Product Guy

Maker of digital products

Category: Strategy

What I’m Reading Aug. 28, 2016

What Great Listeners Actually Do

According to this Harvard Business Review study it turns out that remaining quiet, acknowledging the speaker with visual and verbal gestures and repeating back to them what they have said falls short of being a good listener. As product managers we spend a lot of time listening to different people, so listen up! Rather than sitting there just listening, ask insightful questions based on what the speaker has told you. Make the speaker feel safe with your actions and words. This goes back to a theme we looked at last week where you want the speaker to understand that you’re there to learn from them and they can speak freely without judgement.

After running 2,000 experiments for Fortune 500 product teams, here’s what we learned

If you belong to a large organization, and I mean anything over 50 people, it can be hard to convince others of the benefits of continues testing. This article provides a few insights and potential solutions to help you get your big org on the testing path. Lesson one is that change is hard, lesson two is that lots of time needs to be allocated to running around getting buy-in. Lesson three; product experiments generally fall into one of these six buckets. It’s surprising which are the most popular and least popular. The last lesson, we’re all biased but practice “substantiation through iteration.” Meaning, you should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same results. Couple more insights but I’ll let you get them when you read the full article.

The Roofshot Manifesto

Luiz Andre Barroso, a Google Fellow talks about how incremental improvements can be the bread and butter to bigger growth. It reminds me of a guy I roomed with at university. He bet on sports but always very conservatively. Each win he’d make $10 to $20 and for every loss he’d only lose $5 to $10. Because his bets were conservative he’d win more than lose and by the end of the year he’d have a nice little sum of cash. As Barroso points out, with a 1.3X roofshot each quarter you have 10X growth in less than 3 years and 30% growth in 12 weeks.

ASO Best Practices: Optimizing Your App Store Page | Part 2

Not all app stores are created equal and here’s a few tips on how you can win in either the Android or iOS store. With a helpful side by side comparison of the app download landing page it’s easy to see what’s going to catch most users’ eye. Screen caps are important in both stores but while the first two images are most important in iOS, it’s the remaining images that are more important in Android, because twice as many users scroll through them, 15% for Android as compared to 7% for iOS. Video previews are also featured more predominately in the Android store and you have more flexibility in terms of video content with Android. As always, test, test and retest to get the best results.

What I’m Reading Aug. 14, 2016

Developing User Empathy

At times I have described my role on on the team as “therapist”. I listen to people a lot, work hard to understand what they’re struggling with and ask questions that will help them overcome the challenges they’re facing. As a product manager, immersing yourself in the challenges users are having completing a job is a large part of your daily work. Sachin Rekhi talks about going beyond the 90 minute user interview and thinking about job shadowing for a day or actually doing the users job for a day. Step two, practice mindfulness. This is the idea of being aware and open to what is going on around you and how that is having an impact on you and your emotions. It doesn’t have to be nirvana, you just need to be self-aware. Next, built mindful relationship with your colleagues. I’d suggest you practice and build mindful relationships with everyone in your life, it will just make you happier and a better product person.

What Is The Balanced Scorecard?

The first half of this article tells you the importance of the Balanced Scorecard, if you don’t need to be convinced jump to the Perspectives section and start there. The authors recommended viewing the scorecard from four perspectives; Learning & Growth, Business Process, Customer Perspective, Financial. These four perspectives then drive the Strategic Map. The scorecard is designed to be used at an enterprise level but it can also be applied directly to product management practices. There’s learning we need to keep current in our industry, there are business processes we want to refine to communicate our messages and deliver our products, know more about our customers & their level of satisfaction (that’s job one of for us!) and we certainty have financial goals.

Element of Value: Measuring What Customers Really Want

Last week I sat in on a Harvard Business Review webinar where Eric Almquist discussed how Bain & Company mapped product value against a modified Maslow’s hierarchy of need. The hierarchy is modified to illustrate four levels of attainment a company & product can reach within a customers value chain; functional, emotional, life changing and social impact. Within each of the four levels there are specific elements where products can meet customer needs. For example, at an emotional level a product like Netflix delivers on a nostalgic element. Bain also tested and proved that delivering on these elements would increase customer loyalty and improve revenue growth.

It’s Ugly but it Works: On Designing for Usability

There’s an adage about marketplace sites that says, if it works they will come no matter how simple or outdated it looks. Largely all people want to do is go into a marketplace, solve the job they have, and get out. Graeme Fulton outlines step by step why the simple but lovable app Tabata works and why we as product people we should always think usefulness first.

What I’m Reading August 7, 2016

The Last Ten Years Have Been About Social Networks – The Next 10 Will Be About “Market Networks”

I came across the NFX group while reading about the now defunct Ooga Labs and James Currier. This article, although almost a year old now, talks about how current marketplaces are two-sided but the future of online marketplaces will be multidimensional and for specialized services. That is, rather than just a buyer and a seller connecting, these marketplaces enable sellers, like general contractors, to assemble an network of trades to service a buyer.

No One Agrees How to Define CI or CD

If there’s one thing that we can agree on after reading this article it’s that we all have a different understanding of what continuous integration, continuous delivery, continuous deployment and DevOps means. Cheat-sheet: CIntegration = main code base that’s always updated, CDelivery = having a code base that is ready to release at anytime, CDeployment = automated regular deployments to prod, and DevOps = one group owning it from start to production.

The 10 Best Product Launch Emails That Reengage Users

Often it’s not as much about acquiring users as it is about retaining users. I’ve given my email address away to countless sites only to have them reach-out to me months or years later like no time has past at all. This article highlights some of the tactics brands like Dropbox, Evernote and LinkedIn use to reengage users. The big takeaway is a bit “motherhood and apple pie” but be personal and provide value.

The Best Companies aren’t Afraid to Replace their Most Profitable Products

Almost 10 years ago I read an article on how Apple was so successful because it was ‘willing to eat its young’. The same is true today, if you’re going to fend off that startup that are happy grabbing 2% of your market share you have to be more ruthless than them and beat them to the door with your own product lines. Four rules of engagement: 1) Setup business units that compete with each other, 2) Find a balance between derivative products, platforms upgrades, and breakthrough innovation, 3) Create a bypass mechanism to pitch ideas to the top 4) Create a corporate goal with a percent of revenue earmarked to new products.

What I’m Reading July 31, 2016

Why Sites Are Getting Personalization Wrong (& What To Do About It)

Make it personal but don’t make it creepy and always ask first. This is the message behind this well researched review of personalization in the online industry. Companies are collecting a lot of information but few are using it well and fewer still are seeing strong results. The second two items likely go hand in hand. There are examples of those that have created strong value from personalization but a key first step is testing. Test your assumptions on what to personalize and your audiences level of comfort with personalization. As with any good product feature make sure in the end it adds value for the user. Doing it just because you can is not the right reason.

Adjacent Markets from Technology Mapping

I recently heard that Starbucks identified an alternative business opportunity by observing customers. They were sitting for many hours using the space to work and have business meetings. This led them to consider what they’re actually selling or renting is meeting space. It didn’t matter what people were doing in the space just so long as they could use the space. Starbucks was in the meeting space business and they should provide consumables to meet that need. Recently Starbucks has started selling beer and wine in select locations to meet the needs of those that are meeting after the coffee hour. This led me to reading more about identifying adjacent market opportunities. This is the first article I came across and provides some actionable models to build based on patent fillings, technology stacks and keyword research.

The Internet of Me: Creating a Personalized Web Experience

Digging back into the archives a bit this article for 2012 examines what personalization can do when it happens at a very local level and the pitfalls from an experience standpoint. From a local standpoint it could be a great thing if personalization delivered on the promise that when I searched for a restaurant in a given area it knew my food preferences and delivered results based on my eating habits. From an experience standpoint do I run the risk of having my personal views reaffirmed because the only articles that are recommended for me are those based on content that I’ve already read. Is this a bad thing, after all this is generally the way we choose our friends.

Vision vs. Strategy

One of my must reads is Marty Cagan’s blog at Silicon Valley Product Group. Marty has been in the product business for a long time and provides sage advice. In this piece Marty talks about the difference between product vision and strategy. He really sums it up when he equates it to leadership and management, one sets the direction and the other tells you how to get there. A good quote from Jeff Bezos around vision and strategy is to be “stubborn on the vision, and flexible on the details.”

What I’m Reading July 10, 2016

Why Did My Sessions Go Down in Google Analytics

One of my favourite sites and blogs for actionable tactics is LunaMetrics. This post is about a question we have all had, or has been asked of us, “what happened with my visitor count on this date?”. The article covers the standard response of, looks interesting but let me look into it, to the campaign is working and how do we crank it up more. One piece of advice that I particularly like is to always consider seasonality. I’ve seen it before, there’s a big boost in traffic and we dig into it only to find out that the long weekend fell two weeks earlier this year than last.

The Recursive Product Strategy That Musk Used to Build an Empire

Last week Steve Sinofsky talked about how long it can take to build a sustainable start-up and find that breakthrough. This week Vinny Lingham’s post looks at how to build a framework for long-term effort and stay focused on the next milestone, on the way to the ultimate goal. Lingham’s uses Elon Musk’s experience with Tesla as well as his own experience to illustrate the framework he’s coined, Recursive Product Strategy. Basically you start at the end and work your way forward, not a new way of thinking but Lingham frames the idea in a manner that doesn’t simply list the things that need to happen to reach an endpoint. His method is to keep asking yourself “What’s Needed?” and “Why Not Now” at every stage. After you answer these questions for the final goal you have the next set of questions which will become the stage before the goal. Working this backward, or forward depending on your perspective you reach a point where the question of “Why Not Now?” becomes, “The time is now!”.

Three Types of Product Managers: Builders, Tuners, Innovators

Sachin Rekhi’s outline of how the online product management field is evolving is right on the mark. There are a number of essays on the varied skill sets a product manager needs to be successful but the practice of product management is becoming so broad that it’s time for it, like many professional practices, to become deep in some areas and for specialists to emerge. Rekhi identifies three archetypes and provides a very clear definition of each. This is a good read for those looking to enter the field and align interests with their future goals. I’d include a couple others, the growth product manager and the technical product manager.

Every Company Needs a Growth Manager

What works in small business and start-ups usually filters it’s way to the corporate world, this article suggests that’s now true of the Growth Manager role. Every company needs someone pointed directly at growing their audience, engagement and revenue. The role defines the growth path, coordinates and executes programs and optimizes the revenue funnel. A couple of quotes from Sean Ellis and James Currie about intuitive testing prioritization and knowing your acquisition channels really capture the essence of the role for me.

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