Entries from July 2010 ↓

brainmates: Characters at Work

brainmates Anyone who is a regular reader knows that I am a big champion of personas. brainmates, have crafted a white paper on personas. Enjoy!
White Paper – Personas: Characters at Work
SlideShare – Personas: Characters at Work



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Mention: The Best Product Person of 2010 is….

Jeremy, The Product Guy, is running a contest here: http://tpgblog.com/2010/07/19/tbpp-2010/

I thought it would be fun to hold a contest for The Best Product Person of the Year. I have no idea how it will turn out or what to expect, but here goes…

To nominate someone you think should be recognized as The Best Product Person of 2010:

Submit your nomination’s…

  1. name,
  2. a paragraph as to why you think they are The Best Product Person of 2010,
  3. and how they can be contacted.

You must know the Product Person, as they can expect to be contacted by me to speak with them further for consideration as The Best Product Person.

I know exactly who I am voting for and you can find their blog in my blogroll.



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Wordle Fun

Wordle: Strategic Product Manager

Either I spend a lot of time writing about “thinking”, “post”, and “chicago” or there is a heavy emphasis on recent posts. I think the latter.


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Professional Thinker

thinkerFor the past few months (nearly 8 since I made the western move) I have been making the rounds and meeting lots of new people. With that comes the inevitable question “What do you do?” Depending on who they are and what I think their background is, I will vary my answer. Sometimes it is “I am Senior Product Manager for software company based downtown” or “I work for a software company” or “I am in product management” and the list could go on using various descriptions to articulate the same thing. Generally, this spawns a series of “and what does that mean?” questions for which I have another series of canned answers.

One particular occurrence, when asked by the resident 12-year old “What do you do?”, I responded with “a professional thinker” and it got a curious look and a bit of chuckle. The reality is, this is pretty accurate. What we do, as product managers, is think. In my post “10 Secrets to GREAT Product Management“, the fourth item is “think”. We are paid to think. We take input and think about it. We create output and collect more input and think about it some more. (Ideally you write down your thoughts using various best-practice techniques.) Some times there is short-term thinking (today, this week, this sprint) and some times there is long-term thinking (next sprint, next year, 3 years from now). Business thinking. Technical thinking. Financial thinking. Creative thinking. The challenges are blocking out time for thinking in your schedule and not over-thinking things.

I like to tell people that product management is a knowledge worker role, a linchpin role if you will. For those of you who have not yet read Linchpin by Seth Godin, a linchpin is defined as: “… people who invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.” Sound familiar?

Thinking is only one of the many things that you do through the day/week/year, but it is one of the more important things.

So for the time being, I am running with this “Professional Thinker” title. Combining that with “I am thinking of my equivalent to the iPhone 5″, it seems to resonate with people. They may not know how I do it, but they know what I do.




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Blogroll Update » Strategic Product Manager

The blogroll is typically one of my most viewed pages, after events and the homepage. In light of that, I thought it was ready for a refresh and have updated it. See the link above or here. Am I missing any?



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IBM 2010 Chief Executive Officer Study

Reference: IBM | 2010 Chief Executive Officer Study

Lots of good bits in this survey. It is quite long though. Here are some of my favourite thoughts.

Standout CEOs expressed little fear of re-examining their own creations or proven strategic approaches. In fact, 74 percent of them took an iterative approach to strategy, compared to 64 percent of other CEOs. Standouts rely more on continuously re-conceiving their strategy versus an approach based on formal, annual planning.

Creativity is the most important leadership quality, according to CEOs. Standouts practice and encourage experimentation and innovation throughout their organizations. Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.

….. and many more ….

** Standouts are defined as: Long-term performance included four-year operating margin compound annual growth rate from 2003 to 2008. Short-term performance included one-year operating margin growth rate from 2008 to 2009. This allowed us to identify “Standout” organizations that were able to improve operating margins both long term and short term.

Reference: IBM | 2010 Chief Executive Officer Study



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PMs launch flawless ProductCamp Chicago

I asked Parissa Behnia, Idea Chef from 678 Partners to recap her experience at ProductCamp Chicago. Chicago has always been a bit of weird product management market and I was really excited to see this get off the ground. (Denver???) I hope you enjoy her guest post…



PMs launch flawless ProductCamp Chicago

And live to tell about it! On June 19, members of Chicago’s Product Manager community came together at Illinois Technology Association’s TechNexus for a great day of sharing, discussing and networking! It was a great way to support and celebrate our vibrant PM talent as well as elevate our profile nationwide. We want to let our PM friends on both coasts know that we’re here and want to participate in the broader discussion!

Our day started off with an excellent keynote by Dr. Jim Anderson who graciously donated his time and wisdom to all of us. His positivity and energy, as well as his vision, set the tone for the rest of the day. He made us realize that it’s all well and good that we’re focused on the now, but if we truly want to do right by our customers, we have to think of how we get our products to future state to manage and exceed expectations.

His great keynote was matched by great roundtable discussions led by Coley Perry, Thierry Roullier, Pek Pongpaet, Robert Moll, Peter Morano, Tim Courtney, Michael Walkden and Tim Goodall. And discussions they truly were! The leaders were peppered with some really thoughtful questions by the attendees all the way through: a true sign of quality topics and engaged audiences.

Truly, seeing so many likeminded people in the room was a shot in the arm that our Chicago PMs needed. As someone said, if you’re having trouble breaking up the conversations so you can start your next session, it means that you’re doing a bang up job and fulfilling the mission. Not bad, eh?

Another sign of fulfilling the mission: there was a groundswell of positive feedback early on in the day and it’s only continued since then. Attendees also gave us some really good suggestions for improving on our successful model and we can’t wait to implement them. What’s more, many attendees have volunteered to be a part of the organizing team which is very exciting.

Plans are in the works for the next ProductCamp Chicago, which will be in October. We’re currently on the hunt for Chicago based Pharma and CPG PMs to join us in the lively art of PM conversation! If you know any, please spread the word!

Hats off to Dave Radzialowski for leading the charge and to Joshua Steffan, Roshan Shankar and Shawn Emery. It was a pleasure working with them on this successful launch and we look forward to more ProductCamp Chicago successes!

Thank you to our sponsors as well: 280 Group, Illinois Technology Association, Macon Raine, Pathfinder Development, Sears, Orbitz, Pragmatic Marketing, Product Development and Management Association, Zig Zag Marketing and Chicago Product Management Association.

For more information, please visit our site pcampchicago.org.



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