300 episodes

Product Mastery Now (previously The Everyday Innovator) is a weekly podcast dedicated to your success as a product manager, leader 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.

Product Mastery Now for Product Managers, Innovators, and Leaders Chad McAllister, PhD - Helping Product Managers become Product Masters

    • Business
    • 4.9 • 58 Ratings

Product Mastery Now (previously The Everyday Innovator) is a weekly podcast dedicated to your success as a product manager, leader 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.

    368: An example of engineering a disruptive product – with Konrad Heimpel

    368: An example of engineering a disruptive product – with Konrad Heimpel

    Lessons from disrupting the insurance industry – for product managers

    Today we are talking about creating disruptive products that challenge existing industries. A classic example of this is the digital camera that disrupted the film industry and contributed to the collapse of Kodak. Disruption occurs when we think of how a problem can be solved in a completely different way. It is typically accompanied by new technology or the application of technology in a novel manner. Our guest is creating disruption in a very old industry—insurance. His name is Konrad Heimpel and he is the VP of Product for GetSafe, based in Heidelberg, Germany.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:01] How did you become interested in disrupting the insurance industry?

    I was born with a walking disability, and without the very good health insurance we have in Germany, my parents would not have been able to afford treatment for me. I’ve experienced the difference insurance can make in people’s lives. Insurance is a great achievement and a relevant challenge. It still has a bad reputation, and I want to help it have a good reputation and be accessible for everyone.

    [5:15] What are you doing to disrupt the insurance industry?

    At GetSafe, we’re making use of the megatrend we’ve seen over the last few decades: people using their smartphones to steer their lives. Insurance has not been fully digitized, but there is no reason it can’t be, because there are no physical goods being exchanged.  We’ve built an app where people can buy and manage their coverage and make claims. We’re digitizing and simplifying insurance, making it more transparent, easier, and faster for customers.

    We sell B2C and currently offer the app for a range of property and casualty (P&C) insurance.

    [7:33] What makes your approach to insurance disruptive?

    The app sounds simple but is quite complex. The insurance industry is highly regulated. Any transaction must be 100% traceable, unlike in most ecommerce industries. When someone buys insurance, we’re obliged to provide coverage, so we can’t lose any information. No matter how we iterate our platform, everything must be 100% backward-compatible. The regulations and need for backward compatibility make the coding behind the app very complex. Collecting data at every touchpoint and simplifying the user experience would be a huge effort for old insurance companies. That gives us an advantage.

    [12:41] How are you using data?

    We collect behavior data and customer feedback to improve the user experience. For example, on the app we explain what an insurance contract covers. We collect data as users read explanations and use that to optimize how we present information.

    We also use data to recommend the right coverage, make better risk predictions, and provide better coverage.

    [21:09] How do you discover how to make a better user experience?

    The key is talking to users a lot and listening to their feedback. Many users are happy to give feedback, and we collect and analyze it and try to see patterns. If we see something we want to know more about, we jump on a call and talk to the user.

    You can get valuable insights from talking to just five or six people. It’s crucial to talk to customer service. Insurance is complicated, and we still receive calls and emails every day from people asking questions about specific situations. We listen carefully to hear what they’re really asking. That’s our greatest source of information.

    [25:34] As you scale, how do you decide which product features to implement and which ones to say no to?

    I’m a huge fan of iterating fast and listening to feedback and data—put out a first version very quickly that solves at least part of the problem and then learn from it. It’s not a good practice to have 10 develope...

    • 35 min
    367: Radical product thinking for product managers – with Radhika Dutt

    367: Radical product thinking for product managers – with Radhika Dutt

    Steps for creating world-changing products

    Today we are talking about radical product thinking, which is a mindset and process for innovating smarter.

    Our guest, Radhika Dutt, will help us understand radical product thinking. She is an entrepreneur and product leader who has participated in four acquisitions, two of which were companies she founded. She has built products in industries including broadcasting, media, advertising, technology, government, consumer, robotics, and wine. She also teaches entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University. She cofounded the Radical Product Thinking movement of leaders creating vision-driven change, along with authoring the book Radical Product Thinking: The New Mindset for Innovating Smarter.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [1:56] What put you on the path to being a product leader?

    My path to product leadership has been through entrepreneurship and product diseases. Regardless of which industry I was in, I kept seeing the same patterns of diseases. For example, hero syndrome is when you get so focused on being big and scaling you forget about the problem you set out to solve. Other diseases are pivot-itis and obsessive sales disorder. I learned from these product diseases and developed an intuition after really hard lessons. I wondered, are we all doomed to learn these hard lessons or can we share intuition to build better product and avoid product diseases? That burning question started Radical Product Thinking. Two colleagues and I built a framework that translated our intuition into steps for building world-changing products systematically.

    I’ve realized that product is a way of thinking. Building products is how you create change. Your title is irrelevant—if you’re building products and thinking about how to engineer change, you’re applying product thinking.

    [9:05] Why did you write Radical Product Thinking: The New Mindset for Innovating Smarter?

    I realized we need to change how we build products. We’ve been taught to keep iterating until you find product market fit—just keep trying different things. We need to become more vision-driven and think of our product as a mechanism for creating change in the world. That starts with having a clear picture of the change you want to bring about and being able to translate that to actions. Whenever your vision becomes disconnected from your actions, product diseases set in. The key to building better products while avoiding product diseases is avoiding breaks in the chain from vision to action.

    [11:23] Tell us about the five elements of Radical Product Thinking, starting with Vision.

    We need to unlearn the myths that a good vision is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), broad slogan, or short tagline. For example, “contributing to human progress while empowering people to express themselves” could be the vision of a piano teacher, a post-it note company, or anything else. A good vision should be a detailed North Star for decision-making.  A BHAG vision like this is not useful because you can’t use it to evaluate features and figure out what to do and not do. A good vision answers:



    * Whose world are you trying to change?

    * What does the world look like for them today?

    * Why does that world need changing?

    * When will we know we’ve accomplished our mission?

    * How are we going to bring about the change?



    A vision with this level of detail gives teams enough direction to make decisions. For example, a good vision is:

    “Today when amateur wine drinkers want to find wines that they’re likely to like, they have to find attractive-looking wine bottles or pick wines that are on sale. This is unacceptable because it leads to so many disappointments, and it’s hard to learn about wine this way. We envision a world where finding wines you lik...

    • 30 min
    366: This is modified Agile for hardware development – with Dorian Simpson and Gary Hinkle

    366: This is modified Agile for hardware development – with Dorian Simpson and Gary Hinkle

    How product managers can use the Modified Agile for Hardware Development Framework

    Today we are talking about using a modified version of Scrum for hardware projects. Many teams have tried adopting Scrum for developing hardware products, not always successfully. This is such as big topic, we have not one but two guests to help us with it—Dorian Simpson and Gary Hinkle. They think they have the answer for applying Agile principles to hardware projects, and they call it the Modified Agile for Hardware Development (MAHD) Framework.



    Dorian has a deep background in product development, starting in engineering and then moving to business leadership roles.  These include roles at Motorola and AT&T along with dozens of companies as an innovation and product development consultant. He’s also the author of The Savvy Corporate Innovator, which is about applying Agile principles to idea development in organizations.

    Gary also has an extensive background in product development with senior roles at SAIC and Tektronix. He has held R&D leadership roles and founded Auxilium in 2002 to help companies improve their R&D and leadership practices and transform their new product development using Agile practices.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:56] Can you summarize Scrum for us and share what aspects of it aren’t suited for hardware projects?

    Scrum is one of the most widely-used flavors of Agile, mostly applied to software development projects. It starts with describing the customer experience through user stories. Teams work on high-priority user stories in rapid cycles called sprints, deliver working software that is validated by users, and incorporate feedback quickly into the next cycle. This mechanism is great for evolving a product and figuring things out as you go, and those challenges apply to hardware products, but the basic mechanics of Scrum, optimized for software development, are missing some pieces for hardware development.

    The first missing piece is big-picture planning. Hardware projects almost always have a schedule—the project has to end and the product as to go into production. This end goal and transition to manufacturing requires a big-picture plan, which Scrum doesn’t account for. Scrum also doesn’t account for the dependencies involved in physical products, mostly associated with physical materials’ lead times, which need to be factored into the project plan. Software and hardware have to come together from multiple disciplines, and typically all the pieces can’t come together in a traditional two-week sprint.

    When companies try to implement Scrum or Agile for hardware, they get hung-up on the mechanics. We focus on four key Agile principles, which give us the benefits of Agile without worrying about the dogmatic, detailed tactics:



    * Autonomous teams

    * Timeboxed learning cycles

    * Rapid prototyping

    * Engaging with customers



    In hardware development, user stories have to be looked at differently. The user still needs to benefit from the product, but you can’t directly translate user stories to features of a physical product. User stories are still a valuable starting point to understand the customer, but hardware teams have to shift gears quickly to the physical attributes of the product, the complexities of designing hardware, and regulatory concerns. Some Agile purists tell hardware teams to write a user story for every requirement, feature, and specification, but we don’t know anyone who’s done that successfully.

    [15:01] How does your MAHD (Modified Agile for Hardware Development) Framework work?

    One of the big differences between MAHD and Scrum is the onramp, which is a set of five interactive, collaborative activities between marketing and R&D. To get the project started, use an Agile project brief,

    • 37 min
    365: Innovation accounting metrics to improve product management – with Esther Gons

    365: Innovation accounting metrics to improve product management – with Esther Gons

    Innovation accounting for teams, managers, and strategy – for product managers

    Today we are talking about measuring innovation effectiveness in organizations. To help us is the person who has written the book on the topic, Innovation Accounting, Esther Gons.

    Esther is the CEO of GroundControl, an Innovation Accounting software platform to help corporate ventures with the development of new business models. She has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years and mentored several hundred startups.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [1:59] Why did you write Innovation Accounting?

    There’s not much information about measuring innovation effectiveness. Eric Ries coined the term innovation accounting in his book Lean Startup. My background is in startups, where innovation accounting is the metrics and accountability of the team to make data-driven decisions. Later, I worked with corporates and realized there is a huge need to report on and measure innovation progress. My coauthor and I decided that to help corporates do disruptive innovation, we needed to write this book.

    [3:58] Who needs an innovation accounting system?

    People use innovation as a catch-all word for everything, but if you want to do disruptive innovation—new markets, new business models, high-risk, high-return—you need a structured approach. You need to de-risk the innovation, and you need indicators you’re going in the right direction. Your financial accounting system can’t provide these. You need an innovation accounting system for disruptive innovation to take off.

    [7:44] In your book, you address innovation accounting on several levels. In the first level, tactical innovation, what metrics should teams use to measure innovation?

    The tactical or team level is the most important level. In this level, we find out what the teams need to move forward and make decisions. Teams use venture-based and team-specific indicators to make decisions. Metrics should also help the company see how fast the team is learning. You can measure the number of experiments done over time or per sprint, but these metrics are easy to game; you don’t want to do experiments just for the sake of doing experiments. Measure the insights and learnings from each experiment and the amount of time and money spent on each experiment. Any metric should be something you can improve or make decisions upon.

    [14:34] What specific metrics should we be using?

    The most important one is the learning ratio, which is the experiments you found insights from divided by all the experiments you conducted. Learning is what you should be doing; if your team is doing other things, it’s not going well. Once you’re more mature, you can measure the value/cost ratio.

    [18:37] How is innovation measured at the managerial level?

    The managerial level focuses on having a venture board or decision board that can help the teams move forward. The board makes small bets in the beginning and funds the projects that are promising and have a higher confidence level. The venture board wants to see the confidence level with evidence. The metrics are about managing the funnel of investment decisions.

    [24:04] How does innovation accounting influence strategy?

    It’s a loop—strategy influences innovation accounting and innovation accounting influences strategy. The strategy level has two pillars of indicators. The first pillar is understanding why you’re looking at a particular area, finding out if your core portfolio is under threat, and looking at new business models, new markets, and diversification. The second pillar is understanding your ROI. Even if you just started and have no revenue, look for progress toward the vision of where you want to go. See if your innovation thesis is validated.

    Action Guide: Put the information Esther shared into action now.

    • 35 min
    364: Using Jobs-to-be-Done to avoid 6-figure mistakes – with Aggelos Mouzakitis

    364: Using Jobs-to-be-Done to avoid 6-figure mistakes – with Aggelos Mouzakitis

    How product managers can better understand consumer decisions

    Today we are revisiting one of the best tools for product managers, Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD).

    Our guest has been applying JTBD to help SaaS companies sell better, retain more, and avoid 6-figure go-to-market mistakes. His name is Aggelos Mouzakitis, and his company is called Growth Sandwich.

    JTBD will help you regardless of your industry or if you are a SaaS provider or not.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:27] What does Jobs-to-be-Done mean to you?

    Jobs-to-be-Done is a theory that explains consumer decisions and provides tools to deeply understand consumer actions. My approach to JTBD is very actionable; I care about putting the theory into action.

    [4:21] What are some examples of how you’ve applied JTBD?

    I worked for a video conferencing solution, a competitor to the most popular solution. Their value proposition was that they were the simplest video conferencing tool because they were browser-based. During the pandemic, they had explosive churn and explosive growth. They hired me to fix the explosive churn. I did a value gap analysis, which is Jobs-to-be-Done driven. I started with interviewing the power users, churned users, and fresh users. I asked them what job they expected from the product. I then looked at what job the ideal users needed done and what jobs the churned users were trying to do. The churn problem became a positioning problem. Some users used the tool as a temporary solution to do video meetings but later switched to a full-feature solution. They weren’t good users for the product; we needed to discourage use cases that were not right for the product.

    We also created a Jobs-to-be-Done-driven cancellation survey. Previously, the company had a cancellation survey that asked which competitor users were switching to, but it didn’t tell their perception of each solution. On the new survey, instead of naming competitors, we described the competitors—a more secure solution, a solution with more features for educators, etc. Now the data gave us insight into the job-to-be-done behind the switch.

    [16:24] Tell us more about the actions you took in your example.

    First, we audited existing information to know what sort of research to design. Then, we defined our power (ideal) user, in our case with a combination of retention criteria and engagement criteria. Once we had a list of 100-150 people, we started recruitment. We put together an email and provided an Amazon giftcard as a thank-you for their time. Users booked time for an interview on my calendar.

    During interviews, know what you want to learn in the conversation and have notes, but let the conversation flow. Interviewing people requires fast thinking and talent. We asked for consent before recording the conversation, and then we started the conversation with an icebreaker. After the discussion, we paid the users.

    Next, we did analysis. I watched the videos and took notes on observations and insights. Then I clustered the feedback from all the interviews, noting themes and categories. Last, I presented to the rest of the team.

    Action Guide: Put the information Aggelos shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.

    Useful links:



    * Check out Aggelos’s website, GrowthSandwich.com

    * Connect with Aggelos on LinkedIn



    Innovation Quote

    “My only competitor is the person I was yesterday.” – Unknown

    Thanks!

    • 30 min
    363: Get better performance by being a product-led organization – with Todd Olson

    363: Get better performance by being a product-led organization – with Todd Olson

    How product managers can focus on creating great products for their customers

    Today we are talking about the product-led organization. We have seen many organizations in the last few years move the product group and product roles to more prominent positions, putting clearer focus on creating great products for customers.

    To help us explore this topic is the founder of Pendo and the author of the book, The Product-Led Organization: Drive Growth by Putting Product at the Center of Your Customer Experience.

    You likely already know his name, which is Todd Olson, who joined us previously in episode 185.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [1:45] What makes a product-led company?

    Product-led companies put product at the center of the customer experience. Every department is thinking about how it can use product to better perform its activities, rather than the product management team leading the business. Companies like these are shifting from human-led motion to product- and digital-led motion. The company is the product in many ways. Your business is not just about how the product performs; it’s about the entire customer lifecycle.

    [3:40] What’s an example of a product-led company?

    Tesla is a very product-led business. Through the entire customer experience, all the interaction with the product from purchasing to updates is digital.

    [6:00] What are some tools for understanding customers?



    * Empathy Maps force the product manager to get inside the head of the customer and find out what they’re thinking, hearing, and experiencing. Develop deep empathy for your customer. A great product lies in understanding what your users are going through.

    * Observe customers using your product. Watch videos of customers using your product and thinking out loud. Record yourself using the software.

    * Make sure the development team understands why you’re building the product. The what of how the product functions can change, but you should clearly understand the why. The best teams have collaboration between product management, development, and engineering. They can debate the what because they all have a deep sense of why.



    [14:30] How can we use data to get closer to our customers?

    We often have opinions about how our customers are using our product, and we may argue about those and get nowhere. Instead, we need to use data to find out what’s actually happening and find insights. I like to start with outliers. You might find a user who uses one feature more than two times as much as other users. You need to dig in and find out why. Often, outliers are trying to do something with your product that you make very hard for them to do. You don’t always want customers to be using features a lot. See if you can redesign the product to make it easier for them.

    [20:16] What are your suggestions for structuring and using roadmaps?

    Especially for B2B software, roadmaps are a critical part of communicating with customers. Even for B2C software, when we buy products, we’re investing in a company and a vision. We’re buying the roadmap. Because of that, it’s really valuable to put out a roadmap, not because you’re necessarily committing to do it, but because you’re signaling your direction. Your roadmap communicates to customers the direction you’re going and helps them know if that direction aligns with their objectives. Communicate that your roadmap is subject to change, and don’t make it too polished and specific. I like to use calendar view or force-ranked lists, which force customers to pick between tradeoffs. The roadmap is all about communication, both internally and with your customer.

    Action Guide: Put the information Todd shared into action now. a style="color: #ff6600;" href="https://productmasterynow.

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
58 Ratings

58 Ratings

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Chad, host of the podcast, highlights all aspects of having a successful business and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

RWlistens ,

A MUST for product people!

Insightful and relevant!

Joshill:) ,

Quality stuff here

Thanks Chad for bringing guests onto your show that shed light on the topics that really matter to industry pros in product management, research and team work.

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