If I Had More Time I Would Have Said Less

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A recent leader of mine used a similar expression. Upon reflection, it offers tremendous value.  Upon initial glance, however, it could leave you scratching your head.

banner2-2The catalyst for my post today was this article – The Power of Precision. And while the context pertains to editing/writing, there is applicability with how we as Product Management leaders need to strategically communicate. An example:

Their prose is nothing short of amazing. It’s economical, to the point and most of all, clear. This concise crafting of copy is a joy to read, it instills confidence in the reader not just by being useful, but by also managing to communicating the primary benefit and message in a very short period of time.

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Stories: A Catalyst for Change

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Leaders tell emotional, passionate, and often very personal stories … we act because we are emotionally moved and inspired. We change not because of fact alone but because our emotions are telling us that the facts we have heard are correct.” – Art Coombs

Fantastic reminder of something I heard a while ago related to the television show Shark Tank … If not already addressed by the entrepreneur in her pitch, what’s the first question the investors almost always ask?  

You guessed it, what is the story!

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Product Leadership – Lessons Learned Part I

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Taking a long look in the mirror isn’t always easy.  But there are times where it is necessary.  So when I came across this post titled 13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful, it prompted just such a self-awareness opportunity.

Sometimes, to become successful and get closer to the person we can become, we don’t need to add more things — we need to give up on some of them.

I found myself nodding my head as I read through the list of 13 items, and certainly  specific scenarios came to mind from my own experience.  I’m hoping sharing some of these experiences in a two part series can add value to this already wonderfully positioned article.  Here is part 1 from my perspective focusing on points 1-6.

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Continuing Thoughts on Innovation

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A few weeks ago, I published a post When Might it be OK to not Listen to the Customer with the inspiration coming from having just finished Innovator’s Dilemma by Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen.  To oversimplify the summary, it was about the distinction between sustaining and disruptive innovation.

Recently, I also came across an article on HBR titled The 4 Types of Innovation and the Problems They Solve, so it seemed appropriate to expand perspectives and dig into what the author had to say.

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2 Ears, 1 Mouth … Use Proportionately

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Understanding the markets you serve is one of the fundamental expectations of a Product Management leader.  And yet more often than not, the tactical nature of our jobs (fire drills, meetings, delivering against commitments, etc) prevent us from focusing on the strategic nature of our roles.

I posted about being intentional with your planning time last week.  This week, let’s expand upon one aspect of what we should be thinking about during this time … understanding our markets/customers.  How well can you answer three simple questions about what you do and why?

  • Who am I serving?
  • What do they need/want, and are ready to buy?
  • How can I reach them and persuade them?

two-ears-one-mouth

 

 

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Have Brain, Will Travel

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Several months ago, I had the opportunity to watch the A&E series about the life of Albert Einstein.  It was a fascinating view into the mind of a brilliant man.  Make no mistake, he had his flaws from both a social & relational perspective.  But when you look at his curiosity and insatiable desire to understand why things behaved the way they did, you can’t help but think there might be something to be learned from him.

Coincidentally, I starting seeing articles/posts pop up in various places about Albert Einstein … and as I’ve stated, pay attention when coincidences converge.  Here are a few thoughts related to Einstein, leadership, and other random topics.

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When Might it be OK to not Listen to the Customer?

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What if, despite your best intentions with what you think you know at any given point in  time, and despite doing everything right based upon your current knowledge, you still failed?  It is highly likely you have faced this situation, or know somebody in your close circle of friends who has.  Not convinced?  How about these examples:

  1. Sports context – you laid out a strategy for an upcoming game, and executed on that strategy to what appears to be near perfection … but still lost the game.
  2. Driving context – you followed the speed limit and any other traffic rules … but still got in an accident.
  3. Health context – you followed a healthy diet, and worked out regularly … but still got sick.

I’m sure there are others from a non-work perspective, but what happens when this scenario presents itself at work?  What happens when you capture a dominant market share because you solved a specific market problem; when you responded to customers’ needs in a timely fashion; when you proactively and re-actively reacted to competitive threats to neutralize them quickly; when you consistently delivered a positive P&L for the business year after year?   Doesn’t this type of performance describe what good Product Management leaders should be doing?  And wouldn’t these results equate to success?

The answer is not always!

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People Don’t Care What You Know …

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Every once in a while, we are reminded people matter and relationships should be prioritized over tasks.  That we even need to be reminded of this is an unfortunate truth, but a truth nonetheless.  I received just such a reminder when I stumbled across this article/interview about Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert a few days ago.

7b908b_49752c63883d4949ac243a4970dc8118And in the midst of a very busy season, it was just the rude awakening I needed. In particular, this quote captures the essence of what good leaders should be striving for …

Building a team that brings you solutions instead of challenges, listening to and collaborating with them—that ultimately prioritizes your focus on issues where you can have the most impact, not just scratch items off the to do list … to me, productivity is directly related to the personal relationships you are able to build.

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The Gold Cup & Leadership

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Admittedly, I am a huge soccer fan.  I guess that is to be expected having spent the first 10 years of my life growing up in Germany as a pseudo-military brat.  And this morning as I was reflecs-l225ting on the USA’s victory over Jamaica last night in the Gold Cup, it occurred to me there were a few leadership lessons to be gleaned.

1 – Building the bench

2 – Understanding your role

3 – Perseverance & Redemption
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