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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Developing high-performance product teams

It’s difficult (if not impossible) to quantify what it takes to develop a productive and successful product team. Every product is unique, and every company does things differently. From a distance it may seem that there’s no process or methodology to create a high-performing product team.

Developing great products entails teams of people working together. With the proliferation of product roles in recent years it has become more important for product teams to function well together and collaborate effectively with other teams and individuals in the organization. Increased focus on building great teams is desperately needed in today’s fast-evolving technology world, yet for too many companies it’s not a high priority.

What does it take to develop a group of disparate individuals into a high-performing product team?

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Launching a new product

One of the more difficult tasks for a company is launching new products. Quite often much emphasis is placed on designing and developing products, and the actual launch goes unplanned (or under-planned) until it’s too late.

What problems have you faced when trying to launch a new product? What effect did it have on the product launch? I recently learned about a new System Design program at Cornell University structured to help you master the skills to take your products to a successful launch. I’ve teamed up with Caridan Marketing on the following offer for Lead on Purpose readers:

Caridan Marketing Labs is an interactive and social media marketing firm based in New York City. As eCornell’s marketing agency, we partnered with them to launch a new Systems Design program. Their newest online certificate, A Systems Approach to Product and Service Design is authored by Professor Peter Jackson, Director of Systems Engineering at Cornell University. In six two-week courses, leaders will master a proven eight-step methodology and structured process that can be used to take an idea to the point where it can be handed off for completion.

In working and talking with driven leaders it has been shown that the projects that are most difficult to manage are usually related to new product and service launches.  Scope creep, unclear requirements, and inter/intra team miscommunication can become a recipe for disaster! What some leaders are missing is a proven methodology that will help them to understand how to design and develop products and services the right way from the beginning- and avoid common pitfalls in the process.

In this program, leaders will:

  • Learn a structured methodology for designing products/services the right way
  • Avoid the pitfalls that can lead to “designs gone wrong”
  • Earn a certificate from Cornell University in under three months

We’d like to offer a contest to you, the readers, where you can post your biggest challenge you when launching a new product/service. We will give all entrants a $100 discount on the tuition for eCornell’s program. We will also select the best ‘story’ and provide that winner with a 10% discount on our program when they enroll. We will also share the winning story on our website at www.ecornell.com. The deadline for all entries is August 15th, 2009.

You can find more information about our program at www.ecornell.com or please take a look at our recent press release eCornell Press Release.

Please share your story as a comment to this post by August 15, 2009 and you’re entered to win!