Product Management and the inspirations around it - a Malaysian point of view.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

How to innovate faster

I came across this article on Harvard Business Online by Ravi Chhatpar

If they’re to do their job most effectively, designers should be brought into the innovation process at the very earliest stages. Too many companies still make the mistake of keeping business strategy and design activities separate. Typically, marketers conceptualize a new product based on company strategy; the project team gets input from various areas of the company and creates a business case; and senior executives make a final choice from among the possibilities they’re given. Only then does the idea go to the designers.

That sequential method ensures that the product is aligned with strategy, allows the team to create buy-in and build consensus, and gives senior executives an array of options. But it takes a long time, so even if the original concept drew on real-world data about users, the company is inevitably unable to adapt to rapid, unforeseen changes in markets and user preferences.

The solution is to bring in designers at the very beginning of the process, because designers (if they do what they’re supposed to) will put prototypes into circulation and share users’ responses and attitudes with the project team, even as the business case is being developed. That enables the company to nimbly adjust to changes in market opportunities long before the product concept is set in stone.

From concept through development, designers should function in parallel with corporate decision makers, creating prototypes for a number of variations on a product and then testing them with users and, if appropriate, partners. Tracking how customers’ ways of using a product evolve over time also makes it possible for designers to identify desirable new features and, in some cases, create new functionality in conjunction with users.

Planners should concurrently be considering the business implications, asking questions such as “How much would it cost to incorporate this new feature?” and “How should we respond to users’ changing needs?” The team should continually feed new information from user research and prototype analysis into the evolving business strategy. Constraints that emerge, such as price or a decision to offer standard versus premium features, may be used to inform the next prototype, which can then be evaluated through more formal testing. And the cycle repeats.
... You can read the rest of the article here.

Shared this article with my CEO and here's his advice:
It is a good idea to get as many people involved as possible.
However, to do that we first need..
1) A strategic direction and a blue plan so that everyone know where is the direction. Do we have that?
2) We need to hire smart designer who understand the business and can contribute their ideas. No point just get more people in the meeting if their contribution is minimum. How many of such designer we have. Can we get more?
3) We need capable managers who can handle the discussion and involvement of more people. Do we have such capable managers?

I won't tell you my answers...But it is the sort of questions you should be asking yourselves :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Evolution has served mankind well, if you follow Darwin's theory.
It can be applied to organizations as well.

The 3+1 success factors of evolution are:

1. Variation - We need to allow variation to happen, aside from just appreciating differences. It is the variation in genes that have made mankind adapt to the changing world.

2. Inheritance - While we need to embrace variation, it is inheritance that made us who we are today and the reason why mankind is different from other species.

3. Selection - The process that ensures the strong survive and the weak eliminated. Like it or not - the environment, or the customers will enforce this process on businesses. In order to survive, organizations need to have the selection process within itself as well - keeping the strong people, process, product and weeding out the weak ones.

And the last one:
Be there.
What do I mean? Read this article on Forbes to understand more.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Spirit of Performance

The purpose of an organization is to enable common men to do uncommon things.

Morality, to have any meaning at all, must not be exhortation, sermon, or good intentions. It must be practices. Specifically:
  1. The focus of the organization must be on performance. The 1st requirement of the spirit of high performance is high performance standards, for the group as well as each individual.
  2. The focus of the organization must be on opportunities rather than on problems.
  3. The decisions that affect people - their placement, pay, promotion, demotion and severance - must express the values and beliefs of the organization.
  4. Finally, in its people decisions, management must demonstrate that it realizes that integrity is one absolute requirement for any manager, the one quality that he has to bring with him and cannot be expected to acquire later on.
~Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices.