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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A Journey of Discovery

Marty Cagan, founder of the Silicon Valley Product Group and a popular writer and speaker on the craft of product, says, famously, “the job of product management is to discover a product that is usable, valuable, and feasible.” Cagan has written extensively on the meaning of usable, valuable, and feasible. Product professionals around the world have embraced that triad in their work. While those three adjectives are certainly worth considering,…

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A Hero’s Journey: Shifting From Projects to Products

You are smart and competent. You work in some department, for some organization that requires innovation. Maybe it’s a content publisher, or a manufacturer of medical devices, or a legal services firm. Something like that. So you and your team come up with this idea for an innovative thing. The thing is digital, social, mobile, and it will revolutionize how you find and acquire customers—plus millennials will love it. Something like that.…

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How Getting Out of the Building Expands our Perspective

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” So wrote John le Carré, the famed British spy novelist, in his 1977 novel The Honourable Schoolboy. It’s a sentiment that applies to international espionage, certainly—and also to a product team’s work as managers, makers, and designers of great digital products. A product team can be tempted to make decisions about priorities and functionality from the comfort of…

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On effective product teams

Quick: who are your teammates at work? When we talk about our professional team or the small group of our closest colleagues, it is common and perfectly reasonable to first think of other people who report to the same manager, or of coworkers with the same or similar job titles and duties.  “I’m on the support team; my teammates are the other support reps sitting on the 14th floor, next…

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