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One way to view the idea of proactive vs reactive product management is where your team places its focus on the majority of the time. Does your team spend most of its time introducing new features (proactive) or is it primarily concerned with providing support for features that already exist (reactive)? Peter Lee explores these competing priorities and describes how product teams can find the right balance between building new products and supporting them. (via @innovativepete)
Do you follow a proactive or reactive strategy for new product development, or do you fit somewhere in between? Patrice Ekedi describes four strategic typologies – Prospector, Analyser, Defender, and Reactor – and explains how they relate to product development. Read further to find out which strategy you follow and where that puts you on the proactive – reactive continuum. (via @2PSnetwork)
Product management can be traced back to a 1931 memo written by Neil McElroy at P&G, describing the role of a “Brand Man”, which happens to encourage experimentation. So given that history, is it accurate to make a general statement that product management has been “historically reactive and gut-driven?” Rahul Abhyankar explores the responsibilities of the “Brand Man” and how they align with what a product manager needs to do to be successful in her role. (via @RahulSAbhyankar)
“When teams engage in proactive user experience design, they deliver better products. Proactive UX design tackles the bigger challenges faced by the product’s users. By delivering a better design, the team contributes more to the organization’s overall success.” Compare this to reactive UX design, which “is just what it sounds like: reacting to a problem in the moment. ‘Oh, can you fix this?’ ‘Help! Users are complaining this is too hard! What can we do?’ “ Jared Spool explains that while proactive user experience is not easy, the results are worth it and describes how you can introduce proactive UX to your team. (via @jmspool)
You’ve probably noticed that successful product management means you have a lot on your plate. It may seem as though there’s no room to examine and tweak your management style to that overflowing plate. Kat Boogaard suggests that thoughtful reflection and revision of your approach to product management may help you keep the number of things on your plate to a manageable level. Kat explains “the secret lies in striking a balance between proactive and reactive product management” and explains how you can put it to work. (via @kat_boogaard)
Bill Thomson brings up an interesting point that despite how crucial a product is to a company’s health, a product strategy is often not in line with the overall corporate strategy. In response, he gives advice on how Product Managers can work more closely with executives in product planning.
According to Michael Seibel, the initial stages of development of Socialcam was a big mess. Decisions were made ad hoc by the founders, and team members found little reason to be excited about what they were building. In an effort to improve, they started approaching product development in a more structured way. Michael describes how this helped them predict development cycles more accurately, build consensus and achieve their goals.
Before embarking on creating a product plan, it may be useful to define your product in terms of two dimensions that Mary Cagan outlines. They are the distinction between serving unmet vs. unrealized needs, and customer-inspired vs. technology-inspired solutions.
The distinction between a product plan vs. a project plan is that the former answers the question, “what do we build” as opposed to the latter answering the question, “how do we deliver a complete and delightful new customer experience?”. So says Ron Yang, who then breaks down how the two differ in terms of purpose, timeline, components, and roadmaps.
Perhaps pre-echoing Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful’s comments that weak products should be brought out the back of a barn and shot, Marty Cagan wrote this enlightening post about why weak products are kept alive in 2009. According to Cagan, product planning is primarily about deciding which projects to invest in. So it’s crucial that you are aware of some of the reasons why projects may continue despite not being a worthwhile investment, including pride, denial, and hubris.