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The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers

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Rank #58 in Management category

Business
Education
Careers
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Where product leaders and managers make their move product master.

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Where product leaders and managers make their move product master.

iTunes Ratings

37 Ratings
Average Ratings
36
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Great podcast

By sgbowden - Jul 07 2017
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Great information for innovation practitioners.

Valuable PM lessons !

By Gj83711 - Oct 21 2016
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This is one of the best podcasts on Product Management. Thank you for doing this Chad!

iTunes Ratings

37 Ratings
Average Ratings
36
1
0
0
0

Great podcast

By sgbowden - Jul 07 2017
Read more
Great information for innovation practitioners.

Valuable PM lessons !

By Gj83711 - Oct 21 2016
Read more
This is one of the best podcasts on Product Management. Thank you for doing this Chad!
Cover image of The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers

The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers

Latest release on Jan 13, 2020

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Where product leaders and managers make their move product master.

Rank #1: TEI 233: Everyone wants more agility in their product process and this is how to get it – with Colin Palombo

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How product managers should combine flexibility and rigor in an agile stage-gate process. Just about every organization I have worked with this year wants more agility in their product management processes. They want to get new products to market faster and release enhanced versions in less time. Product managers and leaders are feeling the pressure. […]

Jun 10 2019

39mins

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Rank #2: TEI 157: Big topics product managers encounter – with Suzanne Abate

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The right product begins with a validated user need and a market In this episode you’ll learn about some of the big ideas in product management to help you make the move to product master, specifically: The difference between building the product right vs. building the right product, Challenges of working with development teams, How […]

Jan 01 2018

39mins

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Rank #3: TEI 193: Mistakes new (and not so new) product managers should avoid – with Cole Mercer

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Insights for new product managers and people who want to be product managers. Being a good product manager requires a diverse set of skills, including communicating, influencing, design, technology, product process, and business acumen. New product managers and not-so new product managers have lots of opportunities to make mistakes. When you can, it is better […]

Sep 10 2018

1hr 3mins

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Rank #4: TEI 169: How to make product roadmaps not dangerous – with Bruce McCarthy

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Shifting focus from the how to the why by properly using a product roadmap. My 12-year old  son recently got a belt sander from his Opa. Opa is a German name for grandfather.  My son is making a bookshelf and has a lot of sanding to do. The belt sander will do the work quickly. […]

Mar 26 2018

40mins

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Rank #5: TEI 141: How product managers can better lead change – with Barbara Trautlein, PhD

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Which of the 7 Change Styles Do You Use as a Product Manager or Innovator? Our work is the work of innovation. A few years ago I heard the word innovation expressed as in-a-new-way. It’s a helpful phrase to remember that the very nature of innovation means doing something new — something we have not […]

Sep 11 2017

37mins

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Rank #6: TEI 152: The successful product manager is the self-aware product manager – with Tasha Eurich

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Improving your internal and external self-awareness is the real secret to success for product managers This may just be the most important interview yet. While it does not directly deal with product management concepts, it does deal with success concepts. The upcoming discussion is about a book The Muse called the number-one best career book […]

Nov 27 2017

38mins

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Rank #7: TEI 172: Apple’s product development process and secrets to success – with John Carter

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Sleek and simple: How Apple’s product process mirrors the products it creates. One of the things I enjoy doing is teaching product and innovation management university courses. My students often are in a leadership role in their organization and I’m helping them with product innovation. When we discuss examples of innovative organizations, Apple is a […]

Apr 16 2018

34mins

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Rank #8: TEI 232: Using product roadmaps correctly, Part 3 (Portfolio Management) – with Bruce McCarthy

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How product managers can extend product roadmaps to portfolio management. Product roadmaps are one of the best-known tools and also the most misused by product managers. We have talked twice before with Bruce McCarthy, co-author of the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty, to learn how to make roadmaps work […]

Jun 03 2019

43mins

Play

Rank #9: TEI 189: Building UX in product teams – with Sam Horodezky

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Breaking down myths and misconceptions about two popular — but sometimes opposing — roles. UX is a hot topic and for good reason. The right UX skills on a product team can make the product more successful. The wrong skills waste money and time. Many product managers and leaders make mistakes when adding UX roles […]

Aug 12 2018

32mins

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Rank #10: TEI 154: Pitfalls that can trap new product managers – with Aero Wong

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10 common mistakes or pitfalls new product managers should avoid A few months ago I was contacted by a product manager, Areo Wong, who works in Hong Kong. He described himself as a “newbie” with about one-year of experience. He has been struggling to learn what the role of product manager was really about. After trying […]

Dec 11 2017

37mins

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Rank #11: TEI 144: What product managers can learn from Amanda Brinkman and Robert Herjavec – The Small Business Revolution movement

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My favorite interview: Product managers can create a consumer research platform, re-energize a brand, and do good all at the same time What is coming up is my favorite interview I have done, at least until I have the opportunity to do an update next year. You’ll hear why in the interview, but it stems […]

Oct 02 2017

36mins

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Rank #12: TEI 209: Predictive analytics for product managers – with Brian Brinkmann

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Use data to predict customer behavior and design better products. Do you know which customers are most likely to stop using your product in the next month? Or, what actions your best customers take with your product when they start using it? With the right data, product managers not only know the answers to such […]

Dec 31 2018

39mins

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Rank #13: TEI 221: How product managers can determine the price of a new product – with Patrick Campbell

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Focus on customers, not competitors, to drive product success. Are your products not generating the revenue they should be just because you didn’t price them right? Pricing is a key concern of not only product managers and leaders but also the executives of organizations. Knowing the right price for a product is a challenge, especially […]

Mar 18 2019

29mins

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Rank #14: TEI 190: The 6 dimensions of top achievers- with Arthur Carmazzi

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Learn how product managers move from the middle of the pack to the front of the crowd. Product managers need to be high achievers and many are. They are the driving force that discover unmet needs customers have, creating value through their product work. The work is both demanding and fulfilling. To be a high […]

Aug 20 2018

37mins

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Rank #15: TEI 127: B2B product management – with Jeff Lash

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This is a listener suggested episode, which I love doing. I enjoy receiving requests from listeners asking for specific topics to explore. Several people have had questions about B2B product management. A B2B company sells its products to other organizations while a B2C company provides its products to consumers. To explore this topic, I […]

Jun 05 2017

44mins

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Rank #16: TEI 142: Platforms and innovation for product managers – with Larry Keeley

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Savvy product managers use platforms This episode focuses on platforms — a topic I haven’t discussed yet on this podcast. An effective platform strategy is important for growing organizations as well as those that are starting. There are different perspectives on platforms and this interview primarily explores digital platforms. My guest is Larry Keeley, a […]

Sep 18 2017

40mins

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Rank #17: TEI 180: Why and how APIs should be managed as a product – with Bryan Hicks

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A different type of product, but traditional product management still applies. Today’s topic is the product management of APIs — application program interfaces that enable software systems to share information and interact. In the past I have thought of APIs as a part of a software system. It’s another activity on a project schedule to […]

Jun 11 2018

30mins

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Rank #18: TEI 133: History as a tool for product managers & innovators – with Scott Bowden

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I am a student of approaches for innovation – how ideas are conceived and turned into valuable products and services. However, my guest introduced me to a new line of thinking — an approach to innovation I had not previously been exposed to and for that I’m thankful. I now have another tool in my innovation […]

Jul 17 2017

39mins

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Rank #19: TEI 131: Charting change for product managers-with Braden Kelley

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As product managers and innovators we are often at the center of change because our work involves creating something new, which itself is change. Further, we need to persuade and influence others to change their perspective and embrace our ideas for building better products. Sometimes the change is small, like a new feature to a […]

Jul 03 2017

42mins

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Rank #20: TEI 132: Integrating Lean Startup and Stage-Gate – with Mark Adkins

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Lean Startup or Stage-Gate? More often organizations are not choosing one or the other but taking the “and” option and integrating both into their product processes.  The challenge is how to get them to play nice with each other and gain the benefits of each without losing something in the process. To discuss this topic […]

Jul 10 2017

43mins

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TEI 264: How product managers can make better use of marketing – with Jill Soley

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How marketing and product management work together

Turns out if you ask 50 different people what marketing is, you’ll hear 50 different answers. That is what our guest did to investigate what people think about marketing and how it fits into the work product managers do. Our guest is Jill Soley, a Silicon Valley strategic product and marketing executive. She currently leads Product Management at Obo, where she is working on agile product management software that aims to reduce the high failure rates for new products. She has two degrees from MIT and a ton of practical experience.

Listen to understand the basic definition of marketing, marketing roles that may have resources useful to product managers, and how product managers can make better use of marketing resources. Also, we talk in the beginning about Jill’s experience developing the Adobe Creative Cloud; lots to learn just from that.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[0:38] What was your experience developing Adobe Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud was transformational for the company, the customers, and me personally. It transformed Adobe from selling boxed products to selling services and subscriptions, creating new value for customers. It was transformational for me because I had been working on smaller seed products, and for the first time I was in a leadership role on a major transformational project.

[3:07] How did you build up confidence that the Adobe Creative Cloud was the right direction to go?

Before Creative Cloud, we had a product called CS Live, which was a total failure. It failed because we weren’t all-in, not because the product was bad, but because the go-to-market model was completely wrong. The Creative Cloud was a definite risk. We faced a lot of resistance from customers, but ultimately the adoption was quicker and higher than we expected.

[7:06] How do you describe marketing?

Marketing is the two-way communication between your company and your market. The four Ps of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement. We often think product and marketing are very separate, but the first P is Product. Customer interaction with your product is critical to your business’s success.

Product marketing specifically is connecting your product with your market and your market with your product. The number one reason products fail is because their companies weren’t able to find and connect with the market.

[10:11] What is the role of marketing communication, marcom, in marketing?

Marcom is one piece of marketing. Marcom exists to tell your customers how all your products relate to each other and why it matters. Marketing is all about your customer. Different products for different customers need different marketing, but all your levels of marketing should tie together. A common pitfall is a lack of focus on a very targeted customer.

[12:33] What marketing roles and resources can help us in our job?

Resource number one is market research. Too often, we start with an idea for a product and build it without doing real market research. A marketer or market research department can do it, or you can do it yourself by writing some surveys in a survey tool or interviewing people at a conference.

Second, product marketers are often undervalued, but they can provide input and help with customer research. All the feedback you get in customer research is super useful to product marketers when they’re planning launches and content so that they know how to talk about the value of your product.

My book, Beyond Product: How Exceptional Founders Embrace Marketing to Create and Capture Value for their Business, is another great resource. It’s a practical marketing book for anyone launching or growing a new product or business. It provides a roadmap for how to think about marketing at each stage of your growth to turn your idea into a successful business.

[18:13] How can product managers engage those marketing resources?

Start with building relationships. Throughout development of your product, include and listen to the people who will be launching it. Incorporate marketing early on as a core part of the product team. It’s easy to become very siloed in what you do, but part of being strategic is getting to know what people from other parts of the company do.

Bonus Questions:

What do you enjoy doing as Chief Product Officer at Obo?

My primary job is setting the product strategy and vision. I love figuring out where to start on a product, who the right customers are, and what the key differentiator is. The really fun part of product management is sitting down with customers, getting their requirements, and finding the gaps we can fill. I spend as much time as I can talking with customers, as well as doing quantitative market research.

I also execute–figuring out how to prioritize and what to build. Even more important than product strategy, I keep the team focused and engaged, and make sure that everyone is working toward the same goal.

I’m only as successful as the people on my team, so the best thing I can do for my success is build a fantastic team and help it grow. I believe that career is a team sport. I have benefited from many people who helped me grow, so I feel like I owe it to the next generation to help them grow.

What are some headaches you face in your role?

Because I’m in a startup, I’m also the chief whiteboard cleaner and food orderer. At a startup, you can’t focus on just one thing. However, constraints are good because they force you to think hard about your priorities.

Context-switching is also hard. Some days I feel like I moved lots of things an inch and didn’t really move anything forward. I try to keep a list and focus on moving the top thing forward.

Useful links:

  • Jill’s book, BEYOND PRODUCT: How Exceptional Founders Embrace Marketing to Create and Capture Value for their Business
  • All about Obo product management software
  • Connect with Jill via her LinkedIn Profile

Innovation Quote

“Innovation is hard because solving problems people didn’t know they had and building something no one needs look identical at first.” -Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Jan 13 2020

29mins

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TEI 263: What product managers can learn from the creation of the AeroPro medical device – with Julie Charlestein

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Innovation and ideation in the dental device industry for product managers

There are a lot of people working on medical devices today. It has been a hot area now but I thought it would be interesting to talk with the CEO of a medical device company that started more than 100 years ago, in 1913. That is a company with four generations of history. The current CEO is Julie Charlestein and the company was founded by her great grandfather. The company is Premier Dental Products. Julie is well-respected in the industry and has served on dental medicine boards for several universities.

We discussed a recent product they brought to market – one my dentist likely used on me recently – and how they went from initial idea to a successful launch.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:37] How does ideation occur for you in the dental medical device industry?

One of Premier Dental’s foundational pillars is the idea of being deeply connected. Our connections–with dentists, hygienists, universities, our industry landscape, and our competition–give us new ideas. We also get ideas from conversations with our advisory boards of dentists and hygienists and from talking to our customers in their offices.

[5:24] What’s an example of a product you created?

We recently launched a product called AeroPro, which is a cordless, hand-held device that hygienists use to polish teeth. Every quarter we look at industry data, which we purchase, to find out how we compare to our competitors. We noticed that one competitor was gaining market share in a product that is similar to a professional toothbrush head. We discovered that they had created a cordless handpiece that can only be paired with that head. We decided to learn from them and created a similar handpiece, the AeroPro. We got feedback from hygienists about what is important to them. We hadn’t made small equipment before, but we found the resources that we needed to develop this product.

[13:16] Have you used external challenges to get ideas or solve problems?

We look at competitors all the time to find areas that we could get into and do better in. At one point, we were interested in a competitor’s product that had just launched, but our head of research and development told us it wouldn’t work. A few years later, that product became number one. We took that as a challenge to take that idea and not just make it better but meet the same need in an entirely new way. Soon, our new product became number one.

[15:52] Have processes that foster the creation of new ideas always been part of your innovation culture?

In our culture, innovation has always been our lifeblood. But when I became CEO, we started creating processes to drive innovation. Our four pillars are Deeply Connected, Meaningful Innovation, Standard-setting Solutions, and Undeniably Proven. Our deep connections allow us to develop meaningful innovation, which becomes standard-setting solutions, making Premier undeniably proven.

[20:27] How did you take the AeroPro to market?

We piloted the product by putting it in the hands of our advisory board to work out the kinks. We then refined our messaging, developed a marketing and sales plan, and brought it to market.

[21:46] What are you doing after bringing the product to market?

We constantly refine messaging, marketing and sales strategies, and our work with distribution partners. We look at how we could improve market share. We also present our product to organizations that can recognize it with awards.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“If you wanna revolution, the only solution: evolve. You gotta evolve.” -from Gatorade Revolution commercial

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Jan 06 2020

29mins

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TEI 262: A look at this podcast through the lens of leadership coaching – with Russell Verhey

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Lessons for product managers from the story of The Everyday Innovator.

This was an extra fun discussion to have because it gave me an opportunity to share some important insights from f2f interviews I have done but have not talked about much or ever on this podcast.

It is also a special interview, as a leadership coach and friend, Russel Verhey, interviewed me for his podcast, Advance Leadership Conversations. Please check that out using your favorite podcast app by searching for Advance Leadership Conversations.

In the discussion, you will learn:

  1. How this podcast started – it’s a great story if you haven’t heard it.
  2. Why Bob Tiffin of Tiffin Motorhomes focuses on customer service.
  3. How a software company flipper learned to build great teams.
  4. The most unusual McDonalds I have visited that puts customers first.
  5. Tips for talking with anyone.
  6. Tips for finding motivation.
  7. Tips for entrepreneurs with a product idea and what they should do first.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:35] How did you get the idea of starting a podcast on product innovation?

On a RV trip around the US with my wife and two kids for one year and two weeks, I felt like after training product managers for years I was losing touch with what leaders were thinking about innovation and product management. One of the purposes of the RV trip was to have interesting conversations with people leading innovation and product management. After the trip, I missed those conversations and started the podcast to continue having those great talks.

On a side note, the thought of recording my voice for a podcast made me super nervous because I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my voice. But I overcame that because I wanted to have interesting discussions, and I share those conversations so other product managers can grow. I also built confidence by taking some training on doing interviews and doing voice coaching, but I realized that the bigger picture was that I just had to get out of my own way. I’m here to help other people, and if I occasionally pronounce a word wrong, it doesn’t really matter because other people are going to find value.

[9:57] What were some meaningful conversations from your road trip?

The very first one was with Bob Tiffin, the CEO of Tiffin Motorhomes. Bob is extremely customer-centric. He spends much of his days talking directly with customers. While we were talking, his phone buzzed every few minutes with customers calling. His focus was on how to serve his customers.

Another time in the tiny town of Townsend, Tennessee, I interviewed the owner of a laundromat, John Allen Weller. He grew up in Townsend, comes back three weeks out of the year to see his family, and bought the laundromat to help out the town, but his real business is buying struggling software companies, building them up, and selling them. I asked him, what are you most proud of? He said, I’ve made a lot of the people that work for me millionaires, and I’m really, really proud that I am able to help so many people. Another thing that stood out was that he started his career as a guard in a prison. He said that out of that experience, he learned how to read people, and now in building companies, he knows how to find the right person for the right role and motivate them.

One last story is from Oro Valley, Arizona. I went to a McDonald’s to do some work, and there was a man behind the counter welcoming people in by name. This was so unlike any of my other experiences in McDonald’s, so I talked to this man. His name is Mike Yontz, and he was the owner-operator. For Mike, putting all the attention on the customer to create a good customer service experience was an essential part of operating a McDonald’s.

[20:53] What are some tips to kick off conversations?

I don’t want to undervalue the influence of prayer; I was praying on this trip to have really interesting discussions. Some were certainly purposeful, other seemed like coincidences. I’m naturally observant and curious, and I love hearing people’s backstories and finding out what is important to them. Likewise, it’s important to find out about our employees. Ask them why they like working for you or what’s keeping them from liking it. Especially Millennials won’t engage unless they feel connected to something bigger than themselves. You can engage people through honest discussions about your bigger vision, why what you’re doing really matters.

[24:05] What keeps us from observing interesting differences about people that open the door to deep conversations?

As leaders, it’s easy to focus on accomplishing tasks and forget about the relationships we’re impacting. By taking time for relationships, we can improve employee engagement. Leaders also need to be aware of the power imbalance among their employees. They need to communicate and frequently reiterate that they care about each individual employee as a person. Otherwise, people will disengage because they feel like they can’t be open with the leader.

[26:10] What helped you keep going with your podcast when you wanted to give up?

Early on, someone I respect in the product management industry told me that the podcasts for product managers that win are the ones that outlast everyone else. That gave me some competitive fuel. But more than anything, I would miss the discussions personally if I stopped. I get to talk to amazing people that otherwise I would not have access to. Still, I wouldn’t be able to sustain this just for me. It means a lot to me to know that I’m really helping a lot of people.

[29:55] What parallels are there between your journey on your RV trip and the product launch roadmap?

For the first few months of our RV trip, our roadmap was very scripted, but then we got more comfortable with playing it by ear, just seeing where we ended up, and that flexibility was good. In product management, if your plan is too scripted, you’ll miss opportunities for learning from your customer. You need to stay flexible and engaged in order to adapt to your customer needs.

[32:27] What’s the first step to taking an entrepreneurial product idea to market?

You can’t keep your idea private. Innovation happens when people share their ideas. You have to interact with potential customers, get their feedback, and find out what is valuable to them.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open.” -T. Dewar

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Dec 30 2019

39mins

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TEI 261: Maximizing project portfolio goal impact & ROI – with Mike Hannan

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Better projects faster

You, your group, your company, and many other companies likely share a similar problem. It is a problem that is slowing both your success and organizational success. Our guest phrases it as not maximizing the goal impact of your project portfolio. I phrase it as merely doing too many projects for the resources available and not focusing on the projects that will make the most difference to the organization.

My guest has a four-part framework for improving this and he shares it in this discussion. His name is Mike Hannan and he has helped many organizations more quickly create value for customers and themselves by applying this framework.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[4:31] In portfolio project management, what does it mean to maximize the performance of the portfolio–the goal impact?

Maximizing goal impact means decreasing cost and increasing value, getting the most juice for the squeeze. Depending on your company, you might measure value as profit or mission impact. We often limit ourselves by merely trying to stay on schedule or on budget, and we forget that there is no upper limit to maximizing value. Focusing on maximizing goal impact is very freeing because you can keep trying different changes until you’ve reached a value and cost you’re satisfied with.

In your model for maximizing project portfolio performance, there are four categories of actions. Let’s talk through each one…

[8:36] Get more projects done.

To get more projects done, you need to optimize the workflow of your system. Just because the system can handle more work doesn’t mean that more work will promote the best flow of work. When we see available resources, we feel like we must utilize them. We think that the more projects we start the more we’ll get done. In reality, the opposite is true. We need to promote maximum flow as opposed to maximum utilization. Focusing on a few high-value projects that you can get done quickly is more productive than completing many projects over a long period of time.

[14:31] Execute projects more reliably.

The value proposition of a product or project initiative may be sensitive to a specific due date. There’s a lot of uncertainty in how fast tasks will take, but estimating the time needed to reliably hit the due date drives goal impact. Even if your project is not super sensitive to a particular date, saving time always saves value. Tomorrow is not as good as today. Putting a schedule buffer or scope buffer in place can help you deliver reliably and protect the value of your project. Being reliable will build your credibility and help you achieve greater responsibility and impact.

[21:35] Select higher-impact projects.

When you have identified a number of new initiatives, how do you know which ones to focus on that are of the highest value to your organization? Instead of allowing just one leader to decide, maximize creativity by involving the entire leadership team. The leaders will have different, conflicting ideas, so a tool like the analytic hierarchy process, a method of scoring the impact of projects, can help the team have a conversation about the criteria for high-impact projects.

[27:05] Engineer higher-impact project/portfolio results.

We can engineer greater value into our projects and products as we go. We have to consider whether we can make a less expensive minimum viable product that we can deliver even faster without producing an incomplete, defective product. This decision is often based on our gut feeling and watching those in the marketplace who are getting it right. Maximizing goal impact means optimizing the cost, schedule, and scope of a product and re-optimizing them throughout execution.

Bonus Question: How do you convince leaders to prioritize and do fewer projects better?

You have to be a leader with enough political will, political capital, and bravery to point out that the system is overloaded and that you need to put a large number of the ongoing projects on hold. A good rule of thumb is to pause about half of the projects. It’s painful to renegotiate commitments you’ve already made, but you’ll get the highest priority projects done much faster. You’ll also get the lowest priority projects done faster because you’ll increase flow.

There’s a natural bottleneck in the system, and if you try to go faster than the bottleneck allows, you’ll end up slower. Just pausing half of your projects is better than staying frozen, but even better is to identify the bottleneck, which is usually creative, high-level thinkers like designers and architects. Determine which phases those people are needed in, and ask them how much time they need for each initiative. If they need three weeks, build a spreadsheet that staggers your projects three weeks apart, but continue to adjust the timing as needed.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Doubting everything and believing everything are two equally convenient solutions that guard us from having to think” – legendary philosopher, theoretical physicist, mathematician, and “celestial mechanist” Henri Poincaré

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Dec 23 2019

46mins

Play

TEI 260: Proverbs for product managers and innovators- with Dr. Max Mckeown, PhD

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Innovators make the world go around – and other principles for product managers

Do you like proverbs? I do. Proverbs are short general truths or pieces of advice. They can be a source of wisdom, which is why I read from the Bible book, Proverbs, most nights while I was in college. I was seeking wisdom. Proverbs come from many sources and some become common sayings, such as “measure twice, cut once” — wisdom for carpenters. Or, “look before you leap,” which is something many parents have shared with an impetuous child. I may have heard that one a few times myself.

I also love innovation proverbs, and I found a book full of them. It’s titled, The Innovator’s Book: Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators. The author is Dr. Max Mckeown, an award-winning author and artist who seeks to make complex ideas practical for the real world. His research focuses on how to increase the successful adaptability of individuals, teams and organizations.

We discuss a few favorite proverbs from the book.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:34] How do you describe innovation?

Innovation is about making new ideas useful. It’s practical creativity focused on making a new idea valuable. The work of an innovator is to make something that’s not just new or beautiful, but that has a purpose and solves a problem.

[4:05] How do you feel about the interaction between art and innovation?

The interaction is creativity. Every product starts as a drawing. A picture can capture much more than words can. I’ve embedded pictures in my book because they stick with people. When I teach, I draw beautiful cartoon artwork as I speak, and when I invite the audience to draw too, their creativity explodes. Visual information captures attention better and can be understood quicker and at greater depth than textual information. Sketching ideas can also help you focus on creativity and making the ideas useful.

[11:00] Why do you say that innovators make the world go round?

The core human ability is imagining ideas as images in our minds. The start of history is humans imagining, storing, swapping, discussing, considering, and remembering ideas. Every change that is worth talking about–printing, writing, democracy–is an idea. People consume and fight for ideas. Ideas, and therefore innovation, make the world go round.

[7:23] Will you highlight a few proverbs from your book?

Make your ideas easier to swallow. We designed the book itself to be dipped in and out of or to be read start-to-finish, with short sections so that even people who don’t read books will finish it.

Even useless can be useful. If you spot a product that seems useless, that’s innovation gold because you can improve on the useless work and build something better.

Beautiful ideas are never perfect. Ask yourself how you can make imperfect ideas better.

All these principles are about noticing ideas in your world and doing something better with them.

[21:08] How can you make an idea easier to swallow?

You have to make it likeable. Come at your idea from the position of the person you’re sharing it with. I represent ideas as babies. Their parents are curiosity and necessity, which both have to come together for an idea to be born. Our ideas are often ugly to other people before they’re finished. For an idea to grow, people must use it, so you must become a salesperson and market your ideas. As an innovator, your job is to help people see how your idea fits into their lives.

[23:54] Let’s talk about another proverb: What you know can hurt.

We tend to think what we don’t know will hurt us, but what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Knowledge you think you have can hurt you. Something you think is a fact that’s not really a fact can become a prison that you can’t see outside of. When change comes, you don’t see it coming, but it can still hurt you. Recognize that you might be wrong.

Another principle is: Hire people for how they learn, not what they know. A lot of company turnarounds have occurred when someone outside brings in a new way of doing things. Someone may not have experience in the job they are applying for, but they do have some experience. When hiring, it’s important to ask, how do you think and how do you learn? When applying, even without experience, you can highlight your ability to learn quickly and adapt.

Bonus Question: Innovation means change and change can mean fear. How can we as innovators overcome or make use of fear?

New ideas cause pain. You can overcome some of the fear by knowing which pain is necessary and which isn’t. There’s customer pain, which is the unavoidable change you have to deal with. Unnecessary pain comes from doing something badly, but sometimes pain is necessary because it’s the only way through.

Understanding where change is coming from before making change is also helpful. Some change comes from the opposing view of an argument. Other change is unavoidable because it is the next step in a general evolution.

People are much more afraid of vague fears than specific fears. You will feel more confident if you think through a time when you overcame change in the past and imagine yourself making the new change. Don’t hide from change. Learn more about the change a little at a time until you clearly see what you used to be afraid of and it becomes a source of energy.

Get help from other people. Innovators have three jobs: make your idea useful, build a bigger brain, and help your innovation win. Job two, build a bigger brain, means bringing other people around your idea. You can’t keep your idea going without other people. Voice your fears to your community and create a failure strategy. Most things fail in this world, so having a strategy to avoid and overcome failure will help you overcome fear related to change.

You can make failures work for you by selling your ideas. For example, present three ideas and communicate that even if two fail, it’s still a win if one succeeds. You can remove your fear by giving other people expectations.

Useful links

Innovation Quote

“Optimism, pessimism, screw that. We are just going to make it work.” – Elon Musck

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Dec 16 2019

33mins

Play

TEI 259: Become indistractable and get more done better – with Nir Eyal

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Four steps for product managers to increase productivity and become fully present

Do you feel your time and attention being pulled in too many directions and what you want to get done is not getting done? I sure do. For me, focus has been getting more challenging as I am taking on new projects to help more product managers. I’ve needed to step back and do some meta work to better organize my time.

This includes putting into practice what I learned from this interview — a discussion with Nir Eyal about the research he did to help him tackle the same issues. He synthesized what he learned in his latest book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

Nir joined us the first year of this podcast, back on episode 030 to discuss how we can build habit-forming products. He is a writer, consultant, and teacher at the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. I love talking with him because he always has new insights for me. I needed this interview and I bet you do to.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:28] You created the word “indistractable.” What does it mean?

Being indistractable is being the kind of person who strives to do what they say they are going to do. I say strive because it’s not something we are ever finished achieving. We are on a constant journey to become indistractable.

[4:55] What is the mindset we should use to think about distraction?

After my first book, Hooked, became successful, I had more and more demands on my time, and I became very distracted. I wasn’t getting done what I planned to get done. I was perplexed by the question, why don’t we do what we say we are going to do? We don’t know how to stop getting distracted. Technology makes distraction easier than ever to find, so we need new skills to become indistractable.

The opposite of distraction is traction. Traction comes from the Latin for to pull and ends with action. Traction is any action that pulls you toward doing something with intent. Distraction is anything that pulls you away from what you plan to do with intent. Anything can become a distraction. Pseudo-work is putting off hard work by doing easy work that feels productive. Similarly, anything can be traction. If you use technology because you decided in advance to spend your time that way, that’s traction. Technology does not control our brains.

[13:31] You created four steps to becoming indistractable. Unpack the first step: How can we master distracting internal triggers?

Psychologically, everything we do is to escape discomfort. We check Facebook, Google, and the news because we’re feeling lonely, bored, or uncertain. Time management is pain management. Distraction starts within us when we seek to escape discomfort. The first step to mastering distraction is coping with discomfort.

[16:31] Let’s talk about step two: How can we make time for traction?

Start with your values and put time on your schedule for what matters to you. There are three life domains: in the center is you. Are you making time to take care of yourself? Next is relationships. Do you have time for the people who matter to you? Finally is work. Make time to do the focused work of thinking and strategizing as well as the reactive work of emails and meetings. Put time on your schedule as often as your schedule changes. For most people a week is the right interval. When you know what it is you want to do, you don’t succumb to pseudo-work.

You will still get distracted, but there are only three causes of distraction: an external trigger, like your colleague talking to you; an internal trigger, wanting to escape an uncomfortable feeling; and a planning problem, allotting the wrong amount of time or something unplanned coming up. When you know why you got distracted, you can prevent it in the future.

Finally, schedule sync with your boss. Show your boss your schedule and the things you couldn’t fit in and ask how you should reprioritize. Managing up to your boss by being transparent will change your life.

[24:05] What does the third step look like: How can we hack back external triggers?

First, turn off notifications on your phone and computer. More importantly, focus on the external triggers that are less obvious. Seemingly productive unnecessary email is a huge source of distraction. The book tells you exactly how to hack back email. Another source of distraction is the open-floorplan office. The book comes with a screen sign for your computer monitor that says, “I’m indistractable at the moment. Please come back later.” It’s a very simple, effective way to tell your colleagues that you need time for focused work.

[27:58] Tell us about the fourth step: How can we prevent distraction with pacts?

Pacts are pre-commitments with ourselves. Calling yourself indistractable helps you do what you want to do. Using technology while spending time with others is beginning to be seen as rude. By making pacts with ourselves to be indistractable, we can be the early adopters who focus on people rather than technology today.

Bonus Question: How can we be indistractable in relationships outside of work?

My relationships were suffering because I did not understand how to make time to live out my values and be fully present with the people I loved. I blamed technology, but that wasn’t the problem. The first step to being present was dealing with the discomfort I was trying to escape from. By being indistractable, I’m more productive than ever, fully present with my friends and family, and physically in the best shape of my life.

I’m not telling you how to spend your time. I am helping you spend your time the way you want to spend your time. If you want to work on a project seventy hours a week, and that fits with your values, do it. But if you are using work to escape family life, consider how you really want to spend your time. Master internal triggers and make time for traction so that you can enjoy your family without guilt. Hack back the external triggers that distract you from people. Make pacts with yourself to be fully present.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Dec 09 2019

35mins

Play

TEI 258: How product managers can work effectively with data scientists – with Felicia Anderson & Rich Mironov

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Be prepared for the intersection of data science and product management

Organizations are developing robust data science capabilities, adding the role of “data scientist” to their ranks. As the importance of data science increases in organizational strategy analysis and operations, it is also impacting product management. Product managers are being asked to work with data scientists. We are still at the forefront of this and figuring out how product management and data science intersect.

To explore the topic, we are joined by two past guests who have been working at this intersection. In episode 117 Felicia Anderson shared how she was building a product management council at Piney Bowes and in 055, Rich Mironov shared how product managers can navigate organizational challenges. For the past year, they have been helping product managers work with data scientists.

If this topic isn’t impacting your product work yet, it will in the future. This is information you need.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:

[2:19] What are some examples of how you use data science as product managers?

In commerce services, data science can predict where shipped parcels are and which are at risk of being delayed, and determine when volumes of parcels will arrive so the company receiving them can optimize staffing and other resources.

One trend I see is that instead of using data analytics to give ourselves internal insights that we then hard-code into our applications, we’re using AI to build data analytics into the products themselves, such as using natural language processing to spot trends in long-form text documents. Software can make recommendations to the end-consumer. The challenge is that this kind of data analytics is never perfect. You have to consider edge cases and problems that might occur if the software makes a bad recommendation or data is missing. Product managers need to think about the difference between type one and type two errors. If we tell somebody a thing’s going to happen and it doesn’t, what are the bad outcomes? If we tell somebody it’s not going to happen and it does, what are the bad outcomes? You want your errors to collect on the side with less damage.

[11:23] How do you bring data science and product management together?

Sometimes the business leads us into data science. In other cases, you build the data science teams and bring the product managers and business side onboard. You have to pair up the product management knowledge with the data science team because neither half can make it work alone.

[12:36]  Do you usually see data scientists in product management teams or more separate?

I’m mostly seeing them separated, but if a company is building data science products, like using machine learning, then data science is a core part of engineering. A data science team for internal insights tends to be a separate team that investigates problems brought to them and spots trends. Then they have to find the internal consumer who cares about what they found, which brings them back to the product managers who know what they need for their product. When we leave data scientists in their own separate department, what they learn is not very valuable because most of the company finds it totally obvious. On the other hand, product managers and others come up with crazy, fictional ideas about how to apply data and need data scientists to bring them down to earth.

[14:57] How can product management become excessively data-driven to the detriment of good product management processes?

Blindly following the data takes us to really uncomfortable places. Shortening phone calls and spending less time helping customers will save some money in the short term, but it’s a really bad idea. Always apply business logic. Ask what the edge cases are and take things to extremes to avoid walking in a really bad direction just because the data is leading there.

[16:40] You’ve put together several tips on how product managers can make better use of data science. Let’s talk through the first tip: Provide Much Deeper Context than Traditional Software Projects, Especially Use Cases and Business Goals.

Engineering teams tend to understand a lot about the application and who is using it. Data science teams come with a lot less context. For them, I may have to explain how our company makes money, the cost of errors in each direction, business goals and metrics, and success criteria for the business. I always bring real user validation and research by playing recordings or showing somebody using the application and struggling with the interfaces. Our engineering teams know all these things, but data scientists may find them surprising, fresh, and new.

[18:59] What can you tell us about the next tip: Remember That Data Science Projects are Uncertain and Our Judgment May Be Weak?

Often data is just not very predictive. Our intuition of the data’s ability to predict is much weaker in data science applications than it would be in traditionally built applications. You have to be cautious about setting expectations early. Prepare your stakeholders for the possibility of needing to recalibrate, get different data, and take a different approach. This is even more important in the data science world than on the traditional software side. If we promise to meet a delivery date when there’s a high chance something won’t work, we have much higher expectations to unwind than if we start with clear communication that much of what we expect won’t play out until we get our hands dirty with the data.

[22:42] Let’s talk about the next tip: Done Means Operationalized, Not Just Having Insights.

For the data science project to really add value, the whole organization needs to know how to use it, and everything needs to work to get that information where it needs to be. It’s not enough to have an academic insight. You have to work through the people, processes, and systems to deliver business value.

It’s important to consider how data will be presented. For example, if we want a retailer’s website to say when a package will arrive, we have to automate and maintain our model, re-engineering the front end of the application to present the data. If the data isn’t presented in a workable way to the end-user, it accomplishes nothing.

[24:30] We have one last tip: Describe How Accurate This Application Needs to Be, and Anticipate Handling “Wrong” Answers.

For example, we might automate review and approval of consumer mortgage applications. Any model will have some mistakes. We need a plan to investigate complaints that someone didn’t get a mortgage and a plan for reworking the system when we approve mortgages that are being defaulted too fast. We need to be able to verify the data and have human pathways so when somebody thinks we got the wrong answer, we can fix it.

Another example is a model that predicts which e-commerce transactions might be fraudulent. You want to stop those orders, but you don’t want too many false positives, so any orders that the model flags as suspicious are handed to a human team that decides whether they are truly suspicious. Human review of a portion of the results complements the data science.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Stay curious.” -Anonymous

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Dec 02 2019

41mins

Play

TEI 257: What it takes to create a successful food product – with Dave Hirschkop

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Learn from the food industry to spice up your product management

I have often discovered new insights about developing and managing products when talking with someone in a different industry than I normally work in. So, when I had the opportunity to talk with the creator of Dave’s Gourmet, a specialty foods company, I jumped at it. They make a wide range of products including Gourmet Pasta Sauce, Hot Sauce, Condiments and Spices.

Dave Hirschkop is the founder and creative force behind Dave’s Gourmet. He joined us to discuss how to go from idea to award-winning food product.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:50] How did you come up with the idea for Dave’s Insanity Sauce?

I opened a taqueria and starting making really hot sauces to mess with the drunk people who would come in, and I found that some people actually liked it. I made the sauces hotter and hotter and finally made the hottest sauce in the world.

[4:42] Where do you start when it comes to bringing a food product to market?

A lot of people start at home with what they like. There are two categories of food products. One is the better mousetrap, like a salsa that tastes better, perhaps based on a secret family recipe. The second is a solution to a problem such as a nutritional challenge. Once you have an idea, make sure that you can make it attractively and consistently, scale up the production level, and implement food safety. You also need to test whether others like your product enough to pay for it.

[7:36] If I come up with a wicked Mac and Cheese that I want to sell, what would I do next?

First, whip up a bunch of it and have a tasting party where a hundred strangers try it and give you feedback. You can also gauge how much people might be willing to pay for it. Next, consider production by looking at how mac and cheese is packaged. You might freeze yours and see if it still tastes good. Find out what would be involved in production by talking with a co-packer or an R&D consultant. Test any modifications you need to make for production. Selling your product at consumer fairs is a great way to make money and get feedback.

[13:34] What should you consider when using a co-packer?

Your product will always have some differences when you switch to a co-packer or from one co-packer to another. You will have to make trade-offs between cost and logistics like the availability of your ingredients. Know what your consumer likes about your product, and know what your goal for your business is. If you maintain the purity of your product, you may sacrifice some commercial success. And that’s okay–you can make good money in a niche.

[16:36] How vulnerable is the food industry to supplier issues?

It’s tough. One of our first products was a pasta sauce made with yellow tomatoes from only one supplier. When the supplier went bankrupt, we were out of business. A big company can create an entire supply chain, but a small company has to rely on bigger companies. Small companies need some luck to run into the right supplier. You may have to convince co-packers to make something special for you. If you want to innovate, you have to push.

[19:53] How can food contests help you?

Winning contests validates your product and gives you free marketing. The online digital space is another great way to test a product visually and conceptually.

[21:50] Why is it important to know your customers?

The customers of food companies vary alot. Your customers depend on your packaging, pricing, and marketing. Be scrappy. Ask yourself, where are my consumers? Don’t get too comfortable with your product. Be ready to change.

[24:31] What was the tipping point that put Insanity Sauce on the map?

We’re an odd company because Insanity Sauce was an instant hit. We were cheeky but it was fitting. I wore a straight jacket to trade shows and our booth looked like an insane asylum. It took off fast, but because it takes customers so long to use a jar of hot sauce, we knew we weren’t going to get very large. So we shifted by adding unique pasta sauces. I thought, why does pasta sauce have to be red? Why not use heirloom tomatoes or butternut squash? We are better known for hot sauce, but we sell more pasta sauce. For me, a worthwhile product has to be something new that will help people–something special that moves the market forward.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

“There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

“There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.”

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Nov 25 2019

34mins

Play

TEI 256: The right way to manage change that innovation brings – with Barbara Trautlein, PhD

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With Change Intelligence, product managers can influence more powerfully.

Everyday innovators see innovation opportunities frequently — making products better, improving processes, creating a new product, and solving problems. The word innovation can be phrased as “in-a-new-way.” It is a good reminder that we are making something new that did not previously exist.

That means making changes, and most groups and organizations struggle with change. For innovators, that’s a tension — we are about making change while the organizations we work in are largely about resisting change.

To help us understand how to help people make changes with us, I invited Dr. Barbara Trautlein to join us again. She is an Organizational Psychologist who has helped many leaders and organizations get better results by navigating change. She is also the creator of the Change Intelligence, or CQ, system, which she teaches others and wrote about in her best-selling book Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:

[3:52] Why is it hard for organizations to change?

Just like our immune systems protect us from harmful invaders, “antibodies” in organizations protect us from external threats. An organization wants to remain stable in a turbulent environment that’s filled with external threats. However, sometimes that goes too far and we begin to attack good ideas. It limits our ability to absorb new ways of thinking. We need to find a way for stasis and adaptability to co-exist to create meaningful change. The Chinese symbol for change represents both crisis and opportunity, and I think that’s how organizations view change. People like product managers see an opportunity, while executives tend to see problems and things that could be problematic.

[7:28] What does neuroscience say about change?

When neuroscientists put electrodes on people’s brains, they see that change makes the same neurons fire as when we feel physical pain. Change is literally painful for our brains, and that’s where some of the immunity comes from. Knowing this can empower us as change leaders by showing us that resistance to change is a normal, natural response.

[14:52] How does John Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model work?

The eight steps are:

  1. create an urgency for change
  2. form a powerful coalition
  3. create a vision for change
  4. communicate the vision
  5. remove obstacles
  6. create short-term wins
  7. build on the change
  8. anchor the changes in corporate culture.

Kotter later wrote the book Accelerate about his realization that we now live in a time of constant change, and managing change must be more iterative. With all these methods for managing change, 70% of organizational changes still fail. One reason is a focus on change management and project management, which are necessary but not sufficient. They are all about a step-wise model–the idea that if we carry out all the steps, we will have effective change. But because change is so turbulent, we need not just change management but change leadership. We are all leaders, so we need to build change leadership capability in ourselves, our teams, and our organizations.

[19:47] How can personal leadership be used?

Within your organization, it is important to know both the organizational chart–which officially delineates authority–and the organizational x-ray–where decisions are really made. Research by French and Raven discussed power bases. We have organizational power bases in our formal roles–authority, reward, and discipline. We also have personal power bases–expertise, information, and goodwill. These sources of power can all benefit us, but over-relying on organizational power results in compliance while more heavily wielding personal power results in commitment.

[24:43] Since change management is necessary but not sufficient, what pieces need to be put around it to make it sufficient?

The tools and spreadsheets of change management are important to lay out an effective plan for the change, but the missing ingredient is change leadership. The brain perceives change as a threat and invokes a fight-flight-freeze response. Oxygen is sucked away from our brain, so change literally makes us dumber. When we feel threatened as change leaders, we try to influence people with our dominant responses that we have used in the past. We lead with our strengths–our head, hands, or heart–but because everyone has different needs, one style of leadership doesn’t convince everyone. Resistance can give us information to help us adapt our style of leadership. Behind every complaint is a request. Change intelligence is the ability to adapt to resistance. Building CQ is like putting on your oxygen mask–when facing resistance, you have tools other than your dominant response. The most effective change leadership tool is asking powerful questions to get information about others’ perspectives to design an influence strategy.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ is not necessarily true. ‘If you can dream it AND make others dream it, you can do it.’” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Evolve book

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Nov 18 2019

39mins

Play

TEI 255: The good and bad of being a product manager as an entrepreneur vs intrapreneur – with Montie Roland

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How to find your passion in any product management work environment.

Our guest for this episode is Montie Roland. Montie used my online training course to prepare for, and pass, the New Product Development Professional exam, earning him the NPDP certification from PDMA, which is the oldest and most established professional group for product managers. After passing, he contacted me to discuss providing training to product managers in his company. This is a topic I always enjoy because I love helping organizations improve their product management capability and helping product managers further their skills and how they work with each other and the product team.

As I talked with Montie, I also learned about his background, became fascinated by his experiences, and knew he had to join us here to share his stories and knowledge.

Montie has pursued an entrepreneur path, building his own company, and an intrapreneur path working in an established company. He is a mechanical engineer with a ton of design experience.

We talked about his experiences, including the pros and cons of working for yourself vs working for an organization.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:

[3:19] What is your current role as an intrapreneur?

I’m on the new product development team at Pentair. If you’ve ever been in a swimming pool, the water probably went through one of our products. I get to do a lot of front-end work in industrial design and the connection between customer and product. The strongest part of my skillset is bridging that gap, and I have the chance to do it on a lot of different projects in a large organization.

[5:26] What kind of products did you create as an entrepreneur?

I ran Montie Design for about a decade. We started in B2B products and eventually moved into B2C. We made rack-mount servers and packaging electronics. Clients would come to us because they were trying to get around politics in their company or were behind schedule on a project. We developed products that they could transition into manufacturing. On the B2C side, we made in-home air filters that were highly stylized. We tried to make as much as we could locally so that there was a community feeling to it. We wanted people to look at our products and say that’s the way they would have made it themselves.

[13:02] What are the advantages of working on your own?

I enjoyed the sense of self-determination. You don’t have someone looking over your shoulder like you do in a big corporation. You can explore directions that you might not be able to otherwise. People who work in product development have an inherent sense of adventure, which tends to be more constrained in a corporate environment.

[14:40] What are the disadvantages of being an entrepreneur?

It requires a lot of work. If you have a spouse or family, you need to have buy-in for your entrepreneurial endeavor at home. You also need to have the funding you need and scale your operation based on the funding you have. I had a great time working on my own, but went back to the corporate world because I needed a lifestyle change. I scaled my business back as a result and now do Montie Gear on the side.

[20:45] What are the advantages of working for an organization?

I’m part of a large, multi-disciplinary team that has a lot of depth. There are times when you might have to switch projects and hand off what you’re working on to another engineer who is a better fit. Pentair fosters the sense of trust necessary to make those transitions happen. It’s also much closer to a 40-hour work week and I don’t have to worry about everything. I have a lot of people around me who are experienced at product development, which pushes me to keep my skills sharp. My colleagues and I challenge each other, which creates a very collaborative environment. I get to focus my time designing things and don’t need to worry about all the other aspects of running a business.

[25:55] What are the disadvantages of working for an organization?

There’s a lot of skepticism from companies about hiring entrepreneurs because they think you’ll get tired of the corporate environment and be out the door to do your own thing in six months. Look for companies that see your entrepreneurial background as a benefit because you can bring different skills to the table. It’s also difficult for HR to translate entrepreneurial skills into existing roles and job levels. You need to be flexible about starting at a lower rung and working your way up over time. Another disadvantage is that you’re not responsible for every decision; the scope is much smaller and you need to be okay letting go of some responsibility. There’s also a culture shift because every company’s culture is different.

[32:58] Why did you pursue the PDMA NPDP certification?

It’s easy to back off on training and certifications when you’re an entrepreneur because you’re so caught up in the day to day of running the business. In a corporate environment, you have time and money for professional development. The company wants you to grow and that makes it really easy do things like certifications.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” – James Keller

Thanks!

Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Nov 11 2019

41mins

Play

TEI 254: The right way to use web-ethnography to learn about customers – with Bill McDowell

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With not much more than a web meeting, product managers can put web-ethnography into action. You have a lot of tools to help you learn about yours customers, such as customer visits, interviews, and surveys. One of my favorites is ethnography. I find some of the best insights, insights that competitors may have missed, come […]

Nov 04 2019

37mins

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TEI 253: How product managers can influence quickly – with Bridget McMullan

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Understand motivation, customize communication, and build trust to be an effective product manager. During each podcast episode, I always share that this podcast is… “where product leaders and managers make their move to product masters, learning practical knowledge that leads to more influence and confidence so you’ll create products customers love.” That’s an important relationship: […]

Oct 28 2019

32mins

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TEI 252: Data does not speak for itself; It needs a story – with Nancy Duarte

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How product managers make better use of data to tell a story and gain support. I bet you use data to support your suggestions. But guess what–you are probably not using data well. By itself, data does not communicate what we want others to do. Instead, it needs to be wrapped in a story — […]

Oct 21 2019

29mins

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TEI 251: Use Airbnb’s customer experience journey to create an outstanding experience for your products – with Joseph Michelli, PhD

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Product managers can build trust and provide “service with heart” Dr. Joseph Michelli joined us a couple years ago in episode 147 to tell us how to create a great customer experience. This is his area of expertise and he has helped many organizations make better customer experiences. He is known by his many books […]

Oct 14 2019

34mins

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TEI 250: High velocity innovation – with Katherine Radeka

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Combine learning and doing to create better products more quickly Every company is wanting faster innovation, yet they often have systems that actually slow and limit innovation.  The framework and systems needed are a topic of a new book written by our guest, Katherine Radeka, and titled High Velocity Innovation: How to Get Your Best […]

Oct 07 2019

32mins

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TEI 249: Which is the most powerful of the 6 principles of influence – with Matt Barney, PhD

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Successful product managers wield influence and this is how they get it. Influence and persuasion is a core competency of successful product managers. It is also something that most product managers want more of — influence. You need it to get others to support your ideas and plans for improving products and making great new […]

Sep 30 2019

33mins

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TEI 248: Do these things to make your presentations more effective – with Nils Davis

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How product managers can combine influence and storytelling to achieve success. The author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, Nils Davis, joins us to discuss his tips for better presentations. He knows a lot about product management and communication, leveraging his experience as a tech writer before becoming a product manager. I expect you’ll enjoy […]

Sep 23 2019

37mins

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TEI 247: How to manage your career to get the promotion you deserve – with Farnoosh Brock

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Communicate your value as a product manager clearly and effectively to your organization’s decision-makers What was your last performance evaluation discussion like? Did you get the raise you wanted? What about a promotion negotiation? I’ve messed that up more times than I want to admit. I expected my work to speak for itself. I wasn’t […]

Sep 16 2019

37mins

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TEI 246: Spur your creativity with these ideation tools – with Chad McAllister, PhD

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How product managers generate new ideas and solve problems in a meaningful, productive way. If your go-to tool for generating ideas with a group is traditional brainstorming, it is time to learn some new tools. Ideation tools are specifically for generating new ideas, such as ways to create additional value for customers, how a problem […]

Sep 09 2019

34mins

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TEI 245: How the best product managers make better use of their time – with John Cutler

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Product managers can say “no” with grace so they focus on making progress. This interview is about making better use of our time as product managers and it is with John Cutler, Product Evangelist at Amplitude. For the sake of time, let’s get right to the interview. Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers […]

Sep 02 2019

42mins

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iTunes Ratings

37 Ratings
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Great podcast

By sgbowden - Jul 07 2017
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Great information for innovation practitioners.

Valuable PM lessons !

By Gj83711 - Oct 21 2016
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This is one of the best podcasts on Product Management. Thank you for doing this Chad!