Happy New Year! Product Management in 2012

2012Happy New Year! The last year has seen many changes in the world of product management. Yet, with all these changes, we can all expect ever more exciting trends, processes, and, especially, products in 2012!

A Look Back

In 2011, many of the prevailing trends we experienced were…

  • Increased focus on process for innovation and ideation
  • API’s, relationships, modular innovation, integration. You are not a true product unless you have an API.
  • Decreasing use of the free service / product business model. Growing on free is no longer the best policy. You can actually create a viable, sustainable business by charging customers money. (omg)
  • The new form factor — the tablet. While it has been around for sometime, the tablet (specifically, the iPad) has had a profound affect on not just tablet design, but all product design and product-consumer expectations of interaction — more intuitive, more touchy.

The Coming Year

It’s always fun to attempt to predict the future. Based on my interactions with the product management community, the following are my predictions for the big trends of 2012.

  • Offline. There will be a broad-based movement back to enabling the offline application, powered by HTML5, from document management to media consumption.
  • Death of XML. XML is on the wane, and JSON’s time has come. With all of the frameworks that have been developed to extract, transform, and transport XML, there will be great entrepreneurial opportunities in 2012 tooling-up JSON.
  • The number of product management roles will continue to grow. However, they will be filled by more and more junior people. These positions will also focus much more on the tactical side of product management (vs. the strategic).
  • In demand skills of the product manager of 2012 (and beyond)…
    • Tech / programming. There will be increasing need for technical experience or programming skills for product manager roles (even UX centric ones).
    • Statistics. Establishing and gathering metrics will become increasingly central to what it means to be a product manager. You need to demonstrate your value and make smarter decisions. (One of the key drivers has been the growth of Lean Methodology.)
  • Customer driven roadmapping will gain increasing momentum. And, mirroring that trend, but inward facing, more company-wide integrated product management will be taking shape.

What’s next?

What are your predictions and expected trends for product management in 2012?

Enjoy & thanks to everyone who followed, read, and participated in The Product Guy blog and The Product Group, new and old, in 2011! We are going to have a supremely awesome 2012!!! See you there!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Product Process, HomeField Advantage & More Joy in June!

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A big thank you to everyone who made it to our latest meet-up of The Product Group, as well as to our sponsors, Balsamiq Studios and Ryma Technology Solutions!

BTW, we are working towards securing a new venue for June. Please contact me ASAP if you can help out.

Our group had a great time discussing Product People-oriented topics.

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Over the 2+ hours we discussed…

Featured Product: HomeField
exploring the product, its challenges and successes, from user acquisition and marketing to user testing and social strategy (very special thanks to the HomeField team: Reece Pacheco, Dan Spinosa, Joe Yevoli)

Product Process
from the benefits and challenges of agile to feature prioritization to bug and idea management techniques

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The Product Group meet-ups are an opportunity for Product People (managers, strategies, marketers, etc.) to come together to meet, interact, and network in a roundtable setting. It’s awesome to meet fellow Product People in a laid-back, conversational gathering like this one and I am looking forward to seeing everyone, new and familiar, at our next meet-up …

Thursday, June 3rd @ 7PM
@ TBA
NYC

If you would like to attend our next meet-up, RSVP today or visit our group webpage at…

http://meetup.com/TheProductGroup

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

P.S. If you or an organization you represent would be interested in sponsoring or hosting an upcoming gathering of The Product Group please contact me.

World’s Best Programmer is… [w/ Focus]

anotherstar …to be announced at the end of this series.

unkown-person I am often asked what is it that I do that results in the programmers with whom I interact being so productive; what is it I do to get them motivated and to keep them motivated; and where can I find / who is the World’s Best Programmer.

Motivation

My answer is many fold and I provide a framework towards greater understanding in part 1.

The path to the motivated programmer, the happy programmer, is unique to each individual. There are, however, some general, instructional guides towards better understanding for all involved parties, and especially regarding those conditions that make for that highly motivated programmer.

Today, let’s take a deeper look at Focus.

Focus

Many very good programmers will frequently feel the pull of new technologies, newer more exciting projects, tangential and/or ‘very cool’ innovations. It is very important to allow for the artistic, curious, knowledge seeking side of every programmer to be able to explore exciting alternatives, from new hardware and languages to discussions on new technologies, new vendor tools and other programmer-y things.

However, it is also very important to facilitate the needed Focus that will empower the programmer to stay on track and on schedule, to be able to point to front-line accomplishments while also allowing for the time for growth. ‘Exploration time,’ as can also be seen in the case of the World’s Best Programmer, announced at the end of this series, can result in …

  • Fresh ways of thinking,
  • New and exciting group discussions,
  • Constructive and illuminating debates, and
  • Company-applicable ideas and solutions.

Facilitating Focus

Helping a programmer with Focus can be as simple as implementing some of the Organizational tips already discussed, or limiting general business-side Q&A to specific times of the day/week. Further examples on delivering oft sought after Focus are …

Process. In offices where the programmers share the dual-responsibility of creating and maintaining, or overseeing, production support to keep the organization running smoothly and rapidly addressing bugs and the common real-time production issues, the introduction of processes for the minimization of work-stopping, deadline-killing, frustration-inducing, time-and-money-wasting, Focus-sapping distractions are truly useful.

For example, instead of everyone sharing simultaneous oversight of production, have a rotating schedule where one individual (or a subset of the team) is on-call for a specific day. And, while this individual, with all production issues diverted their way, is focused on the short-term handling of ‘putting out fires,’ the remaining team is 100% removed from the fray and 100% Focused, shielded from the issues of production, empowered to Focus, on their current projects, deadlines, strategic long-term planning, design, etc.

Scheduling. As I briefly touched on above, ‘exploration time’ is an important part of any programmer’s growth in their job, spent on anything from reinforcing the basic to exploring the latest, coolest framework. However, as most can relate, when you are working on that cool thing, or deeply focused on learning a concept, other action items can quickly fall by the wayside.

Every programmer should have time for exploration. Simply allot that (sacred) time in the programmer’s schedule, appropriately take into account this time in project scheduling, and provide clear business deliverables. To bring more structure to this ‘exploration time,’ provide a recurring venue (e.g. monthly lunch) for people to share their own goals, findings, and accomplishments with one another; in turn, this results in ‘exploration time’ being a valuable experience for all, existing within a focused environment, not distracting nor detracting from the business milestones or long-term strategic goals of the company.

Prioritization. A fundamental characteristic present in the environment of the World’s Best Programmer is Prioritization and the added boost in productivity over the loosely prioritized or non-prioritized list they receive. Such Focus supporting prioritization can be achieved through the maintenance and presentation of a personalized short-list of to-do items to each individual programmer within the organization. The list should consist of clear priorities, with no overlapping / identical priorities, so the programmer can work on each item, one at a time. As a society, we often make claims of being able to juggle multiple, simultaneous projects and priorities – more recent studies …

… have proven this to be false, misguided, and harmful to productivity and correctness. As a very wise programmer once told me, as I tell you here today, “while we like computers to multi-process as much as possible, having humans do that usually comes with a price of context switch and mistakes from lack of focus.”

For Focus

A good programmer, as does the World’s Best Programmer, will value the freedom to explore and learn, but equally value, and be motivated through, the successful efforts you take to help remove unnecessary distractions and provide for an environment that permits Focus on their short-and long-term goals.

The Search Continues

In addition to…

Clarity, Organization & Focus

… and before this individual, World’s Best Programmer, is announced, the characteristics…

Communication & Inclusion
Challenge & Respect

… will be further explored and discussed in the subsequent articles of this multi-part series.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series highlighting many of the key driver’s of your team’s motivated programmers, nor the denouement of World’s Best Programmer, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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