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 • 57 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.

    351: Journey to Product VP – with Liron Lifshitz-Yadin

    351: Journey to Product VP – with Liron Lifshitz-Yadin

    What one product manager learned about understanding customers

    Today we are talking about the journey from software developer to product manager and some key challenges encountered as a product manager.

    This journey was made by our guest, Liron Lifshitz-Yadin. She is the VP of Product at Tel Aviv-based Lightrun. She enjoys being a mentor to new product managers and has gained vast product management experience.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [1:41] Please tell us about your journey from software developer to product manager.

    I started as a software developer in an intelligence unit in the Israeli army. The army was a very collaborative, connected environment, both empowering and humbling. I did software development for many years but eventually realized I wanted to work more with people and be engaged with customers and the community. I slowly transitioned from development to innovation teams. I saw the beauty of focusing on the problem space and moved to the entrepreneurial space and then to product management.

    [8:02] What took you from developing code to wanting to understand customers?

    It was a process as I matured, but one important moment was when I was working at an innovative Israeli startup. I worked there for two and a half years until it closed. We were trying to reinvent the mobile phone, and it didn’t work, but we had amazing people, and it was one of the most hyped-up companies in the country. I was privileged to work there. On the R&D team, we felt like we had a lot of questions about how the product would be validated in the market, where it is going, and why we were doing what we were doing. I wanted to better understand how we did research and how customers would approach our product. I wanted to do innovation, so the next job I took was on an innovation team.

    [10:57] On the innovation team, where did you get ideas?

    We tried a lot of products and sent them to conferences. Our customers validated all our concepts, and were in close contact with specific customers.

    [13:58] How do you get information from customers?

    The most important way to get ideas is talking to customers. You need to understand their underlying needs, their workflows, and the tools they use. Know how they do things before offering a solution.

    The specific method of talking with customer varies by company and includes:



    * Phone calls or web meetings

    * Slack channel: At a previous company I worked at, we had a Slack channel with our customers to interact daily, and they felt very free to state observations about our products.

    * Customer interviews

    * Sales calls: In other companies, I’ve gone on sales calls as a product manager, to hear from existing customers and prospects.

    * Design partners: We work with customers as we’re developing products, and they become our design partners. This open relationship gives us tons of ideas.



    [17:21] Sometimes customers share their own solutions that might not be best way for solving their problems. How do you approach that?

    Often, you can solve a customer’s pain by doing something very simple. Build in stages—deliver a quick win for the customers, then take time to explore the best solution. You will have to make trade-offs between requests from customers, executives, developers, and other stakeholders. Sometimes you may have to make the tough decision to not pursue a feature customers are asking for because it doesn’t really solve their problems in the best way.

    [24:23] How do you prioritize ideas and features?

    We build our strategic roadmap each year and revisit it every six months, making sure it’s aligned with the company’s goals. Then we do a top-down analysis to lay out how we’ll accomplish our goals. Include all your stakeholders—management, executives, sales, and customer feedback.

    • 33 min
    350: Market segmentation and product pricing – with Dan Balcauski 

    350: Market segmentation and product pricing – with Dan Balcauski 

    What product managers need to know about positioning products to create value

    Today we are talking about how market segmentation is done and how it impacts product pricing.

    To help us with the details, a product strategy and pricing expert is joining us, Dan Balcauski. Dan is the founder of Product Tranquility, a consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. He has 15 years of experience in managing multiple products throughout different life cycles, from start-ups to publicly traded multinational enterprises.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [2:05] What is product strategy?

    Product strategy is the art and science of understanding customer problems and aligning your organization around creating desirable outcomes for customers and your business.

    Problem management is more important than product management for product managers. Be obsessed about your customers’ problems. Strategy defines a current situation, an assessment of that situation, and a path forward to overcome the challenges you face. Product strategy is about orienting the company toward the problems you’ll solve and how solving those problems for customers will positively impact the business.

    [4:07] How does market segmentation influence product strategy?

    In customer research, we’re trying to understand what problems our customers face and how much they value solutions to those problems. Imagine you’re a general trying to guide your troops. You have a landscape of different hills you could traverse, and you need to understand the possible advantages, disadvantages, and constraints of taking any particular hill. In market segmentation, you’re trying to understand the opportunity, challenges, and advantages of taking any particular position in the market. Once you’ve outlined the market landscape, product strategy is the process of deciding where you can compete and win.

    [6:34] What’s an example of a company that does market segmentation well?

    Tesla’s first car was the Tesla Roadster at a price point of $250,000. Eventually, Tesla created the Model S at a slightly more reasonable $80,000, and now they have the Model 3 at $35,000. This is a perfect example of understanding customer segments and aligning product strategy to sequentially attack those different market segments. Elon Musk understood the electric motor has a distinct advantage over combustion engine vehicles: It can deliver power directly to the wheels. The Roadster could easily beat a Porsche or Ferrari in speed. Tesla found a group of people who were willing to pay for that. Their market segment for the Roadster was very high-end people who wanted their 0-60 speed to be the best in the world. These customers didn’t care as much about an established, long-range, national charging network, which was not in place when the Roadster came out. Elon balanced the segment he went after with the value drivers of that segment. He aligned the benefits of the product with the customers who were willing to pay for those benefits and aligned the capabilities of the company to execute his strategy.

    [10:07] Where do we start with market segmentation?



    * Start at the top leadership of your company and make sure your executives understand segmentation is important; many leaders think they’re going to capture the entire market.

    * Start early. Proper customer segmentation helps every part of the organization. It’s unsuccessful to build a product without a segment in mind and hand it off to marketing and tell them to position it for a particular segment. Understanding whom you are building for makes the prioritization of features much easier as you’re building.

    * When you’re segmenting, you’re creating groups that have homogenous customer needs within a segment but heterogeneous customer needs between segments,

    • 35 min
    349: How product managers can and should become innovation choreographers – with Dan McClure

    349: How product managers can and should become innovation choreographers – with Dan McClure

    Create change as a storyteller of the future – for product managers

    Today we are talking about how organizations can better support innovators and improve their innovation capability, taking a systems perspective. The work product managers and leaders do is the life blood of organizations, creating innovations that drive revenue and contribute to a sustainable organization. To help us do this even better, we have an expert guest, Dan McClure. 

    He is a systems strategist and agile product manager who helps organizations envision and create high impact innovations. He has over 30 years of hands-on experience shaping systems-level initiatives that combine business and technology.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [3:5] You’re an innovation strategist and architect. What do you mean by that?

    I strategize about a solution in an interconnected system. Instead of improving just one piece of the current system, I think about reinventing the entire system. For example, instead of improving a taxi service by putting charge card capabilities in the cabs, innovation strategists reimagined the entire industry and created Uber and Lyft, changing not just one piece but all the pieces. An innovation strategist sees a big, complex problem and makes all the changes necessary to imagine an entirely new way of working.

    [6:40] Why do so many organizations struggle to create impactful innovation that matters?

    The challenge is usually not getting innovation done but making the innovation big enough to matter strategically and over the long-term for the company. It’s difficult to get the entire organization to embrace a big, complex change. Innovators need to imagine how to create big change that works.

    [9:05] What needs to change in the product leader role to support systems innovation?

    A lot of people think that product work means identifying a user, selecting a user need, and delighting the customer by creating an effective product that satisfies the need. This model helps you focus on what you’re trying to do and whom you’re trying to do it for, but imagine a more complex real-life situation: You’re planning a holiday party for all your extended family. You have to satisfy every family member, and there’s no single user. You have to design that party not to delight one person but to provide value to satisfy the needs of everyone. We call this “everyone needs to get a pony.” There has to be a solution in which trade-offs are recognized and balanced and all the pieces come together so everyone walks away satisfied.

    In the business world, similar challenges occur. Imagine you need to integrate a new technology into a hospital’s operation. You need to create value for the administrators, doctors, nurses, vendors, and trainers. The system solution is not about delighting one person. It’s about seeing how all the pieces fit together and how we make a whole, functioning solution that is complete, sustainable, and scalable.

    People are an integral part of these types of systems, and these types of problems are complex and messy. Systems thinkers have called these “wicked problems,” which sound impossible to solve, but the systems tools are also incredibly powerful, and that’s exciting.

    [14:40] What kind of work does a leader do to help an organization be successful in system innovation?

    We call this role of system innovation leader a choreographer. Choreographers see the whole problem, not just one stakeholder or function but the entire interconnected web of challenges and opportunities.

    Next, they imagine a future system that’s better than the existing system. In the past, many innovators would see the whole problem and start chipping away at individual pieces. That doesn’t necessarily lead to a future system that’s better.

    • 34 min
    Special: Are You a Product Manager or a Problem Manager – with Steve Johnson

    Special: Are You a Product Manager or a Problem Manager – with Steve Johnson

    Special Episode From the 2020 Summit



    This is a special podcast episode, sharing an important discussion from The Everyday Innovator 2020 Summit. Two weeks ago Grant Hunter discussed what is product management. I am sharing this episode now because Steve Johnson, who is also a business partner with Grant, did a masterful job at the Summit, describing the real nature of product management.  As this was a Summit presentation, the format of the show notes below are a bit different.

    BIO: Steve Johnson is an author, speaker, and transformation coach on product methods from idea to market. His approach is based on the belief that minimal process and simple templates result in a nimble product team. Steve has been working within the high-technology arena since 1981 with experience in technical, sales, and marketing management positions at companies specializing in enterprise and desktop software. His market and technical savvy allowed him to rise rapidly through the ranks from product manager to the executive suite. A founding instructor at Pragmatic Marketing and product coach with Under10, Steve has been a long-time advocate for product management, serving as an advisor to a number of technical product organizations and industry associations.

    INSIGHT: As many as 50% of professionals (of any kind) cannot clearly state what is and is not their role and how they contribute to the success of the company. If one team doesn’t do its job, other teams must fill the void. Just as you never want your goalie to be your top scorer, you want each team member focused on their primary job. Use the tool in this presentation to help clarify who does what and how each group will be held accountable.

    COMPANION ARTICLE: Steve’s graphical framework and article with more details on this topic are available here.

     

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [0:55] What is product management? Product managers often spend time putting out other people’s fires rather than putting out products. We wonder if we’ve planned the right products. Our titles are a mess—what one company calls a product manager, another calls a program manager or a product marketing manager. We are involved in too many activities.

    [3:10] Peter Drucker said, “In a well-run organization each role has a single orientation. They either support customers…or they support the market.” Of the activities that support the market, they focus on either problems or solutions. The activities that support customers focus on delivery. And some of the activities focus on what we’ll offer in the future, while some focus on what we’re offering now.

    [4:34] Each department has a different goal. Development and engineering focus on building solutions for the future for the market. Marketing focuses on the solutions we have now for the market. Salespeople deliver the solutions we have now to the individual customers.

    [5:36] Product is responsible for understanding both the market and the market’s problems, both now and in the future. Product management is about identifying problems in the market that we can solve in the future with new products. Product marketing is about identifying problems in the market that current products can solve.

    [7:56] Win-loss analysis is a useful tool for finding problems in how we sell, market, and deliver.

    [9:53] There are three roles within product: product strategy, product planning, and product growth. Product strategy is led by the product manager and focuses on products to create in the future. Product planning is led by the product owner and focuses on products to build next. Product growth is led by the product marketer and focuses on products we have now. Many product managers are doing things they should not be doing; they have stopped being prod...

    • 48 min
    348: How product managers can help to future-proof organizations – with Jonathan Brill

    348: How product managers can help to future-proof organizations – with Jonathan Brill

    Prepare for the unexpected as a product manager

    Today we are talking about change. Innovation itself means making change happen. Changes also come from external sources, with the COVID pandemic being an example of a huge cause of change.

    Our guest, Jonathan Brill, is here to tell us how to survive through and profit from radical change. He was the futurist at HP, making strategy recommendations, and continues to help organizations prepare for the impacts the future brings. He also has written about the framework he uses in his book Rogue Waves.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    5:17] What are business schools not teaching about strategy?

    Business schools teach people to use a formulaic recipe to solve problems, but a recipe only works if the environment stays the same. A lot of business schools teach tools like Six Sigma or Extreme Programming; the founders of those frameworks understood a problem and created a recipe to solve it, but when a disruptive event like COVID, a financial crisis, or a new technology happens, the recipe doesn’t work anymore. I call those disruptive events rogue waves; unmanageable, huge waves that pop up out of nowhere because multiple, individually manageable waves combine in the same time and place. When that happens, your recipe isn’t going to help you unless you know how to cook.

    To innovate in times of radical change, you need to understand three things: awareness to identify rogues waves coming; behavior change to prepare people to respond to the unexpected; and culture change to design processes and incentives to exploit change.

    [9:02] Tell us more about Awareness.

    Awareness means thinking about the social, economic, and technological changes that will overlap to create rogue waves, impacting your organization. Think about what could impact your financial, operational, or strategic performance or your external environment (the four foes). Product managers tend to focus on financial and operational impacts, but strategic and environmental issues are far more likely to occur.

    [13:50] As an organization, how do we become aware of the trends that are shaping the future?

    We need a culture shift. We make assumptions about what the future will look like based on the past, but it’s unlikely the low-volatility environment we have now will continue. We can’t assume our cookbooks will still work. To prepare for a changing future, consider having a future unit in your organization, like we have at HP. In the future unit, we look at the social, economic, and technological changes and what they mean across our functions. We report our findings annually to the C-suite and look at risks associated with the four foes (financial, operational, external, and strategic). As a result, we were prepared to respond to the rogue wave of the pandemic and HP’s revenue and earnings were stable over 2020.

    [17:50] How does recognizing trends create a catalyst for new opportunities?

    Recognizing trends not only helps us prepare for rogue waves; it also helps us find and exploit new opportunities. As an example, at HP we use microfluidics, moving very small dots of liquid on a page to make inkjet prints, a technology relevant for disease diagnosis. We had identified this application as an opportunity, and we knew a pandemic would be an accelerant. Just before COVID hit, we had funded a business unit that develops technologies for pandemics and medical issues.

    To find opportunities, you can look internally at threats associated with the four foes, and externally at threats your customers are facing. The more you can alleviate your customers’ pain, the higher the value you’re creating for them.

    We can apply some rules from Game Theory to innovation. First, make a dynamic threat into a static threat. This is what insurance does. I had two grass fires at the bottom of my hill,

    • 37 min
    347: What most product managers get wrong about product management – with Grant Hunter

    347: What most product managers get wrong about product management – with Grant Hunter

    The truth about product managers’ common misconceptions

    Today we are talking about what may sound like fundamentals of product management, but many product managers have misconceptions about these key topics. 

    To help us with this is Grant Hunter, who co-founded with Steve Johnson a peer community and coaching group called Product Growth Leaders. I’ve been a participant in the community for a few months, and recently I noticed Grant posting articles on key topics that will help you as well.

    Grant is a product coach and strategy advisor who helps companies and product organizations get more market-focused in their products and strategies. Previously, he was a trainer at Pragmatic Marketing.

    Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

    [5:40] What is a product?

    A product is a solution for a person’s problem, including all the components necessary to fully solve that problem for the personas who experience the product. You need to understand the problem of the specific persona you’re marketing to. Customers think of their entire experience, including buying the product and any support they talk to, as part of the product.

    [9:47] Do you make a distinction between new product work (sometimes called innovation) and current product work?

    Innovation is about creating value. In the lifecycle curve, if you’re not always adding incremental new value, you’ve plateaued and are not innovating. You can add new value through continuous innovation (adding more value within your current products’ lifecycles) or discontinuous innovation (new products or technology). You use the same processes to make a new product or a new version of a product. It’s all innovation and adding value to a customer.

    [14:45] How do you think about personas?

    A persona is someone with the same need and same value profile. Many of us have the same problem, but we don’t have the same value profile. The persona identifies motivation. Think about your customers and what they value and are willing to pay more for. For example, my wife and I will pay more for an electrician who is neat and cleans up afterward. We have a persona for a product that is clean and organized. Our persona is built around our value profile and what’s important to us in our experience with the product. Personas help you understand people’s value profiles and motivations and why they’re making their decisions.

    Many organizations try to make a product for everyone. They have a product that will help you save and share photos, and they say it’s for everyone who takes pictures, but no one is going to find their product. Instead, they could make it specifically for first-time moms sharing pictures of their new babies, and once they figure that out, they can go on to the next market site. In the bowling pin approach, knock over one pin first, then figure out where to go next.

    [19:27] How do you determine if a new feature is valuable to your customers?

    The Kano model helps you determine if a new feature is valuable to customers, ignored by customers, or distracting to customers.

    You can only understand the customer’s value equation by going out and listening to them. They’re the only ones who understand and know it. You can’t prioritize features based on your own hypotheses or assumptions. You must use data in the market and conversations with customers.

    [25:35] What is product management?

    Product management is management of the product. That means increasing value to the company and the market. Product management is the role that makes sure you’re always doing the right thing. Every company has more ideas than resources. Clayton Christensen found that three out of four new product initiatives never make it to market or never turn a profit. Product management needs to make sure you do the right thin...

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
57 Ratings

57 Ratings

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Chad, host of the Everyday Innovator 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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