Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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2021: What Will Your Legacy Be?

Guest post by Bill Jensen

The next five years are likely to be the most crucial in your entire career.

If I’m not careful in how I pose the question, when I ask leaders about their legacy, I might get canned retirement speech. “I want to leave this business prepared for the future and knowing that I made a difference.”

But as our conversation continues, the import of considering one’s legacy within just the next five years becomes clear. This is an era of transformative disruption.

What keeps many leaders awake is being Uber’d — experiencing massive disruptions in everything they do that seem to come out of nowhere – disruptions that can uproot entire businesses and industries before they’ve finished their morning cup of coffee. Continue reading


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How to turn your small idea into a big success

“Creators build toward where they are going, not where they are.”

What if you had a key that could unlock tremendous growth and success in your life and business? How would you change your goals and desires with this knowledge? Would your ‘why’ change?

Each of us has the capacity to spot opportunities, invent products and capitalize on business—even create a $100 million business. Continue reading


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Great Leaders are Made, Not Born

Guest post by Allen Kors

While some may be born with an innate knack for great leadership skills like confidence, communication, and creativity, I’d like to argue that great leaders are made not born. Even if you are born with certain traits and talents, only through carefully developing those skills and talents can you learn to master the art of leadership. Being a great leader takes practice.

To develop great people skills, potential leaders need to learn how to become better listeners, how to accept critical feedback in a constructive way, and how to best display empathy and patience with other team members and colleagues. Continue reading


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One Compelling Question for Innovators

Guest post by David Sturt for Lead on Purpose blog

I recently came across a story in Wired magazine about a radically new technology being developed for heating and cooling. Aside from the exciting product idea to heat and cool a person rather than a place, I was intrigued by this statement about how the idea germinated:

At a point when humans need to take a sober look at our energy use, we’re poised to use a devastating amount of it keeping our homes and offices at the right temperatures in years to come. A team of students at MIT, however, is busy working on a prototype device that could eliminate much of that demand, and they’re doing it by asking one compelling question: “Why not just heat and cool our bodies instead?” (emphasis added).

Asking the right question is one of five key skills that predict great work, as identified from a sample of 1.7 million instances of award-winning work. Continue reading


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How do you build the right culture in your company?

People in countries, organizations and companies tend to behave in similar ways. The term culture has come to represent this idea: the way people think, behave or work. The culture of a company can have a major effect on the value—in terms of products and services—that a company provides to its customers.

A recent Gallup study analyzed data from more than 30,000 employees in various industries to determine what characteristics led to companies creating a high-performance culture that improves top- and bottom-line business metrics. The analysis revealed six crucial components on which companies should focus: Continue reading


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How to use Measurement to Manage Like a Pro

Guest post by Mary Prescott

I’m sure you’ve heard statements like these before:

“My team is exceptionally strong. They seem to be doing well”

“We’ve been improving. It’s hard to quantify, but I am sure we are getting there”

While you might hear these statements from any manager, they all have one thing in common: the lack of specificity. How strong is the team? How do you know that they are doing well for a given time period? How exactly – and based on what specific parameters – is your team improving?

Organizations need good managers and exceptional leaders (at all levels of your business). McKinsey Insights’ Pankaj Ghemawat references a survey of senior executives where 76% of them feel they need to develop global-leadership capabilities, but only 7% of feel they are doing so effectively.

Define Your Metrics

To measure or not to measure: that’s not even a question anymore. If you do not measure, you don’t get anywhere. It’s unproductive to begin without knowing what you want and how to measure your progress. Starting from your own performance metrics, you have to extend individualized and group metrics for your team. A research paper titled Metrics: You are what you measure by John R. Hauser and Gerald M. Katz from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, notes that metrics are in use everywhere, but if the organization uses the wrong metrics, they will not achieve the expected results.

Define the right metrics to measure individual goals and collective goals of the team. These ought to fall in line with the overall goals of the company.
Define. Create. Measure. Perform. Measure again.

Test your management strategies

How are you managing your team? The only way to know for sure is to test your ideas.
For instance, you might have a hypothesis that sales teams can work better when they meet clients and present their pitches with visual aids using mobile devices such as tablets. How do you know for sure?

Test your hypothesis: pick two groups of sales teams and allow one team to use sales aids such as laptops and tablets. The other group goes without any of these aids. Measure performance of both the groups. If the former group performs better, you’ll know that your hypothesis is right.

Find out if your decisions, plans, and strategies work first before deploying them.

It’s experimental. It’s a work in progress. That’s why most managers don’t risk doing it.

Dig into your data

What comes off from data might not give you the complete picture. It could seem obvious but if you dig deeper, more revelations will surface.

Depending on your goals — and the goals of your business — your data must serve to give you what not’s so obvious. Good managers see what’s not visible from data at “first look”. For instance, your customer satisfaction surveys could reveal that your customers buy X only so that they can avail a discount on Y. Meanwhile, you assumed that product X was a winner. Clearly, it isn’t.

While you assumed that your target audience was largely male, your sales records show that the majority of buyers were female. Have you been targeting the wrong base?
Peel off the “obvious” information from data and you’ll be able to align your business goals better.

Management isn’t just about goals

It’s easy to lose sight of “people” thanks to the inordinate focus on specifics, business goals, projects, and deadlines.

While efficiency and performance are certainly key inputs for effective business processes, it’s still people that you’d have to manage. Individual members of your team could have personal problems, friction points, and many other human elements that you’ll need to address.
Don’t lose sight of the people in the team. Take care of your team and the goals will fall into place.

Trust your guts

If management was only about making decisions based on all the measurements, numbers, statistics, analytics, and performance reports, almost anyone could be a good manager.

Sometimes, management is about guts.

When Bob Lutz’s guts made him leap into action to create what is today’s Dodge Viper, there were many naysayers. After a $80 million investment, Chrysler managed to create an outrageous sports car which was selling at $50,000. The sales team swore that no one would buy it. Yet, the Dodge Viper was a smashing success changing Chrysler’s image overnight.

The story repeats – in other industries – with the Steve Job’s iPhone, for instance.

The stories are everywhere. While you can’t depend on your gut for every decision, it surely plays a vital role in separating ordinary managers from the amazingly successful ones.

Mary Prescott is working as a community manager at WorkZone – A web-based project management software company. She is @MaryP_WZ on Twitter. When she’s not working, you’ll find her reading fiction or hiking with her dog.


The Product Management Perspective: Measuring product performance can be difficult, and it’s not a common practice for many product managers. However, the more specific you are about your products’ performance, the better your team members will understand their role its success. Focus not only on building great products, but also on ways you can measure your progress more successfully.


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Are you a leader in product innovation?

What drives innovation in your company or organization? Do you have a group of “thinkers” who come up with the new ideas? Do you watch the trends of competitors or others close to your market? Do you look outside your corporate world for clues to where you should go next?

In a recent MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work post the author Eric von Hippel asserts that company leaders focus too much on what’s next based on their internal product innovators, and they do not listen enough to the people using the products. On the topic of who are the real product innovators, von Hippel says:

It’s consumers not the product innovators who should be viewed as the new experts. A new school of innovation thinking says that product innovators who work for manufacturers have received far too much credit for product innovation, while product users have received far too little


The Product Management Perspective: The topic of product innovation goes to the roots of every product manager. Most forward-looking organizations rely on product managers to innovate their products, to assure their viability to the market, with the end goal of increased sales revenue. Visiting your customers—whether consumers at a tradeshow or large enterprise customers at their place of business—is key to the innovation and future success of your products. If you (or your boss) need motivation for looking to the outside for product innovation, I recommend the article three reasons to visit customers.

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