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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Paradigm Shift

Product is a tool used to address a market opportunity. Idea of a product is conceived from the opportunity, and it (product) takes shape as it grows and as needs evolve. Keeping track of evolving needs and growing product is a function of a product manager. Product Manager makes sure that they keep track of the evolving market by uninterrupted communication with stake holders, customers, engineering and market. These needs are consolidated, filtered and refined to define product road-map and to draft requirements of every product release.

It is critical that a product manager understands the difference between managing product verses managing opportunity. A product manager should always look at product from the lenses of the opportunity.  How well does the product fit into the opportunity? , what are the improvements required? , Is my product aging and should I start looking at alternates? Which features would make product a better fit for the opportunity? Looking through the lenses of the opportunity, if a product manager sees a clear and sharp picture of the product then this justifies the very existence of the product.

Taking product on the palm and running all over the globe to see what would be a good usage of it may turn out like searching for a needle in haystack. Dr. Spencer’s, a genius in his work invented non-sticking adhesive in 1968. He worked hard to convince management that a adhesive that don’t stick can be sold and he did it for years, like running marathon, for over 8 years. In 1977 management at 3M approved the product idea and thus born a product that is used in almost every cubicle in the work place, ‘Post-it’ notes. Today no one doubts the usage of post-it notes, they are part of our daily life at office and for few at home as well. My learning from Dr. Spencer's story is that, finding a problem for your product is going to be tough, but it surely is going to be lot easier to develop a product for an opportunity.

Bottom line of the post, identify opportunity before you go on to look at product or solution. Define purpose of the product. Define how you will make money from the product and define that how the product can be scaled up to address larger opportunities. Probably after this define what product or solution to develop. Success then becomes inevitable and that's when you move up the value chain from just a product manager to someone who manages opportunity, I call them success managers.


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