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The Scientific Approach to Innovation

The Scientific Approach to Innovation

Doing performance modeling as a consultant, the biggest problem we had wasn't building the model, the devil was always in the model's validation. How do you know that the model is connected to reality? This issue was such a common occurrence that I named it the Excel Syndrome. I don't know if you've noticed, but Excel spreadsheets are this way. You may have all the formulas right, but those who haven't built it, or reviewed it in every detail, have little faith in the results. All modeling is this way, even fun simulators with fancy animations.The Excel Syndrome is such a basic truth that it extends way beyond modeling.

Let's take a look at The Scientific Approach to Innovation!

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The Three Secrets of a 'Can Do' Product Management Team

A useful reference point for understanding information sharing comes from the book Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. In this book, the authors use the story of Peggy Sinclair and Andy Longclaw to expose three secrets to "turn on" the people in your Product Management Team.

The first secret, The Spirit of the Squirrel, explains the power of helping people see that their "work is worthwhile," beyond making a profit for the company. Sharing information is critical to helping the Product Management Team see the impact of their work, beyond the day-to-day activities. It is also tied directly to the second secret, The Way of the Beaver, which focuses on the team feeling in control of achieving their goals. With information in hand, the team begin to feel this kind of control and responsibility. The third key, The Gift of the Goose, focuses on the power of people cheering each other on toward their goals. Here again, information sharing gives the team a perspective of progress that makes this cheering sincere and not just a 'feel good' action.

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Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder Analysis

This is not optional! I know, many product management teams today think it is, and pay the price for ignoring it down stream. Do yourself, your team, and your product a favor, conduct at least a little stakeholder analysis with each iteration of market sensing. A lot of product management teams have thought this was optional, leading to derailment of the effort because of failure to address the issues of a key stakeholder. Has anyone had their roadmap turned upside-down by a stakeholder who's issues weren't being addressed? I'm sure they get to you right at the start, before any real commitments have been made, just to make life easy for you. Am I right?

Stakeholder analysis is designed to identify key players who have a stake in product management so that they can be addressed appropriately. In rudimentary stakeholder analysis, individuals who have a stake in a product initiative are identified, then their issues are captured and addressed. I advocate taking stakeholder analysis a bit further. While product management might have its roots in features and product, people are critical to its success. Key stakeholders must be identified and their support secured. To do this, however, the personal benefits to them must be identified, associated with the product initiative, and subsequently communicated to them to secure their involvement and support.

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Do You Educate Your Market?

A step that product management teams often skip in the innovation process is working with the customers on what to expect in the next product release. The success of a new product release often hinges on the relationship between the product management team and the existing customers.

When that relationship goes smoothly, the new product initiative does as well. There are many factors to keeping that relationship on track, but perhaps none is as important as educating the customers on what to expect.

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How Better Product Management Boosts Profits

Profits gained from product initiatives are driven by two factors: the selling price of your product, and its total cost. The difference between the selling price and its cost is profit, both of which are impacted by product management.

Let's take a look at cost. How does better product management impact cost?

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