The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product M

The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product M

Norway

Discussions with and for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators

Episodes

TEI 107: Create group flow for radical innovation – with Laurie Buss  

I’m very interested in how innovation can be made better and one category of tools is related to team performance – higher performing teams can create products that produce higher value. One particular tool is Group Flow, which was the topic of a paper published by The International Council on Systems Engineering titled “Group Flow: […]

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TEI 106: Jobs to be done – with Tony Ulwick  

I have a returning guest, Tony Ulwick, who is sharing 6 tools from his new book, Jobs to Be Done: Theory to Practice. Tony is well known for the creation of Outcome Driven Innovation and as the founder of Strategyn. When ODI was published in the Harvard Business Review, they declared it one of “the […]

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TEI 105: Highlights from valuable 2016 interviews with savvy product management insiders – with Chad McAllister, PhD  

Welcome to the second anniversary of the Everyday Innovator — another 52 episodes of discussions with skilled product managers and savvy insiders. In this year in review I share highlights from several of the discussions – emphasizing concepts and tools product managers and innovators should know. Just like my 2015 Year in review, there are […]

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TEI 104: Storytelling for innovation – with Michael Margolis  

My guest today discusses another valuable topic related to the skills that all product managers need and that, according to a 2016 study, results in a 25% increase in pay. If you want to see the full list of topics, go to www.TheEverydayInnovator.com/podcast. The topic is how to use storytelling to share ideas and persuade […]

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TEI 103: How Karcher developed a new product that captured the market – with Bill Ott  

This interview is a great discussion about a product story — from how the product concept was developed all the way through launch, including industry awards the product has received. My guest is Bill Ott, Executive Vice President of the product development organization at Kärcher. They are the world’s leading manufacturer of cleaning equipment. Bill […]

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TEI 102: Executive coaching for product managers – with Evan Roth  

I’ve been fortunate to have excellent mentors at different times during my career. I’ve seen an interesting trend in the last few years – the rise of the personal coach. This is a type of mentor. A personal coach can help you in many ways, all of which are generally related to improving performance and […]

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TEI 101: 9 traits of highly innovative people- with Tamara Kleinberg  

I’m a big believer in people playing to their strengths, and this includes product team members and others involved in innovation. Not everyone has the same strengths – if we did, that would be a bit boring. Realizing how people approach innovation and their strengths is something Tamara Kleinberg accomplishes. Tamara has spent more years […]

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TEI 100: Celebrating 100 episodes for product managers – with host Chad McAllister  

Welcome to the 100th episode of The Everyday Innovator podcast. I have a little something different for this episode, being this is kind of a big milestone, the 100th episode. I don’t have a guest today, and I’ll tell you more about that in the episode recording. For the 100th episode, I cover four topics: […]

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TEI 099: Speaking with confidence and gravitas – with Caroline Goyder  

Have you ever wondered why some people earn attention and respect when they speak and others don’t? According to my guest, the secret to their success can be summed up in one word: gravitas. With gravitas, you can express yourself clearly and with the passion and confidence to persuade, influence and engage listeners. And that […]

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TEI 098: When product managers’ good ideas are not enough-with Samuel Bacharach  

I have a great guest for us to learn from – the author of a new book, The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough. Doesn’t that sum up the challenge of being a product manager – when your good idea is not enough. My guest, Professor Samuel B. Bacharach, argues that in […]

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TEI 097: How product managers pitch and sell ideas to managers – with Chris Westfall  

The topic of this episode is another in a series of interviews I’m doing focused on the four skills that enable a 25% higher income for product managers and increasing their influence. The 4 skills were discussed back in episode 073 and include: Pitch artist – the ability to present and sell your ideas and […]

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TEI 099: Speaking with confidence and gravitas – with Caroline Goyder - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

Have you ever wondered why some people earn attention and respect when they speak and others don’t? According to my guest, the secret to their success can be summed up in one word: gravitas. With gravitas, you can express yourself clearly and with the passion and confidence to persuade, influence and engage listeners. And that […]

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TEI 098: When product managers’ good ideas are not enough-with Samuel Bacharach, PhD - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

I have a great guest for us to learn from – the author of a new book, The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough. Doesn’t that sum up the challenge of being a product manager – when your good idea is not enough. My guest, Professor Samuel B. Bacharach, argues that in […]

The post TEI 098: When product managers’ good ideas are not enough-with Samuel Bacharach, PhD appeared first on The Everyday Innovator - Resources for Product Managers and Innovators.

TEI 097: How product managers pitch and sell ideas to managers – with Chris Westfall - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

The topic of this episode is another in a series of interviews I’m doing focused on the four skills that enable a 25% higher income for product managers and increasing their influence. The 4 skills were discussed back in episode 073 and include: Pitch artist – the ability to present and sell your ideas and […]

The post TEI 097: How product managers pitch and sell ideas to managers – with Chris Westfall appeared first on The Everyday Innovator - Resources for Product Managers and Innovators.

TEI 096: Conjoint analysis for product managers- with Brian Ottum, PhD - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

This episode is about market research – what’s in your toolbox for conducting consumer and market research? Does it include Conjoint Analysis? Well, if not, it will after you listen to this episode. To explore the topic and walk through an example of using Conjoint Analysis, I tracked down a previous guest, way back in […]

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TEI 095: Product line roadmapping for product managers – with Paul O’Connor - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

The last episode was on the topic of product roadmaps and today we extend that topic by considering product line roadmaps - roadmaps for product lines and product families.

The person who has turned that topic into his professional career is Paul O’Connor. He is the founder and managing director of The Adept Group and he has had significant impact on the field of new product development over the past thirty years. During this time, he has developed and implemented a number of innovative approaches to creativity, innovation, and productivity in NPD. He is truly one of the savvy insiders that can go both broad and deep on many topics related to new product development.

In this interview, you’ll learn about:

What is a product line and a product line strategy,
How are platforms related to product lines,
How product line roadmaps differ from product roadmaps, and
Why product line roadmapping is important.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

What is a product line?  Everybody is very familiar with a single product. A line of products has a common thread of several products that share at least one platform. Multiple product lines could create a product family. As an example, look at the Samsung brand. It’s a company that uses its brand across many different product families. They have insurance products, software products, industrial products, and more. I know them for their consumer product family, with televisions and cell phones, and so forth. Each one of those areas, cell phones for example, is a product line, and you would find within each one of those product lines, one or more platforms. What we look for in product line strategy is employing the dynamics of innovation and all aspects of business and all aspects of product management, across the product line.

 

How are platforms related to product lines? A platform brings what I would call leverage, to the product line. The visual that I typically use is of a triangle with a plank on top of it like a teeter totter. It conveys the notion of getting leverage in the product line. There are different types of platforms. There can be what we call design platforms. An engineering design platform for a computer could be the motherboard. That same motherboard can be used on a whole series of different computers within a product line. Software can be a platform. We also have production asset platforms that provide leverage. Service platforms are quite interesting to look at, such as in the banking and insurance industries. The value of the platform can only come about if the organization is structured in such a way that creates leverage. By leverage we mean, if I put a dollar into it, I’m going to get two dollars out of it. It means I can do things faster on the platform than starting from scratch each time. This is where we get a little bit confused in our own product development efforts over the years. Most all innovation and product development efforts focus on a single product, one at a time, without the relevance of a platform and without the relevance of product line strategies. Instead, most of the innovation has to go into the platform, or a set of platforms, for a product line. When we do multigenerational planning of a product line, what we’re doing is laying out how the platforms will morph and evolve over time. This gives us another dynamic in our product line strategy that is much more powerful than just trying to innovate one thing at a time.

 

How is product line roadmapping different from product roadmapping? One thing that all these roadmaps have in common is a timeline. You can think of it visually as going left to right – a Gantt chart. Usually that’s all about what is in development -- we call these products in development. Oftentimes we’ll even hear people say that their launch schedule is their product line r...

TEI 094: Creating product roadmaps for product managers – with Jim Semick - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

I've had some requests from listeners to explore product roadmaps, so I had a discussion with Jim Semick. He is co-founder of ProductPlan, which creates roadmap software for product teams.

Jim has helped launch new products generating hundreds of millions in revenue, including being part of the founding team at AppFolio for property management, responsible for the requirements and launch of GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix), as well as spending time at Microsoft.

In the interview we discuss:

The purpose of a product roadmap,
Various ways roadmaps look,
How roadmaps help product teams and organizations, and
The best practices for constructing product roadmaps.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

What is the purpose of a roadmap? A product roadmap is used by most companies to communicate what they’ll be building over the near term and possibly over the longer term. It is also a tool for showing the product strategy, the why behind what they’re building. A lot of companies feel that the product roadmap is simply the backlog, but that’s not the best way to communicate the strategy. A feature list isn’t a product roadmap. The product roadmap needs to tie back to the strategy. A product roadmap is usually a visual document and communicates the why behind what you’re doing.

 

What do roadmaps look like? They can take on different forms. It depends on the company, the type of product, and where it is in its lifecycle. Examples can be found here. Some startups, for example, use a Kanban-style roadmap, which is simply putting what you’re going to be building into certain buckets: what is planned, what is approved, what’s in development, and what’s been delivered. That’s a typical style for a smaller organization or maybe a new product. The more traditional product roadmap looks something like a Gantt chart, which is a timeline-style. It communicates what you’re going to build and the expected start and end date for each part of the work. Twelve months is a typical time-frame for showing what you’re going to build. But there are some caveats. For example, organizations moving to an agile development process may have greater uncertainty over a longer period. From a product manager’s perspective, showing a 12-month roadmap is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you want to communicate where you’re headed and inform executive stakeholders. But on the other hand, things tend to change. Competitors come on the scene and release different features, the market and the underlying technologies used can evolve, and of course, customer tends and priorities change over time. You need to communicate to executives what is likely to change the farther the plans are in the future.

 

How do roadmaps help product teams? A couple of areas are creating collaboration and setting priorities. Most product teams use some sort of mechanism to score and prioritize features. Some of them do it ad hoc -- having a conversation about customer value, and maybe T-shirt sizing level-of-effort. The benefit of having a product roadmap and then also a mechanism to prioritize what goes on the roadmap is that you’re having the conversation to begin with. The roadmap becomes an important collaboration tool.

 

How much detail should go into a product roadmap? If you’re an agile organization and you’re working in epics and stories,the roadmap should be at that epic level. Otherwise, if you’re at the story level, that is a product roadmap that is like a project plan. A good product roadmap brings it up a level where it’s not project management-oriented. You’re not looking at man-hours, delivery dates, things like that. You’re looking at the bigger picture of what are you are going to be delivering beyond this month and this quarter.

 

TEI 093: Identifying the ideal customer – with Tom Schwab - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

According to my guest, "Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be an ideal customer." Of course, then my first question is how do we find the ideal customer for a product or service.

Thankfully, my guest, Tom Schwab, had some ideas. Tom is the founder of Interview Valet and his previous background is in medical device products.

In this interview you will learn:

Why marketing should start with the customer,
How to identify the ideal customer, and
What we can learn from the ideal customer for a product.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

How do you think about marketing? Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with somebody that could be an ideal customer. Not everybody, but just that one person. I’ve always looked at problems to be solved, from an engineering perspective, systems to be tuned-up and to get the most performance out of them. So with marketing, we start with version 1.0 of a product. How can we get it better, how can we refine it? While we have opinions, it’s only the customer that’s the expert. They’re the ones that convey what they love and what they loathe. In the Navy we used to talk about needing to be smart enough to know the right answer when told. The same goes here too. If you’re in product development and marketing, you’ve got to be smart enough to know that the customer will tell you the right answer.

 

How do we identify the right customer? The worst thing product managers can do is assume a product applies to everybody. Instead, identifying the right customer comes down to saying, “Who can be thrilled by the product or service?” Sometimes you have the luxury of already knowing this person or group, other times it’s just putting yourself in that position. A sales force or customer service group can help you find this person, put a name on him, a face on him, put a story behind him. Sometimes we start with demographics, such as as their education level, income level, and home city. While that’s important, you need to go beyond that and consider psychographics -- asking how does this person think, what are their aspirations, what are their fears, what do they already think about my industry or my product,  who influences them, what do they admire, etc. As an example, one of the companies that I founded had different buyers. One of them was called Mary the Motivated Mom. We had a poster in the hallway of Mary the Motivated Mom. We found a picture on the internet and said that’s what she looks like. There was the story of what she was trying to do and how we could help her. We also had another picture of somebody that was a negative buyer persona. Those are the people that you don’t want to work with – the ones you can’t serve.

 

How do we find the right customer? Go to where the discussion already is. The best way to get into a discussion with somebody is to join a discussion that’s already on-going. If you go to a party, and you stand in the corner, there’s a chance somebody could come up to you and start the discussion, but if you join an existing discussion and introduce yourself, you can quickly determine what value you can add to the discussion. For product managers, that could be forums online, Facebook groups, Twitter, Quora, Amazon, podcasts, etc. People are talking about what they need.

 

What do we want to learn from them and how do we do that? You want to understand the details of the problem. You want to make sure that you’re solving their problem, not the problem that you want to solve. Sometimes it’s just asking them, “How would you describe this? What do you like most about this?” Sometimes open-ended questions are painful, because they’re not easy to put in little boxes and charts, but I would encourage anybody to ask lots of open-ended questions.

TEI 092: Innovation mantras from R&D-with Dana A. Oliver - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

Research and development is tightly coupled with product management and innovation. To learn how an R&D person thinks about innovation, I talked with Dana A. Oliver, who has 30 impressive years of experience in R&D groups. He now focuses on writing and coaching, after leaving Medtronic, the medical device company, where he was the Senior Director of R&D.

He has also written two books. His first is Mantra Leadership and his second and most recent is Mantra Design.  In Mantra Design he shares 14 principles, or mantras, for innovation and developing premium priced, patent protected, and market share leading products.

We discuss a few of his mantras and then explore the future of R&D. The mantras discussed include:

Innovate, Buy or Die
Learn Your Customer's World!
Innovation begins with the Eye
It Takes a Long Time to Get to Simple

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

What led you to creating the 14 mantras for innovation? I started early in my career as a leader using mantras on a regular basis. The reason I use them is that they allow for effective leadership communication. A mantra is short, concise, and consistent. Part of being a leader is your messaging. So over time the mantras just turned into something that was a great tool that helped me lead others.

 

What is your first mantra? I call it Innovate, Buy or Die. This is also the subtitle of my book, Mantra Design. When I look at businesses, it’s very common that when a business starts and then becomes successful, it’s predicated on products they design. They are very customer-focused, they establish their brands, but then something odd occurs. As they grow and get bigger, the innovative people begin to move out and more finance people come in. The customer focus is replaced with a portfolio focus. Instead, businesses should be doing what I call “dance with the girl you came with.” Look at Intel, Victoria’s Secret, Starbuck’s, or Michelin -- these are companies that have a core technology, a core name, a core brand, and they remain true to these elements. If you remain true to the girl you dance with and you invest back into organic development, you will keep your customers and you’ll be the best in your space. That’s the essence of the “Innovate, Buy, or Die.” The single best thing you can do as a business owner and as an innovator, is understand your customer and/or your technology and just continue to invest in that space.

 

Tell us about your “Learn Your Customer's World” mantra. Business begins and ends with your customers. If you ever want to be a true innovator, you have to get close to your customers. I have two mantras about this, and the first one is “Learn Your Customer’s World”, and the second one is “Innovation Begins with the Eye.” What I mean by that is everyone talks about understanding your customer’s articulated needs. But, you have to understand their world so intimately that what you begin to see is not only the articulated needs, but the unarticulated needs as well. It’s the frustrations, it’s the pain points. That’s what I mean about “Innovation Begins with an Eye.” I suggest having a simulated environment in your research and development group where your customers can do their work. For me, I had a full operating suite I would bring doctors to. We’d put our new products in their hands and then we’d talk and we would also quietly observe. It was interesting. During a pre-interview, we’d ask some questions and they’d tell us how they might perform a particular procedure. Then when we got in the operating suite and watched, they’d do something different. When you begin to pick up on that nuance that they didn’t talk about, it’s likely that you can get intellectual property around that. That’s how you develop your intellectual property and develop products and brands that get differentiated a...

TEI 091: How product managers can influence virtual teams – with Hassan Osman - The Everyday Innovator – Resources for Product Managers and Innovators  

This episode is about virtual teams. Many of us are part of virtual teams and we have felt the pain of virtual teams that don't work well. Virtual teams are becoming more common in organizations and especially product management and innovation where the product team is often scattered across multiple time zones.

I found someone who has worked with and learned from hundreds of virtual teams. He is currently the PMO manager at Cisco Systems, where he leads virtual teams all around the world.

He is also the author of two Amazon best-selling books. The first one is Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees. His most recent book is Don't Reply All: 18 Email Tactics That Help You Write Better Emails and Improve Communication with Your Team. His name is Hassan Osman.

In the interview we focus on:

the nature of virtual teams,
building trust, and
what you need to do to run an effective virtual team meeting.

 
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:

What are virtual teams? A virtual team is simply a team that is spread across either time or physical location, or both. It would have been a lot easier to recognize a virtual team 15-20 years ago, when email and internet was starting out. However, today, I could argue that every single team is a virtual team. Let me give you an example. I have a friend who is the CEO of a startup company in Cambridge. They have an office in Harvard Square. One room is a big open floor space where everyone is sitting facing the wall. I said to him, “It must be really cool if you need to ask one of your team members to do something for you. You just swivel in your chair and yell it out.” And he said, “Well actually, no.” He sends them an email. I found that a little bit intriguing and asked why. He shared that it is easier to track what information was exchanged than relying on the verbal interactions and that it avoided interruptions. Even though the team members sit next to each other, they are interacting as a virtual team.

 

What are some of the common issues encountered managing virtual teams? Simple issues for some virtual teams are dealing with different time zones and speaking accents. Another can be the lack of facial expressions and body language cues. Obviously when you’re dealing with either asynchronous communication, such as IM or email, you’re not getting that flavor of the nonverbal communication. That can result in miscommunication or misinterpretation of intent, which could create conflict. Using webcams, for example, can help. Another thing that really affects virtual teams is that lack of cohesion. We as human beings are very social in nature, and with virtual teams, you may be working alone much of the time. You don’t have the same level of interaction that you have with co-located physical teams.

 

What are your experiences building trust in virtual teams? Trust is a very nebulous concept. It’s not like an on-off switch where you either have trust or you don’t have trust. It’s more of a spectrum where there’s varying degrees of trust among the team and among managers and their direct employees. So it becomes this very tough thing to manage, right? Because it’s very tough to manage, it’s very hard to kind of nail down. How do you define it? Trust is equal to reliability plus likeability. Meaning, if you want to increase trust among your team, you either have to increase reliability, or increase likeability, or both. Reliability is the simple concept that judges if a person who has been given a job can actually do that job. Do they have the proper skill set to actually accomplish what they need to accomplish? But the other factor, the likeability factor, is something that a lot of managers and leaders overlook. It’s actually quite important from a psychological perspective. So,

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