You get features and dates, that’s what you get. And I thought this is gonna be awesome. Heath: My worlds are colliding. But in practice, they’re not often giving them more than a one-time training in scrum process, and hoping that it gets some, that it gets better. And so I started telling him about my job, and he said, It sounds to me like we do the same job. So, I started talking about it, I started presenting at Product Camp actually, about prioritization and then about roadmapping and then about product vision and all of this cluster of things around what are we doing and why are we doing it. a good product manager will ask, Why do you want that? How many people will you need to hire? Heath: I think the … if I’ll give them credit for calling them this, some of the more forward-thinking local, at least, tech companies have seemed to have backed off on that, and in fact … so, if you listen to David [inaudible 00:04:45], for example, he has a somewhat famous … I joke with him calling it click-baity blog title, Why I don’t hire product managers. But to the average customer or executive or investor, it’s not. I also think that the example of BPMA has a program called Product Executives Forum, and it’s a monthly breakfast for VPs of product and CPOs and directors in larger companies. The primary obligations of a project manager can be boiled down to handling difficult projects and obtaining positive results. Even so, it was still cited as a challenge by many of our attendees. So I was chuckling-. Now the country's product companies are adopting program management as … A key aspect of a future product manager’s profile will be frequent transitions between products and even companies. It’s not release-plan. Ask any product manager how they got into the role, and they are likely to share some story about how it “happened by accident” or “they had some other job and they fell into product management.” Some even say “I didn’t know what a product manager did.” And the current President of the Boston Product Management Association, Bruce McCarthy, is no different. Heath: Yeah. Heath: And we actually did just that, albeit unscientific. I gave the 10 … I seeded it with 10 problems of product managers from my own experience, and I wanted to know how do other people prioritize those things. He adds that the failure rate for second products is just as high as it is for first products because executives often forget the importance of validation and experimentation. It’s about resource optimization; it’s not about achieving objectives. I’ve actually introduced myself as a product manager and had people say back to me, Oh, what’s it like being a project manager? … Heath: Basically, essentially. I got some terrific quotes that we used in the book. If you’ve got a lot of cross-functional dependencies, then having an idea about whether something is coming in the next six days or the next six months is useful. And the reason was because I had just shown an inclination or an interest in some of the activities that they themselves thought were part of a product manager or product marketer’s job. That’s a far more interesting conversation. Bruce: Waterfall, 20th century concept. So I just asked. There are situations where some more specificity about dates makes sense. Bruce: We’re not really doing online stuff. So, where do roadmaps go bad? How exactly does this play out? Bruce: Well, it comes out of what we’ve been talking about. Are you gonna have that feature? In most organizations, being a manager means a better compensation package and not having to sit in a cubicle. And there’s essentially a labor shortage in product management right now. And if you go back two, three years and you talk to the students and ask them what do they wanna be, they would all say, I wanna start my own thing, or, I wanna be a management consultant. Bruce: Yeah. Well now I’ve stopped that latter statement because Julia Austin, also speaking at UX Fest, professor at Harvard Business School, teaches product management 101 and 102. It’s really easy to think that you have thought through everything about what’s really needed in a feature. There are a lot of different companies of different sizes in different industries, and they have product managers who are doing it different ways. But I interviewed with them, and they liked me and I liked them, and they hired me. What’s the hardest part of product management? Bruce: Seriously, everybody has to learn by making mistakes. We made the customer happy, and we saved the relationship. So, I said, All right, we need to do something about this. But the second reason, I think, that you’re seeing that less often now is that there are a number of gateway, if you will, or vector jobs on the way into product management. Is is worthwhile? What he’s saying or writing is the traditional way that has not worked is not what he believes in. Now, I think that I might have been a little ahead of the market with that product, and also, in the end, I’m not sure people really were looking for a roadmapping product per se, because everybody’s process is a little different, and because a lot of people are really looking for more of a workflow Jura like thing, I think, for product management. And it’s not just about the dates. Well now I’ve stopped that latter statement because Julia Austin, also speaking at UX Fest, professor at Harvard Business School, teaches product management 101 and 102. We’re not really doing online stuff. Instead of asking, What do you want? And no, that’s probably wrong because a bunch of the features are not actually used very much. We have discussion with somebody who’s doing the same job that all the rest of us are doing and maybe has learned a few things that they could pass along and to have a deeper discussion. The big challenge of course, is that the number one criterion for hiring managers for any product management job is that you’ve done it before, that they see product manager somewhere on your resume, which of course is a catch 22. It’s about how do we change the game and be really innovative and stay ahead of the competition so we can have 80% margin. And we’ve actually expanded into some adjacent niches as well based on demand. And so I thought, Sure, why not? And so I thought, Sure, why not? The Hardest Part of Product Management and How To Overcome It. Is the Plan Feasible: This is really important to checkout if the prepared risk management plan is feasible or if it is possible to bring it to life. So if we lose him, it’s unfortunate, but we can’t support that. And the thing that I forgot, even though I had talked to the customers, figured out the problem, figured out the pricing, figured out exactly what the minimum to ship was, we didn’t have the concept of minimum viable product, but it was essentially that back in the day. 25% of the product managers who participated in our poll said that scaling development processes faster is the biggest pain point for them as their company grows. Where do product managers get it wrong? Recently they’ve woken up to the fact that the job of the product manager is to figure out the strategy, pull together a plan, get everybody on board, and provide some context and some direction for that technology-driven effort. And there were over a million. Bruce: There’s two reasons for that. There are plenty more questions asked by product managers around how to grow their team, and it seems no “one size fits all” answer exists–which is just part of why these growth challenges continue to pervade. And so we saw it happen when products were going from an on premises solution to a SaaS solution, and when they went from SaaS to mobile, it may not be that linear, but each of those steps forced product teams to think about, Do I really need to spend all my energy and resources on feature parity from one platform to another? The business had been entirely built on one CD-ROM based product, so that’s dating me a little bit. VP of Marketing It falls down with they get bogged down in the details. Heath: So very related to prioritization, you can’t execute what I’m about to say without then prioritizing it, but roadmapping. There’s so many things that as a product manager are probably on your list of things that you should do, and it’s not really possible to do all of those things. … I created or was the first person to hold those roles in two different companies. So we talked to O’Reilly, and they didn’t blink. Heath: She of course was not at the table, she being overseas, but I was doing it via Skype. I always say that the quickest way to do effective prioritization is to connect the strategic with the tactical. You know, if you’re selling through retail, well your distributor or Best Buy probably needs to know whether your new receiver is gonna be available for this holiday season or next holiday season. There’s so many things that as a product manager are probably on your list of things that you should do, and it’s not really possible to do all of those things. It was a web facility for purchasing and downloading mailing lists. Your email address will not be published. Right. Before you said that, I was gonna say, well, that sounds like a case of where you found out sort of unintentionally that you had someone using your product that you could argue that they’re not our target market, right? There’s two reasons for that. Or, Tell me about the tasks that you do today. And I think you’ve hit something there that it is about the fact that there’s very little formal training and that most of us kind of fell into it backwards. And the job of a product manager is to get behind that and find out what the underlying problem is that really needs to be solved. So, you really need to paint a picture of why we’re doing this, who we’re doing this for to kind of reality test all those features even conceptually when you’re writing them down. No. Heath: Otherwise they end up just trying to build a better way to do that. We also have a blog called Product Hub where members can write about their experiences and exchange tips and so on. But the organization’s been around since 2001, and I’ve been a member ever since then, going to events and so on. And then I looked for, on LinkedIn, how many open positions are there with the word product in the title. And I quickly found out that he was an outlier, he was not like all the rest of the customers. The CD-ROM product was again it vended mailing lists using a meter, physical dongle. Agreed. Bruce: Sure. And the answer is-. BPMA is its own thing. That sounds like a TV show, When Roadmaps Go Bad. Heath: Otherwise you might as well wait another 12 months. I met a guy whose job had always been strategic marketing. And recently they’ve woken up to the fact that the job of the product manager is to figure out the strategy, pull together a plan, get everybody on board, and provide some context and some direction for that technology-driven effort. Did it move the needle for you? Basically, essentially. Yeah, I’ve seen some of his quotes about it. And that also nicely dovetailed with them on the products annual survey as being … It wasn’t as clearcut, but it was still clearly the biggest challenge. Heath: If you make a product that somehow benefits the health insurance industry, you need to know when open enrollment occurs so that you can hit that date. Because product management, even with all of this rise in hiring of product managers, it’s still a bit of a lonely job. And I think that’s fine as a CEO or the head of a product organization, that you have a perspective on how it should be done, and you don’t wanna have to get people to unlearn different ways of doing it. Even when people agree, change… Read →. And I started developing a product called REX for Roadmapping, and it included a prioritization capability. No credit card required. She of course was not at the table, she being overseas, but I was doing it via Skype. They didn’t make sense to me, they weren’t consistent with what I thought the needs of the customer were. There are some hard dates that really matter, like regulatory requirements, or in the education industry. Either whether the feature’s needed at all, or how to design it appropriately, or who it’s for and what situation they’re going to need it in. I know you’ve interviewed-. So I would much rather build the roadmap around that, around problems rather than solutions. Well, actually, the original product wasn’t really designed for him either, it just happened to have a couple of things that he had taken advantage of that worked for him. So finally of course I managed to get on the phone with the customer himself and started asking about his business. In other words, we did it on Twitter in a Google form. We’re not really selling online. It’s the same or very similar kind of job in an agile context. And we hold events all around the Boston area, sometimes downtown, sometimes out in the suburbs, usually at local companies that are interested in hiring product managers and would like to host an event. And he said, If anybody’s gonna write a book about this, it needs to be you, Bruce, because you’ve been talking about this stuff for so long. What to you is the most challenging aspect … And we hold events all around the Boston area, sometimes downtown, sometimes out in the suburbs, usually at local companies that are interested in hiring product managers and would like to host an event. But even more so, you’re probably going to learn along the way which features really matter, and which features really do solve the problems that customers have well. It seems like everybody has a story about how they had some other job and then they found out about product management. And I’ve been involved for five, six years as a volunteer and a board member. See the results of our most recent digital product and website engagements. And honestly, most of us don’t do it that well. We recently wrote a handy prioritization guidebook that you can download for free! Most … No, it doesn’t. And business analysis is just one of them. We could do it better and we have to do it better. My worlds are colliding. And just because someone has done product management before, doesn’t mean that their experience is actually super applicable to your situation. I don’t know if I want that yet. What’s that. In fairness, he also says he doesn’t believe in product roadmaps, and yet he clearly does. And nonetheless, I started getting a lot of questions about, Well, are you gonna have this feature? UserVoice has this voting capability, so I just asked, Vote for your favorite problem, and then tell me in the comments your thoughts about your flavor of that problem. So how did you get into product management? I created or was the first person to hold those roles in two different companies. One is that a lot of business analysts have simply been recast as product owners. The collection of stories of Product Management transition will show you how it’s done. at It was a web facility for purchasing and downloading mailing lists. Nope. Heath: I’ve said this many times before too, and I’m always careful to catch it once I realize that this is the environment that I know, but it feels to me like the product management community offers a lot of opportunities to interact, network, grow to each one another. Undefined Goals – When goals are not … Decode and Conquer — Answers to Product Management Interviews: The author gives an industry insider’s perspective on how to conquer the most difficult PM interview questions. He’s smart in his marketing by saying and writing these things. Please describe, in detail, your previous experience working as a supply chain manager. And that one was on the … we had a panel discussion on the working relationship between product and UX. And it just requires a certain amount of maturity and leadership in order to be able to be effective in the job. #1: Lack of Internal Communication Via Flickr by cambodia4kidso. 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