The 7 Toughest Challenges to Building Successful Products and Companies and how to Overcome Them


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The 7 Toughest Challenges to Building Successful Products
and Companies and how to Overcome Them by Chris Kocher @ Silicon Valley Product Camp 2012

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The 7 Toughest Challenges to Building Successful Products and Companies and how to Overcome Them

  1. 1. Chris KocherMarch 24, 2012
  2. 2. BackgroundChris Kocher Managing Director of Grey Heron Consulted and advised over 100 companies 3 Years VP General Manager at Symantec 10 years in Product Management at HP 280 Group Product Management/Marketing Training in San Francisco
  3. 3. 1. “If you don’t know where you’regoing, any road will take you there”Challenges- Symptoms Solutions No real customer focus  Identify personas Solution in search of a  Define use cases problem  Focus on customer Technology/feature- issues – not yours driven  Segment, segment, Internal vs. customer segment focus
  4. 4. 2. Never mistake a clear view for ashort distance - Paul SaffoChallenges- Symptoms Solutions Market immaturity- timing  Think about market Never underestimate readiness stages inertia  4 Es ‘Doing nothing’ may be  Ecosystem your biggest competition  Education  Evolution Social issues – not  Evangelism technology - are often the biggest barriers to adoption
  5. 5. 3. There is no substitute for acoherent value delivery systemChallenges- Symptoms Solutions Unclear value proposition  Focus on 2-3 things – not Undefined value delivery 10 system  Website and Support – test yourself Incomplete Product-  Whole product solution – Experience ecosystems and support  iPhone vs. Android  PM and PMM role to  People don’t buy incomplete ensure coherent product solutions strategy  Are you a whole product or an aftermarket item
  6. 6. 4. Nothing happens til someone sellssomething –Thomas Watson (IBM)Challenges- Symptoms Solutions Disconnect between  Understand how customer and channels buyer/user goes through Poor channel strategy purchase process Misunderstood sales  Distribution is one of the process/cycle toughest variables to B2C vs B2B group buying change Putting in doesnt  Find a champion mean you have a sales process  Build mktg. programs to help move people through the sales process
  7. 7. 5. Start-ups often die of over-indulgence - not starvationChallenges- Symptoms Solutions Trying to do too many  Minimum viable product MVP, for starters things Trying to be all things to  Stay focused on critical requirements, hone them, all people don’t just do new things On the ‘feature treadmill’  Frequency and reinforcement not just “newness”  Kill products early- there is always more to do  Do fewer things , well
  8. 8. 6. We must all hang together or… we willall hang separately – Ben FranklinChallenges- Symptoms Solutions Disparate visions of  Continuous objectives and success communication Sales, Marketing, QA,  Continual strategy, Engineering, product and business updates Buy-in to common view from mgmt, investors,  ‘One view’ of a swing… partners, stakeholders…
  9. 9. A Single View of the Product Customer Designer ManufacturingDocumentation Sales CEO Thanks to for the images
  10. 10. 7. Ah but I was so much older then,I’m younger than that now- Bob DylanChallenges- Symptoms Solutions Never a perfect world  Refine, Redo, Retool, Resource, Restart – Pivot Stuff happens  Learn fast and fail fast Cleaning up other people’s messes  The emperors’ new clothes It may not be pretty, but  Sometimes you just aren’t ‘you gotta do what you going to change it gotta do’  When all else fails- bail – leaving is learning- not failure
  11. 11. For Further Discussion Chris Kocher