Monday, October 28, 2019

Sketchnote: 20 Years of Product Management in 25 Minutes by Dave Wascha

While scrolling through a lot of Product Management content in the last few days, i came across this presentation by Dave Wascha that I found relevant.

It was one of those presentations that sticks with you. It was one of those presentations that excited me enough to create a sketchnote of (that i share below). Here are the summary of points tthat Dave shared:

1. Listen to your customers
Your job as a PM is to maniacally focus on your customers problems.
You cannot solve customers problems without understanding it.
If you don't listen to customers, you end up creating solutions for the problems no one has.

2. Don't listen to your customers when it comes to solution
Your customers are least qualified people when it comes to solution.
Listen to your customers when it comes to problems but don't listen to customers when it comes to building solutions.

3. Watch the competition
When a competitor launches a new feature, I view it as a user test that I can learn from.

4. ...but don't watch the competition
It's too easy to simply follow the competition into building something shiny, even though it might not be the best solution.

5. Be a Thief
Your job is not to come up all the best ideas, but to make sure you're implementing the best one for your customers.

6. Get Paid
Don't forget to ask the most fundamental question- is this valuable enough for customer to pay for it ?

7. Speed Up
Every time you put off a decision, you are destroying value. It's our job to remove obstacles and make sure that decisions are made- and made fast.

8. Say No
Our job is not to make people happy- it's to solve our customers' problems. Say No often to competing priorities.

9. Don't be a visionary
Products need product managers who are obsessed with solving customers problems and who put in the hard work to grind it out and solve those problems. I have been forged in a white hot heat of failure and I am a better product manager because of that.

Sketchnote Summary of the Talk:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How do you measure progress of your Innovation work ?

Most Innovation teams (atleast the ones that I have led) typically have hackers in the majority. I dislike generalizing things but by and large what I have observed is that hackers tend to fall in love with solution. Now this doesn't necessarily mean that they don't love the problem but it's just that the focus on solutions just keeps them interested and going.

Irrespective of whether the teams are led by hackers or hustlers, one of the hardest things in managing Innovation work, especially the ones in early stages, is determining a way to measure the progress. Early stage innovation projects are the ones that are at the ideation phase or haven't achieved product-market fit.

Lean Start-up approach (that I normally follow in running Innovation programs) suggests an effective framework for solving the progress/measurement problem. There are several approaches that I have successfully applied, part of which you can read here.

Recently, I got an additional perspective on measurement of progress. The insight I received was while reading the book- 'Jugaad 3.0- Hacking the Corporation to make it fast, fluid and frugal'. Here is the related excerpt:
"Intuit Founder Scott Cook is a big believer in what he calls "love metrics"- which might sound soft but can actually be assessed with some precision.
- How much do people actually love idea of the product ?
- Did they recommend it to their peers ?
- How often do they come back ?
These kinds of measures can be more than sufficient to confirm a team's hypothesis or prove the need for a course correction."
Notice that the questions suggested by Scott Cook aren't ground-breaking, neither do it belong to 'never heard of before' category but what stands-out in these metrics is the focus on empathy. The fact that Scott chose to call this "love metrics" make it look so distinctive. After all, aren't we all in the business of delighting the end-user, in the endeavor of making users fall in love with our offerings.
That's why I really loved the insight Scott shared here.

The book also quotes a blogpost from Vijay Anand, also from Intuit Labs. Vijay says:
"When the team asks me if something is a good idea, I ask them for their unit of one- the one customer their product will delight. And once that works, I tell them to bring me 100. When 100 delighted customers actively use a product, I know there's something to it."
Profound. Isn't it ?

So, what's the unit of one  for your idea ? And what love metrics are you tracking to measure their happiness with your offering ?

Image source:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Corporate Talk: The mindset of an Intrapreneur

Had a privilege to present in front of young, talented employees of Qapitol couple of weeks back. When my friend Ajay Balamurugadas reached out to me for a possible talk, one of the first topics that
came to my mind was on Intrapreneurship.

The reason this topic is dear to me is for a few reasons:
1. Intrapreneurship is quite an under-rated and under-leveraged concept in the corporate world.
2. I had a recent stint as an Intrapreneur and created opportunities to create more intrapreneurs in my organization.
3. I believe that the young audience (which Qapitol team was) should get introduced to Intrapreneurship as early as possible in the career.

I have used the term 'Intrapreneurship' a few times already and some of you made me wondering what this term actually means. Let me narrate the essence of Intrapreneurship as follows:

About Intrapreneurship:
Entrepreneurship has been a buzzword that dominates most of the conversations in our industry. Entrepreneurs are certainly a special lot who are ultra-passionate, enjoy taking risks and are usually driven by making a positive impact to the world around them.

With all the attention that entrepreneurship gets, it is arguably not possible for all of us to become one. There could be myriad of reasons for this but many of us consciously find our calling in working for the organizations. If an entrepreneur creates a vision, it's the employees who make it a reality. So this choice is absolutely fine and legitimate.

Being an employee doesn't mean that you cannot exercise the traits that make one an entrepreneur. In my career journey, I discovered that one can embrace those traits anytime at work and create a dent in the universe surrounding your organization. Simply put, Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization.
In this session, I shared my experiences about this discovery of mine and dissect a few of the distinguishing qualities that make one an Intrapreneur.

About the mindset of an Intrapreneur:
In the talk I focused majorly on the mindset of an Intrapreneur. I ran my first full marathon (42.195
Km) in 2014, focused a lot on physical training. Realized at the end of that run the importance of mindset training. Recently, finished my 17th  full marathon in 40 degrees plus heat, could finish it due to better mindset preparation.
I follow similar approach while taking any new roles i.e. unpeel the job and figure out what mindset would be needed for success and work to master that first (while working on skills).
In many ways, mindset training precedes skills training.

Here is what I talked about as being an mindset of an Intrapreneur.

1. Intrapreneurs have high degree of situational awareness
2. Intrapreneurs know how to build support for their idea
3. Intrapreneurs know how to effectively communicate success
4. Intrapreneurs are authentic, align first with core values
5. Intrapreneurs are champions at connect the dots
6. Intrapreneurs focus on Credibility/Reputation first, Skills next
7. Intrapreneurs embrace learnability, but also stay teachable
8. Intrapreneurs know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness
9. Intrapreneurs understand that there is absolutely no sense of entitlement
10. Intrapreneurs know how to embrace constraints
11. Intrapreneurs come to work willing to be fired
12. Intrapreneurs keep the hunger, that ‘Fire-in-Belly’ alive at all the times
13. Intrapreneurs show-up more often than anyone else

In the upcoming blogs, I would double-click on each of these aspects and share a bit more details from my experience and a few analogies from the world of sport.


Jugaad Innovation: A Frugal and Flexible Approach to Innovation For The 21st Century