Putting it Together

the intersection of business, design, and technology

What do I build?

Last night, I attended a class at General Assembly on Validated Learning to help you determine if a new product idea is worth pursuing. As an engineer, I learned about similar processes working in an agile environment where we would regularly implement and enhance features through iterative sprint cycles. It feels like the same principles really.

To validate your product idea, you identify your assumptions. Starting with your riskiest assumptions first, you determine the metrics that mean your assumption is correct.

Test your assumption. If you are successful you move on to the next one. If you are unsuccessful, you revisit by either re-evaluating the metrics, the implementation of your test or the assumption itself. Rinse and repeat. This is called the Build, Measure and Learn Loop.

The idea is to catch missteps early. If an assumption is wrong, you want to find out early so that you can course correct before you’ve invested too much time, money and effort.

So what sorts of questions do I ask to help me understand my assumptions and test them out?

  1. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  2. Is this problem painful enough for users that they would be willing to pay for your solution?
  3. Does your solution actually do what you claim?

So how do you validate if your solution is actually a problem that needs solving? You need to talk to people to understand their existing process. Have them describe their work flow for you and ask about where the pain points lie. Folks might not know what they need but they do know what they don’t like.

Once it looks like you’ve got a solution, you want to find people or companies who might be willing to pay you to take their pain away. One low cost way folks vet out this assumption is to create a google form or a landing page to collect email addresses and generate a customer list to gauge interest. Your landing page is also a great opportunity to start collecting data about your customers like capturing the keywords folks are using to find your website.

Awesome, now you’ve got some interest but is this really a business? Test things out as simply as possible with your early adopters and confirm if your users are willing to use your service again. If customers are coming back, then you’ve got something exciting.

To me, this sounds really similar to  the way engineers iterate towards successful features and how we’ve been working at product here at MYH.  But as I was digging around for more substance, I came across a post from Amy Hoy who I’ve been following for many years.  I really love the way Amy has always been able to communicate her business advice and experiences in a focused and digestible way.  I think it’s her designer background that helps make her ideas really pop.  Checkout https://unicornfree.com for more.

PM Manifesto

An awesome product manager colleague sent this around today.  Imma gonna decorate my desk!

PM Manifesto

PM Manifesto

Smith College Leadership Consortium

This summer, I had the opportunity to revisit my alma mater and attend the Smith College Leadership Consortium. It’s a custom designed leadership program specifically designed to develop and advance women in business.

Faculty from Harvard, Wharton, and Tuck business schools and other thought leaders led interactive sessions focusing on business and wellness topics. I learned about business strategies, negotiation, communicating vision and forging stronger relationships on my team and at the company.

The all-woman environment at Smith focuses on the unique needs and challenges faced by women in business. Having spent the last few years organizing various technology meet-ups, I was already aware of the dynamics of a mix gender group and how the conversation changes drastically when the men are absent.  And I appreciated how this program allowed me to hear candid stories of accomplished, successful women navigating tricky politics in the workplace.

I was most surprised to hear that the majority of women have children and are the breadwinners in their families. Even more surprising was that these women are managing their families with the support of their stay at home/ part time working husbands. …And here I thought I was an anomaly.

This program was developed to help companies develop, retain, and advance female talent and promote inclusive leadership. Like many women, I’ve been focused on the narrow goals of my product and team rather than forming a broader vision to create impact across the company. And I never considered my own career from the perspective of creating a personal vision and strategy.

We’ll see if my learnings make me a better product owner and leader, but the shared experiences, personal connection, candor and trust I experienced in this women-only program felt truly transformative.

Talk early and often

Hard conversations turn into easier ones if you have them early enough.

Sunday in the Park with George

Bit by bit,
Putting it together…
Piece by Piece-
Only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision’s no solution,
Everything depends on execution:
Putting it together-
That’s what counts!

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