Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Using the right data methods in product research

Delivering a solid product that customers love requires an up-front knowledge of the market in which customers and potential customers operate. Understanding the problems they face, and solving those problems with a software solution, is the end goal.

I’ve been asked many times what the best way is to discover a market and understand the needs of customers in that market. My answer is usually some form of “it depends.” Some have potentially millions of customers (e.g. B2C) and other markets have far fewer—generally high-paying—potential customers (e.g. B2B). Attaining access to data differs depending on the makeup of the market.

At a high level, there are two methods you use to acquire market data, regardless of the industry: they are qualitative and quantitative research. Let’s explore how you can use both to get the data you need to deeply understand your market.

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Seeds of success

Everyone wants to succeed, but where does success start? We all have a deep desire to move forward and see our dream become reality, but how do we make it happen? The venerable “Dean of Personal Development,” Earl Nightingale, put it in these terms: “Success can be defined as the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” In other words, you become what you think about.

Nightingale compares the human mind to fertile land. The land doesn’t care what types of seeds the farmer plants, it will return what it’s given. The mind, in much the same way, will return either success or failure depending on what we have planted. The key is to set specific goals for what we want to achieve (plant the seed) and then work hard and nurture those goals. Believe in your ability to achieve them.

The people at Simple Truths put together an excellent three-minute video that describes the seeds of success. If you were a fan Nightingale’s Our Changing World radio program you’ll be delighted to hear his voice again. If (like me) you have no recollection of that program, you’ll still benefit from the great message. Take a few minutes and watch this video.

Decide what you want and “plant” the goal in your mind.

The Product Management Perspective: Product success usually starts the same way as personal success: someone has an idea. The rules that apply to personal success also apply to product success (with some adaptations): discover the value of ideas for new products by doing market research; understand the personas, the potential users and buyers of the products; then “plant the seeds” of the product by writing clear requirements and designs. The process takes time and multiple iterations; it requires vision and hard work. Be the leader in discovering and cultivating great ideas.