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), Service Director, Product Management for SiriusDecisions.

Product Management Tools; Three Questions to Improve Product Management; Happy Holidays 2014

Posted on December 8, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

SiriusDecisions Field Guide Product Management Tools

I’m pleased to announce the release of the SiriusDecisions Field Guide “Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping 2015.” This is a project that I have been involved in for the past several months with several colleagues at SiriusDecisions. The Field Guide covers 11 vendors whose offerings are designed to assist product managers with developing product plans, prioritizing features and enhancements, and maintaining and communicating product roadmaps.

We’ve been hearing about the current state of technologies used by product management through our regular conversations with b-to-b product management teams, but part of the research we conducted for this field guide gave a large amount of data to confirm and add color to what we’ve been hearing. Few product managers are using tools designed specifically for product management. Most are using tools designed for other purposes (e.g. general business use, product development / engineering), and satisfaction with those options for product management purposes is generally low.

Many product managers are looking for tools and technologies that can help make them more productive and effective, but there is little awareness of the different vendors, much less their capabilities and relative strengths. Until now there has been no resource to provide analysis on the overall landscape of technologies for product managers to use for planning, prioritizing, and roadmapping.

Normally this research would be available only to clients of the SiriusDecisions Product Management advisory service, but we have made a version of this report available to non-clients. You can learn more about the field guide, the 11 vendors covered, and the research behind it in this blog post announcing the Field Guide.

Three Questions to Ask to Improve Product Management

I recently published my first post on LinkedIn “Pulse.” It outlines three questions that product management leaders can ask themselves to help clarify product strategy, drive their portfolio strategy and improve their ability to achieve growth objectives. Read the post: Three Questions to Ask to Improve Product Management

Happy Holidays
It’s hard to believe it’s December already and holiday season is upon us. There’s a few fun resources I wanted to pass along — think of this as my early holiday gift to you.

  • Last year I unveiled the SiriusDecisions 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). Enjoy this soon-to-be holiday classic!
  • 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, for something completely unrelated to product management (yes, I have other interest), here’s some holiday music I recorded a while ago with my jazz trio. The Jeff Lash Trio: Happy Holidays features our versions of some of our favorites, and there’s hopefully something for everyone — Christmas songs, Hanukkah songs, New Years songs, and some fun secular songs too.

Have a great rest of 2014 and see you again soon in 2015!


Top Challenges for Product Management; Priorities for Product Management Leaders for 2015; Buyer Personas in Action

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

Top Challenges for Product Management
At SiriusDecisions, we’ve recently been conducting research into the top priorities of product management leaders. My blog post on the Top Challenges for Product Management in 2015 shares some of the high-level findings from our research, specifically around the top priority areas for product management leaders as well as the specific skills they are looking to develop in their teams in 2015.

We’ll be sharing more results from the survey in the “Priorities for Product Management Leaders for 2015″ webcast. The webcast will be held on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 11am ET and is free to attend. In addition to sharing survey results, we will also provide examples of frameworks, models and research that can help product management leaders address these priorities more efficiently and effectively. Learn more about the webcast and register to reserve your spot.

Buyer Personas in Action
There are a lot of great posts on the SiriusDecisions blog, though I wanted to highlight one recent post by my colleague Julian Archer because it is particularly relevant to product marketers and product managers. His post — SiriusDecisions EMEA Summit 2014: Buyer Personas in Action — summarizes presentations by three of our clients at our recent SiriusDecisions EMEA Summit where they showcased examples of how they have leveraged buyer personas to transform their businesses. Personas are being used much more commonly by product managers, though often I see teams developing user personas — not buyer personas — and using them only for product development purposes. Julian’s summary shows three great examples of how buyer personas can be leveraged across the organization to align functions and improve business performance.

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


Common Mistakes in Implementing a New Product Management Framework; Tools for Product Management; ProductCamp Atlanta Recap

Posted on October 26, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Common Mistakes in Implementing a New Product Management Framework
Based on our research at SiriusDecisions, we know that improving the overall product lifecycle management framework/process is a top priority for the coming year for many b-to-b product management leaders. This is certainly not a new trend. Some organizations have tried to improve their product lifecycle management framework — and their overall process used for innovation and go-to-market activities — over and over and are still struggling. Why? There are four common mistakes organizations make in implementing a new product management framework, and that’s the subject of my post on the SiriusDecisions blog.

What tools do you use for product management?
What tools and technologies do you use for product management? How well do they work? At SiriusDecisions, we’re 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 in return for your participation, you will receive a complimentary copy of the forthcoming SiriusDecisions Field Guide on Product Management Tools. Take the 2014 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools Survey now!

ProductCamp Atlanta Recap
I had a great time at ProductCamp Atlanta last weekend. If you weren’t there, here’s a brief summary of my experience through some selected Tweets.


Tools for Product Management; ProductCamp Atlanta 2014

Posted on October 8, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

What tools do you use for product management?
What tools and technologies do you use for product management? How well do they work? At SiriusDecisions, we’re 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 in return for your participation, you will receive a complimentary copy of the forthcoming SiriusDecisions Field Guide on Product Management Tools. Take the 2014 SiriusDecisions Product Management Tools Survey now!

ProductCamp Atlanta
I’ll be in Atlanta on Saturday, October 18 for another edition of ProductCamp Atlanta. Though the event is sold out, if you missed the registration, you can add yourself to the wait list.

For those attending I’ve proposed two sessions — if these sound interesting, make sure to vote for them!

Let me know if you’ll be at ProductCamp Atlanta so we can meet face-to-face. And, if you won’t be there, make sure to watch the #pcampatl hashtag on Twitter to follow along at home.

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


Priorities for Product Management Leaders; Product Management Festival 2014 recap

Posted on September 23, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Priorities for Product Management Leaders
There’s something I hear a lot when talking with product management leaders about challenges – some variation of, “We can’t be the only ones having these issues… are we?” Product management leaders are often curious about how their priorities compare to those of their peers and wonder how many or what types of companies are facing the same challenges. As part of ongoing research we’re doing at SiriusDecisions to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of b-to-b product management organizations, we are conducting a short survey of product management leaders to gather more data on their challenges and priorities. The survey only has 4 questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete. Everyone who responds to the survey will get a summary of the results. If you’re someone who leads product management for a product line, business unit or organization, please fill out our short 4-question survey.

Recap in Tweets: Product Management Festival 2014
I was thrilled to be in Zurich last week for the second annual Product Management Festival. This was a great two-day gathering of hundreds of product management leaders and product managers from across Europe and around the globe. In addition to my presentation on Effectively Communicating Product Roadmaps, I participated in two panel discussions and tried to take in as many of the other presentations as I could. As is always the case, one of the best things about the conference was the informal discussions that happened outside of the sessions, and it was gratifying to (finally) meet blog readers and Twitter followers in person.

There was a lot of activity on Twitter (using the #PMF14 hashtag), so rather than writing a separate summary, I thought I’d provide a (very very condensed) recap of my experience through some selected tweets/retweets:

Make sure to look through tweets using the #PMF14 hashtag for a lot more details and context.


Four Questions You Should Ask in Customer Interviews; Five-Year View of B2B Product Management

Posted on September 3, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Four Questions You Should Ask in Customer Interviews, But Probably Don’t

There are many techniques for understanding buyers, customers and users, though interviewing is one of the best in terms of the value received for the effort. Whether you’re trying to create personas, uncover needs not being met for existing customers or identify aspects of a product that current users feel could be improved, interviews can be a valuable source of insight. I talk with many product managers and marketers who are experienced at interviewing, but they often fail to take full advantage of the format. Whether you’re new to buyer/customer/user interviews or you’ve done more than you care to count, my post on the SiriusDecisions blog — Four Questions You Should Ask in Customer Interviews, But Probably Don’t — provides you with some suggestions on how to improve the insight value of an interview.

Product Management Festival 2014
This is a final reminder that I’ll be speaking at the 2014 Product Management Festival in Zurich. It’s less than two weeks away so register now! My presentation on Wednesday, September 17 will be on Effectively Communicating Product Roadmaps. It looks to be a great conference and I’m excited to present, participate and learn. If you’re attending, let me know and we can plan on meeting face-to-face.

A Five-Year View of Product, Marketing and Sales
At the 2014 SiriusDecisions Summit, I joined my colleagues Jason Hekl (@the_hekler) and Mark Levinson (@MarkBLevinson)
to present a A Five-Year View of Product, Marketing and Sales. In a previous post here I provided some links to good summaries of the Summit — many of which included some references to the Five-Year View presentation. However, there’s also a nice details summary also wanted to highlight a new summary up on the SiriusDecisions blog that provides a nice synopsis of the presentation in more detail. I recommend the summary in particular if you’re a business-to-business product manager or product management leader trying to understand key trends and implications over the next five years.

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


Prototyping Myths; Aligning Marketing and Product; Why Healthcare Needs Product Management

Posted on July 30, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

6 Myths about Prototyping
Prototyping provides many benefits in terms of idea generation, obtaining customer feedback, streamlining development, improving coordination, and ultimately improving the end product. However, many organizations do not regularly prototype new offerings before beginning development, and many have never created a single prototype. As I talk with product management teams, I hear many implicit or explicit objections to prototyping. These are usually myths based in misunderstanding — beliefs that, for example, it’s too costly, too time-consuming, or that special skills are needed.

In this post on the SiriusDecisions blog — 6 Myths about Prototyping — I dispel these myths and others. Prototyping can be cheap, easy, and hugely beneficial to any innovation or product development initiative. Plus, it’s fun! I’m interested in hearing from readers, so please post a comment on the blog post. How are you utilizing prototyping? What benefits have you seen? And if you’re still not prototyping, why not?

Aligning Product Marketing and Product Management: Seattle, August 21
On Thursday, August 21 I’ll be in Seattle for a presentation to the Product Management Consortium (PMC). PMC is a non-profit, volunteer driven organization for Product Management professionals, and meetings are open to anyone.

The topic of my presentation is Aligning Product Marketing and Product Management. Here’s a preview:

In many organizations, product management and engineering work in isolation on building a product, only to throw it over the wall to marketing and expect them to somehow “market it.” It’s not just alignment with product marketing that’s an issue — most b-to-b companies are bifurcating marketing into specific roles like demand generation, corporate marketing, content marketing, regional/field marketing, channel marketing, marketing operations…and the list goes on. Having product management work effectively with product marketing and other marketing functions is essential for product success. This session covers specific techniques for product managers to get better alignment with marketing colleagues.

You can get more details on the PMC web site and even register for the meeting in advance. If you’re in the Seattle area, it would be great to see you there.

Why Healthcare Organizations Need Product Management
My colleague Jennifer Russo wrote a great post on the SiriusDecisions blog a few weeks ago on a topic near and dear to my heart — Why Healthcare Organizations Need Product Management. I spent a good part of my career working in healthcare, and I work with many healthcare organizations in my role at SiriusDecisions, so I can attest to some of these challenges. However, I think the opportunity is huge for those healthcare organizations that can establish strong product management functions.

One other comment: even though this post is focused on healthcare organizations, the challenges that Jennifer mentions — such as no formal analysis or validation of the market opportunity; lack of knowledge of competitors — are present in lots of companies in all industries. Read the blog post: Why Healthcare Organizations Need Product Management

Product Management Festival 2014
In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’ll be speaking at the 2014 Product Management Festival this September in Zurich. This is a reminder that registration is open — it’s hard to believe that the conference is only about 6 weeks away! My presentation on Wednesday, September 17 will be on Effectively Communicating Product Roadmaps. It looks to be a great conference and I’m excited to present, participate and learn. If you’re attending, let me know and we can plan on meeting face-to-face.

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


Avoid Lowering Your Prices; SiriusDecisions Summit; Product Management Festival

Posted on July 2, 2014 by Jeff Lash · 2 Comments

How to Avoid Lowering Your Prices
Even prospects who are enamored with your offerings and eager to buy may ask for a discount. Too often, companies (or sales reps) immediately cave to the request because they’re afraid they will lose the sale or that customers will leave. Instead, as I write in my post on the SiriusDecisions blog How to Avoid Lowering Your Prices, there are other techniques to use to get around the “discounting” issue. Even if they don’t set pricing, product managers should be involved in the decisions about discounting, concessions in negotiation, and how and when to offer different options — after all, those directly impact revenue and profitability, which are extremely relevant since product managers should be responsible for the overall commercial success of the offering. Read more in the blog post: How to Avoid Lowering Your Prices

SiriusDecisions Summit
The 2014 SiriusDecisions Summit was a great event, bringing over 2000 b-to-b sales, marketing and product leaders from around the world together for a few days of sharing of best practices, case studies, new research and models and frameworks. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend and not only present but participate in the community around the Summit. Between the networking opportunities and the huge amount of activity on social media (the #sdsummit hashtag was a top U.S. trend on Twitter several times over the course of the three days!), it was a great way to meet and engage with other like-minded individuals.

Rather than trying to provide you with a recap of the Summit, I’ll instead point you in the direction of a number of people who have already done a great job of that.

Product Management Festival 2014
Speaking of conferences, I’m honored and pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking at the 2014 Product Management Festival this September in Zurich. My presentation on Wednesday, September 17 will be on Effectively Communicating Product Roadmaps. The program/agenda looks fantastic — a lot of great speakers (too many to name here for fear of unintentionally omitting and offending someone) and very interesting topics. I’m personally excited to get the chance to meet in person a number of other presenters whom I’ve only “met” online through this blog or Twitter.

Zurich is fairly centrally located, making it an easy trip for those based in Europe — and if you’re based in the U.S. like me, or elsewhere, the location is just one more good reason to register! If you’re attending, let me know and we can plan on meeting face-to-face.

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


Leveraging Marketing Automation for Product Management; Product Mentorship Interview; SiriusDecisions 2014 Summit

Posted on May 1, 2014 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

Leveraging Marketing Automation for Product Management

The concept of marketing automation and marketing automaton platforms as a technology are things about which many people only have a vague understanding and awareness. This is especially true of product managers, which I think is a shame, because there are some great ways that product management can leverage a marketing automation platform. In particular, they can help building understanding of customers and their needs, influence the future roadmap, and identify potential persona and customer interviews.

Marketing automation isn’t a replacement for other product management tools and techniques, and I probably wouldn’t recommend anyone invest in marketing automation just for product management purposes. That said, if your company is utilizing marketing automation, my post on the SiriusDecisions blog — Leveraging Marketing Automation for Product Management — provides some recommendations.

Product Mentorship Interview on Managers Build
I was honored to be asked by Daniel Elizalde (@delizalde) to participate in an interview series he’s running on his blog, Managers Build. In the post — Product Mentorship Series: 10 Questions with Jeff Lash — I talk about how I got into product management, trends product managers need to be aware of, some suggested reading, and a lot more. Thanks to Daniel for the opportunity, and make sure to check out other interviews in his product mentorship series.

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 less than a month away — 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, including one with colleagues where we’ll talk about what sales, marketing and product will look like 5 years from now. Plus, there’s a whole break-out track focused just on product management and product marketing. (See the full schedule.) 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 (and retweets) which have generated the most interest over the past week; to get these in real-time, follow me at @jefflash:


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: