Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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The tuned in product manager

I recently wrote a post about the great new book Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs. This book has wide application to different types of organizations, markets and individuals. Anyone looking for ways to improve their success will be well-served by reading and applying the principles in Tuned In.

I have found particular application to of the Tuned In principles to product management. Product managers succeed when their products succeed. Their products succeed when they solve previously unresolved problems, or existing problems in new ways. The tuned in product manager identifies problems that the market wants to solve and provides context to help the company create the solution. Successful product managers are:

  • Tuned in to the market: Tuned in product managers understand their customers and also their potential customers (the untapped market). Many great blog posts exist about understanding existing customers. Knowing your potential customers — i.e. the market — can be more tricky. Finding places where potential customers gather (either in-person or on-line) and spending time with them is one way I’ve discovered to gather important market data. Relevant industry trade shows can be a great option to meet with non-customers. Tuned in product managers discover unresolved problems and find ways to create products that will fill the unmet needs.
  • Tuned in to the product team: Tuned in product managers lead the product team with market facts. They know their team members, understand what inspires them and provide relevant product direction. They work to instill confidence in their ability to lead the products and the team in the right direction. They know what motivates the team to go above and beyond their normal abilities. They take the initiative to make important decisions, and then stand behind those decisions. They foster productivity on the team.

Tuned in product managers are the driving force behind the products that become resonators in their markets. They pay attention to details and provide context to enable their teams to succeed. And ultimately, they have fun doing it!

For more information on this topic please see the article Steve Johnson and I co-wrote: The Tuned-In Product Manager. Join us on July 11 as we present a webinar titled Tuned In Product Teams. Pragmatic Marketing has also published an article I wrote: Five Factors of Leadership. Check out the Tuned In landing page for other great events and articles associated with the Tuned In release.


Tuned In

The expression ‘tuned in’ has been around for a long time, but its meaning is about to change. In a few weeks from now Wiley will release the book Tuned In: Uncovering the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs. The book details the Tuned In Process, a six-step method for creating a resonator, a product or service that so perfectly solves problems for buyers that it sells itself. Following are the six steps of the Tuned In process (with clarifying questions):

Step 1:
Find Unresolved Problems. How do we know what market and product to focus on?

Step 2: Understand Buyer Personas. How do we identify who will buy our offering?

Step 3:
Quantify the Impact. How do we know if we have a potential winner?

Step 4: Create Breakthrough Experiences. How do we build a competitive advantage?

Step 5: Articulate Powerful Ideas. How do we establish memorable concepts that speak to the problems buyers have?

Step 6: Establish Authentic Connections. How do we tell our buyers that we’ve solved their problems so they buy from us?

The book details how companies such as Starbucks, Zipcar and Disneyland got tuned in to their markets; how organizations such as NASCAR and Picture Perfect Weddings understand their customers; why products such as the Blackberry and GoPro camera meet specific needs of buyers; and how a magician, a preacher and a doctor all tuned in to specific needs of customers in their niche.

Finding the resonator is key to the success of the company, and tuned in entrepreneurs and executives find ways to make their products and services stand out. They create opportunities for their ideas to take off and become successful. They understand their market and products.

An equally interesting part of the Tuned In study was the contrast of tuned out companies. They tend to exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Guessing: Guess what the market wants
  2. Assuming: Assume current customers represent the market
  3. Telling: Try to create the need by expensive advertising or an army of salespeople.

Tuned In is written by three great authors:

Craig Stull is the founder and CEO of Pragmatic Marketing, Inc. and the author of the industry-standard Pragmatic Marketing Framework.

Phil Myers is President of Pragmatic Marketing, and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on the subject of Tuned In Leadership Strategies. Check out Phil’s takeaways from their book tour. (Side note: I met with Phil for lunch a few months back and he kindly gave me an advanced copy of the book).

David Meerman Scott is the author of the bestselling book The New Rules of Marketing & PR and a sought-after keynote speaker. (Side note 2: Check out the podcast I recorded with David in May.)

We will no-doubt be hearing great things about Tuned In for years to come. I highly recommend it to your reading!

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