How To Be A Good Product Manager

Tips on product management, product development and product marketing. By Jeff Lash

How To Be A Good Product Manager features tips on product management and product marketing, written by Jeff Lash (@jefflash on Twitter), Research Director, Product Management for SiriusDecisions.

Product Management Is Not User Experience; Key Traits of Innovative Product Managers (Boston, April 7 2014)

Posted on April 7, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Product Management Is Not User Experience

I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions lately around product management and user experience. In particular, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the scope and nuances of the product management role, where people are implying (implicitly or explicitly) that product management is little more than user experience. In this post on the SiriusDecisions blog — Product Management Is Not User Experience — I argue, as the title suggests, that as important as UX is, it’s not product management, and confusing the two belittles the importance of both of these crucial roles. Read the full post: Product Management Is Not User Experience

April 17 in Boston: Key Traits of Innovative Product Managers

I’m excited to be presenting at the Boston Product Management Association’s monthly meeting on Thursday, April 17, 2014. I’ll be discussing Key Traits of Innovative Product Managers. From the event description:

Effective product management is more than just visiting customers and writing requirements. Innovative product managers possess certain traits that allow them to excel in their roles. While it may seem that some people are just born with these abilities, most have them in some degree and just need to learn how to use them effectively. This session will cover important traits that innovative product managers possess that help them to be successful including specific suggestions on how to emphasize your natural traits, while addressing those that do not come as naturally.

If you’re in the Boston area, I hope you’ll be able to attend. You can get more information and register online.

SiriusDecisions Summit 2014
SiriusDecisions hosts an annual conference that brings together leaders from business-to-business sales, marketing and product management to talk about how to transform their organizations to drive sustainable growth. The 2014 Summit is being held May 21-23 in Orlando, FL, with the theme of Transforming Sales, Marketing and Product, and we’re expecting around 2000 b-to-b sales, marketing and product leaders from around the world.

I’ll be presenting two sessions and there’s a whole break-out track on the second day focused on product management and product marketing. Attendees will receive SiriusDecisions’ latest research insights, share best practices and ideas with guest speakers — including our keynote speaker Malcolm Gladwell — network with peers, discuss industry trends and connect with our sponsors, who provide solutions and services to optimize sales, marketing and product performance.

If you’re in b-to-b product management, marketing, or sales, this is an event you need to be at. Learn more and register today.

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past week; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


What Olive Garden Can Teach Us About Innovation; ProductCamp Update

Posted on March 12, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Innovation with a side of unlimited breadsticks

I’m always interested in learning stories of innovation. I find it fascinating to see how people and companies have looked at a problem in a new or different way, and then pulling out some lessons or principles that can be applied in other areas. A great example of this is in a recent promotion from Olive Garden — the casual Italian dining chain — and it’s the subject of this post of mine on the SiriusDecisions blog. There are some great principles that I think are relevant for all types of companies and some lessons that can be applied to a lot of product management challenges. Read the blog post: What Olive Garden Can Teach B-to-B Companies About Innovation

ProductCamp update

We are well into the spring ProductCamp season, and I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few recently — ProductCamp Austin in February and ProductCamp Vancouver last weekend. It was great to meet people in real life who are readers of this blog or whom I’ve interacted with on Twitter (@jefflash). If you’ve never been to a ProductCamp, you really owe it to yourself to try and attend — and if there’s not one where you live, you can always organize your own!.

Consult the master schedule on productcamp.org to see when there will be a ProductCamp in your city or a city you’d like to visit. I’m helping organize ProductCamp St. Louis on March 29, so hope to see some of you there! And if you can’t attend in person, you can follow along on Twitter — usually there’s a dedicated hashtag for each ProductCamp, so you can attend “virtually” regardless of where you are.

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past week; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Where Should Product Management Report?

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Where Should Product Management Report?

It’s one of the most common questions I hear, and the source of great debate within many companies — Where Should Product Management Report within an Organization? So, what’s the answer? And, does it matter? I tackle this in my latest blog post — conveniently titled Where Should Product Management Report? — and also talk about the changing shape of product management leadership and what it means for organizational structures.

Job Opening: Consulting Director, Product Management at SiriusDecisions

Just a reminder that at SiriusDecisions we’re growing and to further strengthen our expanding consulting team, we’re looking for a consulting director who is focused on Product Management in b-to-b organizations. If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, view the job posting and apply on LinkedIn (the job posting is also on our web site).

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past week; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Aligning Innovation with Strategy; Visiting Silicon Valley and Austin in February

Posted on January 28, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

What You Need to Know About Aligning Innovation With Strategy
A few months ago, I mentioned some new I’m doing at SiriusDecisions related to innovation strategy, looking at how business-to-business organizations make decisions about what markets, products, and areas to invest in with respect to innovation.

I just published the results of some of that research in a new blog post: What You Need to Know About Aligning Innovation With Strategy. You can also take the survey to see how your organization compares; everyone who participates will receive a summary of the survey results.

On the road: Silicon Valley and Austin

I’ll be traveling a bit in the next few weeks for some great product management events. On Wednesday, February 5, I’ll be in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, to be specific) to present at a meeting of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association. The topic will be Innovation Investment Strategy and Product Portfolio Optimization, and here’s what I’ll be covering:

One struggle product managers and product management leaders have with budgeting is determining how much to invest in products. It’s enough of a challenge for a single-product company. However, since most companies have more than one product, there are also considerations on how to allocate budget across multiple products, which introduces many more variables. Many companies base their investment decisions on flawed criteria like internal politics and legacy investments, rather than the markets and buyers that will best contribute to company growth. This session will go over a market-based approach to innovation investments and how to balance investments in new products vs. enhancing existing products.

Sound interesting? Learn more and register on the SVPMA site. If you’re planning on attending, let me know so I can put a face with an email address / Twitter handle.

Then, on Saturday, February 15, I’ll be in Texas for ProductCamp Austin 12. This always-popular event already has a wait list, so if you haven’t signed up yet, do it now or you may miss your chance to attend. Again, if you’ll be there, let me know so I can put a face with an email address / Twitter handle.

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Job Openings; Finding Your Product Market Fit; ProductCamps for 2014

Posted on January 19, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Happy 2014! We’re only a few weeks into the new year, but there’s lots going on.

Job Opening: Consulting Director, Product Management at SiriusDecisions

SiriusDecisions is growing and further strengthen our expanding consulting team, we’re looking for a consulting director who is focused on Product Management in b-to-b organizations. If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, view the job posting and apply on LinkedIn (the job posting is also on our web site).

Finding Your Product Market Fit: Jeff Bussgang at the Boston Product Management Association

I was lucky enough to be in Boston last week for the Boston Product Management Association‘s annual kick-off. It was a fantastic event, headlined by a great presentation by Jeff Bussgang, general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. The presentation — Finding Your Product Market Fit — was a great overview of some important concepts that are impacting product management. If you’re not familiar with concepts like customer development and Lean Startup, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the slides (1.1MB PDF).

I tried to capture some of the good quotes from the talk and tweet them out:

ProductCamps for 2014

If you’re not familiar with ProductCamps, they are free “un-conferences” organized at a grassroots level. Instead of traditional conferences, where the schedule and speakers are selected by a small group and announced in advance, at a ProductCamp, all of the attendees (or, technically, ”participants”) show up the morning of and vote on what sessions they’d like to see on the schedule. Sound a bit strange? Well, it is, but they’re great fun, and they are fantastic opportunities to “talk shop,” learn from and network with others in the product management community.

Each ProductCamp is organized locally, and the schedule is already starting to fill up for 2014. Check the schedule on ProductCamp.org to see if there’s one near where you are. (If not, maybe you want to organize your own?).

I’ll be at a few of them in the coming months, including:

Will you be there? Let me know. It’s always good to put a face with an email address / Twitter handle. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new faces and connecting with some old friends.

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


What is Marketing to do When Product Goes Agile?

Posted on January 2, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

What is Marketing to do When Product Goes Agile?

There’s a scene playing out in lots of offices right now. Product management and product development have declared they are “going agile.” Marketing’s reaction is usually confusion (“What does this mean for us?”), though sometimes it can be intentional ignorance (“Won’t impact us, don’t worry about it”) or even active resistance (“It’s probably going to be bad for us, so let’s put a stop to it”).

A lot has been written on how agile impacts product management — and certainly even more on how agile impacts product development — but not much on how agile impacts marketing. In my latest blog post on the SiriusDecisions blog, I talk about what needs to change — and what stays the same — in marketing when product goes agile. Read the blog post: What is Marketing to do When Product Goes Agile?

What’s hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Happy Holidays from How To Be A Good Product Manager

Posted on December 8, 2013 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Happy Holidays for Product Managers

It’s that time of year again, and whether you’re in the holiday spirit or not, it’s hard to ignore it. But, if you’ve already heard the opening guitar riff to Jingle Bell Rock at least 100 times and need something different this holiday season, I’ve got a few suggestions.

  • On the SiriusDecisions blog, I published our new Holiday Model, my tongue-in-cheek guide for helping you to navigate the holidays. Align your celebrations around themes like happiness, joy, peace and presents. Track your journey through holiday stages, from excitement to shopping panic and family celebration anxiety, all the way through to credit card bill shock and email inbox overload denial. And Never miss an important holiday, from Christmas to Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day to Boxing Day, and Festivus to National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (December 16, if you’re wondering). See all the details and get a nice version to print out and hang or use as your holiday card.
  • Back in 2011, I published The Twelve Days of Product Management, my take on the classic song, designed for product managers and those who work with product managers.
  • And if you’ve had enough humor and want something actually serious, how about some music? In addition to practicing and advising on product management, I’m also a jazz vibraphonist (though I don’t play as much as I used to) and my trio recorded a holiday album a number of years ago. My gift to you this holiday season? A free downloadable copy of The Jeff Lash Trio: Happy Holidays, featuring our take on some holiday classics as well as not-so-classics.

If you’ve got any other product management holiday humor or the like to share, please add a comment to this post!

Oh, and one more thing this holiday season — it’s okay to take some time off. It may actually be good for your product! This post on taking time off was one of the first blog posts I wrote here back in 2006 and it’s a good reminder (even for me!).

What’s hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Should You Move from Products to Solutions? And more discussion on Agile Is Not a Product Management Framework

Posted on October 31, 2013 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Should You Move from Products to Solutions?

It seems like nearly every company now is talking about how they want to move from selling “products” to selling “solutions,” and with good reason. By their nature, solutions are likely to be larger deals that are sold to higher levels within an organization. They often help establish and keep longer-term customer relationships, and can be much more profitable than product deals.

So, what’s not to like? Well, there are a few reasons why moving from products to solutions may not be the best idea — including the fact that even solution-focused companies still sell products. Read more in my post on the SiriusDecisions blog: Should You Move from Products to Solutions?

Agile Is Not a Product Management Framework (continued)

My previous post on the SiriusDecisions blog — Agile Is Not a Product Management Framework — has become one of the most viewed and most commented-on in only a few weeks. If you haven’t read the post yet, I (obviously!) recommend you give it a read. Or, if you read it when it came out, I suggest you read it again and read through the comments , both on the article and in a discussion in the Networking Product Management group on LinkedIn. If you agree, or disagree, or have something else to add, please add your thoughts as well.

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Agile is Not a Product Management Framework

Posted on October 6, 2013 by Jeff Lash · 3 Comments

Agile is Not a Product Management Framework

My latest post on the SiriusDecisions blog — Agile Is Not a Product Management Framework — is generating a lot of interest and discussion, and I’m not surprised since it’s a hot topic. Over the past 5-10 years, one of the most significant changes in product development — for web-based software products in particular — is the adoption of Agile. Often when I talk with product managers and ask them about the process they use for product management, they mention Agile. There’s just one problem: Agile isn’t a process for product management.

Agile has obvious impacts on the way product management is practiced, but agile in and of itself isn’t a product management framework. Companies need an overall model for innovation, bringing products to market, and managing them throughout the product lifecycle. Read more in my latest post on the SiriusDecisions blog: Agile Is Not a Product Management Framework

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


Three Ways to Encourage Customer-Focused Behavior

Posted on September 26, 2013 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

How Managers Can Encourage Customer-Focused Behavior

Tell me if this sounds familiar: “My product managers and marketers are too inward-facing. They need to be more customer-oriented.” I hear it on a regular basis from product management and marketing leaders. Well, the problem may not be (entirely) the fault of the product managers or marketers –- part of the blame may be the executives and leaders, who often talk about the importance of customer-centricity but (usually unintentionally) behave in ways that send a different message.

If you are concerned that your staff is not appropriately market-focused, before blaming them outright, look in the mirror and see what you can do to help. In this post on the SiriusDecisions blog, How Managers Can Encourage Customer-Focused Behavior, I provide three suggestions for product management and marketing leaders.

And if you’re a product manager or product marketer who is trying to be more customer-focused but facing obstacles, maybe anonymously sending this blog post to your boss will help!

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets which have generated the most interest over the past few weeks; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:

And through my colleague Edge Coble (@gecoble) I found this one that I particularly enjoyed: