Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Market Insights and Collaboration by Scott Sehlhorst of Tyner Blain

Guest Post
By Scott Sehlhorst 

In this week’s #ProdMgmtTalk, one of the livelier discussion topics was around gaining insights into your market – and what does that mean (to you)? Steven Haines was the speaker for this session who prompted us to think, and pushed us to rethink our views on market insights.  What a great example of collaboration among product managers!


In an email-interview with Craig Brown, creator of the Better Projects site, for an upcoming article, I admitted to Craig that I felt one of my mistakes was not taking advantage of enough of the opportunities we have to collaborate.
#ProdMgmtTalk, a weekly Twitter-chat session on product management, co-hosted by Cindy F, Solomon and brainmates‘ Adrienne Tan, had its inaugural session this week. It was a great forum for collaboration and connecting with some obviously very sharp and seasoned product managers!
I’m thrilled to be the Catalyst of Discussion next week (definitely a more apt title thanspeaker).  Pretty intimidating to be in the slot between @Steven_Haines (transcript of session) and @Jim_Holland.  The rest of the lineup looks stellar too – I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with, learn from, grab a beer with, or at least talk with most of these folks already; and hope to do the same with the rest!
One great thing about a Twitter-chat session like this is that when you’re passionate about the topic and want to join in the discussion, you just do – without having to bide your time or risk talking “over” someone else.  Everyone’s thoughts are shared and consumed – often simultaneously.  Occasionally, some contributions go by too fast – but it is great to be able to carry multiple-threads of conversation at the same time, without ever feeling frenetic.
One downside – thoughts are expressed in 140 character chunks.  For many things we do, and think, care, and talk about in product management; 140 characters are inadequate.  And yes, Stewart, I know that 1,000 words probably aren’t ”required”.  There’s probably a happy medium.

Market Insights

Steven Haines, author of The Product Manager’s Desk Reference, got the discussion started with some great questions around “Best in Class Product Management.”  A great conversation thread (multi-thread, really) was started around what it means to have market insights.  In her writeup of the session, Adrienne pulled together a lot of great quotes around the theme.
Combining some of the ideas from the folks in the session:
  • Market data = (data about) the industry, market trends, your competitors, your (existing and prospective) customers, your market segments, and your competitors’ products.
  • Insight = understanding that is distilled from market data.
Unfortunately, the conversation only lasts for an hour.  Not enough for me.  I think there’s an important next topic for the group:
  • OK, you have market insights.  What do you do with them?  And how?

Next Week

Make sure and join in the #ProdMgmtTalk conversation next week (follow the link for times and instructions).
And here’s a tip – there will be a link to this article, as “prep material” for the session.
If you want to seed the conversation with some long form (more than 140 character) thoughts and answers – add them to the comments here.  Folks will read them before the session starts.
Questions to think about prior to talk:
1. When you're developing insights about your markets - how do you predict what your markets will look like in the future?
2. How far into the future do you try and anticipate markets - and why that length of time?
3. How do you update your perspective on your markets?
4. How do your insights impact your products and activities
About the Guest Post Author:
Scott Sehlhorst is a product management and strategy consultant who founded Tyner Blain in 2005 to help companies create successful products. Scott has been creating products for 20 years, first as an electromechanical design engineer, later as a software developer, and for the last decade as a requirements, program, and product manager. You can follow what Scott is writing about at and what he's talking about @sehlhorst on Twitter.

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