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A framework for product managers to create the future
There are different types of product managers. Not all product managers think they are building the future, but if they don’t do it, who will? I think product managers are the best equipped for building the future, but that can sound like a daunting challenge.
If it sounds that way to you, keep listening as the founder of TrendHunter, Jeremy Gutsche, shares what you need to do to help your organization build the future. TrendHunter.com is the world’s largest, most popular trend community, leveraging big data, human researchers and AI to identify consumer insights and create new opportunities for the world’s most innovative companies.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:08] What do you do as CEO of Trend Hunter?
We’re currently experiencing history’s highest rate of change. At Trend Hunter, we cut through the noise to predict new opportunities.
[7:43] In your new book, Create the Future: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking, you share a framework for creating the future. What can you tell us about each part of that framework?
You could boil down innovation to trend spotting and finding an idea. But realistically, after finding an insight, it takes a lot of time to iterate and communicate your idea, and before you can innovate, you need a culture of innovation. This framework covers all these elements.
[9:46] The foundation of the framework is the ability to change.
Everyone wants innovation and change, but not everyone breaks from the path of past decisions. About half the people in organizations feel ill-equipped to innovate.
[14:13] The next element is the culture of innovation.
Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Saying, “Go innovate,” is different from making a culture of innovation and tactically knowing what to do. People recognize that failure is necessary to innovation, but they don’t want to fail personally. To encourage failure, at Adidas we host a project funeral to celebrate ideas that didn’t work. Staples gives their employees a written permission slip to fail.
[17:00] The next element of the framework includes three parts, beginning with opportunity hunting.
This is how you get inspiration. You start with hundreds of ideas for opportunities. You’ll first see patterns that you want to see, so throw those first ideas away. Keep clustering the same ideas in different ways, until you find some interesting opportunities. Involving people who think differently from you can help you avoid generating predictable ideas. Look at competitors for insight. Get inspiration by imagining how a different industry would approach your market. Consider what changes your competitor would make if they bought you.
[25:02] The second part is rapid prototyping.
Be methodical and scientific about how you use innovation. Think about innovation in the same way you think about your stock portfolio. The market goes up and down. When times are bad, your tendency is to get rid of all high-risk projects, but you actually need to keep those so you can bounce back when times change. Similarly, when you win big, you need to stay conservative. Balance high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk projects.
[29:07] The third part is infectious messaging.
Some ideas go viral and some don’t. This is due to three elements: the product itself, the medium of conveying the message, and the packaging of the story. When Josh Bell played a $15 million dollar violin in a subway, he only made $35 because he wasn’t packaged as the best in the world. How you convey your idea can be more important than the idea.
You need to be able to describe your product in seven words or less that are simple, direct, and supercharged. Simple messages are more easily spread by word-of-mouth. Direct messages convey why I should choose you. Supercharged messages are words that are fun to say.
For two minutes, list all the reasons someone should use your product. Then ban all those words you just said. How can you describe your product in a new way?
Bonus Question: What are the megatrends that are driving the future of products in the next 3 to 5 years?
My favorite trend is instant entrepreneurship. Anyone can instantly become an entrepreneur. My 9-year-old niece and I can 3D print a prototype, buy a $100 logo, and sell millions of dollars of product on Kickstarter. This changes the competition set.
Globalization changes the competition even more. You’re now competing against any ambitious person from anywhere in the world. Globalization also means you can prototype ideas more easily.
Convergence means that all the markets and industries are blurring. Competitors can enter any market from any angle.
All these megatrends mean that you have more opportunities than ever before, but you also have new competitive threats.
- Jeremy’s book, Create the Future: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking
- Trend Hunter website
“Break rules” – Jeremy Gutsche
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.