Yours Productly – Jobs To Be Done

job-to-be-done

JTBD takes the focus away from feature sets. Instead the core focus moves to understanding what it that the product is solving for; the customer need; the job the customers are going to use the product for and how to solve for that.

Want to know more about the Jobs to Be Done framework?

Visit Yours Productly and listen to Ravi Kumar and I discuss the key concepts and how #JTBD can be applied in product development.

The product managers’ bookshelf

read-bookshelf

Looking for your next product management read? Check out the latest additions to ‘hit’ the Product Managers’ Bookshelf.

Happy reading!

 

Women in Design: How to Trust Yourself

design fund

Reposted from the fifth Women in Design event on the 19th of April 2016.

“Female voices, she argued, are underrepresented in professional settings, from entry-level positions to the C-suite. But when women become more visible, they’re subject to extra criticism and backlash, whether they’re simply sharing their talents or pitching their voices into more charged discussions like negotiating salaries,raising venture capital, and speaking out against sexism.” – Maria Molfino

Some common themes to those discussed at the Sydney Product Talks session on the role of gender in product management.

Wonderful advice from this panel discussion at the Designer FundHappy reading: How to Trust Yourself: Insights from 6 Top Women Leaders in Design & Tech

Does Gender Play a Role in Product Management?

diversity

Last night I led a discussion at the Product Talks Sydney in relation to the role of gender in product management.

One of the reasons I started thatproductchick was because, as a woman in product management, I felt disconnected from much of the product management discussion and representation. When you search for “product manager” online, for example, overwhelmingly the imagery and language is male.

In my product management career to date, I have encountered both overt and implicit gender bias. With experience (and many mistakes!), I have learned how to be effective and overcome these challenges. As with any implicit behaviour however, they are difficult to identify, navigate and ultimately change. (Any product manager who has explored the role of behavioural economics in service and product design will know how powerful implicit belief systems are.)

Below is a brief excerpt from last night’s presentation, outlining things product managers and leaders can do to to address gender bias and make the product community reflective of the community in which our products and services thrive:

  • Don’t hold yourself back – work outside your comfort zone and take the opportunities that come your way
  • Be explicit about your career aspirations and choices. Ask for and participate in professional development and training
  • Keep real-time records – objective metrics and compliments that you can use in your performance conversation and be prepared substantiate and highlight your achievements
  • Don’t undermine yourself – be quietly confident
  • Watch out for being unfairly assigned ‘office housework’. Be strategic about what you say yes to and what you say no to
  • Know your product portfolio financials and metrics – metrics are hard to argue against; they build your credentials and can bridge divides based on stereotypes or biases
  • Actively engage stakeholders early and frequently – even the tough ones.
  • As a product leader (both women and men), actively hire for diversity and inclusion. Be conscious of your inherent bias.
  • Support your team to work across (and up) your organisational structure

A big shout out to Adrienne and Nick from Brainmates for hosting last night’s event.

You can download a full copy of the presentation: Does Gender Play A Role In Product Management V3.7

 

MYOB DevelopHER internship

Great opportunity for a paid internship via MYOB to develop women into Devs. No previous tech background required. Email: DevelopHER@myob.com

developher

Don’t confuse a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with a Go-To-Market shortcut

minimum viable product shortcut

As a Product Manager I am often working towards the launch and development of an MVP – Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is a great means to launch quickly and effectively in market; to test and learn, iterate and refine. It should not, however be confused with a go-to-market short cut.

In developing an MVP you can’t negate good product management disciplines:

  • Know what market or customer problem you are solving for – what is the job to be done?
  • What does success look like? How will you measure success – unit sales; conversion; customer satisfaction; utilisation. Make sure that you have defined measures which are actionable. If you can’t do anything against your measures then they are worthless.
  • An MVP does not mean you don’t have to take care in both product and user experience design. Test your MVP before you take it to market. I like to do this across a number of iterations and/or channels; internally, online and with real, live prospects/customers.
  • Engage the business. Make sure that your key stakeholders across the business understand the value your proposition will deliver and their respective roles in testing, iterating and embedding it in market.

Lastly, make sure you have a well defined exit strategy. Hopefully your MVP has been strategically developed against a set of core business objectives. However, if for some reason you take it to market and it fails, you need to know when to pivot, when to refine and when to exit.

thatproductchick on Pinterest

pinterest

 

Looking for more great articles and product management resources? Follow thatproductchick on pinterest – all things product management!

Product Talks Sydney – gender in product management

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Join myself and the Sydney product community as we discuss and explore the role of gender in product development. The 2016 Pragmatic Marketing survey found that 63% of product managers are male, increasing to 79% in more senior roles. What role does unconscious bias play in product management and what does this mean when engaging and influencing diverse stakeholder groups to drive deliverables? It’s bound to be an interesting and robust discussion. Hope to see you there.

Does Gender Play a Role in Product Management?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 5:30 PM

Brainmates HQ
Level 6, 100 Clarence Street Sydney, AU

44 Product People Attending

The 2016 Pragmatic Marketing Global Product Management survey found that 63% of product managers are male, increasing to 79% for more senior product roles.While gender equity issues persist within corporate Australia more generally, in a role where stakeholder influence and the ability to manage across multiple domains is critical, what role does …

Check out this Meetup →

The intersection between product management and diplomacy

The intersection between product management and diplomacy

While product management discussions often focus on the more technical aspects of being a product manager, (such as road mapping and prioritisation) it is important not to overlook the equally critical skill of stakeholder engagement.

For all product managers, the need for strong stakeholder relations  is essential in driving initiatives to market; in course correcting and iterating, and refining in-market propositions.

As a product manager you need to be commercially and technically skilled as well as a consummate diplomat in order to navigate and drive alignment across the business.

Engage key stakeholders early

I’m often surprised at product managers who assume that they can get traction and endorsement for their proposition at an executive steering committee or decision forum without prior engagement of key stakeholders.

A skilled product manager knows that you need to actively engage your stakeholders prior to any decision points. This enables you to have an early view of likelihood of support as well as an indicative understanding of  any likely points of contention or concern. Early engagement means you are able to respond, clarify and intervene where necessary.

In preparation for core decision forums, product managers need to:

  • Identify key decision makers – ask yourself, what is their core area of accountability? What aspects of your proposed strategy are they most likely to be interested in?
  • Identify key influencers – they may not necessarily have decision rights but can be well regarded within the business and often sought  for their opinion. Sketching out a stakeholder map can be a useful exercise in this regard.
  • Schedule 1:1 meetings with each stakeholder. Make sure that meetings are scheduled enough time in advance to be able to respond to any questions or objections raised, some of which may require additional analysis or research

Stakeholder engagement sessions can also be a great development opportunity for your team. They are an opportunity for them to learn,  as well as to share their expertise. So make sure you use them, where appropriate, as an opportunity to build and develop the skills within your team as well as credential your team across the business.

During your individual stakeholder meetings

Make sure that you actively listen to your stakeholders. Address any queries or concerns. That does not mean that you have to change your proposition (although in some cases it may be warranted), but you do need to demonstrate that you understand the core value drivers of your proposition and can manage any associated risks or issues.

Communicate and summarise the business value your product proposition will deliver:

  • What customer problem or need does your proposition solve for?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will you measure success and value delivery?
  • What are the high level financials underpinning your proposition?

Actively ask your stakeholder(s) whether they have any questions or areas regarding your product about which they would like more information or clarification.

Finally, explicitly advise them that you will be seeking their endorsement at the formal decision forum/committee and ask whether there are any outstanding issues/concerns which need to be addressed.

Follow up and drive alignment

Post your engagement meetings, make sure you follow up and close out any remaining questions.  The stakeholder meetings are not just ‘for show’, but are a genuine opportunity for you to explore, uncover and validate the key value of your proposition. They are an opportunity for you to drive alignment across the business.

Thank them for their time and consideration of your product strategy.

While no guarantee that your product strategy will be endorsed, effective stakeholder engagement will buy you stakeholder capital and will enable you to build trust and confidence in your proposition.

You won’t always get it right

As a product manager you need to be able to engage across many business units and domains and drive a consistent and well-informed ‘story’ in support of your proposition. Being well informed and knowledgeable will enable you to engage with your stakeholders with confidence.

As with all stakeholder negotiation, you will encounter both advocates and detractors. There will also undoubtedly be a good degree of healthy conflict and tension in your discussions due to competing priorities, pressures and perspectives.

Stakeholder engagement is an art and skill which requires practise.

You won’t always get it right and it will not always go smoothly. But being open to a diversity of stakeholder views and perspectives will help you successfully navigate and negotiate across the business.

A continued focus on active stakeholder engagement and management will ensure that your product management career will live long and prosper.

Managing Product Portfolio Financials

financials

Not just the domain of finance managers

At last year’s Product Camp Melbourne I was asked to deliver the keynote presentation, specifically in relation to financial management for product managers.

In the plethora of product management related posts and discussions around agile, UX, roadmaps and the like, managing product portfolio financials seems to have taken a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, the ability to prioritise, design products using customer led design and get to market quickly and effectively are all critical skills for today’s product manager. But equally, knowing your product financials intimately is something that product managers cannot, and should not, shy away from.

Core to product management is value creation – value to the customer and value to the business. Knowing your product financials is essential in identifying where the opportunity exists to realise benefits and deliver optimal value… at scale, and in knowing what may dilute or detract from that value.

Many product managers struggle with defining their product financials. While an overly complex dashboard only serves to distract, I am also not a proponent of the ‘single, magic number or metric’ that is espoused by some. Instead I am an advocate of a product dashboard which enables the product manager to understand in a snapshot how their portfolio is performing across a range of key measures and then drill down within each measure.

Whatever the case, your product portfolio dashboard needs to reflect the core value drivers of your product proposition:

  • Your metrics must be measurable – you need to be able to track them back to business/value driver
  • They must align to your product and business objectives
  • They must be actionable – i.e. you have to be able to do something about them; to intervene and make an impact

Eric Ries, entrepreneur and author of The Lean Start Up, cautions against the use of ‘vanity metrics’ – portfolio metrics which make you feel good but which are not actionable. Ries advocates a per-customer, per-segment focus to drive actionable insight. The ability to action and do something in response is key.

Financial management skills are also key to a product manager’s ability to influence and engage key stakeholders across the business. A strong understanding of portfolio financials enables you to build trust and confidence in your product strategy – it buy’s stakeholder capital and credibility.

It’s encouraging to see product management training increasingly including a focus on financial management. As a product manager, you have to be financially literate.

Product financials are not something to fear or avoid. ‘Lean in’ to them; own and manage them; use them to take control and grow and lead your portfolio.

You can access a copy of my keynote presentation here.