Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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How the cloud is reshaping small business productivity

Guest post by Shyamal Parikh

According to a research by Cisco, cloud data centers will process 94% of workloads by 2021.

Businesses are changing the way they work. With the advent of superior technology like cloud computing, this change becomes even more imperative if companies are to compete strongly in a marketplace where differentiating factors between competitors are slowly decreasing.

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How new technology is affecting SMBs

Guest post by Cayden Whitmond

Now more than ever, the future of business is one shaped by fast-paced innovations to technology and the way that work is done. In the past, emerging tech may have been exclusive to bigger businesses, but today there are plenty of solutions that specifically have SMB owners in mind.

Because tech innovations occur so rapidly today, the small business ecosystem—and the small business owners who may not have the insights or resources to keep pace with new tech sprints—risks falling behind larger corporations that are utilizing these solutions. That’s why it’s imperative to remain aware of emerging software, automation and machinery that may directly affect your business.

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Why customer success matters

Think about a product you use regularly. Why do you use it? Why do you love it? What keeps you coming back?

When creating a product or service, you want your users and buyers to answer these questions with positive reactions. You hope they will get the full value of your offering and that they will have a positive experience as they use for their business. You want them to keep coming back for more.

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Why the Future is up to Us

We live in a fast-paced world where technology changes our lives daily. For some it’s invigorating. For others it’s intimidating if not terrifying. With news about AI (artificial intelligence) getting smarter and more accurate, self-driving cars and trucks becoming more reliable, and neural networks communicating directly with people’s brains, it’s easy to see how people are getting nervous.

That change is coming is inevitable. What we do with it and how we handle it will determine our future.

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The workforce is changing, is your leadership ready?

We see changes around us all the time. Some things change so often we become blissfully unaware. One of those areas of rapid change is the people making up the workforce. With the challenges facing the economy, and Baby Boomers retiring in record numbers, leaders face challenges in the next decade. What changes do you need to make? How do you transition to a younger workforce? Why are Millennials important to your business?

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Understanding your market

Is the discipline of product management relevant outside the sphere of technology products? How big does a company have to grow before it needs a product manager? Do organizations that create products — but do not sell them — need product management? My answers: yes, one and yes respectively.  The following recent experiences illustrate my answers (please pardon my excessive use of first-person narrative):

  • Non-technology: I had a conversation with my brother — a cattle rancher — about a major change he’s considering with his operations. We talked at length about the changes he’s contemplating, why he wants to change and the potential roadblocks he will face. We concluded that before he makes the final decision he needs to understand how the changes will affect his operations and make sure they point toward a viable market. Personal note: My father (also a cattle rancher) spoke often about the importance of “hitting the market.” Even though he sells cattle (a commodity) only a few times a year, he appreciates marketing. Happy birthday Dad!
  • Company size: During a long drive this past weekend my wife and I had a great conversation about a new business she’s considering. She asked me questions like “how will I know there’s anyone to buy the product?” and “how do you find out what people really want?” After miles of engaging conversation I smiled at her and said “honey, you need a product manager.” We talked about what we will do in the next several weeks to gain insight and gather data about this new market she wants to pursue. I told her it’s called “market sensing.” It’s clear to me that no matter the size of your company, you need someone who listens to and understands the market.
  • Non-profit organizations: Groups, institutions and organizations that create products and services for the benefit of others need to understand their markets even if they do not sell their goods. Yesterday I was talking to a good friend of mind about his experience with helping his church. He told me he uses a product management tool to get feedback from others to improve their programs. His service has had a positive effect on his congregation. My church has a significant product management team working on products and services that will never be sold but will have a major impact on millions of people throughout the world. In both instances, understanding the market (though ‘market’ is not necessarily the term they use) is key to their success in improving lives and enriching individuals.

If you are thinking about starting a company — in any industry — you need to understand your market; you need product management. If you desire to improve your company’s success, you need product management. Whether your product is a product, services, solution or other type of offering, you need product management. Whether you call it ‘product management’ or use some other name, you need the discipline instilled in product management. To succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy, you need to understand your market.

The Product Management Perspective: As product managers you already know the importance of what I’ve written here. Help me spread the word!


Before its time

My good friend Saeed wrote a great post on why Product Management is everything! He makes this claim based on a Harvard Business Review article written in 1991 by Regis McKenna called Marketing is Everything. Saeed does a great job describing how the claims McKenna made, about marketing, really pointed to product management; specifically technology-based product management. The only problem was, McKenna did not know about product management or have a good catch-phrase to describe it at the time. After several quotes from the article and well-thought-out supporting commentary, Saeed asserts the following:

It should be clear where McKenna was heading with this. This new type of Marketing–that understands technology, the market, customer needs, and the competition; that works with partners, suppliers, vendors as well as customers; that integrates the customers into the development process to produce superior products and services–is what we today call Product Management.

Whether he intended it to be so or not, what Regis McKenna, one of the luminaries of high-tech marketing was saying, was that the critical function that companies must adopt to thrive in the market is Product Management.

It’s enjoyable to see how the discipline of product management has evolved, and good to know its importance was understood before its time. So what’s the new discipline evolving today that doesn’t yet have a name?