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Innovation is the death knell of product managers

July 30, 2015

Innovation is not the solution

Lately innovation has been portrayed as something akin to “The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch“. The one thing that will solve all of your Product Management woes.

Innovation is made out to be the use of bleeding edge technology, whereby you should be investigating the latest tech & digital solutions to be successful. This couldn’t be further from the reality.


Wikipedia’s definition of Innovation

Innovation is a distraction. Stop using the word now & rename that “Innovation Centre”  to “Fantasy World” if you have one. If there is anyone in  your company that has innovation in their job title, then panic.

As a company, if you haven’t addressed the Product Management fundamentals, whether the product is already in the market or currently being planned, then you too will be chasing mythical solutions for your customer’s needs (Still maybe there is a market for holy hand grenades?).   The fundamentals of Product Management can naturally assist in bringing innovative products to market versus trying to innovate for innovation’s sake.

Get the fundamentals right

  • Engage with your customers early & regularly. Use the lean development methodology to test regularly that you have evidence that the customer type & their problem still exists. Remember that things change, so that amazing research you discovered on the Internet from earlier this year could already be way past its due date.
  • Change your business to be goaled on how regularly you & your staff interact with customers and measure the customer’s satisfaction of your company, products & services. How are you tracking this & more importantly how are you driving actionable tasks on this data.
  • Set customer centric metrics early and measure regularly. How are you tracking the path for success. How is it measured both in and around your product?
  • Everything you are building for launch should be a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). So use the MVP process to build/measure/learn what you are launching is what the customer needs to solve their problem.
  • Feature prioritisation is a customer driven process, not business centric. What processes/methodologies do you have in place to measure the customer’s prioritisation of features you are taking to market?

Your customers have a need and that need requires a solution. If you are going to be the successful company to bring that solution to market, you do not need to have the latest & greatest technology, or be utilising the latest digital trends as many would state how they see innovation.

To be truly innovative in today’s market, you need to be constantly focused on your customer & their needs. Once you have the fundamentals right, the decisions of what & how to make a solution will become a break through.

Shane Williamson


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