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As I read through the article Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2016 from Forbes this morning, I enjoyed many of the specific points the author made, but could help but wonder how this could be applied on a more practical/personal level.

I’d encourage you to start with the article itself, but today’s exercise is all about translating the top 10 from a high level, business perspective down to the role many of us serve in as product management leaders.


1 – top performing companies will focus on connecting customers – the author expands the definition a bit to include connecting buyer to seller, consumer to content, etc.  I’ll take it a step further.  In a previous post titled Indirectly Serving Customers I used the quote from Jan Carlzon, CEO of SAS … “if you are not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.

For most of the products or services I’ve been a part of, the end result was rarely about direct sales … rather it has been about adding value to the larger ecosystem and benefiting from the network effect that follows.

2 – smart businesses will shift from complaining about to embracing millennials  – a necessity in our roles as product managers is collaboration across many different functional groups and yes, age groups.  I had a colleague share this generational view on LinkedIn recently and found it interesting.  In another article I read the author made the point we need to embrace disruptive innovation as a tool to empower the millennial generation.

But working with millennials is just one facet of the conversation.  Another critical point to consider is how millennials change the nature of what your product does and how it does it?  Do your use cases accommodate for changing generational behaviors?  One example from the industry I serve in.

3 – innovative organizations will invest in mentoring and engagement for remote employees – put simply, I love the product management role … and I want to encourage others who either haven’t been exposed to the role and/or are new to the role.  Another quote from John Maxwell in support of this one … “If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it.”

And just as a side note, even those of us who have been around the block a few times could use encouragement too! Which is partially why I have this blog.

4 – top businesses will focus on strengths-based more than remedial leadership – linking back to the collaboration comment in point #2, influence is a necessary part of the product management role.  A practical piece of advice I learned in life applies here as well … focus on the relationship rather than resolution.  Leading with a remedial approach rarely brings out the best in folks.  I hit upon this in the post Leadership with -Atitude.


5 – commodity products will continue to see margins erode, services will extend value – I wasn’t entirely sure where to take this point initially.  What eventually came to mind was a concept I use in competitive analysis called the analytical hierarchy process.  Developed at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, this multi-criteria decision making model emphasizes 6 criteria made during the technology buying process.

Interestingly, this model serves as the basis for Gartner’s Magic Quadrant … which measures ‘Completeness of Vision’ and ‘Ability To Execute’ on their axis.  The point being our focus as product managers needs to be broader than just the product and its feature/functions.

Points 6-10 to be covered in Part 2 …