Tenacity 改善


Source: Vimeo

Is there any wonder that tenacity begins with TEN?

If we practice tenacity, we grab with our ten fingers and don’t let go, not until it’s done.

This reminds me of Kaizen (改善), Japanese for “improvement”, or “change for the better” – the philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement.

One must practice Tenacity (with a capital “T”) if you sign up for agile development. The goal is never right around the corner, and the met goal breeds another, yet unborn goal, continuously.

Tenacity is definitely a must-have if you’re a product professional.

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Day of the Droids

What does it mean that on any given day people walk around with an ear pod on and head down, tapping, sliding over small hand held devices?

Picture Credit: Tim Fagan

Attention B2B marketers and execs: Resistance is futile!

Change is already happening without your coming on board.

Mobile strategy anyone?

Picture credit: Tim Fagan (homfinder.com)
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Curiosity – killed the cat but made the product professional

I’ve blogged this topic in a previous post, would like to add thoughts.

Curiosity, or natural inquisitiveness, sets product professionals apart. Our questions lead to explorations into personas, buyer behaviors, value props, solutions. Coupled with persistence: “I just have to figure this out, even if it takes all week!” and we’re unstoppable.

Something I heard a long while ago (check it out, Google has it everywhere) – stick with only what you know if you want to be a mediocre product manager. It takes an intrepid personality to make an excellent product professional.

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Ancient truth – Storytellers persuade

Humankind has always loved stories and the best leaders know (knew) that fact to be important to get their messages heard.  I’ve just read “Why Stories Sell: Transportation Leads to Persuasion” via @SmartSoftMarket – great to understand some of the mystery.

Seanchai (I’ve met a few), Joseph Campbell and retelling of myths, MLK sharing his dream, Christ and his parables, troubadours with their songs; you don’t have to understand all the words, just listen to the cadence and you are transported.Picture credit: SecurityMonks

A product marketing guy or gal would be well advised to develop/hone great story making and storytelling skills. Just be light on the embellishing and long on the values and customer benefits.

And I don’t mean [death by] PPT.

Picture credit: Security Monks

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Persistency of purpose

TENACITY is an attribute of a great product professional. I suggest that tenacity, more often than not, is the key attribute that separates A from B players.

Merriman-Webster describes tenacity as, “Persistent in maintaining or adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.” Whether it’s winning a national championship or leading successful products or teams, tenacity has to be a most valued component.

In his post, “The Virtue of Tenacity,” Rob Tucker asks, “How do normal people accomplish amazing things? They are remarkably, unusually, exceptionally tenacious.”

How can a product leader practice tenacity? Rob shares three practices:

Decide upon a goal.
Move toward your goal consistently.
Be patient.

Tenacity is progression, patient learning, structured do-overs, eventual win. In the practice of HoShinDo this is called “Pil Sung” which is called out at the end of each karate lesson.

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To reach your right brain; work with the left

Product professionals will tell you they like generating “new ideas” – executives will tell you they need products that sell. End goal: think creatively and identify salable, profitable new products or services, right?

I’ve come across several articles on innovation, releasing a cascade of ideas. Here’s one from Betty Edwards, art instructor and author. She knows something rich about how we arrive at creative thinking. Betty says creativity happens in stages as we intentionally move back and forth between the two sides of our brain. It doesn’t matter if we naturally favor the right or left hemisphere; what matters is optimally using both. We can learn to do this consciously.

She found that at certain points in the creative process, we must suppress our left brain activities (verbal/analytic) in favor of the right (visual/perceptual). The goal-oriented left hemisphere may impede our ability to see the gestalt (whole picture), thus stifling our creativity.

Betty’s stages do not map 100% to innovation or new product development processes, nor should they. They offer a general guide or road map, an interesting key to the creative process.

Stage 1: define the problem – this is left side thinking. Immerse yourself in what is already known, create lists, sort; prioritize, evaluate.  SATURATE

Stage 2: walk away, back-burner your ideas, get away – this is “mulling” a right side activity. INCUBATE

This “noodling” activity leads to the OMG/eureka moment, or Stage 3 – rarely a planned right side activity. When it happens to me (typically on a walk) I use my phone to text myself, or I lose these thought-threads.  ILLUMINATE

This returns us to left thinking and Stage 4:  Test, validate, evaluate, use scoring models. Does the idea survive the brutal light of market need?   No problem, not every idea is a good one.  VALIDATE

Your right brain observes. Don’t switch to the left too early. Testing for validity (left brain activity) happens at the end of the creative process and not during ideation.

Try this: http://www.learn-to-draw-right.com/right-brain-left-brain.html

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Do you remember when it hit you?

I am asking about the time you noticed that special product (gorgeous car, designer shoe, computer) and in noticing, it hit you square between the eyes,  was it love at first sight?

I was the Personal Computer Evangelist (aka analyst) at Pitney Bowes the second time love struck. The first time was at Olin Corporation. I hadn’t yet made the promotion to marketing but was networking my way around the company.

The first Apple product I saw

The Visicalc Machine

A friend in accounting said, do you want to see the Visicalc machine? Sure, why not and what the hey is “Visicalc”?  She exclaimed, “It’s a spreadsheet you create and save. No more green bar. And we can edit it, anytime.”

I was amazed (being an MBA student I knew how tedious green bar work was); went upstairs to do my job, thinking WoW, she’s excited.

What was that funny little machine I saw? Somehow it seemed important and a whole lot different from the LA 120’s I did most of my research on. Then my boss provided me a PC with Visicalc and DOS. A door opened. I began to understand.

I had no idea at the time, but I was at the crossroads between Apple and Windows. I have remained there for more than 20 years. It had to grow on me, this feeling about a product.

Apple Lisa 1

Engineering dream machine

Fast forward…I am now the Corporate PC Consultant for the strategic arm of IT at Pitney Bowes. Yeah, cool job.

One of my responsibilities was to prepare CAR (capital appropriation requests) for all POs from dept heads to purchase departmental computing products – notice they are no longer “PC” when corporate buys them….

A call came from an engineering manager. He wished to purchase 10 Lisa machines. OK, fine, what’s a Lisa?

My boss and I took a road trip to visit said engineering manager and we viewed the Lisa. One look and I was hooked – it wasn’t at all like the PC I had in my office (the envy of all who had to share one) – it was beautiful.

When the engineer turned it on and showed us what it could do, I was hooked, line and sinker. I turned to my boss and said “We have to approve these things – but maybe not all of them right now.”  (Always the pragmatist.)

I remembered the Apple IIe’s and the excitement of the accountant. The engineer was just as excited. These computers helped them do their jobs – better, faster, cooler, smarter…

Yeah, the CAR was approved and engineering used several Lisa Apples, maybe some the very few to be sold. The point is, they were used and successfully so.

That engineering manager saw what that the Apple Lisa’s computing power could do to make his team exceptional. He bought in, and he brought us IT gatekeepers in. That is the beauty of Steve Jobs’ vision. And this was before the second term of Steve. It gets better.

To the potential buyer it is obvious. The product is beautiful. It changes how we buyers approach computing in work, music listening, reading, gaming and sharing.

What mattered is Form over Function; but Function still remained, at the core. No matter what the Apple design – Jobs’ vision always incorporated capability within beauty, ease of use within strong feature sets; it made sense and it had style.

Not always in v 1.o, but Jobs’ team put a stake in the ground and came back to claim it. And they did, and they did that so well.

That’s  execution. That’s vision. That’s excellent product management. We won’t go into marketing here. That’s another topic for another day. But he did that well too. A genius with the preso! I’ve blogged about his skill before today.

Am I a fan of Steve?  Yes. He’s been able to stand successfully between two worlds – the world of the techno (geek) and the consumer (also business user) and made the two worlds talk to each other, understand each other, work together.

These two camps make beautiful products together.

What’s not to like, what’s not to be a fan of?

Standing between two worldsSteve was able to stand between the two worlds of software and hardware. He was a competent in both. They say that is unusual, but he did it. Probably so, I’m applications and software myself…

These two functions do not stand apart, they are connected. Together, they create a great UX.

Maybe when all is said and done, that’s Steve’s greatest achievement – joining these two disciplines at the hip and making great products that work together because of this.

My hat is off to Steve; may his memory never die and his products…well, may they morph into better and best ideas.

“He lived at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.” Mossberg, WSJ

I could not have said it better.

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Living life fully mindful of the end, Steve Jobs

“So much creativity and connection has been (and will continue to be) facilitated by his genius. I am touched and inspired by his life.” –post on Wired

Spot on my friend.
We already miss him.
Bigger than life, but somehow you still understood him.
A real pro at understanding connections.
I hate cancer.

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The adventures of being a lemonader (aka product professional)

I’ve been studying for certification and attending productIt's the attitude best practices seminars, meeting other product professionals and comparing notes. Below (in no order) is what I’ve heard regarding creating, rewarding and optimizing a culture of product innovation.

These are from us, product professionals. We rock!

  • Product professionals should be inquisitive, curious, good listeners, determined, observant of patterns, lemonaders, passionate, strategic and leaders.
  • Listening too literally to the market will kill you. Say “Let’s run a test” instead.
  • Fail fast,  learn fast. You’re more successful this way.
  • It’s important to know who you AREN’T targeting.
  • Do a Win Analysis at least as often as a Loss Analysis. You get more return leveraging what you’re good at doing.
  • Learn to pivot whenever necessary.
  • It’s no place to learn with the customer.
  • Evidence/facts trump opinion in a product culture.
  • Determine the difference regarding Total Addressable/Total Available markets. This brings a level of clarity to what is truly possible.
  • “We” are NOT the customers – go find a real customer to determine their needs.
  •  Define success and measure it.  Metrics are key and critical. How else to know if you are on the right track?
  • Set expectations often and early so “others” don’t set them for you.
  • Innovation is creative destruction.
  • Think in leaps, iterate in steps.
  • You can conduct 100 focus groups and you’ll never get an iPhone.
  • Make inferences and test them within your markets. Use social as much as possible, but watch credibility.
  • You, the product professional, are the expert. Act like one – be the leader and the champion. Lead with knowledge. Be the industry go-to person.
  • If you continue to improve a product enough, you’ll eventually ruin it.
  • A PM* must be out there with customers in order to be believable by senior management – Marty Cagan. *I include PrdMktg.
  • Design is how it all works. We are in the era of the experience. – Jobs
  • Don’t fall in love – Zuckerman
  • Nothing is what happens if too many have to agree – Seth Godin
  • One accurate measurement is worth more than 1K expert opinions – Grace Hopper

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May You Change the Future

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

I wrote about connecting the dots in an earlier blog post.  When I came across the Forbes article today (http://onforb.es/r4Ilqt) I knew I had the right subject with which to return to writing.

Now what?

If I look forward, trying to connect my “dots” – this what I see.  It’s clear that I must pay attention to the possibilities and the outside influences, but how do I choose where I go? It is not clear.

It all makes sense in retrospect. If I look the other way – backwards the “dots” (opportunities, jobs, products, bosses, friendships, successes and failures) make a pattern. They show a movement forward towards the goal, the almost constant learning and adjusting, the trust building. I’ve seen that I learned to trust my inner voice, I am capable, very capable of discerning the best way. Funny that, your colleagues actually may learn to trust and value your leadership before you yourself do.

Product professionals are very special people. I am very glad to be counted as one. We can do a lot of creative things, even if we have to burn the midnight oil to find the time to get to them. There’s always the paperwork, the reports to be generated, the emails to be answered. The launch to be done.

I think looking backwards helps us in product to decide HOW to move forward, to choose the best path. Once you’ve seen the pattern, you’re spot on.

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