About The Book: #ProMa Product Management Tools, Methods and Some Off-the-wall Ideas

#ProMa Cover

Based on his popular blog, Dinker Charak brings a collection of tools, methodologies, and some unexpected approaches to Product Management. He also talks about his entrepreneurial journey from the eye of a Product Manager and discusses the strategy and its failures.

Available as Kindle eBook

Early Praise for #ProMa

Sriram Narayan Agile IT Org Design ProMa Dinker Charak
Dinker offers an enjoyable potpourri of helpful advice and ideas from his experience in consulting and his experiments with building products.

– Sriram Narayan, Digital-IT management consultant, ThoughtWorks & Author Agile IT Organization Design
Sriram Narayan Agile IT Org Design ProMa Dinker Charak
Dinker is a magician — in a crisp book that is light and easy to read, he has packed in more than a semester’s worth of high priced B school education, and several years (and many dollars!) worth of lessons from a startup. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.

– Naren Nachiappan, Co-Founder, Jivox
Devangana Khokhar Gephi Cookbook ProMa Dinker Charak
A brilliant resource for all consultants, irrespective of the role they are in, and not just Product Managers. Dinker has poured his years of experience into this one book. He covers entire life cycle of a product/business evolution and introduces a lot of handy artifacts – checklists, frameworks, tools, etc. – that can be readily used at various stages of evolution. He sheds light on the real-life charms and challenges of building a product and does so in a simple yet eloquent manner. Keep an open mind and give this book a read – you’ll later on thank him for providing a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

– Devangana Khokhar, Senior Data Scientist & Strategist, ThoughtWorks & Author Gephi Cookbook
Dinker is quirky, interdisciplinary and full of real-world wisdom. The same could be said of this breezy new book on Product Management.

There are plenty of simple ProMa tools you can use every day – ‘Product in a Box’ and ‘Five buckets of Product Management’ stand out. There is also the philosophical exploration of the subject through lenses as varied as Indian materialism, Francis Bacon (he of the scientific method), and Rene Descartes. Most remarkably, there is a vivid tale of a failing startup – something any product entrepreneur will benefit from.

If you’re a product manager or work with these sometimes-mysterious creatures, take a copy on your next flight. You’ll have a spring in your step when you land.

– Nagarjun Kandukuru, Principal Digital Strategist, ThoughtWorks
"Who is my customer? Everybody, anyone you can think of—"

"Who is my competition? Amazon, Google, Netflix— (add any popular name in the Silicon Valley)."

"Who am I? I am a technology company who happens to do X (the industry this company should be in, till I probably walked in)."

This is what I keep hearing from the C-Suite at the clients I am engaged with.

In this world of needing and wanting to reinvent (or else—you are doomed), the most common response I have seen people resort to is by saying we have moved to a "product organisation" or an "experience organisation". This, no one will argue, needs change.

However, Dinker continues to argue that the challenges lie in the core philosophy. It’s not an easy journey. I can guarantee you will fail if you thought reading this book will solve the challenges of "product thinking".

But here lies a great starting point from a great product philosopher, thinker, transformer, doer and practitioner, and above all, a great colleague and a friend.

Read on, but engage with him when you get a chance. He will not fail to surprise you.

– Sagar Paul, Client Services – Strategic Accounts, at ThoughtWorks

Why the Book #ProMa and Why Now?

Product Management is an accidental and a new role. It is gaining importance as a pivotal for a Product based business. Being new, there are no set definitions, job descriptions or even well-known educational courses. In fact, in IT industry, Product Managers come from the most diverse set of background and may not always be technical or even have an MBA.

As opportunities for Product Managers grow, it is natural that consulting organization start offering this as a consulting role. This increases the complexity of the job.

As the role evolves, all this leave a new-comer with lots of questions about how to go about the job.

This book is based on the real and personal experience of being in this role in a variety of situations and draw upon the experience and output of last decade. Thus, the book also presents an opportunity to establish some Thought Leadership in this domain.

About the Book #ProMa

“Based on his popular blog, Dinker Charak brings a collection of tools, methodologies, and some unexpected approaches to Product Management. He also talks about his entrepreneurial journey from the eye of a Product Manager and discusses the strategy and its failures.”

Each chapter is complete in itself and focused on a specific theme. Some chapters may rely on concepts introduced in details in a previous chapter. However, a reader can still benefit from it without know details from the earlier chapters.

Some ideas are results of extended discussions, an opinion sought or a point-of-view constructed for a client. All of them are the result of sincere effort to produce something useful and usable. And at times, something unique.

The book is divided into three sections.

The first section (chapters 1-6) is about various tools & methods I have created and used for Product Management. These include the Product Management Canvas and the Product workshops I run.

The second section (chapters 7-18) is about various thoughts and ideas that I have around what it means to be a Product Managers and around Product Management.

The third section (chapters 19-26) is about entrepreneurship and based on my experience as a founder who hasn’t succeeded yet. It also has some ideas on team building, mainly around a novel concept of Dirty-Work Group.

Key Takeaway from the Book #ProMa

The book covers the entire lifecycle of a product/business evolution and introduces a lot of handy artifacts - checklists, frameworks, tools, etc. - that can be readily used at various stages of evolution.

There are plenty of practical ProMa tools you can use every day and also the philosophical exploration of the subject through lenses as varied as Indian materialism, Francis Bacon (he of the scientific method), and Rene Descartes and Sociology.

Who is the Target Audience For the Book #ProMa

The First Timer:

Has a tech, business or design background. Is now a Product Manager for a B2C product. Is poly-skilled enough to get the job but worried if is knowledgeable to pull it along.

An Experienced ProMa:

Has been a ProMa in an Enterprise that is building a B2B product. Has done MBA and/or has a technical background. With the expectation of B2B products to respond to market at speed of startups and with Usability of B2C products, is looking for ideas on how to reinvent the attitude towards this job.

An Entrepreneur / Founder:

Realising that a Founder is the first Product Manager of the startup’s Product, the Founder wants to ensure a proper approach is taken and not detail falls through the cracks and is looking for tools and checklists to ensure all basis are covered.

Business Folks:

ProMa help monetise a business opportunity via a Product. For key business owners, it is important to understand what a ProMa does and how does a ProMa think. This book can help them understand the variety of aspects of a ProMa, gain a better appreciation and establish meaning and deep partnerships.

About the Author of the Book #ProMa

#ProMa Author Dinker Charak

Dinker Charak has over 17 years of rich, diverse experience in the software industry building products that matter.

During his career, he has built software products that have been part of Real-time Operating Systems, Paperless Offices, Home Automation, help develop Online Video Ads business and founded a startup. Dinker was worked at Fermilab (US) and contributed to CERN (Switzerland), two top research lab that conducts basic research into particle physics. He holds a patent in Advertising Technology.

As personal interests go, Dinker holds Product Management Workshops for startups in collaboration with IIM Ahmedabad, CIIE, NASSCOM's 10,000 Startups and ThoughtWorks.

Dinker has done Master in Computer Application from International Institute of Professional Studies, Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India.

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Using Product Management Canvas for Your Product

Using Product Management Canvas Product

Your organisation

Your org is one among these:

1) A startup or an SME company. Hopefully there is not much of hierarchy and ‘Individual Contributors’ in how most of you describe yourself.

2) A startup or a stable mid-sized org that is scaling up. You have great ‘Individual Contributors’ and a set of senior folks who make sure the ICs are focused on their efforts and are cared for well.

3) You are a large org or an enterprise that is managing BAU and seeking innovations via multiple smaller initiatives. There are processes in place to ensure that the right folks have the right authority to decide regarding what they an accountable for.

Now, things are never ideal. But let us assume that you are in an excellent organisation.

Your Role

Based on the organisation you are in, you may be playing the role of a Founder, Product Owner, Product Manager, Solution Manager, Program Manager or a GM of a Product Line. Whatever the scale of your role, you are responsible for delivering a product that brings profitability and repute to your organisation.

Your Mission

Many tools are available for you to accomplish your job. However, communicating the Why, the key capabilities and the adoption path of the product will always remain the key pieces of information you will need to communicate far, wide and deep within year organisation.

There is enough talk of evangelisation of the product in the market. However, there is equal and important need to evangelise within your org. This communication has to be simple, crisp and easily digestible.

No product is developed in isolation. It is a journey from conceptualisation to development, to release to usage to monetisation and finally for re-invention or sunset. Many groups and departments come into the picture.

This is where the Product Management Canvas comes in.

Your Product Management Canvas

Product Management Canvas is a tool to articulate your product, describing the key elements that should be known far, wide and deep among your team.

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

You will notice, this Canvas makes you articulate the Idea behind it, the market it addresses, customer segment within that market, business value it delivers, features and capabilities, metrics and makes you aware of all the collaterals that you should have handy and linked to. Finally, it will hold you honest and reduce excessive optimism by making you state various risks.

All this in one page / slide / canvas. This single page becomes the communication about your product to all of the org far, wide and deep. Share it via email, hang on the wall where your team sits and or even print it on a team T-Shirt. Once you have this articulation, you can share the why, the key capabilities and the adoption path of your product in a crisp and readable format.

Wishing your product success!

More About Product Management Canvas

Product Management Canvas – Product in a Snapshot

Hackathon: From Idea to a Product in a Day

Download Product Management Canvas (pdf)

 


 

Dirty-Work Group

Dirty-Work Group

A Team Management, Dynamics and Structure Model

(Originally published in 1998)

1. Management – Sense in Multitude

1.1 In the beginning there was…

With the industrial revolution, came a problem, which was unfathomable for the people of the times. It was simply how to manage the enormous. A large number of workers, machines, raw materials that flowed in tones, production, the products and supplying it. And last, but not the least, the profits it generated and the money involved in the whole process.

1.2 Then came the manager…

This led to the development of some methods, functions and attitudes, which came to be collectively called as management. Management, like all abstract thought intensive activities, has no clear definition. Collections of sentences, which cover its various aspects, are taken as a framework in which it can be said to belong. Some of the accepted thoughts that broadly classify as definitions are:

1. Management is the integrating force in all organized activity.[1]

2. The process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, efficiently accomplish selected aims.[2]

3. Utilization of technical, human, conceptual and design skill at various levels in an organization to achieve selected aims.

4. Planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling various inputs in an organization to achieve selected aims.

As step-by-step formalization of management techniques, it was possible to understand and chart the course of a revolution. And it led to another revolution. From production-oriented industrial revolution to a commerce-oriented economic revolution. Profit almost is now a dirty word. Modern paradigms of efficiency, growth and environment-of-work and customer-is-king were the driving force.

1.3 The honeymoon is over…

Soon, with the growth of this new attitude, something was found missing in the concept of an efficient manager. Some said it was that a manager adopted an impersonal (though not passive) attitude towards goal.[3] They tend to view work as an enabling process involving some combination of people and idea s interacting to establish strategies and make decisions. They preferred to work with people and avoided solitary paths. This was seen as a good managerial practice but thought of as a big hindrance in taking those small bold step, calculated risks that made all the difference. It was increasing felt that a manager went on with his job with total trust that the function he performed was sufficient for the goal. The whole system lacked something, which could break new ground. It was felt if a manager was more personal, far-sighted, pro-active, driving, motivating in his unique was, he would fill this gap. A void in concept was detected and here came the concept of leadership. A void rightly understood, but wrongly filled.

1.4 A leader is born…

Certain traits were identified, certain attitudes were formulated and this resulted in the birth of a leader. A leader was required to be personal and proactive towards organizational goal. Leaders always took calculated risks and were more concerned with ideas, relations with people and worked in an intuitive and empathic way. Leadership was called the art of directing sub-ordinates will, abilities and efforts towards organizational goal.[4] A leader was to comprehend that people are different in work style and motivation pattern; understand group dynamics; create a stimulating environment; inspire and gain respect; understand the big picture and boil it down for his employees. Something called the fundamental principle of leadership was developed.

“Since people tend to follow those who, in their view, offer them a means of satisfying their own personal goals, the more managers understand what motivates their subordinates and how these motivations operate, and the more they reflect this understanding in carrying out their managerial actions, the more effective they are likely to be as leaders.”[5]

It was believed that a manager could utilize only 60-65% of the capacity of his subordinates without the exercises of effective leadership.[6] Many approaches to leadership were defined. It was observed, “Research has produced such a variegated list of traits presumably to describe leadership that, for all practical purposes, it describes nothing. Fifty years of study have failed to produce one personality trait or set of qualities that can be used to discriminate between a leader and a non-leader.”[7]

1.5 Shayad leader – Shayad manager…

Amidst all this discussion on leadership and how a leader differs from a manager, one subtle but distinct trait does come forth. We feel that all the traits of a leader described in management book are in general traits of an efficient manager. Leadership, it seems is the next step of being an efficient manager. A good manager, given authority and held accountable, will certainly take risks as dictated by his vision. In order to achieve that vision, he will surely make it personal and filter down the motivation and urgency to achieve it to his subordinates. Empathy is a trait of any decent human being and if found in a manager, would certainly make him a better manager. But what is that make an efficient manager cross the line and be a leader? We feel it is his personality, charm, charisma or style. It is his personality. Traits in his personality that make him seem genuinely superior, pedagogical and serene in his vision. It is not what but how of thing he does that makes him a leader.

1.6 With every wish, there comes a curse…

It takes good followers to make a leader. What is it that the subordinate wants from his manager that he finds in a leader? What do these traits do to a manager to make a leader out of him? A leader tries to understand what is in the minds of his subordinates and then tries to provide that and boil down big aim to task level for each of his employees. It is, we feel, things that people a lower level don’t understand or want to understand that makes a leader a necessity. But a manager too could have done this. But a leader, with his persona, inspires respect and trust which manager could not. So he is listened to.

The concept of leadership was considered to be the panacea for organization that wanted to be in the market to stay. Good leaders in your organization and it will be a leader. But it came with a flip side story. The personality cult and leader with no lead.

“I can’t forgive or abandon violence. I am not as great as Mahatma Gandhi…”, said the man.

Leaders exist at two levels. At the higher level, say, as a senior executive or CEO. We will try to understand the personality cult factor for two great leaders, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and William H. Gates III.

When Einstein said of Gandhiji that generations to come would not believe that a person of his greatness ever walked on earth, he knowingly or unknowingly hinted at the problem of personality cults. Gandhiji learnt that truth set him free, work made him a better person and freedom of thought made him a human who could find space-time to understand God. While he was alive, he made sure his ideas, not his person was the leading light. But after his death, our society labelled as a Mahatma and revered him as Father of the Nation. Mahatma, the great man took precedence our Gandhi, the ordinary man who not talked but followed truth. Today a word that goes against the image of Mahatma is blasphemy as no one wants to accept him as a normal human. His ideas, however, are lost as practical deeds but are mere words. Had no cult been formed around the name but his ideas put forth, he would have been of better service in his death to the nation.

Today everyone knows the names Windows and Microsoft as the brainchild of Bill Gates, CEO Microsoft. A leader in life and market. Windows NT was always slotted to wipe off Unix. Today the battle is on. Here, we have a typical Personality v/s Idea battle. NT is running on its efficiency. But what happens when Gates is no more CEO. Will its subsequent versions have the same push of being a Gates led product? Today Microsoft is very Gates sensitive. Without Gates, will the market be as supportive? Unix has no such leader involved with it. It has survived on pure efficiency. Many products are making it big only because of Gates persona and surely have been a failure has some other company pushed it in the market.

1.7 Who’s Next…

This leads to another problem. More charismatic the leader more difficult is it to find a successor. After Bill Gates, who? The insecurity and speculation involved in such events could be felt when J. R. D. Tata passed away. When Ratan Tata was to join, there was a thought going around that decline of Tata group was near. The reason was simple. Such was the persona of J. R. D. Tata, that nobody could expect Ratan Tata to fill the void. Without the leader, a decline was expected. In Indian politics, a prime example of this is Sonia Gandhi as leader of the Congress party as she belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi family.Note

Big words are put up in offices, with the name of a bigger personality attached to it. The sole purpose of this is spreading the good word. And one does feel the depth of the words if the person saying it was some great man. God is one – Ram Kumar Sharma, won’t catch influence our thought as God is One – Mahatma Gandhi. The whole idea is to extrapolate the personality influence on the reader. The words may get lost if a reader may not agree with the person.

At the lower level, i.e. the managerial level, when all want to lead, who will follow? Often it is seen that the mark of success is climbing the ladder of hierarchy. Though it is not encountered in organization too often, it is there. Though this is a common phenomenon in the social environment.

1.8 United we stand…

At this moment we introduce a concept of dirty-work group. First, what is a dirty-work? A job, which a person can do, preferably efficiently, but would not do it because he does not like it. e.g., a programmer may enjoy coding, but documentation is a dirty job. He will be happy if someone else did it as nicely, else he would do it himself. A typical dirty-work group is essentially a small, heterogeneous group in which each does his nice job and finds another to do his dirty-job. This has to be cyclic.

Dirty-Work Group

Dirty-Work Group Legend

Blue Red Green
Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work

Action B

Action A

Action A

Action C

Action C

Action B

1.9 So, all this means that…

In a typical scenario, there will be at least one initiator. They/he is the one with the original idea and want to give it an organizational form. He chooses his nice-work and dirty-work and looks for another whose nice job will be his dirty-job and so and form a cyclic group. A team of heterogeneous members will be self-motivating.

Blue has initiated a project. Now he spreads his idea to other two. They all share the vision now. If red goes slow on his job, blue will pull him up, who in turn will be pulled up by red for completing his dirty-work in time or up to mark. Also, if a member, say, red leaves, other to will sustain the project. Until the time they find another dirty-worker to substitute red, green will do his dirty-job himself.

Let us see, how does a dirty-work group fill the void leadership was filling.

Shared Vision: Among a Dirty-Group, it is easy to share a vision, as it was the ability to grasp that vision that made them come together. Any clash of vision will be rare as it is a heterogeneous group, with people doing what they like and knowing another work, will understand all the restriction and difficulty of certain approaches. If they feel their idea can be implemented they can easily take it up as their dirty-work. As they all are of different but related to the field of next, it will make them less like a committee, which as people for representation sake, rather than work contribution sake.

Idea Cult: A mix of people working will ensure that a single personality fixation is avoided and thus we will have ideas as the guide rather than personalities.

Big Picture: Big picture is often very complex to gather and very easy once understood. A Dirty-Work Group will be easily able to absorb in the big picture due to varied expertise people and spread their understanding to all as one passes it another, who in turn has a lot in common with the first one.

2. How did the idea of a Dirty-Work Group developed

Do not tell lies about the past.

– Leonardo da Vinci

The concept of Dirty-Work Group was first presented as a paper in Indore Management Association’s Quest For Leadership held in 1998 in Indore, India.

2.1 The Birth

DWG started with Expressions, an annual advertising festival of International Institute of Professional Studies (IIPS), Indore, India where we were pursuing our MCAs. We, as a small group of friends, were attracted to it for various reasons. Some wanted to contribute to jingle because of their interest in music and some in posters because of their interest in graphics and some wanted to join in because of their interest in just having fun.

And as years went by, we all remained a group. The strand or glue that held us together was the diversity of interest. And, the understanding that to do something interesting, there are lots of overheads that need to be taken care of and which usually are not interesting. So when one of us wanted to design the college T-Shirt because of interest in designing, the overhead of dealing with manufacturers, printers at business level was a dampener. So stepped in another who loved to make deals. And the dirty-work group created the first IIPS T-Shirts.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. 

– Albert Einstein

IT industry has one peculiarity. Its dependency on people is huge and also on how they interact with each other. Project management is a heavy technical and managerial task. As all of us landed with jobs in this industry, our workplace experience increased and our college became a fond memory. One thought prevailed amongst us. We were a nice team! And if we had similar teamwork at work…

2.2 Who are We

[Three kinds of people] Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.

– Leonardo da Vinci

Definitely, those who see.

In an earlier avatar, I had made an anonymous website for DWG. The idea was to test the concept of DWG on itself. Can it survive just as an idea or does it need a face or a name backing it? To keep anonymity, we used to refer to us as Original Idea Developers (OIDs). Unfortunately, I had to give up on the experiment due to web administration related reasons.

2.3 Acknowledgement

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

– Albert Einstein

Praveen Rao – Student of Masters in the Management faculty at IIPS for all his encouragement to formalize the concept and present in Quest For Leadership.

Indore Management Association – For providing the platform for presenting this concept.

3. Dirty-Work Group Summary

3.1 Foreword …

Dirty-work group started as a convenient way to do things by a group of friends in college. Dirty-work group started as a convenient way to do things by a group of friends in college – a group that puts its hand into everything. And according to interests of each person, he or she may or may not involve.

IMA gave us a chance to formalize this and present it to everyone as a model that could be used at workplace and at play. The idea, though very simple was very difficult to put into words. So with help of the paper and a deck, we were able to express it. Now we do not know how many there thought of it as a really good idea and not just a cool presentation (we were runners-up), but we knew that the idea worked.

So when we left college and went to work, we realized how much effort is being put and work is being done to create a good teamwork environment. And we realized how unknowingly, people who were a dirty-work group were doing well. And so we thought of putting this idea up. To see if it makes sense to formalize this concept.

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

– Albert Einstein

If you think this idea is too simple and too trivial for all the effort, a few years ago we would have agreed to you. And it would also tell us that you have crossed the first mark. You have understood the concept. But seeing how difficult it is to word concepts, standardize it, put it in a way that everyone makes the same sense out of it, it is all worth the effort.

3.2 All Dirty-Work Group means is…

The part always has a tendency to reunite with its whole in order to escape from its imperfection.
The lover is drawn by the things loved, as the sense is by that which it perceives…

 – Leonardo da Vinci

Here we dare to sum it all in few words. Not a good thing. So let us put it up as an example.

Your wife does not enjoy driving. You do not sitting idle in the car. So, you drive and she watches. What a happy dirty-work group you are!

Your project team is trying to crack a new technology. Your secretary does you time-sheets, leave cards, and tax return for you. You hit the technical specifications and the student-trainee converts your notes into presentations so rest of the team learn the easy way so the rest of the team learns the easy way. They in the meantime have all basics done, so as soon as the team know what to do, they shoot at it. What an efficient dirty-work group you are!

3.3 With this you get a free…

The idea which we highlighted in presentation with help of the slides was, what we felt was how steady organizations would survive in future, was to have ideas rather than people as leaders. And how we thought that a dirty-work group implemented ideas as leaders rather than people as a leader.

3.4 Always, have a backup…

Among the biggest threat to a good team is the loss of a team member. If we look carefully at a dirty-work group, we see that in implementing it, a team also inadvertently, implements a method where we have a back-up for each member.

The key here is, we choose not to do our dirty-work. It is not that we do not know how to do our dirty-work. So if tomorrow, the worker who was doing my dirty-work leaves the group, I can still do that task. So while we look for a new member, we are not stood still or are lost.

3.5 To Po(i)ntificate the Concept…

  • Dirty-Work Group implements a team structure, work distribution and robustness of the team
  • The knowledge of purpose, direction and means are all shared among the team and decided upon further by the team
  • Each worker has interest in the work involved and would love to do it
  • Each worker also has skills to perform at least one other task involved but may or may not want to do it
  • Each worker compliments another worker by choosing a task as nice-work, which was declared as dirty-work by other
  • Each member thanks the group member who handles the dirty-work by keeping in touch with the progress, issues and general details of the Dirty-Work.

4. Reviews of Dirty-Work Group

4.1 Martin Ryder (University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education) 28 July ’01

… It offers an interesting angle to the idea of collective activity and potentially fits within the context of one or more subject indexes that I maintain: notably Activity Theory and possiblyOrganizational Learning and Knowledge Management.

My main concern is your anonymity. I assume that you are a human being, but the identity of your web page and of your email message is solely that of an impersonal organization. We both know that organizations and humans are codetermined: one cannot exist without the other in human society. …

Note: This comment was made around July ’01, when I had presented these views in anonymously as “OID”.

4.2 David West (Dean of managementlearning.com) 29 July ’01

We think your ideas make eminent sense. We would like to reference your material on managementlearning.com. The topics that we feel that it connects to are team building, leadership and organizational culture….

This concept was also published on their website in form of an essay/article. The Article in ManagementLearning.com

5. Reference

1. R D Agarwal: Organisation and Management (Tata McGraw-Hill) pg. 1
2. Harold Koontz, Heinz Weihrich: Essentials of Management (McGraw-Hill International Editions, Vth Ed.) pg. 4
3. A. Zaleznik : Excerpts from Managers and Leaders: Are they Different ? (Harvard Business Review, MayJune 90) pg. 54
4. R D Agarwal: Organisation and Management (Tata McGraw-Hill) pg. 224
5. Harold Koontz, Heinz Weihrich: Essentials of Management (McGraw-Hill International Editions, Vth Ed.) pg. 346
6. Harold Koontz, Cyril O’Donnel: Management: A system and Contigency Analysis of Managerial Functions ( McGraw-Hill) pg. 587
7. E E Jennings: The Anatomy of Leadership, Management of Personnel Quarterly (Vol.1, no. 2, 1961), pg. 2

Shayad (Language: Hindi) – Maybe

6. Note

JRD Tata was head of TATA group. He and his organization has richly contributed to not just the economy of India but also help in improving the social life. The contribution of JRD to India is fondly remembered. This paragraph is not a comment on his successor but heartfelt realization on our part that people like JRD Tata are irreplaceable.

7. More Reading

7 Reasons Why Your Product Will Fail

7 Reasons Why Your Product Will Fail

Seven things your users think that will cause your product to fail

  1. “I don’t like it”
  2. “I don’t even want it”
  3. “I don’t even know how to use it”
  4. “I am happy with what I have”
  5. “I don’t want to pay for it”
  6. “No one else is using it”
  7. “I don’t trust it”

And what things you can do to over come this

Follow the deck to see where you can use techniques like:

  1. Rapid Prototyping
  2. Wire-Frames
  3. Reference Products (X of Y for Z)
  4. Gap Analysis
  5. USP Identification
  6. Product Definition
  7. Experience Design
  8. User Interface
  9. Habit Building
  10. Empathy Maps
  11. Product Migration
  12. Product Marketing
  13. Product Pricing
  14. User Research
  15. Business Models
  16. Go To Market
  17. Product Marketing
  18. Product Branding
  19. Product Support
  20. Product Reviews
  21. User Psychology

Sharing

SlideShare: https://www.slideshare.net/ddiinnxx/7-reasons-why-your-software-will-fail

SpeakerDeck: https://speakerdeck.com/ddiinnxx/7-reasons-why-your-software-will-fail


 

Product Management Canvas – Product in a Snapshot

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

The Product Management Canvas (PMC), is a strategic management and entrepreneurial articulation tool. It allows one to describe a product having the highest return on investment versus risk.

This is different from Product Model Canvas or Roman Pichler’s Product Canvas.

Where Does Product Management Canvas Fit?

Let us understand the Product Flow. I have talked about it earlier in the Hackathon: From Idea to a Product in a Day post.

 

Using Product Management Canvas

To summarise the flow diagram:

Using Elevator Pitch & Product in a Box, we describe the product we want to build. However, no product exists in a vacuum and is part of an ecosystem. We then layout the Product Ecosystem that enables the key product. The product is then described using the Product Management Canvas.

A Product Management Canvas then informs the process of Epics. Adding a business case to these we arrive at a Product Backlog. Each item in the Product Backlog can lead to one or more stories. When these stories Go Live and the hit the market, in the spirit of build-measure-learn, we learn and periodically do the Product Backlog Grooming.

The Elevator Pitch & Product In A Box, (Lean) Business Model Canvas, High-Level Products Layout and Product Management Canvas are explained in the blog post above.

Epics, Product Backlog, Stories and Build-Measure-Learn are standard terms that are described as part of the Agile process.

I think this sits one step before Roman Pichler’s Product Canvas and used to plan and describe a product, rather than track the agile product creation/development.

Understanding The Product Management Canvas

The canvas started as a checklist for Product Managers to ensure they have not missed any aspect of Product planning. However, it was always aimed to capture the current state of an evolving product. Thus, Product Management Canvas should be used to communicate across various groups and departments to ensure all have the same picture of the product.

Using The Product Management Canvas

Using Product Management Canvas Steps

The suggested flow is:

  1. Idea
  2. Market
  3. Customer Segment
  4. Business Value
  5. Features
  6. Metrics
  7. Evangelism
  8. Visual Identity
  9. Go To Market
  10. Key Resources
  11. Risks

Now let is look at each section in detail:

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

Idea

We start with describing the original problem or opportunity that the product addresses. It can be a unique need, a dormant need (we are creating the market) or aspiration (of the user/customer) that needs to be addressed.

Once the above is stated, it is important to connect it what the idea of the product and state how it addresses the above.

Market

Start by stating the market size (defined as the market volume or the market potential). VCs will want this to be a very big number. Big enough to accommodate you and all your competition.

The state the market opportunity your product addresses from the whole market size. This should be a more realistic number that should allow you sufficient growth so as to allow you to give investors a good rate of return.

A product never exists in a vacuum. There is an ecosystem of partners that enable it. We should note all key partners (data suppliers, data consumers, channels, SDKs and so on).

What’s fun without any competition? It is important to note competition and track them. If you have analysed competition in detail, you can add the link to that document. My thoughts on how to do Competition Analysis.

Customer Segment

Identifying if the product is B2B or B2C is sometimes obvious. But going one level deeper is important. (does my B2B target Startup, SME, Business Houses, MNC, etc. or does my B2C target BPL, LMC, MC, UMC, HNI, etc.) is important.

Does my B2B target Startup, SME, Business Houses, MNC, etc. or does my B2C target BPL (Below Poverty Line), LMC (Lower Middle Class), MC (Middle Class), UMC (Upper Middle Class), HNI (High Networth Individuals), etc.)?

Also important is to identify Early Adopters, Influencers, Recommenders and Innovators who try something new.

Business Value

Large organisations that create a lot of products need to ensure that there is a product – organization fit. This would involve making sure that it fits in tot established ecosystems, reuses tools used, etc and does not create whole parallel infrastructure requirements.

The product – market fit is very important and needs to be articulated crisply.

There are many revenue models available and many times the same product will have multiples of them. State the considered revenue models in this section.

Cost Analysis is a complex task but having a broad idea of the cost of producing the product that reflects the pricing model is recorded. Even when the aim is to invest in seeding the product, it is important to state and communicate the revenue – cost ratio.

It is important to state the key Regulatory & Compliance items. These should not slip through cracks of day-to-day tasks.

Features

It is important to state the value propositions / USP and communicate it uniformly. Not every differentiation is a USP, nor should it be. Along with USP, the other key features that set us apart, make usage simple or make us better than competition should also be noted.

Metrics

We all talk about success metrics. But before a product is successful there are some metrics that are minimal a product should achieve. These should not be ‘not meeting success metrics’, but independent ones.

Eg: while achieving an MAU of 1M is the success for your chat app, the number of messages exchanged is not growing at the same rate as user adoption is a failure metric.

Failure metrics are important as they tell us how key hypotheses could be wrong and it is time to reassess them and re-learn and re-build.

Viability metrics are good to have to make sure we are on track to success.

Evangelism

Product evangelism is, as Guy Kawasaki put it years ago, “selling the dream.”  It’s helping people to imagine the future, and inspiring them to help create that future.

Many things need to fall into place for an Evangelist to be effective. This section offers a checklist of essential items need to enable an evangelist.

This includes an elevator pitch, relevant content generation is a content strategy to keep it updated, uniform terminology across all departments and collaterals, SEO strategy so content is geared to show up in right searches, right brand assets, and social media presence.

Using all possible social networks is not the right approach. Choose and state ones that are relevant to the product, the audience and manageable by the team.

Visual Identity

This section offers a checklist of essential items need to establish a visual identity.

Product name, logo, icons, brand playbook, presentation/docs/stationery templates, product docs templates, Social Network assets (cover picture, etc.) and display ads assets.

Go To Market

This section offers a checklist of essential items to formulate an effective go to market strategy.

In the case of a new product, time of launch is an important date/period. Product Manager should initiate and collaborate in the launch strategy & related collaterals, describing sales and product delivery channels, positioning & promotion strategy, identify and help reach out to decision makers, influencers & recommenderssales collateral, marketing collateral, user support docs and training collaterals.

Often a product leads to changes in processes and people. The product manager has to think about a change management template.

Key Resources

Stating key resources is important as it allows a product manager to track them. This includes licenses (eg: SSL licenses as anybody can forget to renew on time like this, this and this), 3rd party platforms like SDK, analytics tools, etc.

Risks

State the known shortcomings and assumptions made. This helps plan the build-measure-learn better.

Product managers need to be paranoid about the product getting disrupted. Disruption Readiness is important to consider by identifying processes and methods that can be all be replaced in one go.

More

 


 

Building Products – It Takes A Village

Building Products - It takes a Village

XConf

ThoughtWorks’ XConf is a one-day conference that showcases the latest thinking from ThoughtWorks and friends on a broad range of topics. It provides a platform for passionate software professionals from different walks of the industry to converse and collaborate. I gave a talk at XConf, Delhi on 22nd April 2017. Details below.

Building Products

Products are not formed by following ceremonies and by superstars. It takes the wisdom of a village and a team. From Charvaka, Francis Bacon, Descartes to Scientific Process. How it all influenced Product Thinking, Agile and forming right teams while drawing some parallels and some not-so-obvious connections.

Sharing

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The Edge of Product Management: Talk at Institute of Product Leadership

Product Management Talk Institute of Product Leadership

I gave a talk to the students of Executive MBA at Institute of Product Leadership, Bangalore on 19th Nov 2016. It was a conversation around Product Management, industry practitioners approach to it and what’s new in this domain.

I also shared some new ideas I am toying around with and sought the feedback. It was a lively discussion.

SlideShare.net: http://www.ddiinnxx.com/slideshare-edge-product-management/

SpeakerDeck: http://www.ddiinnxx.com/speakerdeck-edge-product-management/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvp-I-vymp0