The Product Mindset Part 2: It’s Your Users’ Product

Several years ago, one or another of my daughters (I have three) said, “Whoa. Dad has an Instagram?” First of all, my Instagram account is utterly unremarkable. I mostly use it to look at interesting art and photography to soothe my weary soul. My digital media consumption is not the point of this story. No, what struck me about my daughter’s statement was the relationship it proposed between me and…

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The Product Mindset

Note: this post originally appeared on the Solution Design Group (SDG) website. SDG is an employee-owned, Minneapolis-based strategy, product, and technology consultancy. In 2020 I joined Solution Design Group, where I half my time consulting with organizations on product, experience, and strategy, and half my time building a killer product consulting practice for SDG. You can find this and other great posts at www.solutiondesign.com/insights. Product is enjoying a moment. Twenty…

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Published! Amplitude’s North Star Playbook

A project that occupied much of my professional attention this fall was co-writing an online playbook on the North Star Framework. The project was sponsored by Amplitude, a product analytics firm based in Silicon Valley. The lead author was product development nut (his term, not mine) John Cutler, a prolific writer and thinker on product management and development matters. My role: collaborator and co-author. Our labors have borne fruit: last…

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The World’s Simplest Jenga Game

Anyone who’s ever worked with me knows I like visualizations, diagrams, metaphors, stories. Here’s a simple one that helps me as a product leader. Imagine three blocks, stacked on top of each other, as in Jenga, the game where opponents stack blocks in a manner to keep them from falling. This game of Jenga is dead simple. There are only three blocks. They represent: Your customers Your business What you’re…

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Event Horizons

One of my go-to product strategy tools is the three horizons model, which originated at consulting firm McKinsey & Company way back in the 1990s, when I was young and grunge was king. Several of McKinsey’s strategists then unleashed the model on the world in their book Alchemy of Growth. For a classic summary of the framework, listen to this podcast from McKinsey’s “enduring ideas” series. Nowadays, nerds of my…

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Applying platform strategy to EdTech

Platform, like product, program, or project (why do all the nebulous words start with “p”?), is a word we use liberally in business and technology. But what exactly is a platform? Is it just some behind-the-scenes technology, the software system that undergirds a product portfolio? Or is it something else? And what does it mean for educational technology providers? A platform is, at heart, a value model. It is a…

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Of landings, language, and leaders

When we look at history from the present, we’re misled by the appearence of inevitability. We consider the D-Day invasion, 75 years ago today, and we think: yes, the battle will be difficult, and lives will be lost, but victory will come. The allied forces will take the beaches, scale the cliffs, and secure the beachhead. And in the next episode, of course, the good guys will drive the Nazis…

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Kano like a boss

Product management and user experience pros may be familiar with the Kano model, a simple and powerful depiction of the non-linear relationship between the level of functional execution and the level of customer satisfaction of a product and its features. I won’t spend too much time on the basics of the model; others have done so well. User Experience guru Jared Spool recently posted another thoughtful primer on the Kano…

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