Product Manager as Maestro

“The conductor’s role in the process is to guide the orchestra to find the essential in the new field. This may mean different kinds of clarifications for the new indications on the ‘map,’ zooming out for an overview, and zooming in for a special focus… sometimes even just a bit more time may be needed, but when a work is well-written and has a clear personality, it’s the music which finally guides us all.” Susanna Mälkki, Chief Conductor, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra* Maestro Mälkki’s words guide your symphony. They speak to music and, of all things, your role as product manager. Indeed. You are the conductor, with your style and your methods of interpretation. But no matter w

Lessons from Louisiana

"It's tough to get over it." New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. Folks from the Big Easy still ain't easy. The angry buzz from the bayou is tremoring, days after the “penalty-that-wasn’t” decided a game. But it did not decide it. Apologies to the Saints faithful and my colleagues around the jazz stops of Bourbon Street, but the ‘miss’ was not the cause of the ‘loss.’ The window of gridiron action leads us to our own playing field within the firm -- the corporate project, with start and end dates, promises of execution excellence, milestones of completions, and our own versions of the 60-minute timeline. Whether old-fashioned waterfall or nimble agile, you are sprinting toward a goal. When

Is your Application Portfolio as Rigorous as Your Product Life Cycle?

The vision of product development is clarity. It’s not only about clinical research and development; however, that sector houses the perfect example. The bio/drug/device clinical life cycle can be neatly partitioned according to milestones; similarly Information Technology must partition and allocate its value according to the same. Is IT’s application portfolio structured with a commensurate level of clarity and specificity? Sub-optimal application portfolio management (APM) or, worse -- absent APM, can exacerbate a journey that takes years. From drug candidacy to approval by FDA, EMA, TFDA… the development process is a winding road of precision, trial and (hopefully not too much) erro

Carpetbags of Versatility

"Times and conditions change so rapidly we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future." Walt Disney When you assume your leading role, be certain that you are you. The role or the position or the engagement is now yours, not simply because of some previous experiences that reflected the job posting. It better not be. You were chosen as a leader, manager, professional…. because of uniqueness, your versatility and flexibility. That is the magic within you. What is the most disruptive factor in the internet of things? You. If your predecessor was a towering, rock star CEO, or (more probably) if you’re strapping on the boots of a previous manager who departed for her next pioneering

To Make a Great Product or Service, Stay Away from the Office!

I once worked as a product manager for the world’s 9th largest software company. When the VP of R&D came to town, if you were a product manager, you did NOT want him to find you at your desk. He wanted the 40+ product managers out in the field meeting with current customers, potential customers, or with implementation partners. That was the only reliable way we, as product managers, could really understand the business problems our solutions should be addressing. If we were staying in the office, relying on our own expertise to decide what the product or service priorities should be, then we were, as the VP put it, “Just MSUing.” That’s short for “making (stuff) up.” And he was right. You ne

We're Number One!

My New Year’s resolution was to recover from televised, American football addiction. So tonight’s college championship is just the last cheat. At least I think so. If your eyes are watching that frenzied contest tonight, prepare for the obligatory finger. The finger won’t occur at the tail-end of the game only, while sore and exhausted athletes hoist the trophy, their arms smudged with bruises and hair soaked in sweat. You’ll see it from non-players -- after every score when the cameras pan the stadium's apoplectic fans, pounding their seats, mouths opened wider than during a root canal. That’s when you get the finger -- the index finger. “We’re number 1 !!!” It might be that foam “Nu

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