One of the constants in our business is competition. Very occasionally you find a company that has established a monopoly position, but for the most part, if the market you’re serving is a real market with real customers with real needs, you either have competitors already, or you will very soon.
If your company is one that still allocates product development funds based on approval of projects, then you still have the old “project-based funding model.” This is mostly a situation in either large companies, or those that have an IT-style legacy, but the mindset often exists even in small companies too.
In my last article I wrote about the importance of product passion, and I said that one of the reasons this passion is necessary is for product evangelism.
One topic I’ve never written explicitly about is the need for product passion. I’ve referenced it at the top of the list of traits for good product leaders, but it’s easy to take this for granted especially since the people I surround myself with professionally are generally very passionate about products.
Good product teams must be good at product discovery, which means they must get good at learning quickly. They need to be able to zero in on the appropriate target customer, identify the key problems to solve for those customers, and typically the most difficult part of all, apply technology and user experience design to come up with good solutions that will solve those problems.
There are several skills and activities that are important when coming up with great products. In my last article, I argued for the absolute necessity of having good data about how our products are actually being used.
I know this topic is going to sound far-fetched to many of you, but I am finding too many product teams out there that either aren’t instrumenting their product or site to collect analytics, or they do it at such a minor level that they really don’t know what users are doing on their site or how their product is being used.
For many years now I have recommended the classic book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” because I think it does such a good job explaining an important dynamic I see at larger companies. However, I have come to believe that The Innovator’s Dilemma is actually describing the symptom of the problem, and not the actual cause.
Recently a friend of mine sent me a link to this short video from totally outside of the technology field. The video is called “Why You Need to Fail” and it’s by Derek Sivers. Even though the examples are from very different domains, I thought that this short video very eloquently made one of the most important points in creating great products, and I strongly encourage all of you to watch it (especially the second half).
In my last article I discussed the role of the leader of the product organization. I heard back from more than a few product leaders that it served to remind them that they weren’t doing as much as they knew they should be doing to build the strength of their product team, and I was asked if I could share some of the tools I use to help with this.