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Product Manager’s Dream Inbox

Inbox

Dear Readers,

When I opened my office Outlook this morning, the 3rd email from top grabbed my attention. It came from a fellow Product Manager who requested the IT Admin to remove him from a certain Distribution List (DL). The last line really made me think. It went like this (names have been masked for obvious reasons):

 Note: – I am receiving 6K+ mails in a day from different environments since my email is in this DL. This is causing distraction and I am not able to concentrate!”

I laughed my heart out but yes, more often than not – this is how our life is!

We get trained (over time on the job) and paid to process tons of information and most often it feels like searching for clues in a labyrinth and making the most educated guesses. The life of a Product Manager is all about distilling the ‘right’ information from myriad sources. It’s all about saying “Yes” and “No” emphatically (mostly the latter). Sometimes we hit jackpot while at other times we get a raw deal. Over time, I have learned that ‘no-decision’ or ‘slow-decision’ is like poison; it will surely kill the product’s longevity. So it’s better to make a decision today, fail fast and move on. As long as I figure out why the decision was a wrong one, I need not announce it to the world. But yes, I would have my confidence intact and that should be good enough to help me make a better decision for my product in future. Making my product live long with glory is my purpose!

So how do I stay on top of my Inbox?

The Goal I set for myself everyday: “The clutter free inbox – Less is more.”

(yes, I know no two days are the same!)

How do I get to my dream Inbox?

Everyone has their own ways of doing things. This is what I have been doing for last 3 years which has helped me by a great extent to become more productive:

Rule 1Inbox (quick scan of ~ 5-10 seconds/email, max of 10-15 minutes per day to go through Inbox) > Delete (delete irrelevant emails) > Archive (archive the entire Inbox at the end of day).

Rule 2: Don’t spend more than 10-15 minutes/day to bring the unread email count in your Inbox to 0, regardless of whether it’s 5k+ or 500 at 8 am or whenever you start your day.

Yes, I know this might shock many, but this is the best way I found to stay focused. It doesn’t mean I am careless. I have been doing this for the past 3 years, and trust me, neither am I inefficient, nor have I missed any deadlines. In fact, I managed to get few awards instead [no not for deleting emails ;)].

I realized over the years that we often waste our time going after the wrong information; added to that we further waste time questing the source. And all this while, the truth hides somewhere else. In the process we fail to take a decision today and as a result, our most beloved product suffers.

I am sure that soon technology will solve the problem of stopping/eliminating unwanted information/emails reaching us every morning when we open our business email. In fact, one of my colleagues is working on a patentable idea that would solve this problem!

If you have an unique recipe for attaining Zero Inbox in < 10 minutes, please don’t forget to comment below with your tips and tricks.

I will end my thoughts today with these quotes:

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Yours Truly,

A Product Manager

~ Build the best version of your product ~

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Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

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10 Tips to be an Inspiring Product Manager

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If someone were to ask us what makes one a great Product Manager, we would be at loss of words. And it’s not because we don’t know the answer but for the simple reason that there is no single mastery technique that a one can acquire to become a great Product Manager. Great or not, one needs to be a happy and a soulful Product Manager. Here are what we think are the top 10 tips to become that elusive Happy & Soulful Product Manager:

People also ask if there are any certifications that say “I can do all of that?” Again, the simple answer is, “None that we know of”. The most important argument that we put forth is that teaching and certification of old and failed techniques simply work to institutionalize the bad practices. So enjoy what you are doing and it will reflect in the solutions that you deliver.

Always remember, its one thing to get certified and another to be successful and happy.

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

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Is Your ‘Elevator Pitch’​ Elevating You?

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The opportunity to pitch an idea to investors is a momentous milestone for any entrepreneur. It serves as the first step towards getting validation that your ‘out of this world’ idea has some value. It also serves as a much-needed opportunity take a break from the tiring routine (of bringing your idea to life) and reminding yourself of the bigger, world-changing vision that motivated you to start your business in the first place.

Great startups and product companies don’t fund themselves. Bootstrapping during the initial phase is perfectly fine. But after your product and business gets some inertia, it’s time to scale up. Raising money from investors for your startup is challenging at any stage and requires a great pitch, even for experienced founders with a well-connected network.

Here are 4 key components that make an impactful Pitch:

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What’s your idea of an investor pitch? Conservative or AggressiveWe would love to hear your story so please comment below and lets all learn.

 

botAnd while you are here, you might want to try out this new virtual Pitch Bot that grills and prepares you before you get into the investor’s office.

Have Fun!

 

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

M2M

 

 

 

The Devil is in the (Design) Details

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“Everything is designed.  Few things are designed well.” – Brian Reed

Design is in everything and everything is in design. Think how quickly and powerfully a design experience shapes our opinion of that product, service, brand, organization or outlet, for good or bad. For instance, we know quickly when the logo of a company is bad or plain lousy. And we associate that feeling of disgust with that brand. That’s the power of design. And we are not just talking about logos. It traverses beyond logos to graphics, products, brand, process, interaction and user experience, packaging and services to name a few. One thing is certain that with our exposure to beautifully designed experiences, the design bar has been raised and design-oriented organizations are winning.

Here is an instance of how a small change in the design elements of a mobile app UI can help in creating positive memories.

© Mahuya Ghosh & Pijush Gupta, 2016

This is a clarion call to all individuals and organizations to recognize this new design-driven era and make conscious effort to metamorphose even a humdrum product or service into something more gratifying and more memorable. In the process of bettering your products or service, try to analyze and assess its constituent element; see the elements of their design elements not as a marketing gimmick but as an unpretentious source of competitive advantage. 

We leave you with an example of how seemingly subtle changes like scale or slant can have a profound effect; forcing us to look at things differently. This is the New York City’s new wheelchair symbol.

 

 

 

 

 

May the {design} Force be with you!

 

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

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Maximum Validated Learning

“Evolutionary quest for perfection, but with a feedback loop” – Pijush & Mahuya

There is no better time to fail and learn than now! We are living in a world where experimentation, trial and error and really understanding the pain points of the human beings involved in the process are critical dimensions. When it comes to problems involving human beings, data from the past is not necessarily predictive of the future and collaboration between people with varied perception of the problem is of utmost importance.  This where the need to test and fail comes to the fore. The most effective approach to test a hypothesis in small measures is Design Thinking and this “small measure” is Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

Some of the earliest examples of MVP took ages to get to their final (or current) form. Time telling instruments for instance took thousands of years to get to the form that we are familiar with. But during the course of its journey, all the previous forms were true MVPs in themselves. They all had just those features that allowed them to be used by early adopters (and start giving feedback on).

Have a look at the following video that we created on evolution of time telling instruments. Some may say that its evolution but we say it’s Maximum Validated Learning.

It’s so easy to get the concept of MVP wrong; right from defining it to the actual execution. The most common misconception is that MVP is a product with minimum set of features. It could be minimum, but is it viableIs it potentially shippable? Does it resonate with early adopters? Is the product basic enough to test a hypothesis but functional enough to focus on user activities and conforms to the overall vision of the product? It’s never easy to get it right. The idea is to replace the traditional method of having a one dimensional feature list (based on business value) with a two dimensional map based on Customer Journey. 

Recall our last post on User Personas? The Persona is represented by his/her goals, needs, aspirations and pain-points. Each Persona has its own journey and interaction/touch points with the system. This is what we commonly refer to as the User Journey. This is where we capture the primary goal of the product or solution. 

The User Journey represents the end to end interaction between the user and the application (product or service) through its life-cycle. Each of the stages of this User Journey can further be exploded into a task flow that represents the interaction or process flow. This is where we define the main process or flow of the product or solution. 

Drill a level deeper and you have the features that a product or a service needs to have. This is where we create a list of feature for each of the stages. These can then be broken down into user stories and stack ranked based on priority.

Now comes the real (and hardest) trick. If we take the very first row of the prioritized feature of each stage, we can come up with a working skeleton. This represents the smallest possible representation of a usable product. The idea is to take the take the top prioritized items from each of the stages of the user journey and what you would have is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

One might argue that the idea of MVPs could be a waste of time. Detractors may say, why spend time and effort on building a prototype that might never get completed or might be too simple to appeal to the target segment.

Well, the idea is to get an opportunity to see firsthand how your target customers use and perceive a product, which focus groups or boring surveys don’t. Proponents of MVP can find solace in what William Edward Hickson said:

 ‘Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.’

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

M2M

 

 

Customer Journey in B2B SaaS Economy

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In our previous article B2B SaaS Landscape- The Changing Story, we observed that the persona of the enterprise customer is changing and that they engage with products and solutions across multiple channels and devices in what has become a true omni-channel environment. Today customers have access to more than one channel through which they are able to interact with a brand in multiple ways. Be it using a website, through a mobile app or any social ecosystem, customers have access to various touch-points to discover, learn, evaluate and then take a decision. But it can’t be as simple as it sounds!

That brings us to customer journey and its impact on the B2B SaaS economy. Customer journey is not just about ensuring a positive experience and impression about your product or service. It’s more about the customer’s impression of your product or service rather than what you have built. Customer journey is more than a fancy term or a buzzword; it’s a mandatory requirement for organizations. In today’s über-connected and über-competitive marketplace, it is a critical differentiator for product companies to steal a march over others. Defining the customer journey cannot be done using a boilerplate; it is a combination of data driven analysis and customer empathy driven insights. 

Innovative products, price, design, usability are no more the differentiators in today’s marketplace. They all can be replicated and dramatically improved given the fact that competitors have access to technology and knowhow to leapfrog every one of them. What can’t be replicated is the customer journey as it is not in a snapshot in time but spans the entire trajectory of being a customer. In fact according to a CEI Survey research, 86 percent of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for a better customer journey and experience (Source: Forbes) 

We hope you remember we mentioned “It’s not simple as it sounds.It’s not simplebecause of the discrete disconnected journeys that the enterprise customer is made to go through. These journeys traverse and span multiple touch-points which make managing them very tricky. The complexity of this entire engagement is compounded by the fact that these journeys most often pause and resume when the customer is ready.

Since these journeys are disconnected, it brings about certain randomness in the way B2B SaaS product organizations manage it. In effect, the customer behavior is unpredictable and conversion is inefficient. The channels through which customers engage may be multiple but organizations should strive to make the end-to-end customer journey delightful. It is surely a challenge for most organizations to do a great job when it comes to customer experience management.  If we generalize these disconnected pieces of customer experiences for better management, the Customer Journey Map would look something like this:

There are 4 parts to Customer Journey Management:

  1. Understanding the various touch points & Customer Journey Map for your product
  2. Designing the right experience for each of phases in the Customer Journey
  3. Setting checks and balances to monitor customer experiences (through NPS survey, interviews, mystery shopping etc.)
  4. Efficiently managing and tweaking the journey that was designed to create that ‘wow’ experience

All of the above are equally important as they convert a prospect into customer and then retain them. The designing of the customer journey should be such that all touch-points are given different weightages when it comes to optimizing the interactions. The idea is to tweak the treatment given to each of the touch-points based on interaction volumes for instance. This Customer Journey Map can never be set in stone and needs to be constantly monitored and tuned to optimize it.

B2B SaaS product companies must design a new system of engagement or customer journey to complement their strengths in innovation and value proposition. The engagement must span touch-points to provide a consistent experience that is contextually relevant and based on user personas. In a nutshell:

  • Building a great product experience is no longer a good to have thing, it’s a necessity to survive
  • Customer Journey Management all is about engaging your product and employees with your customers
  • Treat your customers more than numbers – remember, every interaction counts!
  • All of your collective actions as an organization delight the customers
  • Most of the time, people make decisions based on the shared experiences of others 

If your organization’s customer experience management strategy is not working, then probably it’s time to rethink your current strategy around how to delight your customers. And that’s exactly what we are going to discuss in the next post. Stay tuned!

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

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