Friday, September 16, 2011

Recap: Building the Case for a Market-Focused Approach w/Greg White

Please retweet: 9/12 Recap: Building the Case for a Market-Focused Approach w/ 
@GregWhiteOC #prodmgmttalk @prodmgmttalk

Product Camp Southern California
At our most recent, Sept 12 Global Product Management Talk on Twitter, Greg White led us in an inquiry into Building the case for a market focused approach.  Following is an edited recap of the tweets. Cindy F. Solomon was joined by Erika L. Andersen as co-host. Use this as a jumping off point to blog your insights and responses.
Greg says, "This discussion assumes that the audience is familiar with business cases. It's about steering the direction of the company and business cases are one of the tools to do that. Another is a clear vision of the future in the form of a good product roadmap." 

                                                      ·    Ries & Trout's THE 22 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF MARKETING
·     You Can't Analyze Your Way to Growth
·     "Strategy is about taking many small risks" Jeff Bezos
·     4-part article. Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Change:
·     Ford never made that quote  
·     the pyramid, pushing decisions 2 team
·     I like the Henry Ford quote, whether or not he said it
·     Why Twitter for this discussion?

Orange County Product Managers
Q1 How important is understanding your target market to the success of your product?
  • rcauvin A1: Understanding your market of course helps in #prodmgmt. But don't forget to formulate & test hypotheses. 
  • lmckeogh A1: should have a general understanding. Think it is better to understand customer's problems that may/may not jive w/ a market 
  • Ycnt_ibdonlyjen RT @rcauvin: A1: Understanding your market of course helps in #prodmgmt. But don't forget to formulate  & test hypotheses. 
  • lmckeogh @rcauvin : seek to debunk hypothesis rather than confirm them 

Q1a  Have you had to defend a business case, and if so, how?
  • GregWhiteOC We've all developed business cases. There can be influences & agendas within the company to pursue a particular direction. 
  • lmckeogh Yes. The strength of defending the business case comes from the data used. Data is the great equalizer.  
  • rcauvin A1a: Sure, formulating & defending a biz case is a common Strategic  #prodmgmt  activity.  
  • lmckeogh When defending the biz case, lay out the options and compare all of them equally. Remember to include option to do nothing  
  • rcauvin A1a: But in addition to "defending" spell out your plan for testing the business case.  
  • GregWhiteOC: Had to convince exec that customers would not appreciate. They listend, put resources elsewhere  
  • lmckeogh When creating biz case, try to identify risks, their probability, and impact. Also any plans to mitigate them 
  • rcauvin A1a: Business case should draw upon both strategic marketing principles & market information.
  • GregWhiteOC: Your biz case must be quantifiable. Hard,fast data, not opinions. 
  • GregWhiteOC: Need metrics instead of just "I think this will happen." Put into model and see if flies.
  • lmckeogh When creating biz case for unknown/new market hard data is not always available. Call out assumptions and gut decisions. 
  • rcauvin A1a: For marketing principles, turn to Ries & Trout's THE 22 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF MARKETING. 
Q2 What are some ways you have gained insights into your target market’s needs?
  • lmckeogh You Can't Analyze Your Way to Growth past doesn't include opps that exist but have not yet happened 
  • ErikaLAndersen Erika: A2 Personas! (must say at least once each tweetchat) 
  • rcauvin A2: prospect interviews, surveys, ethnographic studies, and put real stuff in front of them to test my assumptions.
  • thebuddygroup A2: Surveys, but most importantly, studying the heartbeat -- the convos -- of our target market to see what they want & need 
  • GregWhiteOC: Take concept, throw it against the wall, see if sticks 
  • lmckeogh Analysis excludes ways to serve customers that have not been tried or imagined or ways to turn non-customers into customers. 
  • GregWhiteOC: Put out a landing page, do some A/B testing, see if it works. 
  • GregWhiteOC: This doesn't work for projects that take 60-90 days or more 
  • lmckeogh @GregWhiteOC : talking to customers & listening to their problems &creating sln rather than creating sln & trying to find mkt 
  • ErikaLAndersen @GregWhiteOC DOES NOT ADVOCATE the throw against the wall approach...example of what NOT to do 
  • lmckeogh @ErikaLAndersen @Mack_McCoy @GregWhiteOC : when throwing against the wall, use small bits, ala Amazon approach
  • GregWhiteOC The whole point of a business case and using a mkt focused approach is NOT THROWING against a wall.
  • lmckeogh "Strategy is about taking many small risks" Jeff Bezos 
  • Mack_McCoy @lmckeogh That's true. It could work for features or subsets, but for an entire product is incredibly risky.
  • rcauvin A2: Focus not on what customers say they WANT, but on what PROBLEM it would solve, and what they DO. 
  • ErikaLAndersen @rcauvin Customers know life experience, but not how to design products to meet needs. Thus, have no clue what they want. 

Q3 How do you respond to executive direction that you know is not going to be a successful model?
  • lmckeogh A3: This is where your metal as product manager gets proven. If you cannot sell an idea may want to find other line of work 
  • Mack_McCoy A3: Diplomatically, but also don't be shy. You're paid to make successful products, not exec's vision. Depending on...
  • thebuddygroup Hopefully the execs have their own version of a cabinet, whose opinions and input they value  #BuddyUp  
  • lmckeogh A3: Going back to data as the great equalizer, sit w/ exec show the data & ask to see theirs. If yours is wrong rethink it. 
  • Mack_McCoy A3: ...the org, will determine how you approach. Some orgs are data driven, so you'll have to go that route. Others prefer... 
  • Mack_McCoy A3: ...stories or persona or "real customer" feedback. It all depends. 
  • thebuddygroup A3 If you see holes in the strategy, propose a solution, don't just point out the issue or you're causing a problem, as well 
  • wapolanco A3: I'm a big advocate of "the answer is in the numbers" stats will always prove or disprove a case. 
  • lmckeogh a3: it is not really exec's job to truly know what to do, they rely on others around them for advice and direction.  
  • wapolanco Also, an effective PM can get top clients to comment/opine on roadmap. Sometimes that alone will persuade execs. 
  • Mack_McCoy A3: Good 4-part article. Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Change:   
  • lmckeogh A3: how you couch the proposal is also important. Don't put exec in a meeting, hit them cold and expect a favorable decision 
  • ErikaLAndersen Team: becomes collaboration with best of what ppl have to offer 
  • reinfluence @rcauvin @lmckeogh Yes to empowerment! But they don't make the executive's decisions.  
  • wapolanco @rcauvin@reinfluence @lmckeogh Some of the best execs empower a TEAM to make decisions. Means moving frm mgr to leader! 
Q4 Have you ever had to create a no-go business case?
  • lmckeogh A4: Yes on both. Showed 5 options that all logically built to doing nothing. Net ROI didn't get us any further ahead so why 
  • thebuddygroup Sometimes you need to swat out the options to ideate 
  • GregWhiteOC You need to do a lot of education and lobbying. 
Q5 How important is a product roadmap to aligning your product with market needs?
  • GregWhiteOC The product roadmap supports the business case and is a great tool for socializing your vision.  
  • Mack_McCoy Yes! Roadmap is key piece of internal communication & political selling. 
  • wapolanco A5: Roadmap is essential in communicating the alignment between pm/org/industry. 
  • rcauvin A5: A product roadmap is provisional but important for expressing & testing hypotheses. 
  • thebuddygroup A5 A roadmap is very important. Know where you need to go, including budget & resource allocation, but prepare for bumps 
  • Mack_McCoy @GregWhiteOC It's also a critical piece for alignment to reduce duplicate work and set the stage for the development effort. 

Q6 Have you ever built a product that no customers specifically asked for?

Thank you @GregWhiteOC for speaking today and @ErikaLAndersen for co-hosting! Everyone's participation appreciated! 

Today’s stats 304 tweets generated 279,547 impressions, reaching an audience of 12,010 followers 

Join us next week for Managing the Backlog During Initial Development in B2B ISVs w/ @Johnpeltier and co-host Roger Cauvin @rcauvin with Cindy @cindyfsolomon 

Please retweet: 9/12 Recap: Building the Case for a Market-Focused Approach w/ 
@GregWhiteOC #prodmgmttalk @prodmgmttalk

Global Product Management TalkTM is a weekly mini-product camp Socratic discussion (on Twitter) of pre-posted questions (on Facebook) with live audio of thought leader and co-hosts commenting (on Blogtalkradio). 

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