291 episodes

The Everyday Innovator is a weekly podcast dedicated to your success as a product manager and innovator. Join me, Chad McAllister, for interviews with product professionals, discussing their successes, failures, and lessons-learned to help you excel in your career and create products your customers will love. Every organization must have products that provide value to their customers. People like you who know how to create that value are the ones with real influence. The topics are relevant to product and innovation management, and include: creating a culture of innovation, managing product development, validating the viability of product concepts, conducting market research, selecting a product innovation methodology, generating product ideas, working well with teams and cross-functionally, and much more.

The Everyday Innovator Podcast for Product Managers Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters

    • Management

The Everyday Innovator is a weekly podcast dedicated to your success as a product manager and innovator. Join me, Chad McAllister, for interviews with product professionals, discussing their successes, failures, and lessons-learned to help you excel in your career and create products your customers will love. Every organization must have products that provide value to their customers. People like you who know how to create that value are the ones with real influence. The topics are relevant to product and innovation management, and include: creating a culture of innovation, managing product development, validating the viability of product concepts, conducting market research, selecting a product innovation methodology, generating product ideas, working well with teams and cross-functionally, and much more.

    TEI 310: Product managers emerge stronger through adversity – with Joseph Michelli, PhD

    TEI 310: Product managers emerge stronger through adversity – with Joseph Michelli, PhD

    Lessons on innovation and product management from the pandemic

    Dr. Joseph Michelli is a returning guest, having previously brought us insights for creating incredible customer experiences with products and services in episodes 147 and 251.

    Much has changed in 2020. It is not the year we expected. The adversity has created a need for resilience. Some product managers have responded to the challenge, making pivots and finding value where it had not previously existed. Many organizational leaders have learned on the fly how to navigate the challenges. We can learn from the leaders who have been successful and that is what Joseph will help us with. He talked with over 140 global business leaders, includes leaders at Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Feeding America, United Way, Verizon, Southwest Airlines, and many more. He compiled the timely lessons-learned in a new book, Stronger Through Adversity.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:47] Tell us about the product journey of your newest book, Stronger Through Adversity.

    In the beginning of 2020, I was scheduled to write a book about the success of the chocolate company Godiva, but COVID put that project on pause. Meanwhile, I was working with other clients on positioning their products for survival through the pandemic, and I asked leaders, “How are you even trying to approach this?” I realized a lot of people are struggling and doing their best, and maybe we can learn something from them. I decided to create a new book about how leaders are coping with adversity. We needed the book to come out in 2020 to be relevant, so I interviewed 140 leaders and expedited my process to write in six weeks what I would normally write in six months.

    [8:58] What have you learned about managing uncertainty?

    A lot of C-suite leaders weren’t used to dealing with uncertainty. For example, Marriott was trying to figure out how to deal with an environment in which no one was staying in hotels. Microsoft Teams had to figure out how to scale and service their product when its application was far greater than they had anticipated. Leaders tried to grab on to something they could rely on. Sometimes that was consumer data, which is part of the iterative design process product managers are already familiar with, but now they had to do it on warp speed. They were agile beyond agile, and for a lot of brands that’s just not part of their DNA.

    These leaders had to follow the terrain. They had a roadmap they were used to following, but suddenly their roadmap and the terrain diverged. The changing environment made it so that they could no longer act on the timelines that the roadmap specified. When the roadmap and terrain diverge, you must watch the terrain vigilantly. We saw companies doing more sampling of teammates and consumers. They were very focused on the data in front of them and responded to the environment rather than thinking about the roadmap.

    [14:53] What have you learned about rapid innovation?

    Many organizations became myopic, just trying to hold on and not looking for opportunities. A few organizations invested in the opportunities they saw in adversity.

    In the book, I talk about the leadership style in a wild horse herd, which has an alpha mare leading in the front, an alpha sire in the back, and some horses within the herd that shape its behavior. Sometimes leaders have to be out front; they have to be visionaries, lay out the strategy, and go beyond the boundaries. Other leaders stay in the back, encouraging and moving the pace of the pack; they don’t lead their team through the struggle, but they know their team can innovate solutions. Often the leaders in the middle of the herd make it happen; they roll up their sleeves and become part of the action teams, thinking through problems together.

    [18:54] What’s an example of a personal transformation of

    • 29 min
    TEI 309: Product management strategy – with Allan Anderson, PhD

    TEI 309: Product management strategy – with Allan Anderson, PhD

    The importance of an organizational game plan for product managers

    I started a new series to explore the Product Development and Management Body of Knowledge. While it has since been updated many times, this is the body of knowledge I discovered in 2007 that led to many ah-ha moments for me as a product manager. It gave me a framework for integrating what a product manager does, and I have since taught it to many other product managers. 

    Every-other-week we are exploring one of the 7 knowledge areas. Today we are discussing strategy. This is the foundation for product managers as organizational strategy impacts product strategy. By aligning the two, we create more value for the organization and accelerate our careers in the process. 

    Our guest is Dr. Allan Anderson, past chairman of PDMA and the person who led the development of the first and second editions of the Body of Knowledge. He has had a long career in product management, primarily in food products, and is professor emeritus at Massey University New Zealand. He also joined us two weeks ago, providing an overview of the entire Body of Knowledge. Today, we focus on strategy.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:28] What is strategy?



    * Strategy is an organization’s game plan for achieving its long term objectives in light of its industry position, opportunities, and resources.

    * Strategy defines and communicates an organization’s unique position and says how organizational resources, skills, and competencies should be combined to achieve competitive advantage.

    * Strategy positions the company in a way that it can use its resources and competitive advantage to achieve its specific goals as defined by the company.



    [14:16] What is organizational identity?

    Organizational identity is a statement of what the organization stands for and why it exists. It’s important to communicate this identity to the whole company. Organizational identity is a key element in creating the environment and underpinning, long-term culture of a company. You must develop organizational identity from a personal perspective within your company. Don’t just copy a vision statement from someone else; make it real for your company and the people involved in your company.

    [19:33] What is innovation strategy?

    Innovation strategy is embedded in overall business strategy. Innovation strategy is achieving the goals of the company using your resources to achieve competitive advantage, focused around product innovation.

    [20:46] What are some innovation strategy frameworks? 



    Porter framework

    Miles & Snow

    Landscape model 

    Business canvas



    None of these frameworks does the job on its own, so you can use them in combination. Innovation strategy provides the basis for selecting the right portfolio.

    [24:37] What is Open Innovation, and why do you include it in the Strategy section of the Body of Knowledge (BoK)?

    The definition from the book—Open Innovation is the strategy adopted by an organization whereby it actively seeks knowledge from external sources through alliances, partnerships, and contractual arrangements to complement and enhance its internal capability in pursuit of improved innovation outcomes. In other words, seeking knowledge outside the walls of the organization to meet the business goals. In my opinion, Open Innovation is a strategy because it’s something an organization employs to achieve its goals.

    [27:16] What is Sustainability, and how is it addressed in the Strategy section?

    Sustainability means doing innovation that is profitable and environmentally responsible and takes care of employees and the community. The first edition of the BoK covered Sustainability under lifecycle management. In the second edition, we decided to distribute Sustainability topics across the book.

    • 37 min
    TEI 308: How innovators lead transformation – with Tendayi Viki, PhD

    TEI 308: How innovators lead transformation – with Tendayi Viki, PhD

    Tips on driving innovation within organizations for product managers and leaders

    Our guest says that organizations need pirates. These are the people who make entrepreneurship a legitimate part of the business. They are the innovators and transformers. Pirates design value propositions and business models that scale. 

    Our guest’s name is Dr. Tendayi Viki, Associate Partner at Strategyzer, helping companies innovate for the future while managing their core business. He has written three books, and his latest book is Pirates In The Navy: How Innovators Drive Transformation.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [1:46] Tell us about the title of your book, Pirates in the Navy.

    Steve Jobs said it’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy. The idea was that large companies are slower than startups, and he compared the team that built the Macintosh computer to pirates because they were working on a breakthrough technology. However, today, innovation has become really important in large organizations. It’s no longer better to be a pirate than to join the navy. Instead, it’s time for organizations to think about how they can create pirates in the navy.

    [3:01] Who are the pirates?

    If pirates get found, they walk the plank, so you don’t want to be a pirate like Steve Jobs, who was antagonistic to his own company and eventually had to leave Apple. Instead, make innovation a legitimate part of your company. Bring in aspects of entrepreneurs like innovation, confidence, testing assumptions, focusing on the market, and making sure you generate revenue, but don’t bring in aspects like ego, brashness, vanity, or overconfidence. Good pirates are a mixture of great innovator and great political acumen.

    Another analogy is privateers. Privateers were pirates who were paid by a country to complete a task. Many of them became explorers. You want to be a privateer or an explorer because someone sent you and is invested in your success.

    [ 8:18] Your book discusses innovation labs. What’s an example of a successful innovation lab?

    In innovation, we care about combining great ideas with sustainably profitable, scalable business models that create value. In an innovation lab, you need to be engaged in innovation, not innovation theater that looks like innovation but isn’t really creating value.

    One of my favorite examples of a successful innovation lab is at Intuit. Their lab is connected to their global organization, allowing people to be privateers within their company. Their program Design for Delight provides corporate coaches and allows employees to spend 15-20% of their time in the lab working on ideas. Intuit has been successful with their innovations because they’ve been focused on creating value.

    [13:49] What do we need to do to be more innovative?

    We need authenticity. The biggest challenge we have with innovation is that there are a lot of myths and behaviors that aren’t really productive. People blame their organizations, but that’s only 50% of why innovation doesn’t succeed. The other 50% is that innovators are much more interested in looking innovative rather than working on things that create value.

    [15:41] What should we do to be good pirates?

    First, care about creating real value. Think about the value you’re creating for customers, the value proposition, and the business model you’re going to use to take that value proposition to scale.

    There’s no chance an innovator can ever work on a product and launch it without collaborating with other key functions in the business. The question is, As an innovator, what agreements can you make as you’re working on your project that will allow you to succeed in the future? Many innovation teams try to avoid communicating with other teams as much as possible until they feel they’r...

    • 37 min
    TEI 307: Introduction to the PDMA Body of Knowledge for product managers and innovators – with Allan Anderson, PhD

    TEI 307: Introduction to the PDMA Body of Knowledge for product managers and innovators – with Allan Anderson, PhD

    Discover the smorgasbord of tools for product managers and innovators

    This is a little longer introduction than normal and there is a good reason for it, so bear with me for a moment.

    In 2007 I sat in a small conference room with 12 other people. We were there to prepare for the New Product Development Professional certification from PDMA, the Product Development and Management Association. I wanted to learn what PDMA, the longest running professional association for product managers and innovators, said about product management. Studying for the NPDP certification was my way to accomplish this.

    Seeing how they organized the many aspects of product management and made connections between them was a huge ah-ha moment for me. It connected the work I had been doing for many years and filled in holes in my knowledge and experience. I saw my work more clearly and even more holistically.

    Needless to say, it had a huge impact on me. I found it so helpful, that after earning the NPDP certification, I created a virtual training program to help others learn the body of knowledge as well and earn the certification. Coupled with a PhD in Innovation, that is what got me started teaching product and innovation management.

    PDMA’s body of knowledge is updated every three years now. It reflects relevant practices, tools, processes, and concepts that the best organizations use based on the most credible research and the deep knowledge of expert practitioners.

    It has only been in the last few years that we’ve had the body of knowledge represented in a single book. Previously, the Body of Knowledge was expressed as a collection of many books and numerous articles. Now, the key elements of the knowledge are published in Product Development and Management Body of Knowledge: A Guidebook for Training and Certification. The second edition was published this summer, and I had the pleasure of reviewing it and providing editorial feedback; previously, I helped write portions of the first edition.

    This is the start of an 8-part series to explore the Body of Knowledge. I’m publishing the series every-other week, with interviews on other topics in between. Each part of the series is with one of the 7 authors who contributed to the second edition.

    Today we are joined by Dr. Allan Anderson, past chairman of PDMA and the person who led the development of the first and second editions of the Body of Knowledge. He has had a long career in product management, primarily in food products, and is professor emeritus at Massey University New Zealand.

    I hope you enjoy exploring the PDMA Body of Knowledge and find it as helpful to your career growth as I did.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [4:07] Chad’s story of his lightbulb moment with PDMA.

    While I was earning my PhD in innovation and working as a software project manager, I needed help with product management, and I stumbled across PDMA, the Product Development and Management Association. PDMA is a non-profit that has curated the body of knowledge for product managers and innovators since 1976. PDMA gave me a network of others doing product management and allowed me to gain insights from people across industries. I studied for the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification, and that was such a lightbulb moment for me that I now train others to earn the certification. At that time, the body of knowledge was a collection of books and articles, but now, thanks to Allan’s efforts, it has been codified into a book, allowing people to get their hands around the material much more easily.

    [7:05] Alan’s story of his involvement with PDMA.

    I’ve been in product management my entire career, in many roles, but I didn’t even know much about PDMA until around 2007. I got involved when a colleague and I set up a PDMA chapter here in New Zealand.

    • 35 min
    TEI 306: Accomplish twice as much in half the time – with Steve Glaveski

    TEI 306: Accomplish twice as much in half the time – with Steve Glaveski

    Simple steps product managers can take to become Time Rich

    Would you like to get more done? Product managers are pulled in many directions, and if you are like others, you struggle to get the most important things done, let along everything you are asked to do. 

    Our guest knows a lot about this. He was an intrapreneur in large organizations. He got tired of being “busy” all day and having little to show for it. When he started his own company, he needed to learn how to actually work, and what he learned was how to get twice as much done in half the time. That is something I want, and I bet you do, too. 

    He is still involved in innovation, as he co-founded Collective Campus, a corporate innovation accelerator. His name is Steve Glaveski and we discuss his system for getting more accomplished in less time. He also has written about the system in his recent book, Time Rich. 

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:17] How did you create your system to get twice as much done in half the time?

    When I worked for large corporations, I and my coworkers had little incentive for greater efficiency, but when I started my own company, I became intentional about creating an organization where people walk away from their work fulfilled. I found that I was fulfilled on days when I got high-value work done. We ran an experiment to try to double our output or at least keep it consistent while having only a six-hour work day. The time it takes to complete a task expands or contracts in proportion to the time we are given to do it. Having a six-hour work day forces us to focus on high-value tasks and figuring out how to outsource or automate low-value tasks.

    [6:10] How does your Time Rich system contrast with The 4-Hour Work Week?

    The 4-Hour Work Week had a significant impact on my life, but Time Rich is different. The 4-Hour Work Week focuses on making the leap from employee to entrepreneur, but my system is for individuals working either for themselves or as part of a team, and for leaders of organizations looking to build Time Rich cultures. A lot has changed since The 4-Hour Work Week was published in 2007. We have more distractions; today the average person spends four hours a day, or eight weeks a year, looking at their smartphone. Picking up the phone every few minutes gets us out of the flow state, where we’re up to five times more productive than when we’re doing shallow work.

    [9:59] In order to become Time Rich, what behaviors should we avoid?

    Saying yes to too much: Some people say they’re time-poor, but they’re really decision-poor—they are saying “yes” to things they should be saying “no” to. Saying “yes” to every opportunity means saying “no” to your goals.

    Distractions: Even a distraction of one tenth of a second can lead to a 40% productivity loss over the course of the day. Glancing at a notification on your phone takes you out of flow, and your intense focus fades away. The average person spends three hours per day checking email; we are efficient at responding to other people’s demands on our time but not at prioritizing our time. 

    Residual work: We might spend a day putting together a proposal but then spend two days tweaking the wording and formatting. We’ve created 95% of the value the first day, but it’s much easier to spend two more days tweaking than to move on to the next difficult thing that requires thinking and focus. The best way to get started on difficult work is to take the smallest possible step. Commit to reading one page; then it’s easier to read the whole chapter.

    [17:40] What behaviors should we start doing?

    Follow my acronym P-COATS.

    Prioritize: Focus on the highest value tasks. The 80/20 Principle says that the top 20% of your tasks create 80% of the value.

    • 37 min
    TEI 305: Become a product naming champ – with Alexandra Watkins

    TEI 305: Become a product naming champ – with Alexandra Watkins

    How product managers can create product names that make people smile

    Not many product managers get involved in naming products, and that is a mistake. If you were involved during the initial idea work and problem solving—creating a product concept that fulfills customers’ unmet needs—then you have valuable insights for the product name. You can be a great brainstorming resource to help Marketing or a naming consulting. 

    That is, if you know the attributes of a great name, how to avoid naming mistakes, how to use a creative brief, and how to effectively brainstorm. Those topics and more are in a new book titled Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick. The author is Alexandra Watkins and she joins us to discuss many of these topics so you can become a product naming champ. 

    Alexandra has created names or renamed many brands and products you would recognize, including the Wendy’s Baconator. She has many great tips for us that take the mystery out of naming. 

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:59] What are the SMILE elements of a good name?

    SIMLE is an acronym for the five qualities that make a name great.



    * Suggestive—your name suggests what your product is; the name doesn’t have to be descriptive, just suggestive of a positive brand experience.

    * Memorable—a name is memorable if it is based in the familiar; for example, the bike lock Kryptonite is based on the familiar kryptonite from Superman.

    * Imagery—when someone sees your product name, they have something to picture in their head; for example, the energy drink Bloom gives you a picture to imagine.

    * Legs—your name lends itself to a theme, which is great for brand extensions; for example the Scrub Daddy sponge expanded to Scrub Mommy and Caddy Daddy.

    * Emotional—your name makes an emotional connection, which can help you command a premium price; for example, you might buy a bottle of wine you’ve never tried before because you connect emotionally with the name.



    [9:50] What are some examples of product names that deliver all the qualities of SMILE?



    * Silk Almond Milk—it suggests that it’s rich, creamy, silky smooth; it’s memorable because we’re familiar with silk; we can picture something silky; the connection between milk and silk gives it legs; and it makes an emotional connection with something luxurious.

    * Retriever GPS for dogs

    * Wendy’s Baconator

    * The Church of Cupcakes



    Suppose Anne is a product manager trying to come up a with a great name for a new pool cleaner. What advice would you give her?

    [13:00] Creative Brief

    First, we would fill out a creative brief. This includes:



    * Background information on the product, target audience, and desired brand experiences.

    * Styles of names that Anne and her team like and styles they don’t like.

    * Tone and personality of the name—is it a pool cleaner for millionaires or for families with kids?



    The creative brief is your brand name roadmap that helps you keep on strategy while you’re going through the naming process and helps you know at the end whether your name meets all your needs.

    [14:57] Kickoff Meeting

    Next, we’ll do a kickoff meeting with the team. We discuss words that Anne and her team might like to have in the name, perhaps clear, sweep, or speed. We also explore themes like less energy or quiet.

    [16:11] Brainstorming

    We brainstorm name ideas. I look for metaphors, parallels, and things that are unexpected. Let’s say we’re focusing on speed. I would look up lists of things that are fast, maybe names of power boats. I use the internet to search and dig deep. As another example, I was naming an athleisure clothing brand for a client who like mixed martial arts,

    • 36 min

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