Agile · Book reviews · Coaching · Communication · Customer conversations · feedback · Leadership · Product management · Reading · VOC

Recent notes

The past few weeks have been very busy with conferences, client visits, and a lot of end-of-year planning activities. I wanted to post three brief notes on things I’ve been thinking about during this time:

  1. Product marketing. I spent a few days recently at an annual industry conference and as I usually do I took several hours to walk around the massive vendor booth area to see how different products and services market themselves. I want to keep an eye on competitors in our space but I also want to see what themes emerge in the marketing and positioning messages of companies across the wider industry. How many are talking about security or workflow or machine learning? Which ones promote their depth of insight or their ease of adoption? Which ones make an emotional appeal and which ones focus on process efficiency? As we continue refining the value proposition, the ideal customer profile, and the marketing messages we want to push for next year I find it useful to see what other firms are trying and to attempt to discern which ones are connecting.
  2. The Mom Test. I’ve spoken before about a wonderful short book on getting to real client needs called The Mom Test (here’s a link: Recently I’ve been working with one of our teams on applying the core ideas of this book to the research they are doing. The heart of The Mom Test involves three principles: Talk about a user’s problems instead of your own ideas, ask about specifics from the past instead of generalities or hypotheticals about the future, and listen more than you talk. It has been enjoyable working with this team to help them craft an approach to a new set of potential clients that follows these principles.
  3. Coaching and feedback. Last week a group of us from my firm spent 10 hours going through training on coaching and feedback, examining some great material from other companies (including Google) as well as some tools developed in house – all designed to help managers in our company improve as coaches for their direct reports. Much of what we talked about was helpful as I began preparing end-of-year performance reviews, and it encouraged me to strengthen the ways I provide feedback to the people I work with every day.

Each of these notes could easily expand into full blog posts but this at least catches you up on things from my past few weeks. I’m hoping things settle down and I can resume weekly posts, but in any case please reach out here or on Twitter (@asbiv) with your own thoughts and questions. And as always thanks for reading.


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