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How product managers can innovate throughout the entire product lifecycle
As we move into 2021, the name of this podcast is changing to better reflect our objective here—product managers becoming product masters. That new name is Product Masters Now.
You don’t need to do anything to keep listening, but I want you to know the name change is coming in a few weeks, and it will show in your podcast player not as The Everyday Innovator™ but as Product Masters Now.
This is the final episode in the series on a product management body of knowledge. Every-other-week starting in episode 307, we have explored the Product Development and Management Association’s (PDMA) guide to the body of knowledge for product managers and innovators. PDMA is the longest running professional association for product managers, existing since 1976. We end the series by discussing product innovation management, which is the knowledge area for maximizing the return from product innovation through application of sound management practices throughout the product life cycle.
Our guest is Jerry Fix, a global Product Management professional who has successfully launched numerous products. He has significant experience managing global organizations to develop and support products and guide the commercialization of products and technologies.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:35] What are the key topics addressed in the chapter you wrote, Product Innovation Management?
Innovation is a theme woven throughout the Body of Knowledge. We don’t treat innovation as a static event but as a process that winds through the entire new product development lifecycle. This final chapter wraps up the theme of innovation and highlights the idea that innovation should be managed throughout the process.
[4:29] What responsibilities and skills do product managers have?
I like how Marty Cagan describes the job of a product manager—to discover something valuable, useful, and feasible.
Product managers’ main responsibilities are…
- Understanding the customer experience well.
- Internalizing a vision and communicating it to others.
- Assessing and prioritizing processes and activities.
- Managing pricing and roadmaps.
- Building business cases.
- Working with stakeholders.
Effective product managers’ key skills are…
- Understanding the market.
- Understanding what innovation is.
- Switching easily between thinking strategically (big picture) and tactically (immediate actions).
- Being able to explain technical requirements to users and stakeholders.
[11:58] What is the product life cycle?
The product lifecycle is a curve that describes the stages of a product from the time it’s introduced to the time it’s retired. It includes the areas shown in the graphic. Historically, the introduction, growth, or maturity phases could last years or decades, but today we’re seeing the whole process getting shorter. As technology develops, consumers become more demanding, leading to more new technology, causing consumers to become more demanding, etc.
Some product managers aren’t aware that retiring the product is part of the product lifecycle. They say their products never go away, and they have to continue managing them. They’re overextending the maturity phase. During the maturity phase, the product doesn’t change much. You’re generating as much revenue as possible while holding off decline as long as possible. If you extend that phase too far, your competitors will develop alternatives to your mature product, and you’ll miss opportunities for revenue and innovation.
[18:08] What should product managers be thinking about as they’re taking a product through its lifecycle?
During introduction, product managers are subject experts; during growth, they’re growth hackers; during maturity, they’re retention strategists; and during decline they’re solution seekers. In the growth period, product managers are looking to expand the reach of the product; they’re making sure it’s competitive and ready to scale. Their focus is on supporting as many users as possible while optimizing for the fastest growth possible. During maturity, product managers focus on retaining customers and sustaining their market share. They stay aligned with how the value to the user is evolving. Their goal is to deliver customer satisfaction and customer delight. Reframing a product is a very smart, low-cost way to stay in maturity. For example, Wisk detergent extended their maturity by 30 years simply by reframing their product as a solution to the ring around the collar.
[23:09] What metrics should we use for managing product innovation?
What gets measured gets managed. If you want to improve something, you have to measure it. If you think of innovation as a singular “ah-ha” moment, you can’t manage it. But if you think of innovation the way PDMA does, as a process woven throughout the entire product lifecycle, then you can definitely manage it.
Some metrics for managing innovation are:
- Balanced scorecard—considers people, process, and organization
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)—indicate how well you’re achieving a business goal by measuring the status of processes and outputs
- Percent of revenue coming from new products
- ROI (Return on Investment)
- Ability to capture new markets and market share in existing markets
Action Guide: Put the information Jerry shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Learn more about PDMA and the PDMA Body of Knowledge
- Get the PDMA Body of Knowledge for yourself on Amazon
- Learn about NPDP Certification
- Connect with Jerry on Twitter or LinkedIn
- Catch up on any episodes you missed in the PDMA Body of Knowledge series: TEI 307, TEI 309, TEI 311, TEI 313, TEI 315, TEI 317
“Vision without execution is hallucination.” – attributed to Henry Ford
“Strategy without execution is daydreaming.” – Jerry Fix
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.