Under10 Playbook Steve Johnson The business of managing products http://www.under10playbook.com en 5 Pricing and Negotiation Hacks Steve Johnson 13 Sep 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/5-pricing-and-negotiation-hacks 398 <p>Most pricing challenges are not really about pricing but about discounting. In companies with complex products sold through a direct sales channel, product managers continually fight with the sales team over discounts and other concessions. Here’s the trick: Separate pricing from negotiation. </p> Dealing with Emergency Requests Steve Johnson 6 Sep 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/dealing-with-emergency-requests 396 <p>Product management should focus on the needs of the market, not just a single customer—and they should focus on problems, not solutions. Yet, in real life, every product manager is pulled into emergency issues. Most product managers report at least half their time is spent chasing down and dealing with unplanned activities.</p> <p>So, yes, even though it’s not truly product management, product managers have information—about the product, the market, the domain, and the business—that is often needed in critical sales and support scenarios. How can you better support your organization?</p> <p> </p> LIFT: A Product Summit Steve Johnson 16 Aug 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/lift-a-product-summit 393 <p>At <a href="https://liftproductcon.org/" target="_blank">Lift: A Product Summit</a> in Columbus, Ohio, Steve Johnson explores the many roles of Product Management in a fun talk focused on why product managers should obsess on problems instead of solutions.</p> ProductCamp Pittsburgh, 2018 Steve Johnson 9 Aug 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/productcamp-pittsburgh-2018 392 <p>Steve Johnson explores the many roles of Product Management in this fun talk focused on why product managers should obsess on problems instead of solutions.</p> Steve Johnson on Product Love Podcast Tom Lueker 9 Aug 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/steve-johnson-on-product-love-podcast 395 <p>Under10's Steve Johnson had a nice chat with <a title="Posts by Eric Boduch" href="https://www.productcraft.com/author/eric/" rel="author">Eric Boduch</a> at Pendo on various product management subjects. Listen to the discussion about teams, agile, purple squirrels, and qualities he looks for in product people.</p> 3 Keys To Feature Validation Steve Johnson 2 Aug 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/3-keys-to-feature-validation 394 <p>We've learned that customers have a problem. Product managers document the problem in a product story and designers reply with a prototype of spec. (Remember, product managers are expert in problems; designers are experts in solutions.) But wait! Don’t write that code yet. You’ll need to validate the proposed solution before you start developing it.</p> Inaugural NoVA ProductTank Meetup - Reston, VA Steve Johnson 26 Jul 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/inaugural-nova-producttank-meetup-reston-va 390 <p>Product Management is one of the most exciting—and most misunderstood—functions in technical organizations. Is it strategic or tactical? Is it a planning role or a support role? Many product professionals are unclear about what is (and isn't) product management. After all, product management spans many activities from business planning to market readiness.</p> <p>Join Under10's Steve Johnson for the inaugural NoVA ProductTank Meetup, in Reston, Virginia on August 28, 2018. </p> Selling Is Critical (But It's Not Product Management) Steve Johnson 26 Jul 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/selling-is-critical-but-it-s-not-product-management 391 <p>Selling is important but it isn’t customer discovery. Customer discovery is a method of understanding your customers, their problems, their preferences, and their buying behavior.</p> <p>Every product professional should spend time with customers observing—not selling, not dealing with a support issue, not training on the new release. Yes, selling, support, and training are important… but they’re not customer or problem discovery.</p> What Problems Are You Causing? Steve Johnson 5 Jul 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/what-problems-are-you-causing- 389 <p>For each suggestion on how to improve your product, consider your target personas and their problems. Will this improve the experience? Can it diminish the experience?</p> The "Need To Know" Rule Steve Johnson 28 Jun 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-need-to-know-rule 388 <p>I’m actually not too concerned with security on my systems. I use strong passwords and I don’t leave my laptop unlocked. I’m less concerned a hacker will get into my system; I’m more concerned a hacker will get into YOUR systems. After all, why bother hacking an individual system to get one password when you can hack one system and get everyone’s passwords?</p> Mow the Lawn: A Product Story Steve Johnson 21 Jun 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/mow-the-lawn-a-product-story 387 <p>We always have more work than can be done. We need a way to organize the work so we know what's pending, active, and complete.</p> <p>At Under10, we recommend a status system using five queues: Planning, Ready, Working, Accepted, and Released. Let’s take a chore through the five queues, from PLANNING to RELEASED, to understand how this approach works.</p> You Have 8 Seconds Steve Johnson 14 Jun 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/you-have-8-seconds- 386 <p>Today it's even more important to be succinct and direct in your customer communications—beginning with your product positioning and value propositions. </p> When Customers Won't Pay Steve Johnson 7 Jun 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/when-customers-won-t-pay 384 <p>What do you do when customers love your content but won't pay for it? It’s time to consider advertising. However, in the advertising model, advertisers are the <em>customers</em>; listeners become the <em>product</em>.</p> Evaluating Product Refinements Steve Johnson 31 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/evaluating-product-refinements 383 <p>Most product teams have adopted the practice of periodic retrospectives. These leverage the experience of your team to identify areas for improvement of our product and processes. When considering enhancement requests, think product refinement, not just enhancement. <br /></p> Well played, Netflix! Steve Johnson 31 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/well-played-netflix- 385 <p>An excellent example of Newsjacking from Netflix. </p> Exploring When To Partner Steve Johnson 24 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/exploring-when-to-partner 382 <p>Most tech organizations build most or all of the technology needed for their products. But should you? Always consider buying or partnering before embarking on a new development project—whether a big feature or a new product.</p> 3 Titles; 3 Horizons Steve Johnson 17 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/3-titles-3-horizons 381 <p>The Three Horizons model, developed in “The Alchemy of Growth,” by Mehrdad Baghai, Stephen Coley, and David White of McKinsey & Company, is one of the many useful frameworks used in our <a href="http://www.under10playbook.com/workshops">strategy workshops</a> for product managers. Three Horizons is a useful metaphor for defining priorities through multiple product life cycles. Each horizon has a different overall optimization goal; each requires different types of managers. </p> Free webinar: Problem and Product Managers Steve Johnson 10 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/free-webinar-problem-and-product-managers 377 <p>Join Under10's Steve Johnson for a free Product Management Today webinar on the roles of product management and how to use market feedback to drive your decisions.</p> Book review: The Secret Product Manager Handbook Steve Johnson 10 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/book-review-the-secret-product-manager-handbook 379 <p>In his new book, my friend Nils Davis reminds us that product management finds market problems, create solutions to those problems, and take the solutions to market. <em>The Secret Product Manager Handbook</em> guides you through all three parts of the framework with tools and techniques for getting it done.</p> Book review: This Might Get Me Fired Steve Johnson 3 May 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/book-review-this-might-get-me-fired 378 <p>While many product managers are involved primarily with developing and delivering someone else’s idea to market, some are actually driving strategy for a new product. Product Strategy managers are intrapreneurs—and that’s the target reader for <em>This Might Get Me Fired</em>. Author Gregory Larkin presents a step-by-step method for innovation within a large organization. </p> Product Leader or Product Support Steve Johnson 26 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/product-leader-or-product-support 375 <p>Titles are a mess. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a product marketing manager. Is product owner the same as product manager or is it something else? Take a look at three roles of product leadership where the focus is on problems, not solutions. </p> Making Your Product Launch Move Quickly Gregory Larkin 24 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/making-your-product-launch-move-quickly 380 <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every company is pulled in opposite directions. On one hand, there’s often powerful organizational inertia. On the other hand, there’s the speed of the disruption economy. This is why big companies need intrapreneurs—people with an entrepreneur’s spirit who can drive innovation internally.</span></p> Don't Waste Your Survey Steve Johnson 19 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/don-t-waste-your-survey 376 <p>Surveys are great when used correctly. But they are so often over-used without a clear objective. We all get "survey-fatigue" when we're constantly bombarded with "how was your stay?" and "How was your flight?" and "How was your meal?" and so on and so on.</p> <p>Clients don't need a gift; they do need to see the value of their response. </p> ProductCamp Boston, 2018 Steve Johnson 12 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/productcamp-boston-2018 365 <h4>Steve says Crazy Things About Product Management </h4> <p>In this session, author Steve Johnson shares his new experience managing a product after 20+ years of product management consulting. He introduces a nimble idea-to-market process with strong emphasis on personal experience with customers. From business planning to product launch, this approach for managing products empowers your product team to work smarter and collaborate better with colleagues and customers.</p> Remember with a Product Journal Steve Johnson 12 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/remember-with-a-product-journal 374 <p>We often seem to live in the moment. A phone call, an email, a meeting. And whoosh! the day is gone. A product journal reminds you what you’ve done and what you’ve planned.</p> Webinar: A Life Cycle for Today's Products Steve Johnson 6 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/webinar-a-life-cycle-for-today-s-products 369 <p>Every organization is unique—so your planning process should be too. What are the critical activities and artifacts to go from idea to market Learn about our free webinar on the roles of product management.</p> Maybe We Should Be Problem Managers Steve Johnson 5 Apr 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/maybe-we-should-be-problem-managers 373 <p>One of the great things about product management is touching every part of the company. We work with sales and marketing, development and support, professional services and finance. And sometimes we see an internal problem—one team doesn't know what another group is doing or relevant product information isn't reaching the right people.</p> Be Expert On Market Problems Steve Johnson 29 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/be-expert-on-market-problems 372 <p>In product management, our primary job is to be expert on market problems. That means we must spend time with customers and non-customers so we are in a position to notice problems.</p> <p>If we can find problems and solve them at a profit, we’ll succeed.</p> Three Roles of Product Marketing Steve Johnson 22 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/three-roles-of-product-marketing 371 <p>Titles are a mess for most companies. What one organization calls product management, another calls product marketing. We need specialized roles centered around business strategy, product release planning, and go-to-market/sales enablement. What are the roles of product management?<br /></p> Book Review: The Startup Playbook Steve Johnson 15 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/book-review-the-startup-playbook 370 <p>I was sent a complimentary copy of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B078QCRYWJ">The Startup Playbook</a> to read and review. It’s a good introduction to product thinking for both founders and product managers. The issues in product management are quite similar to the issues for company founders. After all, strategic product managers often define new ideas in addition to managing the growth of an existing product.</p> Webinar: The 3 Roles of Product Management Steve Johnson 13 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/3roles1804 368 <p>Many in product roles are unclear about what is (and isn't) product management. After all, product management spans many activities from business planning to market readiness. Learn about our free webinar on the roles of product management.</p> ProductCamp RTP, 2018 Steve Johnson 8 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/productcamp-rtp-2018 366 <h4>Steve says Crazy Things About Product Management </h4> <p>In this session, author Steve Johnson shares his new experience managing a product after 20+ years of product management consulting. He introduces a nimble idea-to-market process with strong emphasis on personal experience with customers. From business planning to product launch, this approach for managing products empowers your product team to work smarter and collaborate better with colleagues and customers.</p> Creating Effective Channel Training Steve Johnson 1 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/creating-effective-channel-training 364 <p>For effective channel training, product managers and marketers need to re-think what sales people and channel partners require to be successful. Since their primary goal is selling, how can we help them meet their goals?</p> <p>The biggest mistake we make when conducting channel training is teaching how to USE the product instead of teaching how to SELL the product.</p> Recommended reading: The Phoenix Project Steve Johnson 1 Mar 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/recommended-reading-the-phoenix-project 367 <p><em>The Phoenix Project</em> is a novel that seems too true—featuring familiar dysfunctions between marketing, development, and operations. With a revision in 2018, it’s as true today as when it was originally published in 2013.</p> Purple Squirrels and Your Product Team Steve Johnson 22 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/purple-squirrels-and-your-product-team 363 <p>Many product management and marketing job postings are impossible to fill. The idea is to find someone with many years of experience in product management… with a similar product… built on similar technology… in a similar domain… serving a similar market.</p> <p>They’re looking for a unicorn. Or a purple squirrel.</p> The Customer Isn't Always Right Steve Johnson 15 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-customer-isn-t-always-right 360 <p>Do you ever get unreasonable requests from customers—or their sales reps? You’re not alone. Is there such a thing as a bad customer? Yes, sometimes. We all get requests from customers—some reasonable and some otherwise. In the back of our minds, there’s a little voice saying, “The customer is always right.”</p> <p>Hmmm. Are they?</p> DEBATE: Prioritization Approaches Steve Johnson 15 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/debate-prioritization-approaches 361 <p>Listen in on a humorous debate between Steve Johnson of Under10 and Rich Mironov, Silicon Valley's expert on product management and author of Product Bytes. The topic: Prioritization - should you use an Algorithmic approach or Consensus?</p> <p>Johnson and Mironov trade humorous jabs while being questioned, corralled and judged by referee and product manager Neeha Tummala with snarky comments from Saeed Khan of Transformation Labs.</p> David Daniels on Product Marketing Steve Johnson 15 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/david-daniels-on-product-marketing 362 <p>Rather than hoping a buyer takes an action toward buying your product, wouldn’t it be better to design "action" into your marketing programs? Once you have a buyer’s attention the next step is to get them to take action. An action is something you want a buyer to take that gets them closer to a decision to acquire your product. It may be one step. It may be multiple steps. Either way, it can be designed in and measured.</p> The Power of Customer Success Stories Steve Johnson 8 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-power-of-customer-success-stories 359 <p>What is the profile of your ideal customer? Success stories about your ideal customers make great sales tools. Based on these most successful profiles, you may need to re-segment to focus your promotional and sales energies on these ideal personas.</p> Align Your Teams with Briefings Steve Johnson 1 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/align-your-team-with-a-team-briefing 356 <p>Product leaders should brief delivery teams—development, marketing, sales, and others—on the business of the product. After all, good teams are like good parents; they’re involved in their child’s life. Like a periodic parent/teacher meeting, the product manager or business owner should sit down with the team to explain the business aspects of the product as well as the plans for the future.</p> News: Fujifilm Holdings acquires Xerox Steve Johnson 1 Feb 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/news-fujifilm-holdings-acquires-xerox 358 <p>Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings is set to take over Xerox Corp in a $6.1 billion deal, combining the U.S. company into their existing joint venture to gain scale and cut costs amid declining demand for office printing.</p> Services: The Forgotten Customer Steve Johnson 25 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/services-the-forgotten-customer 355 <p>Product management is about finding market-level problems systematically so other teams can solve them but professional services and support teams are often neglected. Not only should product managers look for problems that will increase sales, they should also seek out problems that reduce our operational costs.</p> Listen to Customers (or Not) Steve Johnson 18 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/listen-to-customers-or-not 351 <p>Should we add every feature that customers (and sales people) request? No. All requests should be vetted against key strategic elements of product direction. Here's one approach for dealing with customer requests.</p> Caution: Roadmap Construction Ahead Steve Johnson 16 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/caution-roadmap-construction-ahead 354 <p>Steve Johnson of Under10 will join a lively discussion on roadmapping techniques at the Raleigh Product Management Group.</p> Pendomonium 2018 Steve Johnson 11 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/pendomonium-2018 352 <p>Steve Johnson is a featured speaker at Pendomonium 2018—hosted by our friends at Pendo.</p> Fire and Fury and Product Marketing Steve Johnson 11 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/fire-and-fury-and-product-marketing 353 <p>The book launch of <em>Fire and Fury</em> by Michael Wolff teaches much about today’s growth marketing and newsjacking. While product teams have been adopting agile practices, most marketing teams are still quite waterfall, wanting months and months of planning time. </p> <p>Sure, it’s important to make launch plans. It’s also important to elicit market feedback so you can adjust your plans. Is your messaging working? How are buyers responding? Your launch plan should embrace uncertainty.</p> Separate Quality Testing from Availability Steve Johnson 11 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/separate-quality-testing-from-availability 357 <p>Quality testing identifies anomalies or defects that are not working as expected. Typically, quality testing—both alpha and beta phases—are the responsibility of the development team and/or quality assurance team.</p> <p>How is "beta" different from "availability"? Learn more about testing and availability and why they are different.</p> Friday fun: Color of the Year for 2018 Steve Johnson 5 Jan 2018 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/friday-fun-color-of-the-year-for-2018 350 <p>Stop the presses: Pantone has declared Ultraviolet will be 2018’s color of the year. This week, Impulse Creative shared this and four other design trends for 2018. Add these to your patter when you complain about “look and feel” with your design and marketing teams.</p> The Year in Review 2017 Steve Johnson 28 Dec 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-year-in-review-2017 349 <p>2017 has been a busy year here at Under10. Our new book, Turn Ideas Into Products, is popular in the Kindle store and is helping teams create a nimble planning process. Our software has gone though a few iterations with a major facelift occurring in 2018. What were the most popular posts of 2017?</p> Keep the Customer Satisfied Steve Johnson 21 Dec 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/keep-the-customer-satisfied 348 <p>Measuring customer satisfaction helps ensure clients are getting full value from your products. For instance, the popular Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric indicates a customer’s likelihood to be a positive referral. Yet most organizations don’t track metrics at the product level. They might have satisfaction scores for a single sales transaction or for the company overall but how do you make product decisions?</p> Persona-based pricing: Find the pain Steve Johnson 14 Dec 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/persona-based-pricing-find-the-pain 347 <p>One of the tricks in product pricing is to determine who 1) has the pain and 2) is willing to pay for a solution. They may not be the same people. Before defining your pricing model, identify your buyer personas.</p> The negative impact of change Steve Johnson 7 Dec 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-negative-impact-of-change 346 <p>Product leaders should always be learning. Learning about market problems, customers and prospects, sales and promotion challenges, and new methods. Periodically—at least once a year—your product team should run a retrospective on processes and results. How do your actual compare to your plan? Analyze your product metrics. Examine your processes for developing and delivering products to market. Consider what things you should keep, change, or stop.</p> <p> </p> Is Your Positioning Competitive? Steve Johnson 30 Nov 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/is-your-positioning-competitive 344 <p>Positioning describes what your product does—while also describing how it is different than anything else on the market. To be effective, product leaders must profile each competitive offering for company and product positioning, feature set, distribution model, and key customers.</p> Market Definition and Sizing Steve Johnson 16 Nov 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/market-definition-and-sizing 342 <p>Sizing a market opportunity has always been problematic. To calculate expected revenues, you need to know how many buyers you’re likely to get and how much you’re able to charge them.</p> More on Product Management Roles Steve Johnson 16 Nov 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/more-on-product-management-roles 345 <p>Allan Neil of Ready Product Radio challenged me to debate my pal Saeed Khan on the topic: Is the product owner role separate from product manager or are they the same? This is a more serious discussion on the role with some insights from a working product owner.</p> Radio Debate: PM or PO or both? Steve Johnson 9 Nov 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/radio-debate-pm-or-po 343 <p>Allan Neil of Ready Product Radio challenged me to debate my pal Saeed Khan on the topic: Is the product owner role separate from product manager or are they the same? The result was hilarious.</p> Leveraging Domain Expertise Steve Johnson 2 Nov 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/leveraging-domain-expertise 341 <p>When evaluating new product ideas, domain expertise joins strategic initiatives and technology directions as key drivers for success. Are you qualified to offer such a product? Do you have in-house expertise in the accepted practices and underlying science? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?</p> Create an Opportunity Definition Steve Johnson 26 Oct 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/create-an-opportunity-definition 340 <p>One of the key ideas of Lean manufacturing is to avoid waste. Spending more than a day completing a business document for an idea that won’t go forward is waste.</p> <p>We get ideas from myriad sources: executives, sales people, and developers as well as competitive feature sets, analyst reports and customers. A market-driven product manager will likely have first-hand insights from customer requests and the results of customer interviews and observation. Some of these ideas are important; some are not. That’s why many teams use a one-page definition document to profile the opportunity.</p> Your First 2 Weeks with an Existing Product Paul Hurwitz 12 Oct 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/your-first-2-weeks-with-an-existing-product- 335 <p>An important skill for a product manager is the ability to parachute into an existing product and land on your feet. What should you accomplish during your first 2 weeks?</p> Managing an Existing Product: Day 1 Paul Hurwitz 5 Oct 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/managing-an-existing-product-day-1 334 <p>An important skill for a product manager is the ability to parachute into an existing product and land on your feet. When parachuting into an existing product you have to immerse yourself in your new company and learn as much as you can as quickly as you can.</p> Bring Me A Rock Steve Johnson 5 Oct 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/bring-me-a-rock 338 <p>Communication is a key skill for people managers and product managers. And it’s something we could all do better.</p> <p>Many requests seem to be “bring me a rock.” And then, “But not that one.”</p> The Worst that Could Happen Paul Hurwitz 28 Sep 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-worst-that-could-happen 333 <p>Do you plan for the worst? Do you list out the worst things that could happen during your release and come up with ways to mitigate the risks? Do you have contingency plans if something does go wrong?</p> <p>When putting together a product launch plan, you need to think through everything about what resources will be needed from engineering, QA, infrastructure and support. Many different types of media will be needed; marketing materials, training materials for internal use and help documentation for users, blog posts, social media posts and press releases.</p> Revisiting ASPIRE for Competencies Steve Johnson 28 Sep 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/revisiting-aspire-for-competencies 337 <p>One of the keys in positioning is creating a unique space in the mind of buyers. What is your position in the market? Is it “we do the same thing as everybody else but we’re better.” What do you offer that is uniquely yours? Use ASPIRE to help refine your position.</p> How to Break into Product Management Paul Hurwitz 21 Sep 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-to-break-into-product-management 332 <p>At many of the meetups I attend around New York City, I meet aspiring product people, people in other functions that want to break into product management. I get asked how to become a product manager all the time. Product management is an important role and many people want to transition to it.</p> Ask Steve: Who's responsible for product feasibility? Steve Johnson 21 Sep 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/ask-steve-who-s-responsible-for-product-feasibility- 336 <p class="qtext_para">Typically you’ll see a product manager doing product feasibility. A product manager’s primary job is to define the business opportunity, then guide the development and delivery of the product to the market.</p> Using The Five Queues Steve Johnson 14 Sep 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/using-the-five-queues 331 <p>One of the most powerful concepts in the Under10 Playbook software is The Five Queues. This article by Steve Johnson was featured in Pragmatic Marketing's Summer 2017 issue of The Pragmatic Marketer. Learn more about how to use the five queue technique with your product and technical teams. </p> How to Work with Developers Steve Johnson 7 Sep 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-to-work-with-developers 330 <p>A2A: How does a product manager work with product development?</p> <p>Philosophically, think of the product manager as the owner of the problem and product development as the owner of the solution.</p> <p>Use the "5 Queues" to organizer your plans.</p> Prioritizing for Strategic Alignment Steve Johnson 31 Aug 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/prioritizing-for-strategic-alignment 329 <p>One of the questions we tackle in roadmapping is how an idea aligns with the organization’s strategy and vision—before it hits the roadmap. The Ansoff Matrix is a great tool for determining strategic fit for new product and feature ideas.</p> Product Marketing Community - Toronto Steve Johnson 24 Aug 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-marketing-community-toronto 327 <p>Steve Johnson will be the master of ceremonies at Product Marketing Community in Toronto on September 28, 2017, introducing keynotes from Sirius Decisions, Pragmatic Marketing, and CEB as well as many product marketing executives.</p> Product Marketing Community Q&A Steve Johnson 24 Aug 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-marketing-community-qa 328 <p>Steve Johnson participated in a live Q&A session with Product Marketing Community on Sept 6 at 12:00 to 12:30 pm EST on All Things Product Marketing.</p> Learning is the Core Steve Johnson 17 Aug 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/learning-is-the-core 325 <p>Research shows almost 50% of companies lack a formal product life cycle process. A lot of success is attributable to individual heroics in spite of the company's process (or lack of). What's your process? And is learning a key element?</p> Prioritizing Product Ideas In A Portfolio Steve Johnson 10 Aug 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/prioritizing-product-ideas-in-a-portfolio 326 <p>How do you determine which product fits best with your other products? Look for them at the intersection of strategy and market.</p> <p>Product managers often look for a financial calculation where one doesn’t exist. Instead integrate the company strategy with the needs of your target buyer (persona). </p> Choosing the Right Beta Sites Steve Johnson 3 Aug 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/choosing-the-right-beta-sites 324 <p>The key word in the phrase “beta testing” is not “beta,” it’s “testing.” If you look up phases of testing in a technical dictionary, you’ll find <em>Alpha testing</em> is defined as testing of a release candidate <em>by vendor employees</em> on customer systems. <em>Beta testing</em> is defined as testing of a release candidate <em>by customers </em>on customer systems. Both Alpha and Beta refer to validating the product’s <em>capabilities</em>; use an invitation-only launch to validate the product’s <em>promotion</em>.</p> <p>Who are your best candidates?</p> The Thunder Of Your Actions Steve Johnson 27 Jul 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-thunder-of-your-actions 323 <p>Today we see myriad distractions in meetings and working sessions. People on their phones; side conversations; surfing the web; updating Facebook.</p> <p>If a meeting is important, then people should be engaged. Here are a few tips to keep your meeting on track.</p> Meeting Fun Steve Johnson 20 Jul 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/meeting-fun 322 <p>Some meetings are boring. Particularly conference calls. To make them more fun, add Conference Call Bingo to your next conference call.</p> Cut Your Time to Productivity in Half with Better On-Boarding Steve Johnson 13 Jul 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/cut-your-time-to-productivity-in-half-with-better-on-boarding 319 <p>Do you want your team to be productive quickly? Fix your on-boarding process and you’ll achieve productivity in record time.</p> Recommending reading Steve Johnson 12 Jul 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/recommending-reading 321 <p>There are loads of good books on product management and product strategy. Here are some of the books we mention in our workshops and coaching sessions.</p> Why Your Organization Cannot Innovate Steve Johnson 6 Jul 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/why-your-organization-cannot-innovate 318 <p>Executives are extremely dissatisfied with their organization’s innovative performance but most firms seem to hate innovating. In 2016, McKinsey reported that 84% of executives see innovation as extremely important but only 6% are satisfied with their organization’s innovative performance. Understand why "different" is as important as "good."</p> Play To Your Competitive Strengths Steve Johnson 29 Jun 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/play-to-your-competitive-strengths 316 <p>When developing a competitive strategy, don’t try to compete directly against your competitor’s strengths. Instead, focus on—and build up—your strengths. It seems logical enough but we continue to see companies ignore this competitive reality.</p> Raleigh Product Management Group, July 2017 Steve Johnson 29 Jun 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/raleigh-product-management-group-rpmg- 317 <p>Steve Johnson will present at the Raleigh Product Management Group (RPMg). </p> <p><strong>Topic: Steve Johnson serves up some crazy talk on product management </strong></p> <p>In this session, author Steve Johnson shares his experiences managing products during 20+ years of consulting with product teams. He introduces a nimble idea-to-market process with strong emphasis on personal experience with customers. From business planning to product launch, this approach for managing products empowers your product team to work smarter and collaborate better with colleagues and customers.</p> Many Roles, Many Titles Steve Johnson 22 Jun 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/many-roles-many-titles 2 <p>In my discussions with executive teams, it’s clear that company leaders expect the product manager to be responsible for requirements. Communicating customer problems to development in some form, using artifacts known as stories, problems, features, or requirements. When pressed, execs often add some business aspects for the product: financial plan, roadmap, maybe a business case.</p> <p>Rarely does a company leader advocate a product manager’s role in determining the company’s strategic direction or defining new products for the portfolio.</p> It helps when we all work for the same company Steve Johnson 15 Jun 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/it-helps-when-we-all-work-for-the-same-company 174 <p>In college, a fraternity brother recommended I take a ROTC class—he promised me an “A” and I’d also get to fire a rifle. (And after struggling with Cost Accounting, I really needed the grade!) One thing I remember is, during WWII, each soldier was supported by 8 non-combat soldiers. For every soldier with a rifle, there were 8 with clipboards. Just look at M*A*S*H—in this support unit, there were half a dozen doctors plus many others necessary for its effective operation.</p> <p>How many staff positions are required to support a person in the field?</p> <p> </p> User Personas in Product Management Steve Johnson 8 Jun 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/user-personas-in-product-management- 315 <p>User Personas can help product people really define who they're building their product for. Instead of thinking of your customer as a demographic, a user persona helps you visualize and define an actual *person*.</p> <p>In this episode of the <a href="https://soundcloud.com/build-launch-scale/episode-4-new" target="_blank">Build Launch Scale</a> podcast, Steve Johnson explains how we can best create and leverage user personas when building products. </p> <p><a href="https://soundcloud.com/build-launch-scale/episode-4-new" target="_blank">Listen to the full podcast here</a>.</p> Are You A Trusted Advisor? Steve Johnson 25 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/are-you-a-trusted-advisor 312 <p>The best sales people are what I call "brother-in-law sales reps." They understand both the client and the products well enough to explain which product can solve the client’s problem.</p> Product Marketing Community - Boston Steve Johnson 25 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-marketing-community-boston 313 <p>Steve Johnson will be the master of ceremonies at Product Marketing Community in Boston on June 9, 2017, introducing keynotes from Sirius Decisions, Pragmatic Marketing, and CEB as well as many product marketing executives.</p> Teams Don’t Form Instantly Steve Johnson 18 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/teams-dont-form-instantly 311 <p>One of the key ceremonies in bringing new products to market is the product team briefing. Sometimes called a development brief, this meeting is oriented around the business and market conditions driving the product direction.</p> Product Camp Boston, 2017 Steve Johnson 17 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-boston-2017 310 <h4>Create Your Product Adventure: My Personal Journey Of Developing Software Tools For Product Managers</h4> <p>In this session, author Steve Johnson shares his new experience managing a product after 20+ years of product management consulting. He introduces a nimble idea-to-market process with strong emphasis on personal experience with customers. From business planning to product launch, this approach for managing products empowers your product team to work smarter and collaborate better with colleagues and customers.</p> Free webinar: Scaling Product Management in an Agile World Steve Johnson 15 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/free-webinar-scaling-product-management-in-an-agile-world 309 <p>Titles are often a mess for product teams, particularly in large agile environments. What is the role of the Product Manager in a scaled agile organization and what role should PMs be playing in defining, executing, and commercializing an organizations product offering? Steve Johnson of Under10 Playbook joins Scott Blacker, VP Product and Services of AgileCraft to discuss the critical product management roles in a scaled agile environment. </p> <p>Join us for this free webinar: <a href="http://go.agilecraft.com/agilepm">Scaling Product Management in an Agile World</a>.</p> When to contact clients Steve Johnson 11 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/when-to-contact-clients 308 <p>You’ve heard again and again that you should listen to customers. However, you will learn entirely different things depending on when you contact them. Consider the client’s confidence in your solution over time and align your interviews with their phases from buying to production.</p> Affinity Mapping: A Powerful Tool Steve Johnson 4 May 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/affinity-mapping-a-powerful-tool 306 <p>Of all the techniques I’ve used, affinity mapping consistently delivers great results. By leveraging a team’s collective knowledge, you brainstorm a bunch of information to quickly find patterns and themes.</p> A2A: What are the best product metrics? Steve Johnson 27 Apr 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/a2a-what-are-the-best-product-metrics 304 <p>My favorite set of metrics help instrument the movement from "interested” to “advocate." Consider “Pirate Metrics” from Doug McClure.</p> Video: Products Solve Problems Steve Johnson 20 Apr 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/video-products-solve-problems 303 <p>At Under10, we make a big deal about personas and problems. We’re always asking, “What problem does this solve and for whom?” Here's short-form video from Under10 Playbook that explains the importance of problems. </p> Analyzing your Buyer’s Journey Steve Johnson 13 Apr 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/analyzing-your-buyers-journey 301 <p>Do you really understand your buyer’s journey? The entire journey? From one department to the next? I've been thinking about the disconnect between marketing, sales, and service. Why doesn’t one department know what another department is doing? How many times must I provide the same information: name, email, phone number, address?</p> Turn Ideas Into Products Steve Johnson 5 Apr 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/tiip 294 <p>In <em>Turn Ideas into Products</em>, author Steve Johnson introduces a nimble idea-to-market process with strong emphasis on personal experience with customers. From business planning to product launch, this approach for managing products empowers your product team to work smarter and collaborate better with colleagues and customers.</p> Create Your Own Product Adventure Steve Johnson 4 Apr 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/create-your-own-product-adventure 299 <p>This excerpt from the book <em><a href="../../../ebooks/tiip">Turn Ideas Into Products</a></em> introduces the key steps in a modern product life cycle process. Most product management and development methods take a “step 1, 2, 3” approach as if you’re starting from nothing. They assume you don’t already have a product in some phase of its life cycle. However, the reality is this: most of us don’t start from the beginning. We usually start somewhere in the middle.</p> <p>Product leaders are often called on to jump in midstream. Explore two product journeys in this quick read.</p> Do your stories tell a story? Steve Johnson 30 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/do-your-stories-tell-a-story 195 <p>Most stories are boring. Do your stories actually tell a story? </p> Podcast: What is Product Management? Steve Johnson 23 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/podcast-what-is-product-management- 298 <p>Steve Johnson was interviewed by Tom Cooper for his podcast. Tom & Steve tackled the issue of product management roles, titles, and responsibilities. </p> Behavior Drives Pricing Drives Behavior Steve Johnson 16 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/behavior-drives-pricing-drives-behavior 296 <p>Your costs and revenue plans are irrelevant to your customers but, of course, they’re quite relevant to your business case—if customer value is less than the revenue you can charge, you have a flaw in your business model, not a flaw in your pricing. Look at two examples of pricing driving behavior and vice versa.</p> 6 Areas of Expertise for Effective Product Managers Steve Johnson 14 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/6-areas-of-expertise-for-effective-product-managers 297 <p>I was interviewed by Chad McAllister, host of The Everyday Innovator podcast, the six types of expertise in product management. Listen in as we talk about expertise and the search for "purple squirrels." </p> Never underestimate the power of observation Steve Johnson 9 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/never-underestimate-the-power-of-observation 295 <p>I set up a program in my marketing automation system and somehow set up a loop. The program called a page that called the program that called the page and so on. </p> <p>Never underestimate the power of observation.</p> What is (and isn’t) product management? Steve Johnson 2 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/what-is-and-isnt-product-management 290 <p>It seems most organizations are unclear on roles and responsibilities. Here's a handy way of thinking about roles philosophically. </p> The best roadmap isn't a big effort Steve Johnson 2 Mar 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-best-roadmap-is-not-a-big-effort 293 <p>The roadmap has become one of the most commonly requested—yet frequently misunderstood—documents in the product manager’s arsenal. However, for many product managers, the roadmap is an annoyance that must be changed constantly.</p> UPS Never Makes Left Turns Steve Johnson 23 Feb 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/never-make-left-turns 291 <p>Did you know UPS trucks almost never make left-hand turns? Understanding the mechanics of how delivery vehicles work increased productivity for drivers and reduced fuel costs dramatically.</p> Conference session: Product Experience and the Evolution of the Product Manager Steve Johnson 22 Feb 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/conference-session-product-experience-and-the-evolution-of-the-product-manager 292 <p>On Wednesday, March 8, Steve Johnson joined Prabhakar Gopalan and Mike Belsito in a discussion on Product Experience And The Evolution Of The Product Manager.</p> Are You Disrupting? 2 Tips for Innovation Steve Johnson 16 Feb 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/are-you-disrupting-2-tips-for-innovation 288 <p>For any product, whether innovative or sustaining, the key is understanding personas and their real problems. Explore two techniques for innovation success: physical location and "jobs to be done." </p> Paying for Quality Content Steve Johnson 9 Feb 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/paying-for-quality-content 287 <p>In a world with so many cheap or free options, and so many "good enough" solutions, customers seem willing to pay for better choices. Choices that are focused on their specific needs; that is, software that meets 100% of something rather than 80% of everything. A better webcam with a better app. A better software tool with better reporting and better tutorials.</p> Webinar: Getting Customer Insights to Drive Your Decisions Steve Johnson 8 Feb 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/webinar-getting-customer-insights-to-drive-your-decisions 289 <p>The key to understanding your client’s “jobs to be done” is first-hand knowledge of the market and its problems, yet many product managers claim to be too busy to visit customers. This session covered why product managers must visit customers (and potential customers) and why this critical activity cannot be done by sales people.</p> How do your buyers learn? Steve Johnson 2 Feb 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-do-your-buyers-learn 286 <p>As you develop your product personas, think about how they like to learn. Do they read and research? Or do they prefer to examine and discuss? Your sales team should be armed to handle both types of buyers. </p> Innovation begins with observation Steve Johnson 26 Jan 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/innovation-begins-with-observation 285 <p>Observing customers in their work environment reveals common problems and irritations that no one would ever mention, resulting in clever features like the “PPI Function.”</p> Why a Product isn’t a Project Steve Johnson 19 Jan 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/why-a-product-isnt-a-project 283 <p>It seems many teams confuse projects and products, and therefore have trouble delineating the roles of project managers and product managers.</p> <p>A project has an end; a product doesn’t.</p> The Problem of Story Detail Steve Johnson 5 Jan 2017 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-problem-of-story-detail 282 <p>The level of precision in stories is an industry-wide problem. In general, product managers want to convey high-level epics or scenarios while many developers want specific tasks. This represents a huge divide of expectations.</p> Performing Objective Prioritization Steve Johnson 29 Dec 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/performing-objective-prioritization 281 <p>Much of product management is prioritization. Which product to build; which feature to develop; which critical launch items to deliver. A prioritized list is critical—ideally sorted by some form of business value. Using an objective algorithm is the best approach. </p> Ask Steve: How to deal with tiered pricing Steve Johnson 15 Dec 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/ask-steve-how-to-deal-with-tiered-pricing 280 <p>In a typical tiered pricing scenario, buying 101 seats in Tier 2 is cheaper than buying 100 seats in Tier 1. How do you deal with the edges on pricing tiers?</p> How to prep your team for an annual review Steve Johnson 8 Dec 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-to-prep-your-team-for-an-annual-review 82 <p>As a manager, you owe it to your employees to give them career counseling. But don’t do all the data gathering yourself. Use existing information or get your employees to pull the raw data together. Then use your management skills and career experience to analyze the data so you can provide specific recommendations. Your team will appreciate that you cared enough to prepare a meaningful assessment.</p> Let’s stop calling it software engineering Steve Johnson 1 Dec 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/lets-stop-calling-it-software-engineering 278 <p>Much of the language of software creation is based on the manufacturing metaphor. We “plan” software. We “engineer” software. We “assemble” software. The implication is that creating software is rote work that can be done by factory workers on an assembly line. Creating isn't the same as assembling.</p> 19 Product Managers You Must Follow Steve Johnson 17 Nov 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/19-product-managers-you-must-follow 277 <p>I'm pleased to be named as one of the "19 Product Managers You Must Follow" by Mark Silver at Spectechular. </p> <p> </p> The best way to support sales teams Steve Johnson 10 Nov 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-best-way-to-support-sales-teams 276 <p>It seems that many sales people are hired for reasons other than their industry expertise. We typically attempt to hire “closers” and “elephant hunters.” But without industry expertise, these sales folks will need lots of technical support. What is the product manager’s role in supporting sales teams?</p> Development Team Briefing and Collaboration Steve Johnson 3 Nov 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/development-team-briefing-and-collaboration 275 <p>Despite the adoption of agile philosophies, many product executives request detailed time estimates and costing at the feature level. As someone who has worked with product teams for decades, I can tell you time and cost estimates of features just aren’t reliable. What to do?</p> How mobile is your strategy? Steve Johnson 27 Oct 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-mobile-is-your-strategy 273 <p>If you're not mobile already, you're overdue for declaring a mobile strategy for your product.</p> Steve on Ready Product Radio Steve Johnson 25 Oct 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/steve-on-ready-product-radio 274 <p>Allan Neil of Ready Product Radio recorded a session with Steve Johnson of Under10 Playbook. Steve's topic: When the product is YOU! </p> Why a Release Isn’t a Launch Steve Johnson 20 Oct 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/why-a-release-isnt-a-launch 272 <p>Nowadays, many product managers and marketers focus on a series of increasingly broad launches, not on packaging releases.</p> <p>It’s helpful to understand that <strong><em>product release</em></strong> is the end of development; <strong><em>product launch</em></strong> is the beginning of availability. Developers work forward to a release date; other internal teams work backward from a launch date.</p> Product Metrics: Identifying Opportunity and Inefficiency Calvin Marshall 13 Oct 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/product-metrics-identifying-opportunity-and-inefficiency 271 <p>For the business of product management, one area that typically gets short shrift is the creation, measurement and review of product metrics.</p> Product Camp Atlantic, 2016 Steve Johnson 9 Oct 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-atlantic-2016 251 <p>Steve Johnson from Under10 will be a "virtual presenter" at Product Camp Atlantic on October 22, 2016.</p> <p>Abstract: When the Product is YOU</p> <p>Have you been out there lately? Hunting for that perfect job is both easier and harder than ever before. You don’t have to be restricted to your nearest big city… but other candidates don’t either. Networking is easier but, alas, everyone’s network is bigger than before. In this talk, Steve Johnson looks at applying common product management principles to your most important product: YOU.</p> Creating ideal customer profiles Steve Johnson 6 Oct 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/customer-success-profiles 4 <p>You know the worst thing that can happen with a new product? You get <em>some</em> customers. Not none. Not a lot. Just a few. And now you have a bad idea that must be supported and maintained and explained.</p> <p>To create the ideal buyer profile, we perform a customer profitability retrospective. From this, we can create a set of ideal customer profiles and align the company’s development, marketing, and sales programs around this ideal profile.</p> Perfecting the Stealth Launch Steve Johnson 29 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/perfecting-the-stealth-launch 240 <p>Your product is in the market but no one knows it. Or perhaps you’ve done the “product roll-out”—you’ve rolled the product out the door and then slammed the door shut. Some companies prefer the “development launch”—when the code compiles with no errors, it’s released to clients. Launch complete.</p> <p>Congratulations. You’ve perfected the stealth launch!</p> 50 product management blogs you should be reading Steve Johnson 23 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/news/50-product-management-blogs-you-should-be-reading 257 <p>Steve Johnson's Under10 blog has been nominated as one of 50 product management blogs you should be reading by Roadmonk.</p> Win/loss analysis: the product marketer's most powerful tool Steve Johnson 22 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/win-loss-analysis-the-product-marketers-most-powerful-tool 239 <p>There’s one special form of research that many product marketing managers are neglecting—and they’re missing a great tool. It’s win/loss analysis. Who better to tell us what we do right and wrong in selling than someone who recently tried to buy, successfully or not?</p> Webinar: Using Data for Better Product Decisions Steve Johnson 21 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/webinar-using-the-right-data-to-drive-better-product-decisions 250 <p>Product Managers get pulled in different directions during product planning, forcing them to make business decisions based on emotions and politics. As a result, product plans and roadmaps are made on a shifting foundation instead of being driven by data. </p> <p>Steve Johnson is joined by Keith Fenech from V.i. Labs as they discuss how product managers can leverage <em><strong>application usage data</strong></em> to make business-focused decisions that drive better products and customer experiences. </p> <p> </p> Product Camp Atlanta, September 2016 Steve Johnson 17 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-atlanta-september-2016 245 <p>Have you been out there lately? Hunting for that perfect job is both easier and harder than ever before. You don’t have to be restricted to your nearest big city… but other candidates don’t either. Networking is easier but, alas, everyone’s network is bigger than before.</p> <p>In this talk, Steve Johnson looks at applying common product management principles to your most important product: YOU.</p> Business of Software, September 2016 Steve Johnson 13 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/business-of-software-september-2016 244 <p>In recent years, title inflation has exploded. We’ve seen new definitions for old titles and many new titles have been created. In product management, we’ve got product managers, product marketing managers, product owners, program managers, product strategists, product line managers, portfolio managers, and more. The more prescriptive your requirements, the less likely you are going to find the perfect person. The same applies across every function in an organization.</p> <p>Steve explains why you should reconsider the areas of expertise needed to build a successful team. Identify contributors with a more limited skill set, but with specific strengths. Adapting processes to the strengths of your team can be a better approach to scaling a startup or optimizing an existing business. Six types of expertise are necessary for a well-rounded product team and they are rarely found in a single person.</p> <p> </p> Powerful attributes for your Persona Steve Johnson 8 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/powerful-attributes-for-your-persona 236 <p>The questions to consider in creating your personas are these: What information is relevant to your marketing and development decisions? Do you need demographic attributes or situational ones? Or both?</p> <p> Fundamentally, we need to know how to find and market to our buyers and how to develop to our users. What do you need to know to succeed?</p> Where does product management belong in your organization? Steve Johnson 7 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/where-does-product-management-belong-in-the-organization 237 <p>I’m often asked where product management should sit in the organization. Some companies put product managers in development; others in marketing. What are the merits of each?</p> Have you observed a customer lately? Steve Johnson 1 Sep 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/have-you-observed-a-customer-lately 235 <p>Back in my days with Pragmatic Marketing, I traveled almost every week delivering both public and private seminars to groups from 12 to 120 people. In fact, I stayed in the same hotel every month for a decade. We did lots of public seminars in hotel conference areas; some were good, others not so much. Only once was I asked for recommendations on how the hotel conference facilities could be improved.</p> Hiring for Domain Expertise Steve Johnson 25 Aug 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/hiring-for-domain-expertise-product-management 234 <p>Many in ed-tech prefer to hire teachers for their domain expertise but what do teachers know about the business of education? Health organizations like to hire nurses and practitioners but what do they know about the business side? Most product management and marketing job descriptions mandate heavy domain expertise but is this really necessary? After all, practitioners only experience a minute part of the overall business of their domain.</p> Webinar: Making Smarter Decisions Using The Three Horizons of Growth Steve Johnson 25 Aug 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/webinar-making-smarter-decisions-using-the-three-horizons-of-growth 243 <p>They say you have to work “on” the business, not just “in” the business, yet many small and mid-market business executives and managers are so consumed with daily issues they can’t see beyond the current work. Sales and marketing folks need help with clients and campaigns; developers need insights of personas and problems. But what’s next? In this session, we’ll explore product portfolio management strategies using the three horizons model. We’ll also discuss resource allocation for products in each phase.</p> A2A: How can I help the sales team when I’m not in the marketing department? Steve Johnson 18 Aug 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/a2a-how-can-i-help-the-sales-team-when-im-not-in-the-marketing-department- 233 <p>I'm not in the sales or marketing department but I'd like to help the sales teams. What can I do to help the company succeed?</p> What's the vision anyhow? Steve Johnson 11 Aug 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/what-s-the-vision-anyhow- 232 <p>Strategic vision links the present to the future, showing how you intend to move the organization to its next level of performance. Much has been written about strategic vision and alignment. Context vs core. Must-have products vs nice-to-have. The question here is whether any new idea is a key component of your long-term strategic vision. That, without it, your company’s long-term viability is in jeopardy.</p> During the growth phase: optimize for market share Steve Johnson 4 Aug 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/during-the-growth-phase-optimize-for-market-share 231 <p>During the growth phase, product leaders turn their attention to promotion and sales enablement. Presumably we have a workable product solution. Now the fundamental question is: How can we sell faster? Or if you prefer, how do we improve customer adoption? We want to expand the share of market (ie., more new clients) and expand the share of wallet (ie., more sales to existing clients).</p> Product Management Job Descriptions Steve Johnson 28 Jul 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/product-management-job-descriptions 225 <p>The most common format I see for successful teams is comprised of three roles: strategic product manager, one or more technical product owners, and a market-facing product marketing manager. This organizational approach has the added benefit of being able to expand easily. </p> <p>What are common job titles and responsibilities for successful product management teams? </p> Focus on two priorities Steve Johnson 21 Jul 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/focus-on-two-priorities 223 <p>Most product managers, marketers, and developers have an infinite queue of things to be done. The challenge for many (including me) is to stay focused on the things that really matter. You can easily get distracted by the “noise” and miss the ideas that are vital.</p> What are you NOT? Defining your competitive position Steve Johnson 14 Jul 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/competitive-positioning 222 <p>When considering how to communicate your value proposition, many firms try to reveal how they’re better (<em>slightly</em> better) than the competitor—sometimes in really subtle but irrelevant ways.</p> <p>Instead of trying to show how you’re better, show how you are the <em>exact opposite</em> from your competitor. They are that, we are NOT that.</p> <p> </p> Moneyball marketing Steve Johnson 7 Jul 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/moneyball-marketing 220 <p>Perhaps the book that most influenced me recently was <em>Moneyball,</em> by Michael Lewis, first published in 2004. As I read it, I couldn’t help but find parallels between the folklore of baseball and that of marketing.</p> Can you leapfrog the competition? Steve Johnson 30 Jun 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/leapfrog 221 <p>If your product is deficient in capabilities that your competitors have already delivered, you expend the majority of your development resource just catching up. After all, there are must-have features in every product—the ones you need just to be considered viable. But to jump ahead, you need to address these basic competitive features and also allocate resources to do work beyond the basics. </p> <p>To “leapfrog the competition,” you need to out-spend them. But more than that, you need to out-learn them.</p> Powerful techniques for product launch Steve Johnson 23 Jun 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/powerful-technique-for-product-launch 219 <p>So many product managers focus on the BUILD aspects of product but often forget about empowering the launch and its promotion. </p> The 2 kinds of sales people Steve Johnson 16 Jun 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/two-kinds-of-sales-people 218 <p>There are two types of sales people: order-takers and rainmakers. Which do you need?</p> Using Gilligan's Island for positioning Steve Johnson 9 Jun 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/gilligans-island-positioning 217 <p>Here's a thought: If your product was on Gilligan's Island, which character would it be?</p> Amazon Echo and the Soft Launch Steve Johnson 3 Jun 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/amazon-echo 216 <p>Amazon Echo, the speaker with Siri functionality, was released in a series of phases using the soft launch approach. </p> Consider a soft launch Steve Johnson 26 May 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/soft-launch 215 <p>The “big launch” approach often fails because you haven’t perfected the go-to-market materials. Consider a soft launch with limited availability so you can nail your message, materials, and approaches before going to scale.</p> Webinar: When the product is YOU Steve Johnson 11 May 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/webinar-when-the-product-is-you 242 <p>Hunting for that perfect job is both easier and harder than ever before. You don’t have to be restricted to your nearest big city… but other candidates don’t either. Networking is easier but, alas, everyone’s network is bigger than before. <br /><br />In this talk, Steve Johnson looks at applying common product management principles to your most important product: YOU. </p> Product Camp Boston, Spring 2014 Steve Johnson 3 May 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-boston-spring-2014 261 <p>Steve Johnson spoke on Creating Product Leaders in his session. Download it here.</p> If we only had the time Steve Johnson 28 Apr 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/if-we-only-had-the-time 203 <p>I fear how many product managers and product marketing managers treat their days. A meeting here, a phone call there. Dealing with some emergency or “just one quick question.” Before you know it, your day is done…and you haven’t actually accomplished anything.</p> <p> </p> Product Camp Boston, Spring 2016 Steve Johnson 9 Apr 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-boston-spring-2016 241 <p>Have you been out there lately? Hunting for that perfect job is both easier and harder than ever before. You don’t have to be restricted to your nearest big city… but other candidates don’t either. Networking is easier but, alas, everyone’s network is bigger than before.</p> <p>In this talk, Steve Johnson looks at applying common product management principles to your most important product: YOU.</p> 9 steps to success Steve Johnson 7 Apr 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/9-steps-to-success 201 <p>Great results come from more than great development. You need a simple approach to optimize your product delivery every step of the way, from business planning to product creation to sales enablement.</p> Do your personas have names? Steve Johnson 24 Mar 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/do-your-personas-have-names 199 <p>For product managers and product marketers, the term ‘persona’ is used for profiles of buyers and users. Personas are a key element of a <a href="http://www.under10playbook.com/">product manager’s playbook</a>. They define the behaviors, attitudes, and goals of the kinds of people we encounter with our products. But… should your personas have names?</p> Reading: The Deadline (Tom DeMarco) Steve Johnson 10 Mar 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/reading-the-deadline-tom-demarco 198 New ebook on High Performance Leadership Steve Johnson 8 Mar 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/new-ebook-on-high-performance-leadership 196 What's the venn? Steve Johnson 25 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/whats-the-venn 193 <p>I've seen a bunch of variations on the Venn diagram for product management. Is it the intersection of tech and UX and requirements? Or is it finance and customer and something else?</p> <p>What's the right metaphor for product management?</p> Do product managers need to be technical? Steve Johnson 22 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/do-product-managers-need-to-be-technical 212 <p>I’ve been hearing about job postings for product managers that require computer science degrees. Is that really necessary?</p> <p>What I’ve learned is many product managers don’t have adequate technical background to understand the questions or to give practical answers.</p> Noticing Problems Steve Johnson 16 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/noticing-problems 191 <p>Our job—as product managers and entrepreneurs—is to notice problems. After all, problems exist; customers are under-served by today's solutions. But too many of us rely on reports or anecdotes from others instead of being face-to-face with potential customers.</p> When the product is YOU Steve Johnson 15 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/jobhunting 211 <p>Have you been out there lately? Hunting for that perfect job is both easier and harder than ever before. You don’t have to be restricted to your nearest big city... but other candidates don’t either. Networking is easier but, alas, everyone’s network is bigger than before.</p> Competitive battle cards Steve Johnson 12 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/competitive-battle-cards 208 <p>Product leaders and marketing managers learn a great deal about the competition as part of their daily interactions with customers and with sales people. The Competitive Battle Card is a digest of all you’ve learned... so your sales people are armed with the latest intel. The real challenge for those composing a battle card is not the formatting or the template but determine what information to put into it. </p> Your first days… as product manager Steve Johnson 12 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/first-days-pm 209 <p>You’re in your first days as a product manager. There’s so much to do. Where to begin? Before the demands of others overwhelm you, you need to prepare yourself to be the business and market liaison to the product team. Your role as a product manager or product owner is to make the best business decisions for the product, working from the best available information.</p> Your first days... as the head of product management Steve Johnson 12 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/first-days-head-of-pm 210 <p>Do you lead a new product management team? Where should you begin? </p> <p>What is the role of senior leadership, particularly the head of product management? <strong>To provide infrastructure.</strong></p> Outsource Commodities, Not Core Steve Johnson 11 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/outsource-commodities-dont-outsource-core 192 <p>A guy fell into a hole. A friend heard his cries for help and promptly jumped down into the hole too. The guy says, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck down here!” And the friend says, “Yes, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”</p> <p>I’m surprised when companies outsource their strategy work such as customer discovery, persona development, and product positioning. Can you really understand the output without understanding the underlying inputs?</p> The Worst Product Design Mistakes Emily Hunter 9 Feb 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-worst-product-design-mistakes 190 <p>When it comes down to your product, you just want it to work - not just in the sense of all of its features operating properly, but you also want it to resonate well with your intended audience. You want them to love what you've created. They should feel like it has enhanced their lives. Whatever it is you've made, make sure that your creation avoids a few mistakes product designers inadvertently make during the process, so everything works as well as it possibly can.</p> Look Beyond the Product Steve Johnson 25 Jan 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/look-beyond-the-product 266 <p>Today’s agile development methods are great but don’t miss the forest for the trees. You still need a vision, a roadmap, and clarity of team roles to succeed. <em>Look Beyond the Product</em> explains what today’s executives need to know about agile development methods and the business of managing products.</p> <p> </p> Grandma’s cooking secret Steve Johnson 12 Jan 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/grandmas-cooking-secret 188 <p>The new bride is making her first big holiday dinner and tries her hand at her mother's brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did.</p> <p>Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, "Why do you cut off the ends?—that's the best part!"</p> <p>She answers, "That's the way my mother always made it."</p> <p> </p> My Interview with Ready Product Radio Steve Johnson 5 Jan 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/my-interview-with-ready-product-radio 189 <p>On <a href="http://readyproductradio.com/ep-17-4-types-of-product-expertise-w-steve-johnson" target="_blank">Ready Product Radio</a>, Steve Johnson and Allan Neil talk about the 4 Types of Expertise required for success in Product Management as well as whether Agile is making Product Management too tactical. </p> ASPIRE to your Capabilities Steve Johnson 4 Jan 2016 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/aspire-to-your-capabilities 270 <p>So you’ve got an idea for a company or a product. Most often, the first step is to estimate the costs and revenues to see if you can deliver it profitably. But before you start running the financials, ask yourself, “Is this product a good fit for my organization?”</p> The Key to Power Positioning Steve Johnson 29 Dec 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-key-to-power-positioning 187 <p>I was facilitating a session on product positioning. The team was really nailing it, with a strong focus on customer problems. Then the session came to a crashing halt when the VP of Marketing said, “We need to incorporate the word ‘power.’ Didn’t you notice how the president’s eyes really lit up every time you said ‘power’ yesterday?”</p> <p>I could feel the energy leave the room. And a few people glanced at me to see how I would handle it.</p> You can’t do product marketing without product Steve Johnson 17 Dec 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/you-cant-do-product-marketing-without-product 184 <p>In a recent discussion I was shocked by a claim made by a product marketing manager: <em>"Product marketing in B2B is harder than B2C because we can’t use the product."</em></p> <p>Yes, I agree it is hard to market products that you don’t understand. But why don’t you? You simply can’t do product marketing without knowing the product.</p> The Paint Stick and product expertise Steve Johnson 10 Dec 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-paint-stick-and-product-expertise 183 <p>Domain experience is critical to selling. It's why we keep going to hardware stores instead of buying from the big box stores. We go for <em>advice,</em> not just products. We go for product expertise—the clerk who knows why this product is better than that one for your project.</p> <p>How about your clients? How much are they asking for advice rather than price?</p> Plan your next steps with a retrospective Steve Johnson 3 Dec 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/plan-your-next-steps-with-a-retrospective 182 <p>The plans you make must be guided by your results from previous plans. After all, the best lens on the future is the past.</p> <p>You made your plans with a set of assumptions: the size and skills of your product team, an expected rate of customer acquisition and retention, a level of funding for marketing and sales programs. Re-examine those assumptions and revise them based on your results. Look at what worked and what didn’t. Consider whether new methods can be applied to your products and services.</p> <p>Make time for a retrospective.</p> Product Camp Atlanta, November 2015 Steve Johnson 21 Nov 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/great-day-at-product-camp-atlanta 180 <p>Steve Johnson led a session on agile's impact on product management, using the Under10 Playbook Canvas as a central theme. The Playbook Canvas helps you define artifacts and methods for each step of product delivery, from idea to market.</p> More on saying "no" -- your schedule, time, life Steve Johnson 19 Nov 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/more-on-saying-no 179 How to define product, service, solution Steve Johnson 12 Nov 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-to-define-product-service-solution 178 <p>I use the term "product" all the time to mean a combination of products and services but many of my clients equate "product" with "software" and rarely consider services as part of their products.</p> 5 Steps to an Effective Product Development Strategy Hannah Nava 10 Nov 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/5-steps-to-an-effective-product-development-strategy 177 <p>Great ideas—which turn into great products—seek to fill a void that the target market has—and may not be not aware they have. Ideally, your idea will revolutionize their life, from changing the way they communicate to how they conduct their business. Consider these five steps from idea to launch for your new product initiatives.</p> A Day at Corporate Steve Johnson 5 Nov 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/a-day-at-corporate 176 <p style="text-align: justify;">Have you ever had a sales person set up a client visit at your corporate headquarters?</p> <p>The agenda usually involves the company president, the head of technology, one or more product managers, the head of support and services. And of course, the sales rep needs each of these people to attend the full day session just in case. The product managers certainly need to be there to make sure nobody makes any claims that must be supported elsewhere—such as the demo or on the ever-changing product roadmap; you need to make sure nobody is making any promises the products can’t keep.</p> <p>Sometimes the sales team organizes this type of agenda at the client’s location so you can add in travel costs too.</p> <p>For many organizations, every major deal involves this type of client visit. The cost of such a program is staggering. Just add up the daily salaries of these people plus the cost of travel—not to mention the opportunity cost—and you’re talking about a very expensive cost of sale, so you better win it!</p> 5 Product Development Myths That Are Holding You Back Emily Hunter 28 Oct 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/5-product-development-myths-that-are-holding-you-back 175 <p>No one can ever say product development is an easy task. There are unbelievably tight deadlines to keep, limited resources, and bosses or clients who want your deliverables now to appease. Naturally, this means product development managers have to find places to cut costs, find ways to speed the process, and try to follow a regular production schedule. That may be a good model for a factory, but the process of product development is something altogether different.</p> <p> </p> Product Camp Connecticut, 2015 Steve Johnson 17 Oct 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-connecticut-2015 247 <p style="text-align: left;">Thanks for inviting me to participate in Product Camp Connecticut on October 17, 2015. I hope you enjoyed my presentation. Here are links from my presentation.</p> Ask the expert: product managers are busy elsewhere Steve Johnson 13 Oct 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/ask-the-expert-product-managers-are-busy-elsewhere 173 <p>I’ve found that many companies understaff customer support and rely on product managers to support the support team. That means the product managers are not doing their jobs because they’re busy doing other departments' work.</p> <p>How many departments are hiding their headcount in product management?</p> Time for a product retrospective Steve Johnson 8 Oct 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/time-for-a-product-retrospective 172 <p>You know the worst thing that can happen with a new product? You get some customers. Not none. Not a lot. Just a few. And now you have a bad idea that must be supported and maintained and explained.</p> <p>A product retrospective looks at the product capability, the best (and worst) customers, and the sales successes. What should we stop doing? What should we do more often? Let results drive your decisions for refining your product, your promotion, and your sales efforts.</p> Can you develop faster than you sell? Steve Johnson 29 Sep 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/can-you-develop-faster-than-you-sell 171 <p>What if you could develop faster than you sell? What if you could have a product release (or two) during the sales cycle?</p> <p>A buyer wants a feature that’s planned for later in the roadmap. Since it’s crucial to a deal, we can put it into the queue for the next iteration and have the feature online in two weeks, long before the contract closes.</p> <p>Your competitor announces a new feature. If you have a top-performing product team—and if it makes sense for your roadmap—you could develop and deliver the feature while your competitor is still showing prototypes.</p> <p>You’ll want to avoid the appearance of being a custom developer but the promise of agile teams is they can react to changing requirements quickly. Use the "development pull" technique to align changing market conditions with consistent product team deliverables.</p> Empower Others with a Product Brief Steve Johnson 22 Sep 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/empower-others-with-a-product-brief 169 <p>In my first sit-down with a marketing agency, they peppered me with questions about the product and the market. They wanted to know about clients, their problems, our solution, and why our product was better than alternatives. After a few minutes it finally hit me: “Do you want my product positioning?” And I pulled a product brief document out of my case with all their questions already answered.</p> <p>Over the years I’ve learned to empower teams with the information they need about the product as well as the context of the product: the personas and their problems, the product vision, the roadmap, and the product status.</p> Q&A on User Testing Steve Johnson 15 Sep 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/qa-on-user-testing 168 <p>Most product managers recognize the value of user testing. But sadly, we don’t often allocate the time to do it properly on new feature/product ideas. We are all under intense time pressures. So it is often hard to fit in testing and design iteration before the sprint deadline.</p> <p>Steven Cohn, the Founder of Validately and a user testing expert, gives some practical advice on how to balance the time pressures of product management and conducting proper user testing.</p> The three envelopes Steve Johnson 10 Sep 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/three-envelopes 167 <p>A fellow had just been hired as the new product manager at a technology corporation. Taking the desk of the former product manager, he opened the desk-drawer to find three envelopes marked "Open in case of emergency."</p> <p> </p> Where to find great product leaders Steve Johnson 8 Sep 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/where-to-find-great-product-leaders 166 <p>The best source for product leaders is someone already doing the job elsewhere. But you have to ask yourself, why would someone leave one job for another unless there’s more money or more responsibility.</p> Consider the opposite strategy Steve Johnson 3 Sep 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/consider-the-opposite-strategy 160 <p>When stating your product strategy or your key functionality, you want to ensure that your message resonates instead of sounding just like everyone else. One technique for evaluating strategic messages is to see if the reverse is a sound strategy.</p> Feed the product team using "pull" Steve Johnson 27 Aug 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/feeding-the-product-team-using-pull 165 <p>There are two approaches to delivering stories to your product team: pull and push. Typically, product managers and executives “push” more and more requests to the developers. In more practical terms, the product manager builds a long list of prioritized requirements, perhaps grouping them into themes or releases, and sends the developers a few hundred items at a time. This push approach has three negative effects.</p> <p> </p> What about bugs? Steve Johnson 20 Aug 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/what-about-bugs 161 <p>Rating defects is often a nightmare. Bad sales people tell their customers to rate everything a Sev1 to ensure the feature gets delivered. Bad QA leads use bug ratings to prove a political point. Bad developers rate critical bugs as Sev4 so they don’t have to work on it.</p> <p>The people in development and support should be clear on your rating system.</p> What's the difference between a proDUCT manager and a proJECT manager? Steve Johnson 19 Aug 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/whats-the-difference-between-a-product-manager-and-a-project-manager 164 <p>Some people ask me about the difference between a proDUCT manager and a proJECT manager. I find the easiest approach is to consider the two roles against the product life cycle. A project manager typically has authority to plan, manage, and execute a given scheme--usually a single iteration of a product release while a product manager focuses on managing a product throughout its lifecycle across multiple releases.</p> On the Qualities of a Good Product Manager Emily Hunter 18 Aug 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/qualities-of-a-good-product-manager 163 <p>A product manager is a marketer, a negotiator, a demographer, a liaison, a researcher, an innovator — it can entail so many jobs that two job descriptions reading “product manager” may read quite differently depending upon the product and the company. Given such a diverse range of duties, what exactly qualifies someone to be a good product manager? In short, it requires a firm grounding in the present and a creative eye toward the future.</p> Marketing campaigns must be measured Steve Johnson 13 Aug 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/marketing-campaigns-must-be-measured 159 <p>Marketing campaigns must be measured. If you can’t prove the value, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Examining marketing campaigns is a key part of a market retrospective, part of your <a href="http://www.under10playbook.com/playbook/">product playbook</a>.</p> Support: the product manager’s secret weapon Susanna James 22 Jul 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/support-the-product-managers-secret-weapon 156 <p> For many product managers, the main channel to customers is through the sales team. Sales teams know which features sales are won on and which they’re lost on. Sales knows what features prospects are asking for and can place a direct monetary value on implementing such a feature request. But sales people listen to sell; they don’t always listen to learn.</p> Ship complete or ship on schedule: pick one Steve Johnson 16 Jul 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/date-or-scope-pick-one 155 <p>I read an article that claims Agile Development has now reached the “trough of disillusionment.” It seems that executives and product leaders have started to pine for the good old days of waterfall.</p> <p>You remember waterfall. We had lots of big documents and checklists and wonderful GANTT charts and status boards. And we were always sure what features would be delivered on certain dates.</p> <p>Wait. What?</p> <p>Did we <em>ever</em> hit our dates? The big lie of waterfall was that you could anticipate all requirements in advance. And that requirements didn’t change. And you’d hit your dates. And you could still somehow add features without delaying the project or increasing the headcount.</p> Webinar: Is Agile Breaking Product Management? Steve Johnson 8 Jul 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/webinar-is-agile-breaking-product-management- 255 <p>Join Steve Johnson for a webinar with Product Focus: Is Agile Breaking Product Management? </p> Never invite sales people to a meeting Steve Johnson 7 Jul 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/never-invite-sales-people-to-a-meeting 154 <p>Would you be surprised to learn roughly 50% of sales people's time is spent working on things that do not generate revenue? In short, half the time, sales people aren't working toward their objectives but are providing market expertise to the rest of the organization.</p> <p> </p> Quick prioritization Steve Johnson 8 Jun 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/prioritization 213 <p>Prioritization is a critical skill used for many of the items in your product playbook. The basic tenet of prioritization is to make a list of all the things you want to accomplish and order the list based on value.</p> <p>We don’t want the product team cherry-picking the list for easy stuff or fun stuff. We always want them working on the most important thing. And we don’t want product managers and product owners just guessing; we want to know that <em>this </em>is more important than <em>that</em>.</p> My interview with Ravi Kumar, yoursproductly Steve Johnson 1 Jun 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/my-interview-with-ravi-kumar-yoursproductly 150 <p>I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Ravi Kumar, founder/curator of ProductCamp Singapore, product owner at Autodesk, and host of yoursproductly.com. We scheduled 45 minutes and ran over an hour. So much to say, so little time. </p> Innovation and managing duplicates Steve Johnson 21 May 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/innovation-and-managing-duplicates 152 <p>Where do you find ideas for new products? After all, it seems like everything's already been solved. Yet ideas are everywhere. What problems are you dealing with today that requires a solution?</p> <p>Have you looked at your address book lately?</p> <p>I have numbers and names I've moved from one computer to another and from one address book program to another; I've been using smart phones for years. I have contacts spread across three accounts.</p> MODEV MVP Conference, 2015 Steve Johnson 19 May 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/modev-mvp-conference-2015 254 <p>The MODEV MVP Conference was great for networking and super presentations. Hope you enjoyed it too.</p> <p>Here's a photo of Steve Johnson on the big stage for his talk.</p> Dealing with one-off feature requests Steve Johnson 14 May 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/dealing-with-one-off-feature-requests 151 <p><em>A reader asks: How does one deal with one-off feature requests from sales people that are supposedly deal breakers?</em></p> <p>No product is ever finished. There's always another feature needed. That's why it seems many product managers are continually saying "no" to sales requests. Yet, to the sales person, these one-off requests for a single customer seem perfectly reasonable.</p> <p>Look at it from a sales perspective: You don't have this key feature; you don't support this key technology. And the competitors do. Remember, the only time sales people hear something good about your product is at the annual kickoff meeting but they hear bad stuff all the time.</p> For your convenience Steve Johnson 7 May 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/for-your-convenience 149 <p>When we're talking about positioning and messaging, I always reflect on the falseness of many messages: customers come first; we're here to help you; we're scalable.</p> <p>Just saying it doesn't make it so.</p> <p>Here's my favorite:</p> <p><em>For your convenience. </em></p> <p>Just think about the number of times you see that phrase. How often do you think, "Wow! This is really convenient!" (For me, it's never).</p> Boston Product Camp, Spring 2015 Steve Johnson 5 May 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/boston-product-camp-spring-2015 253 <p>We'll be at Product Camp this year to talk about how product managers can become better presenters. Vote for Steve Johnson's session: "Killer Presentations: How to keep the audience awake during your next presentations." </p> Product Innovation: a systematic approach Steve Johnson 23 Apr 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/product-innovation-a-systematic-approach 148 <p>My definition of innovation is solving a customer problem in a new way. The key to innovation is an intense focus on one specific type of customer and problem. To build an innovation team, you want to pull together people who have experience solving this type of problem.</p> <p> </p> Agile Leadership Network - Raleigh/Durham 2015 Steve Johnson 21 Apr 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/agile-leadership-network-raleigh-durham-2015 248 <p>Steve had a great time presenting the Under10 Playbook Canvas at Agile Leadership Network - Raleigh/Durham, and shares his presentation and the Under10 Playbook Canvas for all attendees (and others that may have missed the session).</p> 5 Critical Skills for Product Leaders Steve Johnson 16 Apr 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/5-critical-skills-for-product-leaders 147 <p>Roles and responsibilities for product managers and product marketing managers vary from industry to industry and even from company to company within an industry. In general, we see product managers in mobile products more focused on technology skills while product managers for enterprise products tend to be more focused on sales and marketing. Hardware and semiconductor industries rely heavily on operational skills for product managers. When considering a product leadership role in any company, get specifics on the types of activities that are expected in the job.</p> <p> </p> Product management and empowering others Steve Johnson 9 Apr 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/empowering-others 146 <p>Product management is about empowering others. In each stage of the life cycle—before, during, and after product development—the product manager brings clarity to the team.</p> <p> </p> Why do we adopt agile? Steve Johnson 31 Mar 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/why-do-we-adopt-agile 145 <p>I hear many reasons organizations adopt agile development so it's good to see the facts. The number one reason teams adopt agile is to accelerate product delivery. But in close second is <em>enhance ability to manage changing priorities. </em>(Notice also that <em>reduce project cost </em>isn't in the top 10. Agile is so much more than "cheaper development.")</p> <p> </p> Tolpagorni Product Leadership Day 2015 Steve Johnson 26 Mar 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/tolpagorni-product-leadership-day-2015 246 <p>Building collective knowledge in product management and meeting others in the same profession generates ideas and inspiration for you to take away. Product Management Day has attracted over 200 people who work with hardware, electronics, software and services. The event is a ”must see” for anyone with a focus on high tech B2B delivery.</p> <p>Steve Johnson led off the conference with his session: Look Beyond the Product. Product managers should focus not just product but also sales, promotion, and support plus analyzing the results in terms of achieving business and market goals. </p> Leadership and product teams Steve Johnson 17 Mar 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/leadership-and-product-teams 144 <p>It seems too often that goals are in conflict. One department has not staffed appropriately so they rely on another group to fill the gaps. Sales people are focused on deals, Marketing is focused on awareness, Development is focused on delivering on time. What’s needed is a team of peers working together for a common goal; a team with mutual respect for each other’s skills.</p> <p> </p> Products should be forgiving... Steve Johnson 25 Feb 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/products-should-be-forgiving 143 <p>From a design standpoint, your teams should plan for mistakes and confusion. Not every process is step-by-step, first A then B. More often, you do half a process and then get interrupted and return later.</p> <p>Products should allow us to cancel or undo or revert. They should guide the novice persona step-by-step through a process. And they should resume where you left off.</p> <p>They should be… forgiving.</p> <p> </p> Why you need an internal innovation team Steve Johnson 17 Feb 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/why-you-need-an-internal-innovation-team 142 <p>How does a pack of wolves take down a bear? They attack from all sides. While the bear is dealing with a frontal attack, another wolf is attacking from behind. Ultimately, the bear gets exhausted from turning and turning and turning to address each attack.</p> <p>To survive attacks from too many internal ideas and too many external threats, you need a nimble planning process ;to move (quickly) from idea to execution. You need to evaluate a new idea, test your hypotheses, and come up with a plan—before your competitors do.</p> <p> </p> Pain-based pricing: focus on the pain, not the product Steve Johnson 5 Feb 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/pain-based-pricing 141 <p>The key to value-based pricing is to align the price to the pain. (Call it pain-based pricing if you prefer.) What is the value of removing the pain? </p> <p>As you reflect on which of these seem “fair” to you and which make you feel ripped off, you realize the connection between price and frequency of the pain. That is, how often the pain occurs tell us whether to use a one-time fee or recurring fees.</p> If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted Steve Johnson 28 Jan 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/if-you-cant-be-replaced-you-cant-be-promoted 140 <p>Have you heard the saying that you can’t get promoted until you have someone ready to replace you? If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted. Yet there will come a time when someone has to take over for you. When managing a product, or raising a child, caring for your parents, or taking sick leave. Are you ready?</p> <p>A product manager took a job recently and asked about her predecessor’s files. She was told, “Well, there’s a lot of stuff on sharepoint. You should look there.”</p> <p>What we need is a binder—a playbook—of the active projects and all the associated paperwork.</p> Enhance your personas with real attributes Steve Johnson 22 Jan 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/enhance-your-personas-with-real-attributes 136 <p>Here, from a list by Seth Godin, are some attributes that make your personas more like real people.</p> What a return policy says about your marketing Steve Johnson 7 Jan 2015 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/what-a-return-policy-says-about-your-marketing 138 <p>My laptop keyboard broke. I called the manufacturer who was quite helpful. She quickly gave me a return authorization and even sent me a prepaid label for shipping. But… I was without my laptop while it was being fixed. Through a series of misadventures, it ultimately took six weeks (that is, six weeks without the computer) to get it repaired. I had to buy a new computer so I could continue working. So, a mostly good vendor experience with very friendly and helpful people. But not a good customer outcome.</p> <p> </p> If not you, who? Steve Johnson 11 Dec 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/if-not-you-who 137 <p>My former VP of Marketing said something that has been a guiding principle for me throughout my career. “Marketing people move all customers forward in their buying cycle; sales people move one customer forward.”</p> <p>Today I help teams clearly define their roles and responsibilities. What accountabilities to assign to which titles. This “one customer vs market full of customers” rule provides a lot of guidance and we always identify a number of activities that should be done by others.</p> <p> </p> Are product managers too negative? Steve Johnson 19 Nov 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/are-product-managers-too-negative 135 <p>Product managers often have the challenge to speak the truth, particularly to those in power—to execs and developers and sales people. “No, we cannot deliver that capability with today’s technology.” “No, we cannot add this idea to the top of the backlog; it has to be prioritized.” “No, we are focused on the market, not the requirements of a single customer.”</p> Top-down prioritizing: markets and portfolios Steve Johnson 10 Nov 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/top-down-prioritizing-markets-and-portfolios 134 <p>In most organizations, development teams have dramatically less capacity than the appetites of the business units and sales teams. That’s why I continue to hear things like “how can we get the developers to work harder?” or “why aren’t they giving me what I need?”</p> <p>The big thing is this: you only get the development your organization has chosen to afford.</p> <p>Many cannot understand why this feature or that one can’t simply be added to the list. Here’s why: adding a feature means moving or deleting another feature; satisfying one customer (and their sales person) usually means disappointing another customer (and their sales person).</p> <p>Product marketing or market owners should focus on a market full of customers, and generate a prioritized list of what is needed by their markets; portfolio owners should direct those market stories to the appropriate product. And company leadership prioritizes these with the budget.</p> Product Camp Atlantic, 2014 Steve Johnson 25 Oct 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-atlantic-2014 264 <p>Join Steve Johnson of Under10 Consulting for his keynote session, Creating Product Leaders.</p> Inaugural ProductCamp UnConference Announced for Atlantic Region Steve Johnson 24 Oct 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/news/inaugural-productcamp-unconference-announced-for-atlantic-region 265 <p>Product managers, marketers, and developers invited to a free full-day event to learn, network, and expand their knowledge of key aspects of product management at the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre, Saturday, October 25, 2014</p> Politics and your next release Steve Johnson 16 Oct 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/politics-and-your-next-release 133 <p>You’ve planned a new release, pulling together ideas from the market and from the company. You think you’ve got a really strong plan but as soon as it’s announced, the complaining begins. “Where’s my pet project?” “When are we going to fix security?” “But I promised this feature to a prospect!” “Waa waa waa!”</p> <p>Never forget, a product release is always political. To be successful, every release needs <em>something</em> to appease each of your internal stakeholders.</p> Product Camp DC, 2014 Steve Johnson 11 Oct 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-dc-2014 263 <p>Join Steve Johnson for his session on Is Agile Breaking Product Management?</p> UX and product managers Steve Johnson 8 Oct 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/ux-and-product-managers 132 <p>User experience (UX) is an area that befuddles many product managers. Ideally, product managers should be focused on the customer problem while development designs the company's solution. A strong dev team will propose one or more solutions to the articulated problem, allowing the product manager to accept the best option by leveraging his or her business, technical, marketing, and domain knowledge. A UX designer is a critical element of a successful product team.</p> <p> </p> Don't look for answers in your office... Steve Johnson 2 Oct 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/dont-look-for-answers-in-your-office 130 <p>There seems to be confusion about "minimum viable product" (aka MVP). It doesn't mean a poorly implemented product; MVP is the smallest amount of coding that can be used to test your product hypothesis.  Before you worry about go-to-market, get a concept in front of some customers. Test your product idea.</p> Don't discover; observe Steve Johnson 25 Sep 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/dont-discover-observe 129 <p>I often chat with company leaders who ask me how to do customer discovery but I always find it a confusing conversation. They don’t seem to understand my questions. “Who did you build it for?” “What problems are you solving and for whom?”</p> <p>Before you can re-imagine a workflow, you have to understand what customers do and why.</p> Business of Software, September 2014 Steve Johnson 15 Sep 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/business-of-software-september-2014 249 <p>Steve Johnson examines a typical product planning process and asks, “How many artifacts do you really need?” Can you design and deliver products in under 10 artifacts? From Business of Software, Boston, 2014.</p> Messages that stick: "The Enclave minivan" Steve Johnson 12 Sep 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/messages-that-stick-the-enclave-minivan 128 <p>This ad was mentioned in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000N2HCKQ"> <em>Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die</em> </a>by Dan and Chip Heath.</p> <p>Good stories have the element of surprise. "Unexpectedness" (if that's a word).</p> <p>Do your marketing messages sound like a typical car commercial?</p> <p> </p> The best messages resonate because they articulate what you've already been trying to say Steve Johnson 11 Sep 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-best-messages-resonate-because-they-articulate-what-youve-already-been-trying-to-say 127 <p><em>The best messages resonate because they articulate what you've already been trying to say.— Steve Johnson, Under 10 Consulting.</em></p> <p> </p> Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving Steve Johnson 6 Sep 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/generally-speaking-you-arent-learning-much-when-your-mouth-is-moving 126 <p>Have you ever been in a customer advisory board? How much did you talk and how much did you listen? After all, the idea of a customer advisory board is for customers to advise you. Yet in so many cases, vendors deliver one presentation after another. Talk talk talk.</p> <p>You can learn a lot just by listening.</p> <p> </p> Don't let other departments hide their headcount in your budget Steve Johnson 1 Sep 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/dont-let-other-departments-hide-their-headcount-in-your-budget 124 <p>Marketing and sales people rely on product management for technical expertise; developers rely on product management for market expertise. Now those departments could increase their expertise through hiring or training. I mean, shouldn't the marketing and sales teams know how the product solves customer problems? Or they should hire product marketing managers and sales engineers who do. And perhaps the development group needs to hire business or product analysts to provide expertise to their teams. And if those skills are not available in the departments, product management needs to be expanded to support each department's expertise needs.</p> <p> </p> A2A: Answering questions in a presentation Steve Johnson 28 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/a2a-answering-questions-in-a-presentation 125 <p>Have you had this experience in a presentation? You’re in the back of the room and someone close to the front asks a question. All you hear “Is it true that <em>mumble mumble mumble mumble</em>?” And the instructor replies, “Yes, that’s absolutely critical.”</p> <p>Many of us need to do presentations at company or customer events. Here’s the best technique to deal with questions from the audience.</p> <p> </p> Project Management Institute, Mile High Chapter Steve Johnson 25 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/project-management-institute-mile-high-chapter 262 <p>Steve was invited to speak at the Project Management Institute's Mile High Chapter in Denver. </p> Which approach to take... Steve Johnson 21 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/which-approach-to-take 123 <p>There are many times when employees need to use their own judgment. There's no rule that seems to cover everything and no historical reference to guide their thinking. Unless you get everyone to agree to Rule #1: <em>do what's best for the customer.</em></p> <p> </p> More on Branding... Steve Johnson 14 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/more-on-branding 122 <p>Branding is a verb; brand is a noun. <em>Branding</em> is the exercise of telling your story to get people to buy your product. Your <em>brand</em> results from years of delivering great products and creating satisfied customers.</p> <p> </p> Are you lonely? Hold a meeting! Steve Johnson 8 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/hold-a-meeting 120 <p><a href="http://www.under10playbook.com/2014/07/hold-a-meeting.png"><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-2757 " src="//s3.amazonaws.com/under10/website/2014/07/hold-a-meeting.png?1460701440" alt="hold a meeting " width="600 " height="455 " /></a></p> <p> </p> Ask Steve: Naming and Branding Steve Johnson 7 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/naming-and-branding 121 <p>A reader asks: When are branded names preferred over descriptive names?</p> <p>For your naming strategy, you should attempt to brand only one thing. Which will it be? The company, the portfolio, or the product? Or said differently, which are people buying?</p> I love deadlines... Steve Johnson 1 Aug 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/i-love-deadlines 118 <p><em>I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.—Douglas Adams, author, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</em></p> <p> </p> Should you change the product name? Steve Johnson 31 Jul 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/should-you-change-the-product-name 119 <p>Changing a project code name to a marketing brand name is nontrivial. That's why I always recommend that project names be offensive or embarrassing in some way so that developers don't fall in love with the project name. Had you called the project "Spaghetti" they probably wouldn't fight the change so hard.</p> <p> </p> Do we need product management? Steve Johnson 24 Jul 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/do-we-need-product-management 115 <p>People in product management roles—product managers, product owners, product marketing managers, and consultants—often talk about job responsibilities, methods, tools, and templates. We start from a presumption that product management is valued, and we focus on getting clarity on its mechanics. In a world of agile methods and lean startup and business pivot, aren’t the activities of product management already being done by someone? </p> New titles for organizing product management Steve Johnson 17 Jul 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/new-titles-for-organizing-product-management 114 <p>Lately, I've been recommending some new titles for product managers. A "product owner" (sometimes called a technical product manager) should be near their development or engineering team; a "market owner" (sometimes called a product marketing manager) should be near the markets they serve. Most of all, a "business owner" (aka strategic product manager) should be near the executives.</p> Let’s formalize sales escalations Steve Johnson 10 Jul 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/lets-formalize-sales-escalations 113 <p>Sales teams often need access to deep product knowledge. That’s why many product managers get involved with roadmap discussions, technical demos, and answering RFP/RFIs. In fact, 46% of product management time is spent in firefighting.</p> <p>One VP claimed that product managers should be the source of all product knowledge for the entire company—the “Wikipedia of the product.” And published the home and cell numbers of the product managers. Right idea maybe but wrong implementation.</p> <p>It’s not that product managers don’t want to support sales people; it’s just that there aren’t enough product managers and too many sales people. We need to support the sales teams more efficiently. Here are a few techniques that consistently get good results.</p> <p> </p> The confusion of terminology Steve Johnson 2 Jul 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-confusion-of-terminology 112 <p>Whenever I perform a RACI analysis I find the team confused about the terms “responsible” versus “accountable.” I often encounter confusion about the difference between a product and a project, and between a technique and a tool.</p> <p>Having clarity on the exact meanings of words is important. It’s difficult to have a conversation when different team members have different interpretations of the terms. In the RACI model, the ambiguity of the terms “responsible” and “accountable” confuse many people, which is why I use “responsible” and “approval” instead.</p> A single set of priorities Steve Johnson 26 Jun 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/a-single-set-of-priorities 111 <p>When I started a new job as a product manager, my company president said, “You need to find out why development is broken. Our developers are terrible—they can’t seem to ship anything.”</p> <p>So I sat down with my developers and said, “The word is that you’re terrible and never ship anything.”</p> <p>The lead developer said, “I’m sure that’s how it looks from the executive corner but, actually, we’re practicing what we call ‘requirements aging.’ We don’t work on anything for a month because some executive usually changes the requirements before we can begin.”</p> <p>And sure enough, a few minutes later, the VP of Engineering came in and said, “Guys, stop what you’re doing. I’m getting new requirements.”</p> A Product Manager Journal Steve Johnson 19 Jun 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/a-product-manager-journal 110 <p>I’m a big believer in brevity. One-page documents, cork boards of index cards, simple spreadsheets of prioritized items. I have come to believe that most organizations need a small number of living documents—fewer than 10—to manage their products and services. I believe in minimal process, brief artifacts, and simple templates and worksheets.</p> <p>Except for one. I think a product manager’s journal often makes sense.</p> Passion and domain expertise Steve Johnson 14 Jun 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/passion-and-domain-expertise 107 <p>If you’ve been working in the same field for a decade, you’re probably following a passion as well as a profession. Domain expertise brings loads of context such as understanding the implementation aspects of HIPAA or the best way to mount a video camera on the outside of a building. Domain experts know how things really operate and are really installed—not just the way they’re supposed to be according to the documentation.</p> <p> </p> Grooming your backlog Steve Johnson 12 Jun 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/grooming-your-backlog 109 <p>Write down everything you need to do.<br /> Put the list in order of importance.<br /> Work from the top down—from most important to least important.<br /> Stop when you run out of time or money.<br /> That’s it.</p> <p><strong>That’s a backlog.</strong></p> Writing market and product stories Steve Johnson 5 Jun 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/writing-market-and-product-stories 108 <p>There are many ways to write feature requests including traditional requirements, user stories, and job stories.</p> <p>The traditional requirement took the form of “The product shall <have some capability>.” And this approach can work. Many teams still use this format, particularly for what are called non-functional requirements—that is, requirements that focus on capabilities and constraints, like performance, usability, security and similar items that are not feature-based.</p> <p>The challenge many teams face with traditional requirements is they tend to articulate an already-designed feature. The problem with this approach is the focus is on the <em>product</em> rather than the person using the product.</p> Inspiration: describe the market problem on an emotional level Steve Johnson 25 May 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-who-the-song-is-a-going-to-help-out 106 <p>A difficulty for many agile teams is the granular nature of user stories. Some are written about the problem to be solved and some are written about the feature to be built and some are actually individual tasks for the developers.</p> <p> </p> 3 Horizons and Product Management Steve Johnson 18 May 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/three-horizons-and-product-management 105 <p>Does your organization have a way to move ideas into production? The three horizons model is a great tool for thinking about product maintenance versus new features development versus new product innovation.</p> Not everything that can be counted counts Steve Johnson 10 May 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/not-everything-that-can-be-counted-counts 104 <p>Measurement is important. Knowing the results of a marketing program or of a technology test is critical. But the key is knowing which metrics matter and then adjusting your plans as a result.</p> <p> </p> Passion and product teams Steve Johnson 27 Apr 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/passion-and-product-teams 103 <p>One of the corporate competencies that no one seems to discuss is <em>passion</em>. We talk about systems and expertise and different departments but passion and purpose rarely make the list.</p> <p>Yet it is passion that makes people go the extra mile. It’s what makes them stay late and come in on the weekend.</p> <p> </p> Focus means saying no Steve Johnson 13 Apr 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/focus-means-saying-no 101 <p>Feature prioritization is a mystery to most of the people in your organization. How things get into the product is unclear. For executives, it seems their favorite features get in only if they complain loudly. For sales people, it seems that none of their critical features even get considered unless they commit the team with a customer contract.</p> <p>What few seem to realize is you have many, many more requests than you have resources. You must constantly weigh the merits of one feature over another. Plus take into account defects and infrastructure.</p> <p>Show them how you choose.</p> Can marketing learn from agile? Steve Johnson 30 Mar 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/can-marketing-learn-from-agile 98 <p>Marketing, like every other department, has to prioritize. We have to choose. And that usually means choosing <em>not</em> to do things. Invariably some don’t get their pet programs funded. After all, there are always more ways to spend money than the budget allows.</p> <p>Marketing needs to focus on business prioritization—just like agile development teams.We can learn a lot from Kanban. Just like your home budget, you allocate funds by category, prioritize the list, start from the top and work your way through the list until you run out of time or money. We need to focus on business prioritization—just like agile development teams.</p> <p> </p> Product Camp Silicon Valley, Spring 2014 Steve Johnson 22 Mar 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-silicon-valley-spring-2014 260 <p>As always, this product camp had a great turnout with loads of great discussions. </p> Help! I’m demo boy for sales people Steve Johnson 16 Mar 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/supporting-sales-people 97 <p>In my early days as a product manager, I really enjoyed doing product training for the sales people. I was good at presenting. I enjoyed it. And I wanted them to see the presentation and demo done correctly at least once. Yet all the sales people said, “Man! That kid is good. I’m going to take him on all my sales calls.”</p> <p>In a similar story, the VP of sales distributed the home and mobile phone numbers of all product managers to the sales channel (including international). Within a week, all of the product managers had gotten new, unlisted phone numbers.</p> <p>These scenarios—with all the best intentions—resulted in sales people perceiving product management as the go-to resource for all things product.</p> <p>Is that what you want your product managers to do?</p> <p> </p> Help! I’m a secretary to development Steve Johnson 13 Mar 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/help-im-a-secretary-to-development 96 <p>In small companies—and in some not-so-small companies—the development lead often serves as the product leader or product manager. Is this a good idea?</p> <p>In your team, who is responsible for persona or market definition, requirements, acceptance testing, and feature prioritization?</p> <p> </p> On Roadmaps and Roadmapping Steve Johnson 7 Mar 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/on-roadmaps-and-roadmapping 268 <p>Product and portfolio roadmaps are key deliverables in any product planning process. A roadmap looks beyond what you’re doing now. It explores not where you’ll be soon but where you could be a year or more down the road.</p> Expertise in product management Steve Johnson 6 Mar 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/expertise 214 <p>In recent years, we’ve seen new definitions for old titles and many new titles being created. We’ve got product managers, product marketing managers, product owners, business analysts, product strategists, product line managers, and portfolio managers.</p> <p>There are four types of skills needed to define and deliver products to market. Which are you missing?</p> Product Camp South Florida, 2014 Steve Johnson 22 Feb 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/events/product-camp-south-florida-2014 259 <p>Steve will keynote at Product Camp South Florida. His topic "Creating Product Leaders."</p> Professional development and succession planning Steve Johnson 19 Feb 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/professional-development-and-succession-planning 93 <p>The standard rejection letter claims “We’ll keep your resume on file.” But do you really?</p> <p>You should and here's why.</p> Don’t learn everything at once Steve Johnson 12 Feb 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/dont-learn-everything-at-once 92 <p>Lately everybody seems to be saying you should learn to program. But unless you have a reason—an application—you’re unlikely to stick with it. Same for a web site, or a blog, or whatever.</p> <p>A friend hasn’t used Excel in years but thinks she should know it. But no matter how she tries, she just can’t get into it. The problem is, she doesn’t need it. She doesn’t have an application. And I’ve found that can’t really learn something until you have an application for it—a real need.</p> <p> </p> Customer Interviews: A Field Guide Steve Johnson 10 Feb 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/customer-interviews 267 <p>Every marketing person will tell you that customer interviews provide deep insights on the product, its promotion, your sales team effectiveness, and your company strategy. What they often fail to do is explain, exactly, how to conduct an interviewing program.</p> Alas, the one-hour meeting Steve Johnson 5 Feb 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/alas-the-one-hour-meeting 91 <p><em>If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings.—Dave Barry</em></p> <p>What would you do differently if meetings could only be 5 minutes, 20 minutes, 90 minutes, or all day? No hour-long meetings!</p> <p>It’s unfortunate that our calendar programs insist on booking one-hour blocks. Some meetings only need to be 20 minutes; others need to be two or three hours. Here are some thought on having better meetings.</p> Is product marketing the same as marketing? (I say no) Steve Johnson 22 Jan 2014 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/is-product-marketing-the-same-as-marketing-i-say-no 89 <p>I’ve long been uncomfortable with the term “marketing.” For many of us, marketing is a philosophy. Marketing is looking at the business from the buyer’s point of view. It’s looking at the whole product, not just the software. Marketing includes packaging and pricing, and even how we answer the phone. But for others, “marketing” is a department, often associated primarily with advertising and branding.</p> <p>Consider this: in marketing we use "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greeking" target="_blank">greeking</a>" to help people evaluate a design without getting distracted by (or obsessed with) the text. Product marketing owns the text; marketing owns the design.</p> <p> </p> Advice for getting into product management Steve Johnson 7 Dec 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/articles/advice-for-getting-into-product-management 87 <p>Product management is an exciting role. It can drive product direction and ensure your team builds the right product for the market. It can also be a frustrating job because other departments have expectations of product management that rarely align with yours.</p> <p>What do you need to get started in product management?</p> How I became a product manager Steve Johnson 2 Dec 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-i-became-a-product-manager 86 <p>I didn't necessarily plan for a career in product management. I spent time in development. I spent time in sales, sales engineering, and customer training and implementation. These and my college courses somewhat, perhaps accidentally, prepared me for the job.</p> <p> </p> The role of product management in sales demos Steve Johnson 21 Nov 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-role-of-product-management-in-sales-demos 85 <p>I’ve seen many product demonstrations. Some good. Some not. In some cases, it’s clear that the person doing the demo hasn’t prepared and is just following a canned script. In others, you can tell that they put a lot of time into tailoring the demo specifically for the client, but even then, the demo can often miss the target.</p> <p>How do you create a great demo? Show buyers what they need to know. But not necessarily what they <em>think</em> they need to know.</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: I talked to a guy... Steve Johnson 15 Nov 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-i-talked-to-a-guy 84 <p>In a workshop, we were discussing customer interviews and someone wondered why we bother. “After all,” he said, “people only seem to listen to data. They want to know how many and what percentage.” He suggested that we stop doing interviews and focus our energies on surveys instead.</p> <p>Except… you don’t know what you don’t know.</p> <p> </p> How much can one head hold? Steve Johnson 6 Nov 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/how-much-can-one-head-hold 72 <p>In my experience, people have either breadth or depth. Some people have a little information about almost every topic. After all, most people only have so much room in their heads. Some people have a lot of information about one topic. Do they have breadth on multiple topics or depth on a single topic?</p> Inspiration: What you have to understand... Steve Johnson 1 Oct 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-what-you-have-to-understand 78 <p><em>The phrase "what you have to understand" rarely refers to something I have to understand.— Steve Johnson.</em></p> <p> </p> Inspiration: Your enemy is not piracy, but obscurity Steve Johnson 24 Sep 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-your-enemy-is-not-piracy-but-obscurity 77 <p>Some companies’ paranoia is laughable. They worry about piracy when they should worry about obscurity. They worry more about protecting an idea than they do about making sure it’s an idea the market will embrace.</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: The way to get things done... Steve Johnson 17 Sep 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-the-way-to-get-things-done 76 <p>One of the reasons that agile methods are so effective is they focus on getting stuff done. Do a little work, show your results, and then move to the next step. Avoid analysis paralysis.</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: Apply people where their skills and talent can really shine Steve Johnson 10 Sep 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-apply-people-where-their-skills-and-talent-can-really-shine 75 <p>I’ve known sales people who hate selling but that’s what they were trained to do. I’ve talked with product managers and product owners who didn’t like working with engineers and developers. I have friends who’ve been doing the same job for 20 years and can’t stand it.</p> <p>Everyone has talent and many of us need help identifying that talent.</p> <p>That’s what parents and teachers and managers were supposed to do.</p> <p> </p> Defining quality in services? Steve Johnson 2 Sep 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/defining-quality-in-services 73 <p>You have spent a great deal of money and effort to build great products. But have they been installed and implemented correctly? Who verifies the acceptance criteria of your services.</p> <p>Is that a job for product management?</p> Inspiration: Strategy without tactics... Steve Johnson 27 Aug 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-strategy-without-tactics 71 <p>“Strategy.”</p> <p>What a word.</p> <p>If I say “these activities are tactical,” people responsible for those activities get upset. If I say, “this is strategic,” people relax and feel better about themselves.</p> <p>There’s a sense that strategic is somehow better than tactical.</p> Inspiration: If human beings don't keep exercising their lips... Steve Johnson 20 Aug 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-if-human-beings-dont-keep-exercising-their-lips 70 <p>A caesura is a long pause. The term is mostly used in music and poetry but I first learned about it as a “technique” in sales methodology training. The idea is that extroverts are so uncomfortable with silence that they rush to speak before the other party has finished thinking.</p> <p>Sales people and other extroverts need to get comfortable with silence. They need to slow down and let the client process information.</p> <p>Product managers do too.</p> <p> </p> Great content=the best sales tools Steve Johnson 14 Aug 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/great-content-the-best-sales-tools 61 <p>It’s vastly easier to sell products when you understand them deeply.  Everyone needs to know what we do here. And in my experience, the best sales people are ones with domain knowledge… but it’s their ability to apply that knowledge to customer scenarios that creates success. The best sales people are trusted advisors to their clients. And that’s the way it should be. What do your sales people really need to know about your products and technology?</p> Inspiration: The only thing worse than training employees and losing them... Steve Johnson 30 Jul 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-the-only-thing-worse-than-training-employees-and-losing-them 69 <p>The rules of product management and marketing have changed; so have the rules of development and sales. Are you (and your people) keeping up?</p> Inspiration: Visionaries and nut-cases... Steve Johnson 23 Jul 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-visionaries-and-nut-cases 67 <p>Do you have ideas that are crazy? Are they visionary ideas or are they just crazy? It’s hard to tell sometimes. After all, crazy ideas don’t seem so crazy after the fact. Who would have thought that Apple could re-invent the mobile phone? Sure, it seems obvious now but it wasn’t when they began. And the idea of pursuing consumers instead of their core business buyers probably seemed quite logical to the folks at Blackberry. Oops.</p> Take a process retrospective Steve Johnson 21 Jul 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/take-a-process-retrospective 68 <p>A key element of many agile methods is the retrospective. After each iteration, the team comes together to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and to brainstorm ways to improve the process. After all, the people who participate in a process are the ones most likely to see ways to improve it.</p> <p>But let’s take it further. Don’t limit your thinking to just the product creation process. After each product release, let’s examine every process: the development methods, the product launch, the sales enablement, the roll-out to professional services and support.</p> <p> </p> You've got to start with the customer experience... Steve Johnson 16 Jul 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/youve-got-to-start-with-the-customer-experience 66 <p>Have you ever helped your parents with their computers? It becomes shockingly obvious that there are too many options and too many ways to do too many things. I often find myself shaking my head, wondering, “How did you even find this?” Things that ought to be clear aren’t, and danger lies in only a couple of mouse clicks.</p> <p>Perhaps it’s because we don’t really understand our customers. It’s not that those who have responsibility for technology products think more options is better; it’s that we don’t know which to include and which to omit.</p> <p> </p> We start with the customer and we work backward... Steve Johnson 9 Jul 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/we-start-with-the-customer-and-we-work-backward 65 <p>People talk about being market-driven and performing customer development. Every marketing person will tell you that customer interviews provide deep insights on the product, its promotion, your sales team effectiveness, and your company strategy.</p> <p>Do you need to be convinced that listening to the market is a good thing?</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: a simpler system that worked perfectly Steve Johnson 25 Jun 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-a-simpler-system-that-worked-perfectly 60 <p>MRD, PRD, FRS, BRD. How many of these documents do you have? Each one was initiated with the best intentions. Some confusion in the process, a missing role, a book somebody read. Before you know it, you're not building a product; you're building a bunch of documents. But there's something even more systemic. We're trying to do too much. We have too many documents, too many priorities, too many meetings, and too many people in those meetings.</p> You will never find time for anything... Steve Johnson 18 Jun 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/you-will-never-find-time-for-anything 57 <p>We say “yes” to too many things.</p> <p>Steve Jobs said, “It's only by saying 'no' that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”</p> <p>There are plenty of good ideas—you have to choose those that are critical to your product. You have to say “no” to the many, many things that are compelling but not vital.</p> <p><em>If you want time, you must make it.</em></p> <p> </p> From Development to Product Management Steve Johnson 18 Jun 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/from-development-to-product-management 59 <p>The great thing about product management is you work across all parts of the organization—development, marketing, sales, services, support, finance, and the executive team.</p> <p>The secret to success is to know the potential customers for your product better than anyone else.</p> Empowering judgment with context Steve Johnson 14 Jun 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/empowering-judgment-with-context 58 <p>Every development methodology calls for someone to represent the market to the product team. Developers need to understand the people who use the product and the problems they need to solve. There are two ways to help this effort: either work side-by-side with the product team and answer questions as they arise, or help the team understand the context of the problem so they can answer their own questions using their judgment.</p> <p> </p> Create your product management playbook Steve Johnson 30 May 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/create-your-product-management-playbook 55 <p>Imagine you're a new product manager. What company-specific knowledge do you need? Is there a standard template for positioning or for a business case? Where is it? Once you fill it out, how do you share it and store it? And with whom?</p> <p>What you need is a product management playbook, a collection of the templates and tools tailored for your organization.</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: The primary purpose of a persona... Steve Johnson 28 May 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-primary-purpose-of-a-persona 54 <p>I hear it from developers, product managers, product marketers, executives. When writing anything from a press release to a programming module, most folks write for their parents. Or their friends. Or themselves.</p> <p>That's the value of personas. They remind you that you are not the target customer, nor are your colleagues, your leaders, or your families.</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: Be sincere... Steve Johnson 21 May 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-be-sincere 52 <p>The reality of today's workplace is that almost everyone needs strong speaking skills. There are loads of resources for doing better presentations. Here are a few of my favorite tips.</p> Pricing, subscriptions, and the weather Steve Johnson 7 May 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/pricing-subscriptions-and-the-weather 48 <p>Why don't you go to the carwash more often?</p> <p>When it's a beautiful sunny day, many drivers think, "Hey, how about getting the ol' car washed?" Then they check the weather forecast on their phone and say, "why bother to get the car washed if it's just gonna rain tomorrow?"</p> <p>So the people who run car washing services see ups and downs in their revenue, entirely dependent on the weather forecast.</p> <p>Is there another way?</p> Inspiration: There cannot be a stressful crisis next week... Steve Johnson 30 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-there-cannot-be-a-stressful-crisis-next-week 46 <p>A recent survey reveals product managers and product marketing managers spend 46% of their time in firefighting. With so much time focused on operational issues and emergencies, when are you going to work on the critical core documents that drive your product strategically?</p> Inspiration: Supposing a tree fell down... Steve Johnson 23 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-supposing-a-tree-fell-down 42 <p>I've seen many product managers attempt to write business plans and development documents and sales tools accounting for every possible contingency. ("Suppose a tree fell down!") And yet, some things you anticipated never occur, and the ones you didn't anticipate frequently do. ("Supposing it didn't," said Pooh.)</p> <p> </p> Positioning, messaging, and ownership Steve Johnson 22 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/positioning-messaging-and-roles 45 <p>Who defines product positioning? Product Management or Marketing Communications?</p> <p>Product managers are responsible for the features of the product and its positioning in the marketplace. The Marketing Communications (marcom or marcomms) organization is chartered with delivering the product message to the market. Product Management <em>defines</em> the positioning and Marcom <em>delivers</em> the positioning.</p> <p>Here's a crazy idea. What if we thought of marcom as a <em>development</em> organization!</p> Inspiration: Trying not to fail... Steve Johnson 16 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/trying-not-to-fail 40 <p>A lot of product management is mitigating risk. We estimate revenues and costs, prioritize features and stories, and try to articulate a message that resonates with buyers—all in the hope of making the best choices for our organization.</p> <p>We do what we can to prevent failure. And that's good. </p> Inspiration: Too many marketing people go through the motions... Steve Johnson 9 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-too-many-marketing-people-go-through-the-motions 36 <p>Every marketing resource—books, seminars, college courses—tells you to visit customers. You certainly don't learn anything about the market while sitting at your desk or in conference rooms. Yet even when we do visit customers, we often have a short-term agenda. "Do you like our user interface?" "Will you buy this if we make it?" "Can I have a sales guy call on you?"</p> <p>However, small improvements—often quite easy to create—can have huge ramifications.</p> Where do you begin? Steve Johnson 4 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/where-do-you-begin 37 <p>I’ve become a real fan of win loss analysis. That’s where to begin as you look at problems in your revenue generation. Win loss analysis answers the questions: "Why do we <em>lose</em> deals?” and “Why do we <em>win</em> deals?” It’s likely you’ll find from your analysis some simple things to fix in sales training and coaching, sales enablement, and leadgen, but you’ll also find some areas of the product and operations that could use your attention.</p> <p> </p> Expertise in Product Management Steve Johnson 1 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/ebooks/expertise-in-product-management 269 <p>Product managers are overwhelmed with too many responsibilities that require too many areas of expertise. One part of the company expects domain expertise while another values market expertise. How do you organize your team for success?</p> Positioning (and naming) in tiers Steve Johnson 1 Apr 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/positioning-and-naming-in-tiers 35 <p>I was running a positioning exercise with a team of product managers and VPs. We were really getting into it when the VP of Marketing interrupted the process to say, “We need to use the word ‘power’ in our messaging. The president loves that word.”</p> <p>Maybe that’s why so much of the positioning I see is industry gobbledygook; Marketers are trying to impress the leadership instead of the customer.</p> Executives, agile, and religion Steve Johnson 28 Mar 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/executives-agile-and-religion 33 <p>I’m an agile advocate. I’ve worked with teams who can deliver better results sooner. I love the emphasis on conversations over documents, and the ability to adapt to changing requirements. But that doesn’t mean I think everyone in the company needs to know the mechanics of agile methods.</p> <p> </p> Inspiration: Half the money I spend... Steve Johnson 26 Mar 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/inspiration-half-the-money-i-spend 32 <p><strong>Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is, I don't know which half.—John Wanamaker</strong></p> <p>Many HR professionals would apply Wanamaker's statement to skills training: “Half the money I spend on <em>training</em> is wasted.” In fact, it’s the number one issue I hear when folks try to bring change to their organization.</p> <p> </p> Market research is easy. Visit customers Steve Johnson 18 Mar 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/market-research-is-easy-visit-customers 30 <p>Market research is easy. Visit customers, with or without sales people.</p> <p>Go on sales calls. Go to user group meetings. Go to conferences. Call a few customers on the phone and ask to how they are using your product, where they find deficiencies, and what direction they are taking their own businesses.</p> <p>You don’t have to hire an agency; you don’t need to spend a lot of money. A quick phone call or skype meeting is often all that’s necessary to get in sync with your customers.</p> <p>You just have to learn to listen.</p> Inspiration: A good plan... Steve Johnson 13 Mar 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/this-weeks-inspiration 27 <p>There's doing it right, and there's doing it perfectly. You want to focus on the former and not the latter.</p> Positioning with formulas Steve Johnson 12 Mar 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/positioning-with-formulas 26 <p>Marketing dragged me into a meeting with a new agency. There, I was asked to talk about the people who buy the product, some of its best capabilities, and some of my customer stories. This went on for a bit as I tried to figure out their agenda. Finally it hit me:</p> <p>“Are you trying to figure out my positioning?”</p> <p>“Yes,” they said. “Our plan is to interview you and all the members of the leadership team. Then we’ll take what we’ve learned to craft your product positioning.”</p> <p>Instead, I opened my laptop and shared my already-approved positioning document with the agency team. They were shocked. They rarely, if ever, work with a company that has figured this out already.</p> Stories about users and User Stories Steve Johnson 28 Feb 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/stories-about-users-and-user-stories 21 <p>For agile teams, the biggest area of friction for agile teams is agreement on what constitutes a story. Product managers and product owners try to write market requirements in the form of a story when many developers really want product specifications.</p> <p>It seems so simple. Product managers and product owner write user stories; developers break them into tasks and develop the feature. But the difficulty facing many agile teams today is what, exactly, is a user story?</p> <p> </p> User stories vs user goals Ed Brown 27 Feb 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/user-stories-vs-user-goals 22 <p>Agile developers want user stories; product managers want to bring back stories from the market about users. What we REALLY need is to understand user goals. Is there a difference? </p> The most powerful method for training the sales force Steve Johnson 25 Feb 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/the-most-powerful-method-for-training-the-sales-force 14 <p>Tactical tools stored in a desk are worthless; they must be published internally to be effective. “Publish or perish” is as true for product leaders as it is for academics: if the company does not know what you do, then what you do is not important to the company.</p> <p> </p> Experience and the mallet Steve Johnson 22 Feb 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/experience-and-the-mallet 17 <p>Have you heard this one?</p> <p>A machine breaks, the assembly line is idle, and nobody can fix it. Finally they call the old guy who retired and he agrees to come fix it. When he arrived, he listened to the machine for a moment, and then hit the machine with a mallet. Machine fixed; assembly line working again.</p> <p>(Do you know the punch line?)</p> Product managers and the whole product Steve Johnson 20 Feb 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/product-managers-and-the-whole-product 13 <p>While not directly the responsibility of product management, processes in other areas of the company that affect the customer—and they <em>all</em> do—should be reviewed by the product manager. How is the customer (and potential customer) greeted when he calls? How easy or hard is it to obtain information? Is the web site updated? Are the sales teams informed?</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Organizing product expertise Steve Johnson 8 Feb 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/organizing-product-expertise 12 <p>When organizing teams, you want to align the different areas of expertise with the needs of your business. Rather than organizing teams around products, I recommend a product management team organized around a portfolio of products, ideally with staffing in four areas of expertise.</p> <p> </p> Sharing the roadmap Steve Johnson 31 Jan 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/sharing-the-roadmap 11 <p>A product or portfolio roadmap is a key tool in planning, looking beyond your current product deliverables to months and years ahead. But a roadmap can also be a helpful tool with sales people, prospects, and customers.</p> <p>But many companies, particularly startups, find sharing the roadmap is a great way to promote and validate their innovation plans. Obviously you cannot do everything at once so a roadmap shows your market that you’re thinking beyond the current development iterations.</p> <p> </p> Estimating items on your roadmap Steve Johnson 23 Jan 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/estimating-your-roadmap 10 <p>Estimating is perhaps the biggest issue facing product managers regarding product and portfolio roadmaps. Obviously you want to get an estimate before anyone spends too much time designing a solution but you can’t really get a valid estimate without some level of design.</p> <p>Here’s the big trick: <em>guess</em>. </p> Assessing value the Blue Ocean way Steve Johnson 8 Jan 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/assessing-value-the-blue-ocean-way 9 <p>Each year, I re-read <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1591396190/noagenhome-20" target="_blank"> </a><em>Blue Ocean Strategy </em>by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. As I’m reading it again, I wonder if it’s possible to <em>predict</em> a successful strategy. It’s certainly easier to work backward from success and use value innovation as a tool to explain the success. As a predictive tool, the authors argue that you can identify which de facto standards for the industry are out of sync with the buyer’s value. Is the authors' “value curve” idea a <em>predictive</em> tool or an <em>evaluation</em> tool?</p> <p> </p> Portfolio roadmaps Steve Johnson 4 Jan 2013 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/portfolio-roadmaps 8 <p>Executives, sales people, and marketing leaders are often frustrated with the short-term focus in product management, particularly those using agile development methods. Leaders have no idea what is planned—if anything—beyond the next two-week sprint. And that’s why they ask for a roadmap.</p> What are your ten templates? Steve Johnson 7 Dec 2012 https://www.under10playbook.com/blog/ten-templates 6 <p>In my product leadership roles I always have a (small) collection of documents that reflect the current state of my product(s). Sometimes I have a standard price list; sometimes a financial model. Sometimes it’s a set of positioning documents by persona, or perhaps a roadmap of the next few releases. These living documents are the ones that I reference often. Once I kept them on paper in a notebook; now I keep them in a shared folder to access from my computer or tablet.</p> <p>What are the templates? Here's a list of fewer than 10.</p>