Don’t Be An 18th Century Product Manager

Even when you find genuinely good things to copy, there’s another pitfall to be avoided. Be careful to copy what makes them good, rather than their flaws. It’s easy to be drawn into imitating flaws, because they’re easier to see, and of course easier to copy too. For example, most painters in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used brownish colors. They were imitating the great painters of the Renaissance, whose paintings by that time were brown with dirt. Those paintings have since been cleaned, revealing brilliant colors; their imitators are of course still brown.

Paul Graham

The lesson here for product managers is to make sure you understand the customer for that feature you are thinking of copying.  You never know when a feature that looks so bright and shinny from the outside is another product manager’s nightmare feature on the inside.

The competitor’s customers are probably different, their customer is probably different, and their long term strategy is probably different.  If you aren’t building something that is truly valuable to your customer, you could end up with a feature that flops…that stays “brown”.

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Telling A User Story

Telling a great user story means building a heart connection between your customer and the team building your products.  Heart connection means building empathy.  Something that connects you with the emotion that the user is experiencing.  Helping the team understand the pain.  The team should feel the customer’s frustration or joy just a little bit.

You know you have a good user story when the developers keep talking about it.  When they come back the next day with different (usually better) ideas on how to solve the pain.

 

“How to Write Human User Stories” Presentation

This presentation will tell you all there is to know about human user stories:

  • Tools you will need – customer feedback, customer interviews, personas.
  • Grouping customers into segments
  • What humans care about – performance, usability, and accessibility.
  • How to write user stories for virtual reality, augmented reality, and machine learning.

I would be excited to give part or all of this presentation to your team or organization.  Check out the PowerPoint Presentation and feel free to send any questions or requests to public@jayfisher.info

Leadership Track Speaker

I was fortunate to get to present at the Project Management Institute (PMI) South Dakota’s 2017 Professional Development symposium in the Leadership Track.  I got to talk about my favorite topic – how to understand customers.

Topic: How to Write Human User Stories

Jay Fisher, PMP is a Product Manager at MetaBank focused on creating software that builds relationships with cardholders.  Jay believes that the key to a successful project is creating user stories that connect the team to the customer.  After spending almost a decade working on new product development projects, Jay knows that building the heart connection requires focus and an agile responsiveness to surprises.  Jay has launched cardholder websites, mobile apps, and enterprise software in the consumer products and financial services industries.  He is a certified Project Management, New Product Development, and Pragmatic Marketing Professional. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics and Economics from the University of North Dakota.

“How to Write Human User Stories” is a practical conversation on how to connect teams to the needs of the end user.  We will discuss using customer visits and personas to discover user problems and to make user stories more relatable.

Understanding user’s expertise level and usage frequency vs the types of complaining customers to show how to target user stories for maximum impact.  We will show how focusing on a well-defined customer can increase team effectiveness and bring novel solutions to light.

PMI SD: Symposium 2017 Leadership Track

Sustainable Sources of Competitive Advantage

A great article from Collaborative Fund about 5 sustainable sources of competitive advantage.  My favorite was number 2 – Eat Your Own Dog Food.

Forty-seven percent of mutual fund mangers do not personally own any of their own fund, according to Morningstar. That’s shocking. But I suspect something similar happens across most businesses.

What percentage of McDonald’s executives frequent their own restaurant as a legitimate customer interested in the chain’s food, rather than a fact-finding mission? Few, I imagine. How many times has the CEO of Delta Airlines been bumped from a flight, or had his bags lost by the airline? Never, I assume.

The inability to understand how your customers experience your product almost guarantees an eventual drift between the problems a business tries to solve and the problems customers need solved. Here again, a person with a lower IQ who can empathize with customers will almost always beat someone with a higher IQ who can’t put themselves in customers’ shoes.

1st Financial Bank Flow

I drive by 1st Financial Bank everyday on my way to work and I was curious about what they do.  Turns out they issue student credit cards.  I tried to get one for my collection.

 

1.  Application Page

1st Financial Bank Application

2.  Confirmation Page

1st Financial Bank Confirmation

 

3.  Receipt Page

1st Financial Bank Receipt

 

I never got my personal invitation in the mail.  I think they must know I am not a student.