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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Bad Software is Easy

Bad software or bad products are really easy to make.  In fact, you don’t really have to try to make bad software.  If you don’t try, it will just happen by itself.

Like making moldy bread.

Nobody likes moldy bread.

Nobody Likes Moldy Bread

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

Eliminating My Wallet

I have been trying to minimize and eventually eliminate my wallet and keys for a couple of years.  I recently tried to scan all my membership cards into a mobile app.  It made my wallet very thin, but there was a problem.  Retail locations can not scan my phone and cashiers have to manual type my number every time, which completely negates any convenience from eliminating my wallet.

As a millennial trying to eliminate my wallet, I want POS systems to be able to scan my digitized membership cards, so the front line staff doesn’t have to manually enter my number.

-Verify the number is correct in the POS system
-Verify that the process can be completed in less than 2 seconds