How To Be A Good Product Manager

Tips on product management and product marketing for product managers. 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), Vice President and Group Director for the Product Management and Portfolio Marketing research and advisory services at SiriusDecisions.

Planning for 2018

Posted on September 27, 2017 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Three Tips for Planning Next Year’s Product Roadmap

September brings about the return of kids to school, cooling temperatures, and, for product managers, an opportunity to review plans for the next year’s roadmap. While SiriusDecisions recommends reviewing product roadmaps regularly – most often quarterly – the look ahead to the new calendar year is often the time when there is a more concerted effort to refine and revise the future roadmap, especially when it is tied into annual product planning and budgeting. Read more in my post on the SiriusDecisions blog: Three Tips for Planning Next Year’s Product Roadmap

SiriusDecisions 2018 Product Management Planning Assumptions

Speaking of looking ahead to 2018, every year at SiriusDecisions we publish research on new trends and important areas that deserve additional focus for the coming year. Our 2018 Product Management Planning Assumptions cover topics like merging agile concepts with product lifecycle management, cross-product coordination, and clarifying the range of product management responsibilities, and provide guidance to product management leaders on the actions they should take. You can download the 2018 SiriusDecisions Product Management Planning Assumptions to read the full list.

Upcoming Events
If you’re in the Seattle area, please join me the evening of Thursday, October 19 for this (free!) presentation I’ll be doing on Product Strategy on a Page. An effective product strategy needs to be well-thought out and comprehensive enough to cover all of the key elements while still being concise and focused enough to be easily communicated and understood. In this talk, I’ll define product strategy and share a template for developing, documenting and communicating product strategy. Learn more and register today!

Looking ahead to 2018, if you’re starting to look at your calendar and wondering what conferences you should attend, there’s two I’d (selfishly) recommend.

First, our annual SiriusDecisions Summit (May 8 – 11, 2018 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas), where you can join more than 3,200 b-to-b sales, marketing and product leaders for four full days of data-driven best practices research, unveiling of new innovations across the b-to-b space, lots of networking and some fun activities as well. The schedule will be announced soon, but I can share that we’re planning some new things for the product management audience this year that you won’t want to miss. There’s even an early-bird discount if you register before December 31!

Second, our first-ever SiriusDecisions Summit Canada is happening March 1, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Toronto. In one day, you will learn how leading Canadian companies address growth, innovation and operational challenges. You’ll leave the event with a unique perspective on what’s working right now across the b-to-b space in Canada. There’s an early-bird discount through December 31 for this event too!

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my recent tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 8400+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


SiriusDecisions SiriusView: Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping 2017; B2B Product Management podcast; SiriusFoundations Webcast

Posted on June 7, 2017 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

SiriusDecisions SiriusView: Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping 2017
I’m pleased to announce the release of the SiriusView “Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping 2017.” This SiriusView covers seven vendors whose offerings are designed to assist product managers with developing product plans, prioritizing features and enhancements, and maintaining and communicating product roadmaps. My post on the SiriusDecisions blog — SiriusDecisions 2017 SiriusView of Product Management Tools — provides a summary of the research as well as a comparison to the initial analysis of this category of product management technologies which we released in late 2014.

Normally this research is only available to clients of the SiriusDecisions Product Management advisory service, but we’ve made a version of this report available to non-clients – click here to download the SiriusDecisions SiriusView: Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping 2017.

Podcast: B2B Product Management with The Everyday Innovator
I was a guest on The Everyday Innovator podcast, talking about b-to-b product management and some of the specific differences and considerations. We covered questions like “How do B2B sales models impact product management?” and “How can product managers avoid the ‘one-off’ practice that some B2B organizations find themselves in – customizing a product for each customer?” You can listen to the episode online or find it through iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

Upcoming Webcast — SiriusFoundations: Product Management
One popular set of sessions from our recent SiriusDecisions Summit were our “SiriusFoundations” sessions, where we covered foundational elements of different b-to-b product, marketing and sales roles and provided an overview of core SiriusDecisions concepts, frameworks and terminology. We’re doing a repeat of the SiriusFoundations: Product Management session as a webcast on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 12pm ET. My colleague Lisa Singer will be covering some of the key priorities for b-to-b product management leaders and product teams as well as relevant SiriusDecisions research and models. Sign up for the webcast today!


Upcoming Events; Product Management Technology; SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit recap

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Upcoming Events

Summer is shaping up to be a busy one for me, with lots of presentations and events already booked. Here’s some of what’s coming up in the next few weeks — hope you can join me at one of them!

I also have trips planned (and some more public presentations that will be announced soon) for London, Austin, Atlanta, Toronto and San Francisco over the summer, so if you’re in one of those locations and want to meet up in person, get in touch and hopefully we can make that happen!

 

What Tools Are Product Managers Using? Results From The SiriusDecisions 2017 Study

My latest post on the SiriusDecisions blog — What Tools Are Product Managers Using? Results From Our 2017 Study — summarizes the findings from our 2017 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools and Technology Study, which looks at what tools and technologies are being used by b-to-b product managers. There are a few findings that are particularly noteworthy, including

  • Most product managers primarily use tools designed for purposes other than product management.
  • The number of product managers using purpose-built tools is growing.
  • Product management applications are new for most product managers and are a growing trend.
  • Awareness is increasing and interest is growing, but time to evaluate is a barrier.

More details are shared in the blog post: What Tools Are Product Managers Using? Results From Our 2017 Study

What’s Hot on Twitter: SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit Recap
We’re hot off the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit, and you can check out all of the tweets with the hashtag #sdsummit. Here are a few of my tweets from Summit that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 8000+ others who follow me at @jefflash:

And, if you made it to the end of the blog post, you get a special treat — a photo of my Vegas-themed outfit for our annual SiriusDecisions Green Tie Gala (with extra bonus points for the fantastic expression on the face of Christina McKeon, SiriusDecisions Service Director for Portfolio Marketing)


SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit is Next Week! Plus, 2017 Product Management Tools and Technology Study

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit is Next Week!

I’ll be in Las Vegas next week for the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit, which runs from May 16-19. If you’ll be there, let me know and it will be great to meet up in person. If you’re not attending — why not? It’ll be a great experience for product management leaders — in fact, it’s been named one of “7 events no product manager should miss this year” and a “product management conference not to miss.” I’ll be presenting on a few topics, including Product Strategy on a Page: Possible, and Practical and Next Generation B-to-B E-Commerce, and participating in an analyst panel on Friday morning. If you’re still not convinced, even after looking at my picks for the top sessions that product management leaders should attend, then maybe you’ll be enticed by our opening keynote speaker Jewel and our Green Tie Gala featuring Counting Crowes!

If you can’t make it for the whole 4 days, we have a special discounted 2-day (Wednesday and Thursday) pass available for product management leaders — contact the SiriusDecisions events team for more information.

Hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it, you can still follow along at home — follow me at @jefflash and follow the hashtag #sdsummit.

2017 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools and Technology Study

I’m pleased to announce the findings from our 2017 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools and Technology Study, which looks at what tools and technologies are being used by b-to-b product managers. While product managers traditionally have not used technology nearly as much as their counterparts in product development, marketing and sales – nor have they had as much technology available to them – the results from this study show that this is changing.

You can download a copy of the 2017 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools and Technology Study to see the full results, which includes information on what technologies are used most often by product managers, how many product managers are using product management-specific tools, their satisfaction level with such tools, and much more!

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 8000+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Speaking at Pendomonium; Design Your Thinking Podcast; Reminder — Tools Survey

Posted on February 22, 2017 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Upcoming Speaking Engagements and Presentations

Here’s just a few of the places you can meet me in person in the next few months (more to come!)

Podcast Interview: Design Your Thinking

I was interviewed by Karthik Vijayakumar (@kartvee) for a recent episode of his Design Your Thinking podcast. You can download or stream the episode (~38 minutes long) where we cover everything from the importance to empathy to mistakes product managers make in understanding customers to how to develop a “product mindset.”

Reminder: Survey about use of Product Management Tools

What tools and technologies do you use for product management? How well do they work? This is a reminder that at SiriusDecisions we are conducting a survey of b-to-b product managers and what applications they do (and don’t) use. The survey takes only about 5 minutes to complete, and everyone who takes this survey on product management tools will receive a complimentary copy of the forthcoming SiriusView report on Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping tools. The survey will remain open until March 8, so take the 2017 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools Survey now!

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 7700+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Establishing Product Management; Product Management Tools

Posted on January 29, 2017 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

I’ve got a few exciting things going on right now so here’s a quick update…

Establishing a Product Management Function

Through my work at SiriusDecisions, I’ve been helping several organizations that are setting up product management for the first time. Interestingly, in most of these cases, the challenge wasn’t convincing the organization that product management was needed — the problem was exactly how to go about setting up the new function. My blog post Four Critical Steps for Establishing a Product Management Function highlights how to get the ball rolling in a situation like this. Many more steps are required to go from simply setting up product management to building out a best-in-class function, but following the steps I outline in my blog post will certainly start an organization down the right path.

Survey: Product Management Tools

What tools and technologies do you use for product management? How well do they work? I’m conducting a survey of b-to-b product managers and what applications they do (and don’t) use. The survey takes only about 5 minutes to complete, and everyone who takes this survey on product management tools will receive a complimentary copy of the forthcoming SiriusView report on Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping tools. Take the 2017 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools Survey now!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements and Presentations

Here’s just a few of the places you can meet me in person in the next few months (more to come!)

Applying Agile to Marketing

One area that I’ve been involved in lately is with companies applying agile outside of their product development teams and specifically within the marketing organization. This is an interesting area for me, since I’ve been involved in agile development from a product management perspective for about a decade. Though this might be a bit off-topic for the more product management-focused readers of my blog, since this is a subject that has come up with several product management teams lately, I wanted to share a few things I’ve been working on.

On February 9 at 2 p.m. ET, I’ll be presenting a webcast called “Applying Agile: How It Can Help and When It Doesn’t.” During the webcast, I’ll share a framework for preparing your organization to evaluate and implement agile outside of product development – and within marketing in particular.

There’s also two blog posts I’ve published on the SiriusDecisions Marketplace blog that provide some more detail: “Going Agile” In Marketing – How Is It Different? and How Microsoft Applied Agile Marketing to Office365.

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 7600+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Ten Years of How To Be a Good Product Manager

Posted on December 4, 2016 by Jeff Lash · 2 Comments

Ten Year Anniversary!
On December 4, 2006, I published my first post on this blog, where I wrote, “If you want to be a good product manager, share your knowledge. Realize that you have lessons to share but even more to learn. Know that you improve your own skills and expertise when you teach others. … So that’s why I’m starting this blog — to share what I’ve learned, to help me, to help you, and to maybe in some small way help everyone. ”

That’s certainly what I’ve tried to do here, on Twitter (as @jefflash), other places where I’ve written, given presentations and been interviewed, and, for the past four years, in my role at SiriusDecisions providing help and guidance to b-to-b product management leaders and their teams.

Looking back over the past ten years, I’m gratified to see that I’ve been able to follow through on that early vision (and quite frankly pretty surprised at how accurately, too). I wasn’t really sure where the blog would go from that first post, and I don’t think 10 years ago I could have predicted most of what’s happened since then.

One of the best things that’s come out of this blog is getting to hear from people who have benefited from this blog along the way. I’ve heard from people who’ve realized they wanted to go into product management in part by reading this blog. I’ve heard from people who’ve told me that this blog helped them get their first product management job (or a new product management job). I’ve heard from people who’ve sent a link to their boss or coworker because it did a great job articulating a point they were trying to get across or because it highlighted something they hadn’t ever thought of before. I’ve heard from people who took my ideas and built on them or connected my ideas to their own related ideas. I’ve heard from people who disagree with me, and they presented arguments that made me rethink (and even change) some of my positions. I’ve heard from people who translated my posts into other languages, allowing my words to reach whole new audiences. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of readers and other bloggers in person, and I can’t begin to quantify the value of the personal and professional connections I’ve made along the way.

The anniversary date snuck up on me, so I didn’t have a ton of time to put my thoughts together, but it seemed appropriate to share some high-level “numbers” as I start the second decade here:

  • Almost 700,000+ unique visitors
  • Nearly 850,000 sessions
  • Over 1.5 million pages viewed
  • 200+ posts
  • 900+ comments
  • 1 “spinoff” site: Ask A Good Product Manager (2008-2012)
  • 1 design (in need of an upgrade/overhaul, I know)

It’s amazing to think about how much has changed since this blog started in 2006 — on the web, of course, but also for me personally and professionally. I would be remiss if I didn’t say a big THANK YOU to everyone who’s been part of this journey along the way — readers, commenters, collaborators, colleagues, family, and friends. Without you, I never would have made it to 2016. I’m not sure what things will be like in 2026, but I’m looking forward to the next 10 years, and I’m glad you’re here to continue the journey with me.

Other things I’ve been working on
With the end of 2016 in sight, things aren’t slowing down at all. Here’s a few other things I’ve been working on:

  • I’ll be in San Francisco this Friday, December 9 to present a keynote on “Sorting out Product Marketing and Product Management” at the Product Marketing Community conference. Tickets are still available; use the discount code JEFFVIP (because if you’re reading this, you’re a VIP!) for $100 off.
  • I wrote a post for the SiriusDecisions Marketplace blog on “Going Agile” In Marketing – How Is It Different? — an interesting topic for me since my experience with clients who are implementing agile as a product development process has led to many conversations with companies looking to implement agile within marketing.

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 7400+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Three Tips for Aligning Product Management and Product Marketing; Join me in Austin and San Francisco this Fall

Posted on October 30, 2016 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Three Tips for Aligning Product Management and Product Marketing
Over the past several months, I’ve led several roundtables in different cities on the topic of how to align product management and product marketing – as the subject has attracted a lot of interest from both product management and portfolio marketing (including product, solution, segment and services marketing) leaders. These roundtables are intimate, invite-only events for SiriusDecisions clients where we facilitate open discussion between functional leaders from different b-to-b organizations on a chosen topic of interest. In this post on the SiriusDecisions blogThree Tips for Aligning Product Management and Product Marketing — I share three practical tips for aligning product management and product marketing that came up in these sessions.

Join me in Austin and San Francisco this Fall
There are two exciting events that I’ll be presenting at in the coming months — hopefully you’ll be able to join me at one of them (if not both!).

  • SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange — November 16-17 in Austin. This second-annual event focuses specifically on how technology is used within b-to-b sales, marketing and product organizations, and provides methods for organizations to determine what technology they actually need and understand how to weave technology into their strategies and business processes. I’ll be presenting on Applying Agile: How It Can Help and When It Doesn’t.
  • Product Marketing Community — December 9 in San Francisco. This day-long conference focuses specifically on product marketing and includes a nice mix of presenters, including a lot of practitioners from a range of different size companies. I’ll be delivering a keynote on “Sorting out Product Marketing and Product Management.” This is the second “edition” of the conference; I presented at the inaugural conference in Toronto in April 2016 and it was a great event, so I’m looking forward to experience it again in the Bay Area.

What’s Hot on Twitter
Here are a few of my tweets (and retweets) that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 7000+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Product Management in 2017; Upcoming Events for Fall 2016

Posted on September 20, 2016 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Product Management in 2017: What Does the Future Hold?

Product management is sometimes referred to as a “next year” job. Because of typical product development timelines and sales cycles, the results of the product management team’s labors might not be reflected in revenue and customer satisfaction numbers until the following year.

It’s usually around this time of year that product management leaders are well into planning for the following calendar year. While individual product managers may be considering their product’s roadmap and product development priorities, product management leaders should be looking at the overall big picture for insights what the future holds for the product management function.

In my newest SiriusDecisions blog post, I look at five key trends product management leaders should be focusing on as they start planning for 2017. The blog post provides a summary of the trends, and if you’d like more detail on these, you can download a copy of the SiriusDecisions Product Management Planning Assumptions or sign up for our October 18th webcast where I’ll be covering these trends in more detail!

Upcoming Events for Fall 2016

My schedule for the fall is pretty full — here’s a few of the featured events where you can find me in the coming months:

  • SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit Europe: September 26-27 in London. We’re expecting over 800 b-to-b marketing, sales and product leaders at our 7th annual SiriusDecisions Summit Europe next week, and there’s still time to register. If you want to join us. We have two days of great sessions planned, including a session I’ll be presenting on Identifying and Prioritising Buyer Needs Across Multiple Markets.
  • SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange — November 15-17 in Austin. This second-annual event focuses specifically on how technology is used within b-to-b sales, marketing and product organizations, and provides methods for organizations to determine what technology they actually need and understand how to weave technology into their strategies and business processes. I’ll be presenting on Applying Agile: How It Can Help and When It Doesn’t. The early registration rate has been extended until September 30 so you still have time to get a great rate.

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 7000+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit Recap

Posted on June 9, 2016 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit Recap

I’ve mentioned the annual SiriusDecisions Summit a few times previously here on this blog. Well, if you missed it this year, it was held May 24-27 in Nashville and it was a fantastic event. We had 2500+ sales, marketing and product leaders together for 4 days of sharing of new research, practitioner case studies, lots of networking and some fantastic evening events.

For product management leaders, in addition to our first-ever Product Leadership Exchange, the keynote session I presented with Rachel Young on The Art & Science of Understanding and Prioritizing Customer Needs got a lot of attention. This recap on the SiriusDecisions blog — SiriusDecisions Summit 2016 Highlights: How Should Product Leaders Identify and Prioritize Customer Needs? — provides a good summary.

If you’d like to learn more, you can download an overview of the Needs Aperture, the best-in-class process for identifying, classifying and prioritizing customer needs for innovation and go-to-market purposes that we introduced during our session.

We will also be showing an encore webcast of the presentation from Summit on Thursday, June 16. In fact, you can register for replays of one or more of the keynote presentations. (Some other keynote presentations you may be interested in include: Product to Audience-Centric Transformation: A B-to-B Odyssey; A Crisis of Competency: Why B-to-B Skills Enhancement Is Broken; and A Crisis of Competency: Why B-to-B Skills Enhancement Is Broken.)

There are too many blog posts and articles summarizing takeaways from the Summit to count, but here are just a few that I particularly liked (and, oh yes, I happen to be mentioned in several of them):

In the News Elsewhere…

It’s been a busy spring and early summer — there are a number of other things I’ve been involved in lately that I haven’t had the chance to mention here (yet):

What’s Hot on Twitter

Here are a few of my tweets that have generated the most interest recently; to get these in real-time, join the 6700+ others who follow me at @jefflash: