I too am underwhelmed by yesterday’s iPad launch, and found it neither “magical”, nor “revolutionary”. I really hoped that leveraging the tablet form factor would actually solve a real problem for me. To me the tablet is begging for a pen-and-paper augmentation application suite…although I’m sure as I’m typing this someone has already developed an “app for that”.
What I want
With that application comes my needed, enabling feature: simple, cross-device cut & paste. That is, to take a hand drawn sketch from the tablet and seamlessly “beam it” over to a laptop or mobile device and have it ready for use immediately, just like you can across applications on a single platform.
What I don’t want
What I don’t want is to take a picture –> send it to a holding application –> pull it down on the other device –> insert it where I want. There are tools like Evernote and Dropbox for that. Nor am I relying on the long-held promise of “Pen Computing” where I have to add another expensive device to the mix.
When wrestling with finding Product Market fit, via a Minimum Viable Product, (MVP), I constantly find myself referring to an issue I call the Engineer’s Paradox:
Engineers want to build for adoption, that is a carefully designed system that accommodates user adoption with the requisite features and performance they require, or else they will risk losing customers. Yet, to truly understand what users want, and how they will use the system, one needs to release a “suboptimal” product in order to gain customer feedback.
So, if you release junk early, no one will ever want what you build, but if you release a fully operational system too late, it may not conform to what user’s want. So, let’s see how we can find a happy medium…
I gave this talk last week to the members of the TiE Leadership Program, aimed at helping to frame what it takes to develop a product organization — aimed at an audience of non-product start-up execs, and existing / aspiring start-up CEOs. Take a look at the slides for the specific “tips”, but here’s a brief summary of the areas I covered, along with specific references I made to concepts, ideas, books, and people that I have learned a lot from along the way.
I recently came across the blog of a former classmate, Gummi Hafsteinsson. While always insightful, Gummi’s post, entitled “What makes a good product manager for software development?” is particularly noteworthy.
Gummi’s keys to excellent product management
In his post Gummi argues that to be successful, one needs the following core traits:
- Deep technical understanding
- Speed of execution and juggling skills
- Obsessive enthusiasm about the product experience
While I wholeheartedly agree with Gummi (and I would highly encourage you to read his post to fully understand his perspective), here’s another way to think about what it takes to be a great PM…
My take: Be like Jake
Yes, shamelessly capitalizing on Avatar’s popularity, I think the core traits a good software product manager needs are well embodied by Sam Worthington’s character in Avatar: Jake Sully. These are simply:
Here’s how good product managers use each of these.
In working through a number of recent product decisions, it quickly occurred to me that the fields of prospect theory and product management are linked together. In that customers (and internal employees) perceive removing vestigal, unused features as being far worse than never developing it at all. Here’s a breakdown of why that is, using the field of prospect theory as a guide.
With the Fall season upon us, we’re well into start-up conference season, with the big ones like DEMO and TechCrunch50 behind us, and the Web 2.0 Summit coming up this month. There is a lot of hype out there about the next big ideas, products, and companies…some of the organizers are even starting to believe their own hype as influencers of future success.
Well, I’ve got to admit, I’m downright fatigued from looking at the same kinds of ideas, over and over again, and the lazy approach to marketing and promotion from so many. For instance how many more companies do we need to see with no vowels in their names that have home pages that just display a pretty picture and the word “sign up”. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DO OR WHY I NEED IT, SO I’M NOT GOING TO SIGN UP.
Too harsh? Maybe. Tough love? Yes. As a previous attendee at these conferences, I still think that they are great venues, but with a little careful planning you can cut through the clutter out there, by understanding the most tired, played out tactics and what you can do to stand out to build something of real value.