User Research: takeaways from Boston Product breakfast

I attended Boston Product's breakfast on the topic of user research.  Here are my core takeaways from the event:

Opportunities to do research exist everywhere!

Opportunities for user research exist everywhere. Ideas came up included

  • Listening to support calls
  • Putting up surveys in the product and validating hypothesis quantitatively
  • Using LinkedIn and Facebook to recruit friends or friends of friends for user studies
  • Actually viewing user sessions with plugins such as Full Story and Appsee
  • Sales calls. Several Product Managers mentioned that they went to sales calls in exchange for being able to interview customers
  • Attending industry conferences
  • Malls, Liquor stores etc. Basically anywhere where your potential customers might hang out

Justifying user research can be tricky

Fighting for resources for User Research still seemed like an uphill battle for several product managers. One of the participants had to re-organize their role and make sure that they...

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Most people use Willpower to drive change. Here’s what to do instead.

Summary

 

Most people drive change through pure willpower. In the process they do more harm than good. Rather than doing that, let’s focus on how you might design change into your life.

 

I use the word “design” consciously. Willpower and repetition is one way to improve a skill, to building a habit. But there are so many ways where you can transform your life with less effort, with more happiness, and a much bigger impact to you, and everyone around you!

 

There are three things I cover hear:

 

  • The eight major ways to drive change in your life
  • The four foundational habits you need to have in order to drive these changes
  • The two support systems you need to put into place to help drive these changes

 

Eight ways to drive change in your life

Know your why. Knowing your why is not this magical thing that we only get by meditating for 7 days and then journaling for another 13. Knowing your why comes down to two things:

  1. Recognize work you...
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Product Managers: Accelerate your Momentum to Magnify your Effectiveness

 

 

Momentum is easy to see in sports. One team is doing better, seems to have more energy, pulls off crucial moments with ease, and has a stronger body language. While the other team - they seem to have their backs to the wall. They seem to start to lose grip on their position in the game. They might be ahead but seems not so for long.

The same thing applies to Product Management. Momentum is crucial but can take many forms. There are five aspects to Product Management momentum; the market, your product, your stakeholders, your team, and you.

Market momentum

How well is the category of products you're working on doing? So, as an example, if I was to start a company today, let's say that's a competitor to Uber or Lyft, there's a good chance that I'm hardly able to get any market share. But because this category is doing well, I will at least get some momentum in the marketplace because as we've heard, a rising tide lifts all boats.

It's always important to consider...

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On Personal Branding

Uncategorized Jun 05, 2019
 
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Marty Cagan's "Product is Hard" event

product management May 14, 2019

Marty Cagan: Product is Hard

A huge thanks to Josie-Dee Seagren for taking crazy good notes and co-authoring this post with me.

On May 13, 2019, I attended a talk by Marty Cagan called Product is Hard. I have read his blog posts and his book ‘INSPIRED’, and it was such a treat listening to this talk and meeting him in person.

Here were Josie-Dee’s and my notes and main takeaways from the talk.

Why product is hard

  1. Frustration with lean & agile
  2. Validating ideas vs. discovering solutions
  3. Planning vs. prototyping
  4. Not thinking broadly enough about risks
  5. Not thinking about ethical risks
  6. Playing defense vs. offense
  7. Confusing optimization with discovery
  8. Qualitative vs. quantitative
  9. Not considering alternative solutions or approaches
  10. Product manager competence
  11. Coaching product managers
  12. Truly empowered teams

1. Frustration with lean & agile

Lean and Agile are not wrong. They have very simple core principles, which are almost indisputably good.

So the problem is not...

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9 Speed Bumps on the Road to Successful Customer Interviews


 

 

 

Customer development interviews are one of the best ways to get insights that lead to an amazing product. But that road to insights is often covered by speed bumps that can slow you down and throw you off course.

Initially you might hit all of these speed bumps. But with enough practice and reflection, you will get better at navigating them.

Here are nine lessons that I have learned in years of interviews, false conclusions, reading, trying to get slightly better the next time, workshops, notes and what not.

1. Know your goal well

Ask most people what their goal is in one sentence, and they will give you a laundry list of things they want to do during the interview.

With customer interviews, there are just three top level questions you are trying to answer. You must determine which question is the one you are trying to answer this this interview.

A) What is the real problem, and is it worth solving?

Here’s a typical scenario: We have a...

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Product Managers, let’s embrace Deep work

Uncategorized May 04, 2019

As product managers we have a LOT on our plates. Product strategy, vision, facilitating meetings, bug triages, writing user stories, answering questions from the sales team, design reviews, customer meetings, usability studies, stakeholder alignments, bringing the donuts and what not.

What happens as a result of this? We tend to do what is easy to do in the moment, rather than what really matters. And why blame us? We are human. This is human tendency. It is much easier to attend some meeting than to start to think about the roadmap for next year. I go somewhere, I get something concrete achieved. There, done.

But consider this: The Pareto principle states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Nowhere is this more true than work you can do as a product manager.

Most of this high value work is concentrated in a few areas: thinking about product vision and strategy, piecing together various forms of input to figure...

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Storytelling for Product Managers

storytelling May 04, 2019

Storytelling differentiates the average Product Managers from the awesome Product Managers. There is literally no other skill that comes close when it comes to differentiating PMs. Given that PMs lead by influence, not being able to tell a consistent, compelling story, is going to slow down your career progress.

I have been curious about how PMs come up with, and tell great stories. What differentiates great stories from mediocre ones? When should stories be used? And is there a “checklist” that you can follow to come up with an amazing story? Let’s get into it.

WHAT MAKES A STORY GREAT?

One of the most compelling books I have read on this topic is Made to Stick. The book provides three core elements of a good story:

  • Great stories are simple. They make it simple for the reader to understand the core message. The key to simplicity is to prioritize the most important elements and use something relatable for the user as an analogy.

  • Great...

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Originals: a new approach to being 10X more innovative


 

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash
 
 

The original Originals video from Apple paints a vivid picture of what innovators are like. They are “the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently—they’re not fond of rules…”

But what if our assumptions about innovators was very wrong? What if the innovators were very much like the rest of us, with some key differences? And what if we—the ordinary people—could be a lot more original and innovative in our day to day?

That is the premise of the book Originals by Adam Grant.As a Product Manager, and as an Entrepreneur, it is one of the most valuable books I have read in the past several years. Not only did it make me think of Originals in a new way; it provided a lot of actionable advice that I can apply as a Product Manager today.

Cliff notes

 

  1. Being original is a choice .Successful...
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