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Ten Tips For New Product Managers:

Ten Tips For New Product Managers Presented by Jeff Lash [email protected] www.jefflash.com www.goodproductmanager.com

Four types of “new” Product Managers:

Four types of “new” Product Managers Your relationship to the organization New Tenured Type of product New New product, new organization New product, same organization Existing Existing product, new organization Existing product, same organization

Ten Tips:

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

Spend time with customers:

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/

Spend time with customers: To Do:

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

Ask “dumb” questions:

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/

Ask “dumb” questions: To Do:

Ask “dumb” questions: To Do Develop a list of initial questions Generate additional questions each time one is answered Make note of interesting answers for future reference Ask the same question to different people and compare answers

Let go of your past:

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/

Let go of your past: To Do:

Let go of your past: To Do Audit the time you are spending on each area of 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

Surround yourself with experts:

Surround yourself with experts Product managers can not and should not do 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

Surround yourself with experts: To Do:

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

Gather data:

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/

Gather data: To Do:

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

Ten Tips:

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


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/

Focus: To Do:

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

Concentrate on what, not how:

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

Concentrate on what, not how: To Do:

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

Communicate, communicate…:

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/


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


Communication Product Manager Engineering Sales Marketing Manager


Communication Product Manager Engineering Design Finance Legal Project Management Sales Marketing Manager Executives Other PMs Customer Service


Communication Product Manager Engineering Design Finance Legal Project Management Sales Marketing Customers Investors Industry Analysts Manager Executives Other PMs Customer Service Partners

Communicate, communicate: To Do:

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!

Sell your product internally:

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

Sell your product internally: To Do:

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 include all the necessary audiences Get others to help sell your product Explicit “enlistment” Find good supporters and keep them happy

Do whatever it takes:

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

Do whatever it takes: To Do:

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

Bonus tip #11:

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…


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


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/


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 [email protected]