Shaking things up when you’re lost in your roadmap

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Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash

“What do customers want, and what will they buy?” is the essential question for every product manager. There are lots of ways to get answers. This article will explore one approach: The Customer Advisory Board. What is it? Why do it? Who should be on it? How do I run it?

A CAB isn’t for every product. Let’s assume you have a product that already has some market adoption. You’ve made it past the initial stages of finding product/market fit, and you even have some loyal customers. The challenge went from, “will anybody buy it?” …


A device that says “How was your day?” with buttons to indicate good or bad.
A device that says “How was your day?” with buttons to indicate good or bad.
Photo by Celpax on Unsplash

No matter what industry you’re in, your business is becoming increasingly digital. Managing your digital service requires key performance indicators (KPIs) that ensure you provide a great experience to your customers.

KPIs are used in business all the time to quantify and track the health of the business. Traditionally, you might review these indicators on a daily or weekly basis and then aggregate them to a quarterly or annual view so you can understand longer-term trends. …


Gain credibility — if you write religiously.

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Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

I joined the Forbes Business Development Council in 2019, and I have published a handful of articles there. I often get asked by people who are considering joining if it’s worth it. As with most things in life, it depends.

The council is an invite-only club where you can network, publish articles, and get discounts in a marketplace. The main attraction is the articles. In the best case, you can post something new about every five weeks. They provide two rounds of editing and help hone the material.

You might think it’s like becoming a magazine contributor, but it’s more like a blogging platform with a household name on it. I find it valuable. Your experience may be different, and you have to decide for yourself. …


Designing the perfect garden for a journey across the solar system

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Greetings Friend,

I’m pleased to report the Red Thumb Society successfully delivered your message. In response to your question: Yes! It’s my honor to help you prepare for your Earthbound journey. My motto is, “grow the best food in the worst place.” It takes a lot of care — tilling, weeding, watering, and whatever else you can program the robots to do — but we get the people fed.

I’m a little jealous you’ll be heading to Earth. You don’t need an old-timer like me getting in the way. You’ve got a tough job in front of you; the only place a vegetable hates worse than Mars is the cramped hold of a spaceship. …


Quarantined Sci-Fi author confronts strange coincidence

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Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

“Have you seen Plutonomics? The new show? It’s hilarious,” Lisa, the host of the virtual happy hour, asked the group of fourteen faces, each safe at home. These online functions were standard weekend pastimes during the annual infectious season.

Fiona, who was using a shark-themed video background, replied, “Oh, the one about the economics professor on that space ship to Pluto? No, is it good?”

“It’s hilarious,” Lisa repeated.

Fred couldn’t believe his ears. He joined midway through the worst conversation imaginable. “It’s about what? And what’s it called?” Fred asked.

“Fred!” said Lisa, “glad you could make it.”

“Hi. Can you please tell me about this show?” Fred asked impatiently. …


Prep right for a killer skip-level 1:1 meeting

An antique throne
An antique throne
Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash

You’re meeting your Grand-Boss (your boss’s boss), or maybe even someone higher up the food chain. How do you prepare for such an auspicious occasion?

Let me share how I approach this, including some dumb mistakes. The Big Boss meeting is a risky proposition, which can mean the difference between career advancement and stagnation. With these stakes, I am not leaving it to chance.

Whether you want to fly under the radar or take the fast track to Executive Island, you need to prepare yourself. The meeting will be won or lost before it even begins.

The keys to a great…


Move hallway conversations into better code

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’re building a software company, you need to decide — should I hire remote software engineers?

Set aside for a moment the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact pretty much everyone is working from home. The remote work trend has been clear for some time. Tech hubs keep getting more expensive to live and work. Companies are looking for talent outside their headquarter city. Distributed teams now work in offices around the world, and some of them work entirely from home.

The competitive labor market justifies access to more talent through remote work. …


Delicious lessons and a surprise from my first cook

I wouldn’t say I was afraid to try smoking meat. I was just concerned it wouldn’t be worth the investment of time and money. This past weekend, I finally made the ultimate smoked pork butt.

I achieved a fantastic result by following the method of BBQ master Aaron Franklin. He is the proprietor of Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, Texas. He’s sold out of brisket every day since he opened in 2009, and he’s probably the best there is (or at least the most famous).

I read Franklin’s book on barbeque several years ago, and I thought then that smoking meat like him was out of reach. He has whole chapters on sourcing wood and the elements of smoke quality. …


Letting go of technical opinions earns respect.

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Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash

You’re a product manager working on a highly advanced software or technology product. You have tons of experience, deep technical understanding, and can chart the best path forward for your development team — if only they would listen to you.

It’s common for PMs, especially those with strong technical backgrounds, to want to drive technical discussions for their product. Just because you’re the “CEO of the Product” doesn’t mean you have to know everything and make every implementation decision. …


PRODUCT MANAGER PROFILE

Kurt Biesemans is helping healthcare get personal.

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Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

“Make the product for your users, not for yourself,” Kurt Biesemans advises aspiring product managers. In our interview, we spoke about his work in omnichannel healthcare and how he has evolved as a product manager.

Kurt is a healthcare-focused product leader based in Brussels who is working to improve patient/provider relationships through technology. The healthcare industry has a reputation for being slow to adopt new technology. But the coronavirus pandemic is adding new steam to universal digitization. Information technology is coming to healthcare faster than ever.

There is much to do as healthcare adapts to modern technology and user expectations. Kurt explains, “More and more people are aware and interested in their health. …

About

Kit Merker

Writing a little of everything since quarantine.

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