Svpcamp10 r2


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  • Let me start off with a little background for your benefit. Many years ago I was an instructor at the S3G Naval nuclear prototype in upstate NY. I managed to get an ROTC scholarship that landed me in Colorado.
  • Let me start off with a little background for your benefit. Many years ago I was an instructor at the S3G Naval nuclear prototype in upstate NY. I managed to get an ROTC scholarship that landed me in Colorado.
  • After studying electrical engineering for 4 years I graduated and got several positions where I could apply my new skills building high-end video camera systems for the government, medical, and the scientific community.
  • After studying electrical engineering for 4 years I graduated and got several positions where I could apply my new skills building high-end video camera systems for the government, medical, and the scientific community.
  • After 6 years of hardware design I managed to land a position doing software technical marketing for a semiconductor company. Three positions later my software technical marketing turned into software product management. This was over a 10 year stint with that company.
  • The end of which was brought on by the current recession. 15 months of scouring the internet, business journals, networking, job boards, etc. I finally landed my current position doing product management for a wireless security hardware company.
  • I finally landed my current position doing product management for a wireless security hardware company.
  • My name is Larry McKeogh and I am here to talk to you today about Domain Knowledge and whether it matters?
  • That knowledge which is specific to an application, as distinguished from general strategic or control knowledge that is independent of the details of any particular application. i.e., a specific area of expertise of an expert system
  • This has been a topic that cyclically appears on various product management forums, blogs, and twitter. Traditionally, I have taken the stance that Domain Knowledge does not matter. However, during the course of putting this presentation together I have found myself vacillating on the answer. It is one that depends on what side of the fence you are on.
  • For this reason I will apologize in advance if this is not a well-polished presentation. I would like to turn it into more of a working topic with everyone here. As I understand the intention of product camps this is what yields the greatest value for both the presenters as well as presentees.So that we are all on the same page what am I talking about when I say “Domain Knowledge”
  • The operative word for this morning’s discussion in my mind is knowledge. Domain is a secondary consideration. From a product management perspective, you, or more specifically your knowledge is the product. The potential customers are your target employers. What are their needs and do they realize it? What I have found to be the case is most employers do not entirely realize what they are looking for when it comes to product management. As most people in this room can attest to, product management at most companies and its job description is very broad and ill defined. One company is looking for a mar-comm type while another is looking for technical wizard. They all know they need something but are unsure of exactly what it is. I say this based on reviewing hundreds of job requests and then correlating the job requirements to what the employer actually wanted. I am going to share my experiences with you today. Unfortunately, with a sample size of one this is far from scientific.
  • But before I do that, I would like to revisit my own personal history. If you remember during my introduction I made the jump from hardware design to software technical marketing. On the surface this seemed to me like a huge leap. Especially when I also let you know that my worst subjects during college were software related. The main reason I was hired, as explained to me by my boss after the fact was “because I was familiar with the competition.” He wanted someone who knew what the competitor did well and not so well. He didn’t care that I didn’t know a lick about know that company’s product or that I didn’t know the first thing a software product technical marketer did. I would pick that up on the job.I don’t think he initially knew how much these skills would matter. It was over beers several years later, when he was no longer my boss that he informed me that he was close to giving up on me. Fortunately I was a fairly fast learner and able to develop the necessary skills for the position and my career took off. In this instance, I had the domain knowledge of interest but not the skills to match the position.
  • At this point, I’d like to take a look at recent example that is very similar in nature: If the red elements are the “domain” specific criteria for this position, without even being able to see them, is this company looking for a PM or a developer to play a PM?[audience?]In my opinion, based on the amount of space given to the product management requirements it would be a product manager.
  • This announcement is a pretty generic product manager request except for a couple of market specific lines:5+ years of software search product management Experience in social networking, search, or websites required. And Ability to build a road map for search engine products Previous experience as a software developer To demonstrate my background in product management as part of my application, I gathered information on the search market. I outlined the other players that were in this space, their strengths and weaknesses. Where I thought the company could do well and where they might want to stay away from. I had done some homework on the market. I also thought I was shedding some new light on the founder by revealing some of these players. In the end it was for naught. I happened to know the recruiter for this position. She informed me that what was really meant by these lines was a PhD from Stanford that had worked at Google for 5 years. They would entertain someone from Yahoo if they had to. Without that on my resume, this company was not even willing to talk to me. They were not looking for a true product manager. Like the boss I had described earlier they were looking for someone with more of the technical knowledge.This illustrates to me at least that the term domain is deeper than a single vertical. By that I am not talking about a market rather a spectrum of domains.
  • Collective knowledge specific to an application or market – is the application or market the actual job position or the market vertical it exists within? Does it matter that a software developer knows C/C++ for the financial and banking industry or can they code for gaming industry just as easily?At one end of the spectrum there is product management domain knowledge. At the other end there is technical domain knowledge. In between there is a whole lot of gray area that most of us fall into.There is a an old saying – “The only constant is change” My impression is that getting out or avoiding this pigeon hole is the quandary most of us are facing today. The competition for the jobs today is so high that it is an employer’s market. Unfortunately, many of them are willing to wait for just the perfect fit. It was frustrating for me to see that the last position was posted 3 times and sat unfilled for nearly a year. During that time frame I could have done pro-bono work while developing the technical knowledge they desired. Last time I checked, they are still looking for some form of product management. I am looking at the Domain Knowledge in different perspectives:1. Business Domain Knowledge (Implies purely the Business Rules at company level handled by managers)2. Marketing Domain Knowledge (Acts as intermediary to BDK and TDK to make the product sellable to create revenues)3. Technical Domain Knowledge (Implies the Technology involved in developing the particular application and the support & Maintenance
  • Let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum using another position announcement.On the surface it appears similar to the earlier search example; this company is looking for someone with imaging or IC design experience along with the standard product management skills requested. In actuality, their deeper need was for a product manager that could influence and manage their Asian partners. If it came down to two equally qualified PM candidates: one with the imaging / IC experience and another with greater Asian experience it would probably be the later who was given the nod. This criteria is completely absent from the requirements list though.So if the customer doesn’t really know what they want how can you provide it? Especially when you don’t have easy access to ask them all the pertinent questions you would normally ask a typical customer. This turns into a market segmentation problem.
  • With this understanding of your customer what skill set are they trying to improve upon. What expertise is currently lacking that they are trying to fill with this request for a product manager? Where do your strengths lie in alignment with the needs of the customer and do you have compensating competencies that might add value to the customer?Huh? Drawing a simple analogy, your senses give you multi-dimensional insight into the world around you. If you lose one the others pick up the slack. Likewise, a seasoned product manager is able to use their existing skill set to accelerate the learning associated with any new position and offset any gaps they may have with their past experiences. Unlike a product that is one dimensional you as a person offer more and can adapt as needed. How have you done this in your past roles? Who has had only one job here? So for each of those positions you have taken on in the past there was some learning curve. Thinking back to those early days what did you do to accelerate it? What skills do you possess that ensure your future success in the position you are applying for? It is this tangible experience that has to be conveyed to your audience.
  • Last set of examples and let’s see how this all plays out:
  • Let’s take a look at a response from an HR person
  • Unfortunately, we are in an employer’s market. They can be choosy because there are a number of candidates on the street. So I had to reframe the problem and their desired solution to be me. Do you really need that domain knowledge that they are so looking for? How are your product management skills and how can you demonstrate them to the employer? Play up your compensating competencies and give them something else to think about. For most people here I am going to say that your product management skills are what needs to be highlighted.
  • I agree that working on different domains will enable us with multiple options to choose. But by being expert in one domain I don’t think can’t be expertise in other domains too. So, It’s unfair to say that being ‘Jack all of all trades is better than master of one’ because they both have advantages and disadvantages on their own. So, It’s in ones perspective whether he/she is open and showing constantly the growth in his knowledge and adding quality to the company working for.
  • Svpcamp10 r2

    1. 1.
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    9. 9. Larry McKeogh<br />@lmckeogh<br /><br />
    10. 10. Domain Knowledge<br />
    11. 11.<br />
    12. 12. Collective knowledge specific to an application or market; it is distinguished from general strategic or control knowledge which are independent of the details of any particular application. <br />
    13. 13. If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”<br />- Henry Ford<br />
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    15. 15.
    16. 16. Our client is seeking a Software Search Product Manager.<br /> <br />Main Job Duties:<br />Coordinate and manage timelines, deliverables and deadlines with product marketing and development teams <br />Coordinate and manage delivery of features with product marketing and development teams <br />Create and track feature backlogs, specifications <br />Responsible for the product lifecycle <br />Provide qualitative and quantitative data on the market <br />Become an expert in the competition and business environment <br />Ensure that products support companies strategic goals<br />Requirements:<br />5+ years of software search product management <br />Experience in social networking, search, or websites required.<br />Please outline your background in your cover letter. <br />Ability to build a road map for search engine products <br />Previous experience as a software developer <br />Project management experience <br />Demonstrated success defining and launching amazing products <br />Strong technical background in web applications <br />BS or MS in computer science, business or related field<br />
    17. 17. Domains<br />Technical<br />Business<br />Market<br />
    18. 18. This role requires strong leadership in order to bring cross functional groups together to make complex decisions. Our Product Managers are considered to be the owners of the product and is therefore expected to be involved with all aspects of the product from release of first silicon through the EOL of the product. In particular the role is responsible for the market and financial success of the product. Responsibilities Include: • Program management of the product release cycle from 1st silicon through production• Planning, managing, and executing global product launches• Alpha customer coordination and support• Development of product collateral including sales training tools, sales presentations, and competitive positioning• Coordinate and conduct sales and partner training• Competitive analysis, differentiation and positioning • Product P&L Strategy and Management (GM, COGS and pricing targets)• Managing pre-production product builds and initial product volume ramps• Work with Operations on manufacturing critical issues such as capacity, key product delivery, inventory, critical quality issues etc.Qualifications and Experience:• 6+ yrs of product management experience in the semiconductor or electronics industries• 2+ yrs of demonstrated project/program management skills with the ability to drive fast accurate decisions• Demonstrated experience creating and executing detailed product release plans that drive sales and revenue• Strong leadership and influencing skills • Effective analytical and problem-solving skills, with the ability to apply creative solutions. • Experience working on multiple products and projects simultaneously• Highly motivated and results driven• Exceptional written and verbal, organizational skills with a strong attention to detail• BA/BS in Engineering, a MBA desirable• Imaging or IC design experience is a plus<br />
    19. 19. Market Segmentation<br />B2B<br />Software or hardware <br />Company size<br />Market growth<br />Market served<br />Work environment<br />Customer type<br />Employee type<br />Competitor<br />How about the decision maker?<br />
    20. 20. SUMMARY OF POSITION: The Product Manager will be responsible for evaluating market input for new and existing security and life safety products, leading product development and managing the product line throughout the product life cycle via a disciplined stage gate process. The ideal candidate will possess a blend of business and technical savvy, and can communicate effectively with others in both contexts.<br />DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES• Work closely with internal and external resources to identify new product opportunities and gaps in product functionality. Present product recommendations with analysis of business opportunities for best use of resources and return on investment.• Drive product definitions/requirements, which translate and balance business needs, customer needs and technological capabilities into features and enhancements.• Lead cross-functional teams, serving as product manager and sometimes also project manager, to define product requirements, establish milestones, manage the development and implementation against goals.• Communicate product status, key issues and launch plans to key constituents across the xxxxxxxorganization including senior management, engineering, sales, operations, marketing, technical and customer service teams.• Monitor the competitive landscape and measure product performance to identify key levers of improvement.• Work with marketing communications and sales to define and manage product launch including: positioning and market segmentation, messaging, pricing, required marketing communications/promotion, sales strategy, customer training and support.• Interface with marketing communications and sales to guide the creation of manuals, product literature, white papers, technical presentations, and sales tools.• Manage existing products on an ongoing basis, including product line extensions and enhancements, prioritization, forecasting, and related activities.<br />QUALIFICATIONS:• Minimum 5 yrs experience as a Product Manager in B2B market with software and/or electronic product emphasis.• Demonstrated ability to think strategically, yet implement at the tactical level.• Strong analytical problem solving, organizational, and project management skills absolutely required.• Excellent written and oral communication skills. Must be comfortable in front of customers, sales teams, and executives.• Ability to work in a cooperative manner to coordinate efforts from multiple functional areas or entities to achieve a specific goal.• Specific experience in successfully developing and managing new product development projects including a proven ability to champion products and drive to key decisions.<br />
    21. 21. … At this time we are looking for someone with xxxxx industry background more than software because of the current products in the pipeline.  That does not mean you are out of the running, it is a matter of honing in on what we really need…<br /> <br />…Right now we are looking at xxxxx industry experience, but that information is not meant to discourage you…<br />HR Response<br />
    22. 22. Thank you for the update regarding the position and your desired qualifications.  I had a discussion with a number of other product managers on Wednesday about domain knowledge vs. basic Product Management skills.  There was a leaning that product/market insight was the easy part of being a PM.<br />My Reply<br />
    23. 23.<br />
    24. 24. Larry McKeogh<br />@lmckeogh<br /><br />