All posts by Lior Zadicareo

User Experience and the Science of Product Management

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Product Managers need to be good at understanding the value the product generates to the customer.

Product value to the customer should grow over time.

This is a responsibility. One of the key areas to grow value is the User Experience.

There are many aspects to User Experience, there is the Exploration experience, the Commitment experience (when the customer buys), the Introduction experience and the User Experience. Over the last few years, inspired by the Mobile revolution User Experience becomes a major issue for technology product companies.

Some Product Managers are using the fact that UX experts exist in the company to leave this issue outside their domain. This is a mistake!

Product Managers should do just that, Manage and this includes the user experience. Even if delegated, UX is something that should be managed.

Some Product Managers, are taking a step back when it comes to User Experience, it seems to them that it is “one of those things”, “it is about intuition” and NOT about rationally calculating what needs to be done. It is NOT an algorithm that needs to be applied. “It is an art” they say, it is not science.

STOP THE TRAIN – YOU ARE GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!

Creating products is a science, NOT an art! It is NOT about intuitions and making intuitive decision, (although intuition may play a role, it should not run the process). So when you hear this about User Experience and you think “well, let those UX experts manage the User Experience”, think again, User Experience is too important to be left to the UX experts, it is strategic.
The bottom line is that Product Managers need to understand and manage UX, just like they manage any other meaningful aspect of the product.

For this growing need, StarVision have generated an innovative User Experience workshop especially for Product Managers. For more details click here.

Fly Me to the Moon!

SpaceIL1

Sometimes, Product Management is about making your dreams come true. As a Product Management expert, I am always searching for examples of places where product Management is about having a vision and establishing a mission. What we, at StarVision, refer to as Strategic Product Management.
A couple of weeks ago, I found such a place at (SpaceIL).

Eran Privman, the CEO of SpaceIL, reminded me of the old Bazooka Joe’s, Futures section, where a script read, “By the time you are 21, you will reach the moon”. Well, Eran is not 21, and he is not flying to the moon, but he is making a dream come true. Eran is in charge of an ambitious project that is going to put an Israeli Spaceship on the moon.

SpaceIL is an Israeli organization that is on a mission! Safely landing an Israeli Spaceship on the moon. A few facts that most of us are not aware of is that only three countries have accomplished such a mission, The US, The USSR and China. Israel is going to be the fourth!
The idea was born with three technology enthusiasts, Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Weintroub, who had heard about the Google and Xprize competition and decided that they have to be in this race.

If you want to hear more and you are in the Tel Aviv, or can be there by Thursday, January 21, join us at this event: StarVision Technology and Product Management Meetup.

Mind the Gap

Sometimes it is all about the distance. Proxemics – You can tell how close people are by the distance between them when they talk.

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Mind the Gap – You need to watch the distance between the train door and the station platform.

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In Hi-Tech Product Management you need to be careful about the distance between you and your customer.  This is a key issue for many companies.  As a Product Manager you need to understand the customers and the value you bring to them.  That is very difficult to do when you keep your distance.

This is a huge issue for young companies and startups (and their Product Managers) struggling to establish a business model.  Get too close (engage directly with your customers) and you find out your resources are stretched and are holding you back.  Get too far (use various self-serve options or distribution channels) and you will not understand your customer.

The answer is to do keep just the right distance:

* Engage directly with a few, wisely selected, customers that will be a representative sample of your target market.

* Use Self-Serve sales in a way that you are still engaged and build a process where you can actually learn about your customers

* Use traditional distribution channels carefully – make sure they do not extend  the distance unnecessarily

This is important especially early on when you are shaping your product strategy and define your business model.

Notes on Pricing

This is what we need to focus on – our customer’s Demand – and guess what is missing from the graph below

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Here are my thoughts on the issue today:

Goal:

 

The goal of this series of blogs is to get you think out of the box about pricing and to get away from cost based pricing.

My point about traditional economic pricing theory is that, unlike classic supply and demand theory, in hi-tech we do see a demand curve, however there is no supply curve and we should actually aim to be on as many points on the demand curve as possible.

This discussion is not designed to be a theoretical academic discussion about pricing but to be a practical way for you as Product Managers to think about Pricing.

 

Assumptions:

  • Companies want to maximize their profit and in order to do that they need to optimize the price point on the demand curve.
  • A company’s goal is to be on the demand curve for every single point on the curve above a certain price point.
  • Hi-tech companies are not (in most cases) producing commodity Products.

 

Few Notes on Pricing:

Hi-tech companies all too often take the easy way out of the Pricing Dilemma by resorting to cost base pricing.  That would not be so bad except in most cases they actually underprice their product!

If a company does not understand the market then it is unlikely to understand the Demand curve.  Marketing Principle Number 1 – know a day in a life of your customer.

In almost every market there are companies who can and are willing to pay more for your product than others; however they will not be paying more if they can pay less for the same product and the same quality.

Your challenge as a Product Manager is to optimize your product portfolio so to offer to each customer the maximum value for their needs.

Value for the customer is perceived value in the eyes of the customer not in your eyes.  Marketing Principle Number 2–perception is greater than the truth .

Product Management, Dolphins and Awareness

Business and technology, the one function that needs to know the customers and the value we bring to them.

You are a Product Manager in a technology organization.  Your life is exciting, dynamic and ever-changing.  Usually you are busy moving from one task to another.

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You are always focused, always busy. However, by constantly focusing on specific tasks you may actually lose one of your key roles as a Product Manager –watching the market!

This is about Product Management excellence.  One position in the company that needs to look at the business andtechnology, the one function that needs to know the customers and the value we bring to them

Product Manager – Watch the Market!

You are a Product Manager in a technology organization.  Your life is exciting, dynamic and ever-changing.  Usually you are busy moving from one task to another.  You are always focused, always busy. However, by constantly focusing on specific tasks you may actually lose one of your key roles as a Product Manager – watching the market!

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Dolphins

Product Managers should be like Dolphins* in order to make real progress you need to constantly go in and out of the water – watch this.  When you are in the water you focus on delivering user stories and writing MRDs or getting on sales calls and answering RFPs, but it is a MUST for you to also spend time outside of the water where your vision is wider and you see things from a different perspective.  Take a look at the market, new technologies, new industries and new ways for your customers to conduct business – All this will affect you, and if you stay underwater for too long you may miss your market!

* The original Product Manager Dolphin analogy was made by Adi Pundak-Mintz, a VC investor and formerly a Product Manager.

Awareness

Take a look at this before you continue reading!

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This little demonstration is based on an experiment by Christopher Chabris of Harvard University and Daniel Simons of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fact:  People focused on a specific task will not notice other obvious market trends.  As one of the key responsibilities of the Product Manager is to be in touch with the market it is imperative that Product Managers keep time for listening to the market activities so they will notice the moonwalking bear (or the invisible gorilla as in the original experiment – seewww.invisiblegorilla.com ).

Thinking Fast and Slow – Understanding Product Management

Product Management Dilemma:

Are product decisions intuitive or should product decisions be based on a structured rational process?  Is Product Management an art or a science?  This book is probably the strongest supporter for the claim that Product Management is a Science and the decisions Product Managers make (hard as they may be) should be based on rational analysis and not on intuition.

The WYSIATI Trap – What You See Is All There Is:

Product Manager focuses on information about a problem, a pain that the specific customer is experiencing, RFP requirements … and stays in the narrow frame of the context the problem.

We take a customer requirements without asking ourselves – is there more?  Are other customers facing similar problems?  Will this problem be as painful in the future?

If we see Product Management as a science we should always ask ourselves… Do I have all the information?  Should I be searching for more dimensions of this problem/issue/feature/requirement?

Points on Strategy

Practical Product Strategy should highlight the following steps

So what is Practical Product Strategy?

Strategy is a big word, huge… sometimes a little intimidating.

Think about it, what is your strategy?  Do you know what it means?

I’d like to think of strategy from a practical perspective – Practical Strategy!  Practical strategy is the guideline for the  Product Manager.

Strategy is the grand plan…  The Master Plan … the way you achieve your ultimate goals. To do that you have to know what is your ultimate goal – that is also part of the strategy.

If your product is a journey, the strategy the high level plan of where you want to go and how you want to get there.

So let’s break it down – I would like to think of strategy in terms of 9 items that define strategy.

From a practical perspective – we have 9 steps that build us into producing the Business Plan!

Please see the key items to consider below.

Item Questions Action (Y/N)
1.1 Definition Product Definition
1.2 Value Proposition Unique (hopefully) Value Proposition
1.3 Mission and Vision Our Vision and Product Mission
1.4 Positioning Market Dimension that Determine Product Positioning

Product Values within these Dimensions

1.5 Pricing Determining the right price
1.6 Business Model Product Business Model – The way we engage with customers to monetize value
1.7 Competitive Analysis Industry Competitive level (Porter Model)

Specific  Competitors

1.8 Segmentation Market Dimension

Focus on these dimensions

1.9 Business Case Expected Revenues and Costs Over Time

Long term and Short term