Sunday, April 26, 2009

How can observing the world help a software product manager?

Observing The World by ♪ María ♥♣ Trébol ♪

Here are just a few things I observed and (hopefully) learned from,

  1. Marketing: Champion toyota of Austin is running a campaign with the tag line "your car is worth more now than it was a year ago". They claim they will pay you way over blue book value for your used car. Pretty smart marketing campaign. This is one of the best car buyer's market in decades but most people have a functioning car so it is unlikely they want a new one given the economy. Champion Toyota has to unload the new cars in their lot and so they focus on the obstacle, your used car. Hopefully they have a model which helped them crunch the numbers. Here is the question for me: How would I apply this to software?
  2. Trouble Shooting: I drive a 12 year old car. It runs like a charm (most of the time) :-) It has a manual transmission and my wife noticed that the reverse lights do not turn on. The mechanic diagnosed the problem to a switch that sits by the gear shift and is worn down. The right way to solve the problem is to replace the switch and that involves taking the whole tranmission apart. That is way more $$ than I want to put into my 12 year old car. Larry suggested an alternative, he said he could rewire my reverse lights to bypass the broken switch and connect them to a manual toggle switch he can add to my dash. The total cost for this is less than 100$. I am not saying this is the right answer, but it was a great option to offer to me. Here is the question for me: How can I apply this next time I get a customer support issue?
  3. User Experience: I was recently involved in a church event which involved moving to a new location and having a grand opening. I watched the senior pastor plan for the event by walking into the new facility and pretend to be a middle aged man, a old woman and a mother with multiple kids. In addition, he sat in as many seats as he could to see the event through the eyes of his audience. Agreed it is hard to know your audience as well as he knows his but the lesson is still powerful. Here is the question for me: How can I try and view the finished product from the eyes of my audience before I design the product?

What did you learn from your daily experiences?

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

What they say about carts and the horses

There was once a woman. She decided to help the world by solving problems. She thought to herself, if I could improve on existing solution or come up with new solutions, the world would be a better place. 

She did just that and the world liked that. Soon there were a few other men and women who started to think and act like her. They all either tweaked existing solutions or came up with new ones. 

A funny thing started to happen, along the way some of them got wealthy. I mean really wealthy. Just a side effect, the world's way of thanking you I suppose :-).  (Now I am speculating) I think this group of folks liked the side effect, liked it a lot but I think they still did what they did because that was their passion, a way for them to tap into their mojo. The "make the world a better place" thing.

Then a whole bunch of other people came along, studied the first set of people and a strange thing happened. The means became the end. The side effect became the goal and the world no longer had to get better but just stay needy.

..... good news is the story is not done yet.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

And you thought great products were easy to create

Question: Why is it that companies with billions of dollars who can hire any designer or design firm in the world put out such crappy products?

Answer: Excellent products require more then just a good designer or a good design agency—they require humanistic and cultural vision, courage and discipline in execution. There are two reasons why crappy products are so common: first, most “companies with billions of dollars” don’t want to charter new ways because they are in a defensive setting in order to defend their existing business—and when the billions and the business are gone, it’s too late for change. Second, big companies normally have neither the people nor the processes to innovate and there are no real rewards for taking the risks and efforts required in the endeavor for excellent products. In my career, SONY under Akio Morita was the only big company which rejected the common addiction to mediocrity and went for world-changing innovations. Now they are stuck as well….

(accent mine)

From a conversation between Guy Kawasaki and Hartmut Esslinger:

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