08 October, 2019

Career Paths into Product Management and Product Marketing

Last week, at the joint meeting of the Cambridge Product Management Network and Cambridge Network,I shared my observations and thoughts about common (and not so common) routes that Product Managers & Product Marketers have taken to get to their current position. CĂ©line Sharpe from FIS (formerly WorldPay) shared her practical experience.

To view the slides, please go to Career paths into product management and product marketing on SlideShare

In summary, there are three core skills that product managers / marketers need have their arms around:
  • Proposition Development (eg Sales and Marketing)
  • Technical Construction (ie Engineering)
  • Value Realisation / Utility (eg User Experience, Implementation, Customer Support)

Given that technology innovation dominates the software industry then this is obvious. (Product Managers in the Food industry are likely to have Food Tech credentials, right??)

But there is a whole lot of other skills requires - and these are skills that can't be taught, but have to be learnt on the job:
  • Human 'Savvy' (ie awareness or sensibility)
    • Communication
    • Trust
  • Corporate 'Savvy'
    • Leadership
    • Project and Process Management
    • Translation

See SlideShare for more details.

04 October, 2019

Rich Mironov on Product Roadmaps

The great Rich Mironov, a well-regarded product management guru, speaks about the negotiating your product roadmap for B2B software companies.

War stories, methodologies. An excellent video that can be easily consumed.

Rich was speaking at the Business of Software conference held at the start of October

I'm going to pull out one insight (amongst many):
4. Share trade-offs and scorekeeping with Sales leadership (at about 46 mins)

Rich talks of a mechanism by which the product management 'trades' the focus of the engineering team with the Sales team. His process requires Sales to metaphorically 'pay' for a feature - he uses a virtual token. This makes the Sales team prioritise which 'extra special' feature required for their 'super critical' strategic deal and then proceeds to pay for it.

Excellent concept - and one that doesn't apply just to Sales. I have applied it to Research as well:
"We really need Jenny to evaluate XYZ technology and blueprint a solution because she has the most applicable expertise."
"OK", I say, "What of the development plan in the next release are you trading out?".

11 July, 2019

Product Management is learnt by doing rather by studying

Noah Weiss, a senior product manager at Slack, Foursquare and Google, makes this quote in this article, Five Dangerous Myths about Product Management:
Product Management isn’t an academic subject that one can study; most people learn by apprenticeship. They have diverse backgrounds, murky responsibilities, and wildly varied role definitions across companies. 
Although the sentiment is broadly correct, it implies that you can look to a mentor for guidance. Sadly, this simply isn't true. His quote would be better phrased:
most people learn by doing and most importantly, learning from their results.
The rest of Noah's article is worth a read. Some other nuggets:
They come from a wide diversity of backgrounds and relish wearing many hats. 
A PM with a diversity of backgrounds is really useful: most product managers come up from the technical side, some come from the sales and marketing side, but they absolutely need to appreciate what's going on underneath other people's hats, both inside your own company and externally
[Product Managers]should be the ultimate facilitator: pulling the best ideas from their team, coordinating with cross-functional partners, and getting executive context. PMs should lay out well-researched tradeoffs, set timetables, and structure great discussions.
There isn't a good decision that a product manager can make, they make the least worst decision in the circumstances. Everyone can perfectly rightly say, "That's not a good decision", but on balance, that decision is the least worst option.