • Do whatever it takes

  15. Focus It will be overwhelming You will not know where to start It is better to do one thing well than to do a lot of things poorly irony; Uploaded to flickr by mrpattersonsir flickr.com/photos/mrpattersonsir/30325860/

  16. Focus: To Do • Make a list of all of the “internal” and “external” priorities • Determine timelines, relative levels of effort, and resources required • Pick a few quick wins and focus initial effort • During that time, develop longer-term focus • Get agreement on focus, communicate, and reiterate it

  17. Concentrate on what, not how • It will be tempting to control “how” things get done with your product • Resist the temptation • Product managers should define “what” needs to happen… • … and others should define “how” those things happen

  18. Concentrate on what, not how: To Do • Clarify roles and responsibilities with team members • Engineering • Design • Marketing • Get regular feedback on whether you and others are keeping with the agreed-upon responsibilities

  19. Communicate, communicate… • Do not underestimate the importance of communication in all forms • Informal, formal, written, verbal, unspoken, method, timeliness, frequency, tone Calling_all_Flickrs; Uploaded to flickr by carf flickr.com/photos/beija-flor/5011611/

  20. Communication Source: Seven Traits of Successful Product Managers; Michael Shrivathsan michael.hightechproductmanagement.com/2006/12/seven_traits_of_successful_pro.html

  21. Communication Manager Sales ProductManager Marketing Engineering

  22. Communication Executives Manager Other PMs Sales Finance ProductManager Marketing Legal CustomerService Project Management Engineering Design

  23. Communication Executives Customers Manager Other PMs Partners Sales Finance ProductManager Marketing Investors Legal CustomerService IndustryAnalysts Project Management Engineering Design

  24. Communicate, communicate: To Do • Audit current communications (if any) • Get feedback from stakeholders on preferred communications channels and frequency • Develop communications plan; type and frequency • Email newsletter • Intranet site • “State of the Product” presentations • Set reminders about communications and stick to schedule!

  25. Sell your product internally • Be the champion for your product • “Sell” your product to executives, team members, other departments • Will help gain resources, funding, support for issues and new initiatives

  26. Sell your product internally: To Do • Regularly communicate good news • Don’t go overboard • Don’t ignore or try to dismiss bad news • Make sure your communication plans includeall the necessary audiences • Get others to help sell your product • Explicit “enlistment” • Find good supporters and keep them happy

  27. Do whatever it takes “Be willing to do whatever it takes.  … I know of many cases where the product manager needed to help out with deliverables for customer support, sales training, technical writing, QA, engineering, and marketing.  You may need to just do it.” Source: Thriving in Large Companies; Silicon Valley Product Group www.svproduct.com/blog/files/thriving_in_large_companies.html

  28. Do whatever it takes: To Do • Learn about as many areas of your product as possible • The more you know, the more you can help • Help out at the right time • Don’t start too early, but don’t wait too long • Don’t complain about having to help out • But make sure to discuss it later if there are skill or resource issues that need to be addressed

  29. Bonus tip #11 • Learn from other product managers • There are plenty of great (and often free!) resources available • Books, blogs, newsletters, webinars, conferences, training, professional associations, local groups, mailing lists, social networking sites…

  30. Resources • How To Be A Good Product Manager 2) Ask dumb questions • www.goodproductmanager.com/2007/02/09/ask-dumb-questions/ 3) Let go of your past • www.goodproductmanager.com/2007/01/30/let-go-of-your-past/ 4) Surround yourself with experts • www.goodproductmanager.com/2007/02/22/dont-do-it-all-or-do-it-all-yourself/ 7) Take responsibility for what, not how • www.goodproductmanager.com/2007/02/14/take-responsibility-for-what-not-how/ 10) Do whatever it takes • www.goodproductmanager.com/2007/04/04/help-out-in-areas-outside-of-product-management/ • More topics at www.goodproductmanager.com

  31. Resources • Brainmates: So You’re a New Product Manager… • Part 1: www.brainmates.com.au/?p=165 • Part 2: www.brainmates.com.au/?p=153 • Part 3: www.brainmates.com.au/?p=159 • Part 4: www.brainmates.com.au/?p=166 • Part 5: www.brainmates.com.au/?p=169 • Part 6: www.brainmates.com.au/?p=172 • On Product Management: How to be a Great Product Manager • onproductmanagement.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/how-to-be-a-great-product-manager-boxed-set-with-bonus-features/

  32. Resources • Lots of other great Product Management blogs • www.goodproductmanager.com/resources/ • These slides are available online • www.jefflash.com/work/ • Interested in getting your feedback • jeff@jefflash.com