We’re all experts now

How often have you seen product or portfolio decisions taken without the support of robust insights?

In the absence of existing insights, gathering meaningful data can be time-consuming and expensive. And with constant downward pressure on both time and cost, the temptation to cut corners is always there and guesswork creeps in. After all, how difficult can it be to guess, particularly considering the amount of information which is already available?

  • The web provides ready access to a vast amount of market data.
  • Discussion forums dedicated to the particular product or topic almost certainly exist, irrespective of how niche it is.
  • Online customer reviews are ubiquitous, instantly available and free.
  • … and since we’re all consumers anyway, we have our own experience to fall back on.

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Doing it differently

Every now and then, a new product is launched which stands out as being different from its competitors – not because it is doing something new, but because of the way it does it.

Alessi-juicer

Photo credit: http://www.alessi.com

The underlying drivers may be design as in the case of this iconic Alessi juicer, efficiency as in the case of Dyson, or necessity as exemplified by the Pompidou Centre. Continue reading

Meeting, exceeding and managing expectations

It’s sometimes difficult for a Product Manager to know whether customer expectations are there to be met or exceeded. Exceeding them has always struck me as the best way to deliver customer delight; merely meeting them must be the absolute bare minimum. Project & programme managers, on the other hand, often argue that exceeding expectations is setting the bar unnecessarily high, and that if expectations are set correctly in the first place, the objective should be to meet them.

elephant

But marketing messages can set expectations at an altogether different level. Are we reading too much into them? Are we being blinded by numbers and facts without questioning their relevance? For example:

  • smartphone display window made from Gorilla Glass is strong enough to withstand the weight of 10,000 elephants (yes, ten thousand) before it cracks.
  • A standard family car with a normal range of 800 miles can, with careful driving, cover more than 1,600 miles on a single tank of fuel.
  • Home broadband can deliver rates of up to 100 Mb/s. Continue reading

How to become the Go To person

I was speaking recently with a potential client about their expectations of a product manager, and in particular how far they expected the role to reach. After resolving a few terminology issues, we agreed that the product manager should be the Go To person for the product.

As a product manager, you must be the Go To person for your product. If you’re not, why is there someone else who knows more about your product than you? And what do they know about your product which you don’t know? Your product must be your “specialist subject” (to use terminology from the popular TV programme Mastermind).

MastermindChair

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Dummies

Restaurants in Japan have always understood the value of dressing their windows attractively in order to entice prospective customers inside. Indeed, an entire industry has emerged based entirely on the manufacture of restaurant food models. They are effective because they are so mouthwateringly appealing – at least in appearance, when viewed through a glass window.

JapaneseFood

[Photo courtesy of Kenton]

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