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.

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:


How Product Teams Understand Customer Needs for Innovation; Upcoming Product Management and Product Marketing Events

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

How Product Teams Understand Customer Needs for Innovation

My colleague Rachel Young and I have been conducting research for the past year on how b-to-b organizations understand customer needs and apply them to product innovation. We will be unveiling this research at SiriusDecisions Summit in May as part of our presentation The Art and Science of Identifying and Prioritizing Customer Needs.

In this SiriusDecisions blog post, I share some insights from our research, including whether product managers and marketers felt they had a consistent process for understanding, prioritizing and applying needs, and what their roles and responsibilities were for uncovering needs. We’re also running a short five-minute survey to gather additional data on how well companies understand different types of customer needs for use in the innovation and go-to-market process, and the techniques product managers and marketers use to understand and respond to these needs. By participating in our survey on understanding customer needs for innovation, you’ll have the chance to lend your perspective and get access to a summary of the results.

Upcoming Product Management and Product Marketing Events

This is shaping up to be a very busy spring! Here are two events that I’m part of in the next few months at that I wanted to highlight:

  • Product Marketing Community: The Toronto Conference (Friday, April 22): I’m very excited to be a keynote speaker and panelist at this first-ever conference, where I’ll be speaking on “Sorting Out Product Marketing and Product Management” and other product marketing related topics. It should be a great event — learn more and get your tickets today!
  • SiriusDecisions Summit (May 24-27 in Nashville): I mentioned the presentation on The Art and Science of Identifying and Prioritizing Customer Needs above, but that’s just one of the reasons that product management professionals should attend Summit. This event brings together 2500+ b-to-b leaders for four full days of data-driven best practices research, unveiling of new innovations across the b-to-b space and networking with an elite community of sales, marketing and product leaders. For the first time, we’re also holding a Product Leadership Exchange that will feature a special presentation from SiriusDecisions just for product management leaders, case studies from product management leaders, a panel discussion and an opportunity to network with other product management leaders. This is one of the few events anywhere that is truly focused specifically on product management leaders and executives. Learn more about the Product Leadership Exchange and how you can be part of it.

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 6400+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Understanding and Prioritizing Customer Needs for Innovation; Product Leadership Exchange; Recent Product Management Interviews

Posted on March 6, 2016 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Survey: Understanding and Prioritizing Customer Needs for Innovation

One of the most important things that product managers need to do is understand customer needs in order to drive new products and enhance existing offerings. However, we know that that’s often a major area where companies and product teams struggle. We’ve been conducting research for some time now at SiriusDecisions on this topic and I’d appreciate if you can take 5 minutes to fill out this short survey and provide input on the process used within your organization. All participants will have the option to receive a summary of the results and it will be a great way to compare how your product team compares.

SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit

Our annual SiriusDecisions Summit (held this year from May 24-27 in Nashville) brings together 2500+ b-to-b leaders for four full days of data-driven best practices research, unveiling of new innovations across the b-to-b space and networking with an elite community of sales, marketing and product leaders.

I’m pleased to announce that for the first time the Summit will feature a Product Leadership Exchange. Featuring exclusive presentations by SiriusDecisions, case studies from product management leaders, a panel discussion and an opportunity to network with other product management leaders, this is one of the few events anywhere that is truly focused specifically on product management leaders and executives.

The Product Leadership Exchange is just one of the reasons that product management professionals should attend Summit, along with content like my keynote presentation on The Art and Science of Identifying and Prioritizing Customer Needs as well as a presentation in our Product Marketing and Management track on The SiriusDecisions Investment Decisionmaking Process.

It should be a great event and I hope to see you there!

Recent Product Management Interviews

It’s been a busy few months and I’ve been talking to a lot of people about product management — here are a few pieces I’ve been interviewed for:

Jumping Into Product Management: I was interviewed for this article on Dice.com about transitioning from a technical role into product management.

Product Experts Weigh In: Jeff Lash on Quality Feedback and What “Voice of Customer” Really Means: I was interviewed for this post on the UserVoice blog about how to optimize customer feedback.

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 6300+ others who follow me at @jefflash:


Spring ProductCamps and Conferences; Upcoming Webcasts; New Posts on the SiriusDecisions Marketplace

Posted on February 8, 2016 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Upcoming Events: Spring 2016

The events season is upon us! This is usually a busy time of year with ProductCamps, conferences, and other events, and this year is no different. Here’s a few that I’ll be participating in — make sure to let me know in advance if you’ll be attending or find me and introduce yourself in person.

  • ProductCamp Austin (Saturday, February 13): I’ve been to ProductCamp Austin a few times and it’s always a great event — there’s still time to sign up for this Saturday’s event.
  • ProductCamp St. Louis (Saturday, February 27): I’m helping to organize ProductCamp St. Louis, which is now in its 5th year. We’ve got a new venue and a few new things planned and it always draws a large and diverse crowd.
  • Product Marketing Community: The Toronto Conference (Friday, April 22): I’m very excited to be a keynote speaker and panelist at this first-ever conference, where I’ll be speaking on “Sorting Out Product Marketing and Product Management” and other product marketing related topics. It should be a great event — learn more and get your tickets today!
  • SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit (May 24-27): Our annual Summit brings together 2500+ b-to-b leaders for four full days of data-driven best practices research, unveiling of new innovations across the b-to-b space and networking with an elite community of sales, marketing and product leaders. I’ll be delivering a keynote presentation on “The Art and Science of Identifying and Prioritizing Customer Needs” as well as a presentation in our Product Marketing and Management track on The SiriusDecisions Investment Decisionmaking Process. In addition to all of the great reasons to attend, we’re planning some additional things specifically for product management attendees (details coming soon!), so learn more and register today!

2016 Spring Portfolio Marketing and Product Management Strategies Best Practices
Our last SiriusDecisions Product Management Webcast Series was such a hit that we’re doing it again. This time, we’re covering topics that are relevant and of interest to product managers and product marketers in our 2016 Spring Portfolio Marketing and Product Management Strategies Best Practices webcast series, and we’ve got a new schedule — every other Tuesday for 30 minutes, starting February 16. My colleagues and I will cover topics like personas, thought leadership, roadmaps and product launch. Register for one or register for them all!

New Posts on the SiriusDecisions Marketplace™

We’re continuing to publish some great stuff on the SiriusDecisions Marketplace™, a first-of-its-kind online destination for sales, marketing and product teams to learn from their peers and do research on technology and service providers. In addition to my prior post on The ABCs of Product Management Technologies, we also published an interview I conducted with Neeraj Agrawal, a Battery Ventures general partner, and Logan Bartlett, an associate at Battery, where we talked about product management technologies; and my colleague Jill Stanek wrote a great blog post about Product Engagement Tools – The What and The Why.

In addition to blog posts from SiriusDecisions analysts, we’re actively soliciting contributions from practitioners related to sales, marketing and product technology. If you have insight to share related to tools and technology for product management, we’d love to hear from you — you can learn more about how to contribute to the SiriusDecisions Marketplace™ Blog.

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 6000+ others who follow me at @jefflash: