How do the big BIGs like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Tesla design, classify and develop products in the certainty that they will explode on the market and be adored by billions of people in the world?
Perhaps surprisingly the answer is that these companies do things differently than most technology-based companies. In this article we will see a different point of view on how to discover and guide companies in the Tech world that are successful, that appeal to their customers and that also work for “your business”, that is, personal, that of each of us.
We will see how to discover the “right product” by implementing a simple process and we will also see how to create a product-based business culture.
Even if you are at the beginning of your start-up, you certainly work to get the most profit from the market and daily you commit yourself to buying skills that you then resell on the market, strengthening your position.
This article will offer you a new conception of the market, how you can hook the consumer to another and higher level and how to constantly innovate your product and stay on track.
What is hidden behind a product
Behind every well-made product, there is:
- a person (or maybe even more) who led a team of people who dedicated themselves to the birth of that particular product. People who have managed to combine technology and design to meet consumer needs and market demands. Normally these people are defined as “product managers”, but they could also be a start-up or a visionary CEO, it doesn’t matter: as long as they are visionaries capable of seeing far,
- one of these three types of companies: a start-up, a medium-sized company that is growing or a large company.
Generally in the start-up, the figure of the product manager is directly covered by one of the founding partners with about 25 engineers in tow.
In the medium-sized company, on the other hand, the situation is different because the company must not “be born”, it must instead face a process of growth.
We can do a different matter for the large company: in this case the people who work there are brought to “protect” what they have built and are a little reluctant to novelties or any type of idea that can bring about changes.
The duties of a self-respecting product manager
The main task is to evaluate opportunities, more specifically those that are directly profitable. The successful product manager manages to do this not only because he is a true connoisseur of the market and the product, but is also at ease in handling data and any performance analysis tool.
He also has knowledge of competitors and the whole management system around him. Let’s take a few examples of true successful product managers: Jane Manning from Google, Lea Hickman from Adobe, Alex Pressland from the BBC, Martina Lauchengo from Microsoft, Kate Arnold from Netflix and Camille Hearst from Apple.
The holistic aspect of the product
If we consider a product, we must not only look at it from a technical point of view but we must scan it according to a holistic interpretation.
This includes the functionality of the product, its features, the technological part that is directly proportional to its functionality, the ways in which they monetize the product: all of this, all in all, offers us the intrinsic value of the product.
Surrounding yourself with the “right people”
The product is the result of the work of all the people who work in the product team. Well, let’s try to understand how we can exactly define the roles, how to select the right people and understand which of them will be the right engine for the success of the product.
Basic principles of a good team:
1. Rule number 1 is fundamental : that it be a team of missionaries, not mercenaries. Mercenaries do what you ask them, missionaries instead believe in a vision they can share;
2. As regards the composition , a maximum of 12 people would be fine in principle;
3. Encourage, collaborate and above all feel that “nobody is nobody’s boss” even if a reporting system was implemented;
4. Find the right middle way between “sitting all in the same office” and a healthy “remote job”;
5. Try to make the people of the team feel good so that the team can grow and blend well, so that it lasts longer;
6. Leaving the maximum possible autonomy , delegating is the rule: in this way relationships are facilitated and self-esteem and respect are increased.
Questions to ask yourself to implement the right process
1- It means creating the right mix between technology, open mindedness for the growth of that particular product, exact questions that give a frame on which to operate and last but not least, a precise and shared corporate culture.
Questions to ask:
- will our typical consumer buy the product? (risk assessment);
- will our typical consumer understand how to use the product? (risk related to the usability of the product);
- how can we implement the technology of our product? (product feasibility risk);
- do the solutions we arrive at work for our business? (feasibility index of risk).
2- It also means understanding in which type of frame we operate
. First of all we must make sure that the whole team is aligned, that it has understood the purpose. At this point we create a map of how to lead the team in 6 different ways which are the right questions to ask (it is not known if risky or not, we should train us and our team to face them) and beat them one by one:
- First way to consider: are there any financial risks?
- Are there risks related to business strategy? Is this strategy built on the needs of the company and the market?
- Are there any risks coming from the marketing sector? Because if something goes wrong, the first thing that will be affected will be the corporate image and its brand;
- Are there risks related to sales? Is our staff ready for what we will ask them to do?
- Are there possible and avoidable legal and compliance risks ?
- Every possible ethical risk is to be carefully evaluated;
14 principles to be adopted to achieve the goal and implement the right strategy
9 principles regarding the vision that you yourself must have to reach the goal:
1. Start with your “why!” . What does it mean? It means looking for the purpose for which you want to create that particular product;
2. Love problems , not solutions;
3. Don’t be frightened if you think big : you have to be ambitious, otherwise you won’t inspire anyone;
4. Don’t even be afraid to change , to subvert yourself: if you don’t do it, there are those who will do it for you;
5. Try to understand and make each trend your own: it is not difficult to understand what the trend itself is, it is difficult to make sure that it is understood, accepted and that it becomes a drive to innovate and improve;
6. “Skate in the direction the puck is going , not in the direction the puck was in before” (the puck is the puck used in hockey). The meaning is simple: one must not stay away from action but must always be projected towards the future;
7. Be stubborn in determining your vision , but flexible on details;
8. Remember that every product vision is a flash of faith , you must feel the passion to move forward;
9. Never stop , as if it were a real process of evangelization both for you and for the people who work with you.
5 principles regarding the right strategy to implement:
1. Focus on target again or look for a person who embodies that target, think about it, in this way you will find the idea for your right product;
2. Make sure that the product strategy is aligned with the business strategy;
3. Make sure that the product strategy is aligned with sales and with the ability of the sales department to “go on the market”;
4. Always be attentive to your consumers and not to your competitors;
5. Communicate the strategy in every corner of the company, be present above all in the marketing, finance and services departments.
A very interesting technique that will give you the right direction, focus and alignment to the results is the OKR technique. It is a solution that takes into great consideration and puts key objectives and results first.
Here are 10 points that will explain how to use this technique:
- The objectives must be qualitative and the results quantitative and measurable;
- The key results must be the measurement of business results;
- Don’t let personal goals confuse the focus you put on results;
- Test results on a specific date: for example annually or every four months;
- Measure the objectives for each department, giving each of them a certain number of objectives to be achieved in a certain period of time;
- Each team will calculate its tasks based on the objectives;
- Goals do not have to cover every hour of the day of the team: it is enough that the goals are predetermined on the basis of the result and that everyone is aware of them;
- Every part of the team must feel part of the project;
- Score each goal achieved, not in terms of rating but proximity to the result;
- Be transparent about what you think of the results achieved.
The corporate culture on which a company is founded
The culture on which the company is founded can be seen in 2 fundamental aspects:
- Is the company ready to try to constantly reinvent itself?
- Executive aspect: always focused on the product.
Let’s try to conclude this book by placing a fundamental difference between a company that is constantly renewed and one that focuses all its energies on carrying out its task, in the specific case “the product”.
The first case is a company that experiments, that has an open mind, curious about how technology makes the world go around, diversified staff and people capable of questioning themselves.
The second case is a company suffocated by the culture of urgency, always struggling with time, focused on results, awards, responsibilities.
Many companies cover the second description: not very innovative but strong in the execution of duties. So ask yourself, as a person and as a company, which of the two types do you represent? Is what you see ok? The answer will help you.