What is the TPMA?
"Creating Insight through
Founded in March 2001,
the Toronto Product Man-
agement Association is
a non-profit organization
formed to create an en-
vironment that facilitates
learning, mentoring, & net-
Mentoring Returns 2
Magic Thinking 3
ProductCamp 2012 4
Product On Pinterest? 5
TPMA Social 2013 7
PM Resilience 9
Blogging 101 10
Book Review Corner 11
Issue #13: 3Q 2013
- Sat, Jul 20th
- Ryerson, 55 Dundas W
- Early September
- Metro Hall, 55 John St.
TPMA Meeting (TBA)
- Tue, Sep 24th
- Metro Hall, 55 John St.
Photography: Jörg-Alexander Roth
TPMA Mentoring Program 2014!
Mentoring has been one of the great
successes of the 2013 TPMA sea-
son. We started off with a kickoff orien-
tation session on December 4th
through to this June. Overall the pro-
gram put together 28 teams of mentors
and mentees. There were then two fol-
lowup conference calls both with the
mentors and mentees - to discuss what
was working and help out with tips and
tricks learned from other mentors/men-
tees. To end, a survey is in active circu-
lation, to gather input on improving the
program for the next iteration in Septem-
ber for the 2014 season.
Because of the strong response to the
2013 mentoring program, the TPMA ex-
ecutive was very encouraged to run an-
other program in 2014.
Mentors participating in the program ex-
pressed the importance of ‘giving back’
to the professional community. Either
they wanted to give back - as others had
given to them; pay it forward so that the
next generation of Product Managers
will give their time and experience some-
day; or give of their knowledge, to help
someone else have an easier time learn-
ing and succeeding - even if they did not
have such an opportunity in their earlier
years. Most mentors in the program felt
that this program gave them a sense of
reward, by helping someone else with
their career development in Product or
Beyond giving back to the profession,
most mentors have learned that this is
also a great way to expand your own
network, question why you do and think
a certain way in your own professional
life, and form a deeper bond with anoth-
er member of your profession. In a super
busy career, these are often elements
that are easy to bypass, overlook, or just
never get a chance to reflect upon.
For Mentees, naturally this program
provided an opportunity to have some-
one with more experience provide their
knowledge and guidance, in the career
journey. One of the greatest learnings
from this program, has been that being a
mentee, is a big step, commitment, and
a very respectable feat. Being a good
mentee, takes time, planning, the tenac-
ity to keep trying to make the schedules
work, and the resolve to actually find a
solution that works for the mentor and
mentee. On a personal note, I have
gained a new respect for the mentee
challenge, and I encourage all mentees
to keep up the good work.
It takes a certain level of leadership
and strength of character to keep the
conversation going with the mentor, to
continually seek out questions, to have
the openness and trust to discuss your
questions with a mentor, and to maintain
the partnership. If you are considering
joining the 2014 program, some of these
aspects will be covered in our brief train-
ing, and face-to-face orientation pro-
As we exit one season and prepare for
the next, take a moment to sign-up and
participate in the Professional Mentoring
2014 program. I know you are extremely
busy. Dozens of people tell me this, with
many creative reasons why they cannot
partake. The important ones - prioritize,
make the time, find a way, and make a
“To the world you may be just one person,
but to one person you may be the world!”
--- Charles Dimov
Again we are at the end of a spec-
tacular season. This one being
perhaps the best yet with speakers on
Mobile Commerce, Storytelling in Prod-
uct, Gamification, and The 10 Research
Secrets; to name just a few. Thanks to
all our guest speakers this year, and to
the strong participation of our members.
Mentoring has been a highlight of 2013.
With over 56 participants, there were
many good career conversations, new
friendships formed, and a stronger com-
munity forged among Product Managers.
Thank you to the many participants.
TPMA’s strength grows with the quality
of the programs and the value that you
get from participating. Average monthly
participation grew to about 50 people per
event. Clearly we are on the right track
and delivering value. Our commitment,
is that the leadership team will stay fo-
cused on bringing you the best program
we can, for the 2014 season. Remem-
bering this is a two way street, and that
TPMA is always open to volunteers to
actively help out, to make it happen.
Finally, a well earned note of thanks to
the Executive and occasional volun-
teers who pull our events together, and
the companies that sponsor the TPMA.
Without your effort and support, we just
could not make this happen.
See you in September!
Magic Thinking & Zero-Sum Roadmap
Recent conversations at several cli-
ents highlight an often-repeated set
of magical thinking: beliefs by internal
clients that development resources are
infinite, and beliefs by product managers
that prioritization can convince anyone
otherwise. Both are wrong, but seduc-
The starting point for this conversation is
the typical product roadmap: crammed
full of prioritized work and heavily nego-
tiated with the development team.
Almost every optional item has
been postponed, and there’s
still some risk of delay. This
is a product plan with no
“white space,” no large
chunks of unallo-
capacity, no slop
or slush funds
or hidden trea-
sure. That gives
us Mironov’s Roadmap
Theorem #1: you can’t
put something new into
the current development
plan without taking out
something of equal or
larger size. When stated
this plainly, it should be
as obvious as the law of
gravity. Hand slapped
against forehead. Doh!
(Agile translation: “this backlog is very
deep, already prioritized, and all of the
upcoming iterations are strategic. New
items can’t jump to the top without push-
ing something down that’s more criti-
But internal customers (Marketing, Sales,
Support, Channels, executive staff) al-
ways approach this with some form of
disbelief or negotiating position or magi-
cal thinking: that 10 pounds of develop-
ment can fit into a 5 pound iteration. I’ve
heard all of these in the last week:
“But it’s really important.”
“We already promised it to a cus-
“We’ve been talking about this for
more than a year (so we *must*
have assigned resources).”
“Engineering should be more pro-
“We’ve gone agile (which should
give us infinite capacity).”
“Your priorities must be wrong.”
“How hard could it be? A tiny fix, a
few lines of code.”
“It’s small enough to fit into one it-
“I’m sure your boss agrees how im-
portant this is.”
All of these are valid in an emotion-
al sense. Many represent good
negotiating positions, assum-
ing that product management
is hiding extra engineering
capacity under a basket
we assign re-
on the most
translates into “getting.”
That a convincing argu-
it were so.
t h o u g h .
Product managers know that the list of
demands is infinite, and the vast major-
ity will never be addressed.
Here are two kinds of product manage-
 Soft-pedaling the actual situation,
avoiding conflict by being polite
We often respond to requests with cod-
ed language, mush and euphemisms.
Instead of clear communication (“there’s
no way this will get done in 2010” or
“we have decent work-arounds” or “that
channel partner doesn’t rate special
treatment”), we waffle with:
“I need to prioritize that against the
plan (and hope you forget it later)”
“Let me run that past engineering
(who will tell me it’s huge)”
“It’s in the backlog (which will take
decades to work through)”
FYI, our internal counterparts are smart.
They figure out if our kissy noises are
just air, or if we really mean what we say.
 We keep some overflow engineer-
ing capacity for emergencies
This looks like a better approach, since
surprises and disasters always appear.
We can secretly conspire with develop-
ment managers to pad schedules, or ex-
plicitly set aside 10-15% of engineering
time for unplanned items. Seems only
Which brings us to Mironov’s Roadmap
Theorem #2: Everyone will find out about
your emergency capacity. There are no
secrets. In practice, that means all of
the above arguments are suddenly very
valid. Every sales rep has a strategic ac-
count, every unauthorized commitment
must be met, and every channel partner
has special needs. This puts product
managers squarely back into the politi-
cal process: deciding which arguments
rate serious consideration.
Emergency set-asides have the poten-
tial to derail your entire product planning
process. As “specials” and “one-offs”
consume more and more engineering
resources, your long-term projects get
less attention. (Don’t ever go above
20%.) Your constituents may decide
that emergency requests are the only
route to satisfaction. If that happens,
your roadmap becomes a quarterly CYA
About the Author
Rich Mironov is a seasoned
software executive and seri-
al entrepreneur: the “product
guy” at six startups including
as CEO and VP Marketing/
Products. With deep technical roots in
B2B infrastructure, SaaS and consumer
online, Rich combines “what-we-can-
build” with “what-markets-want”. He con-
sults/speaks/blogs on product strategy,
product management, agile and organiz-
ing cross-functional organizations.
ProductCamp Toronto 2012 (last year)
Photographer: Calum Tsang
Should My Brand Use Pinterest?
Pinterest has experienced explosive
growth in recent years. According to
(subsidiary of Del-
vinia), 7% of those surveyed say they
actively used Pinterest in the past month,
which ranks Pinterest as the sixth larg-
est social network for Canadians, after
the social network big shots - Facebook,
YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+
(Source: AskingCanadians March 2012).
In contrast, Pinterest was not even on
the map when the same survey was
conducted by AskingCanadians in 2011.
Similar to the days when Facebook and
other social networks soared, brands
are asking whether they should be on
Pinterest and how they should use it. To
help product managers and marketers
arrive at the right answer, here is some
context and a recommended approach.
What is Pinterest?
Let’s start with level setting what Pin-
terest is. Pinterest is an online bulletin
board where people can collect and
share interesting pictures and videos.
Similar to other social networks, people
will see content from those they follow
and can respond by liking, commenting
or ‘repinning’ . In Pinterest’s own words,
Pinterest is “a tool for collecting and or-
ganizing things you love.”
Pinterest has experienced explosive
growth in recent years, including in
Canada. Why the explosive growth?
Delvinia sees a correlation between the
rise of rich media (images and video)
usage and bandwidth affordability. As
bandwidth becomes more affordable in
both the PC and mobile environments,
people show their natural preference
towards image- and video-rich content
over text-based content. Hence the simi-
lar growth trajectory for other rich media
platforms like Instagram.
The Pinterest Community
Pinterest’s user demographic skews
significantly higher in female. Approxi-
mately 80% of the community consists
of females. Their demographic also
skews higher in average age compared
to other social networks. The largest
age group in Pinterest is the 35-49 age
group, followed by the 25-34 age group
(source: Nielson, 2012). In translation,
Pinterest’s demographic has high buy-
ing power and they make most of the
household purchase decisions.
What is most noteworthy about Pinterest
usage is its strong tie to shopping and
commerce. To illustrate, 70% of Pinter-
est users use Pinterest to get inspira-
tion on what to buy compared to 17%
for Facebook users (source: Bizrate In-
sights, Aug 2012) and 21% of Pinterest
users have purchased an item that they
found on the site (source: PriceGrabber,
March 2012). To provide some context,
the most commonly purchased products
correlate to the most popular topics on
Pinterest with 33% of those purchased
being in the food- and cooking category,
32% in fashion/clothing category, fol-
lowed by 30% in home decorating and
26% in the crafts category.
Should My Brand Use Pinterest?
With these perspectives, you can see
why Pinterest marketing is compelling.
However, whether your brand should
use Pinterest or not depends on the situ-
ation. Pinterest will fit some brands bet-
ter than others. You may find better ven-
ues for your business objectives outside
of Pinterest. So how does one decide?
Delvinia takes a customer centric, fact-
based approach to defining the right
digital and social strategy. To answer the
question of whether a brand should be
on Pinterest, start by understanding your
customers. The basic questions are:
• Does the Pinterest demographic
match your target audience or a
key customer segment?
• Will your client segment(s) be in-
terested in engaging your topic
through image/video sharing?
While the most obvious use of image/
video sharing are topics in the popular
Pinterest categories such as food, fash-
ion, home décor and craft, there are
great opportunities outside of these cat-
egories. In fact, brands outside of popu-
lar categories have a better chance to
stand out given that there’s less clutter.
So don’t shut out Pinterest if your brand
is not in one of the top Pinterest catego-
ries. Think through the above questions.
For example, one of the leading brands
on Pinterest is Scholastic, a company
dedicated to literacy for children and
schools. They are not in food, fashion,
home décor nor craft. However, their tar-
get audience overlaps heavily with the
Pinterest users. When considering the
second question, “Will your customer be
interested in engaging with your topic
through image/video sharing?” the an-
swer is yes as well. Advancing children’s
literacy for parents is a high involvement
category. Parents (particularly moms)
are interested in learning, sharing and
collecting information about advancing
(continued on page 6)
Pinterest for my Brand? (from pg 5)
their children`s literacy. Knowing this,
Pinterest make sense for Scholastic.
On Pinterest, Scholastic offers consider-
able literacy content, information about
their programs and activities. Their Pin-
terest boards range from specific book
series (e.g. Magic School Bus), book
clubs, writing contests, through to author
tours. They have a strong following due
to their approach. In addition to good
content, they were able to get the level
of engagement partly because few in
this category are using Pinterest.
How Should My Brand Use Pinterest?
Once you have determined that Pinter-
est makes sense for your brand, you’ll
need to define a Pinterest strategy. In
defining your Pinterest strategy, keep in
mind the content marketing best prac-
tice - focus on helping your audience
meet their goals and fulfill their interests
versus promoting your products. Think
about topic(s) you can add value to,
while aligning to your brand’s proposition
and values. Make sure your topic(s) are
broad enough to have sufficient reach.
For example, Whole Foods is another
leading brand on Pinterest. They have
55 boards with topics ranging from cu-
linary art, celebrations, appreciating
friends and family through to their phi-
lanthropy activities. Their content fo-
cuses on audience goals while staying
true to their proposition and values in
healthy food, quality, customer-centricity,
and corporate citizenship. Through such
topics, Whole Foods finds opportunities
to build awareness about Whole Foods’
value proposition, drive traffic to their
site, and build brand affinity.
Prototyping and Execution
Once the strategy has been defined, it’s
time to try it out. Consider the following
for Pinterest marketing:
1. Inspiring, quality images
Keep in mind the language of Pinter-
est is in imagery and a heavy use of
Pinterest is to seek and share inspi-
rations. So if there’s something you
need to invest time and resources in,
images are it!
2. Reach out to your existing com-
Maximize exposure to your boards
and pins by making them available
through your website(s) and invite
those in your existing communities
(e.g. Facebook fans, Twitter followers)
to follow you on Pinterest.
One of the misses Delvinia often see
with our clients is not leveraging their
brands’ existing resources enough.
This is your captured audience and
one that is the easiest to convert.
The employee community is also one
that is often overlooked. Employees
are a natural part of your brand’s com-
munity and are often the best brand
ambassadors. Proactively invite them
to follow the brand on Pinterest.
3. Reward your pinners
One of the most powerful things about
social media marketing is to reach new
prospects through their trusted peers.
To date, contests are still a tried and
true way to initiate engagement. Many
top Pinterest marketers find success
in such tactics.
For example, Whole Foods Market en-
gaged their target audience by creat-
ing a “Pins for Mom” contest for Moth-
er’s Day and received great response
adding many followers. Another ex-
ample, Starbucks offered followers a
chance to win a Verismo System cof-
fee machine. It resulted in thousands
of entries and new relations for Star-
bucks on Pinterest.
Another way to reward your pinner is
to acknowledge them, provide feed-
back and repin their pins. Social media
marketing is about a two-way dialogue.
Make sure listening and responding is
part of your approach.
4. Measure and Learn
Finally, measure brand activities in
Pinterest. Test different approaches
and see which ones get the best re-
sponse, then repeat. The Pinterest
community is relatively new. While
some expectations and etiquette ex-
ist, it is still morphing. Keep your ear to
the ground by paying attention to the
analytics and feedback, and respond
About the Author
Rosalina Lin-Allen is the
Head of Strategy at Delvinia.
Delvinia creates digital cus-
tomer experiences that de-
liver strong business results
and owns AskingCanadiansTM
, an online
research community with 250,000 partic-
Delvinia consults on digital products. Cli-
ents include: RBC, Microsoft, & Rogers.
Delvinia: www.delvinia.com .
TPMA Social 2013
Photographer: Charles Dimov
In a November 2011 Forbes article titled
“Think your job is bad, try one of these,”
product management was highlighted
as the third least liked job. Marketing
management was the tenth least liked
job. Clearly there is considerable am-
biguity, rapid fire change of pace and
priorities, and high pressure associated
with these roles.
With pressures like these - it is easy to
see how a cloud of gloom can hang over
the product / marketing managers head.
In our second of this series addressing
positive psychology we look at a proven
method to develop and strengthen your
own positive career resilience.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back
from adversity and take on new chal-
lenges. It is the flexibility to adapt to
your environment, despite facing many
obstacles. For instance, you have three
deadlines in the same week, each task
takes a week to complete, your boss
wants the reports she asked for yester-
day. You know she is eager to take all
the credit for them. Finally the intern you
have taken on is consuming an increas-
ing amount of your time. Just reading
the scenario can give you an eye twitch.
Modern reality is that most professionals
seem to deal with this on a regular basis.
Ever notice how these stressors debili-
tate some people while others seem to
effortlessly glide through them. Those
able to cope exude higher levels of resil-
ience. A higher level of resilience means
coping better, living a less stressful life,
and helps boost your creativity when
completing your projects.
What makes us more resilient? Is it an
innate quality? Is it biologically endowed
or can I strengthen my resilience to face
my adversities head-on?
Fortunately, psychology wins here.
Studies show that people who respond
well to adversity hold three beliefs that
less resilient people do not. These are:
commitment, control, and challenge.
In other words, resilient people believe
that what they do is important (commit-
ment), they believe that they influence
the outcome of events (control), and
Product Mgt: Surviving with Resiliance!
About the Author
Kristina Dragnea is a
Masters candidate in
with the aim of licensing
as a psychologist. She
is experienced in mind-
of cognitive behavioral
therapy and positive psychotherapy.
ties as chal-
that it is our
t h o u g h t s
about an ad-
not the ac-
sity itself that
the ABC model developed by Albert Ellis.
A. Adversity, or event
B. Belief - explanation of why the
C. Consequence - feelings
and subsequent behaviours
caused by our beliefs.
Now let’s put that first scenario into the
A. Too many deadlines.
B. Feeling down for not being able
to complete all the work on
time, or fear of loosing your job
if not accomplished.
C. Feeling hopeless from your be-
lief leading to a lack of motiva-
tion to produce quality work. Or
feeling intense anxiety from the
thought of losing your job.
BUT change your belief and your emo-
tional response will change too:
A. Too many deadlines.
B. Perception that the workload is
unrealistic for one person.
C. Decide to create a plausible plan
to get the job done. Perhaps by
delegating tasks to willing team
members, working overtime,
and assigning the intern all the
tedious, but simple tasks.
The ABC tool of observing an adversity,
then managing your belief and conse-
quence feelings/actions - can help you
maintain a positive perspective on a
challenging professional role. This tool
can help discern your automatic / debili-
tating thoughts, and with some practice
it can help broaden your mental flexibil-
ity, to perceive the world more positively.
Doing so will strengthen your emotional
control, and help reduce impulsive and
anxiety related behaviours.
• Seligman, M. (2011) Building Resil-
ience. Harvard business review 89.4:
• Seligman, M. (2006) Learned Opti-
mism. Vintage Books.
What’s stopping you from getting
Amazing Software out the door?
Find out with the
Ihave a niece @Kateswitch who calls
herself a sporadic blogger. She writes
about gigs and events for online lifestyle
magazines. Last summer when I spoke
with her about wanting to start my own
blog and a social campaign, I explained
my motivation was that I was at a point in
my career where being known and pub-
lished beyond my day job was essential.
For me, this is the key point why Prod-
uct Managers and Consultants should
be blogging. People in senior positions
need to promote their reputation in their
industry, as well as invest in life-long
learning and improvement. Blogging is a
cheap and easy way to do both.
Becoming an Influencer in your industry
is something that can be cultivated over
time. It is a great networking vehicle for
positioning yourself for the next promo-
tion, possibly in another company.
In the past that was done solely by join-
ing associations, doing speaking en-
gagements and possibly publishing a
book. While these are still great things to
Blogging 101: for the Smart Product Mgr
do, the Social world has disrupted media
industries and it has become less expen-
sive and simpler to self-publish. Blog-
ging is a great foundation for a personal
brand content marketing campaign.
Blogging is also a great way to learn and
keep current. Often our day-to-day jobs
are focused on what is important to the
companies we work for right now. Re-
searching and writing about your indus-
try beyond that defined scope can be a
great tool to extend your knowledge.
Maybe not for you?
The commitment may not fit into your life.
Most people have busy work schedules
and family life commitments with little
spare time left over. A blog takes com-
mitment to posting on a regular basis.
Since our defined purpose of doing this
is to showcase our skills and profession-
alism, posting erratically may show us
off as the opposite. Typically, I probably
spend a 4-8 hours a week on my blog
– writing the post, research, promoting it
socially, as well as collecting and analys-
ing traffic metrics.
Maybe you’re just not a writer. We all
have different talents and experiences.
I liken blogging to be similar to an edito-
rial opinion piece. It should be relevant,
informative and personable. If this type
of writing does not come naturally to you,
then it will become a chore.
The company you work for may have
marketing rules that don’t permit you to
do something independently. Not every
company is comfortable with this new
social world and want to exercise con-
trol over content that can be associated
with the company. It might be necessary
to make it clear that what you are doing
is a personal effort, and does not rep-
resent your employer. Alternatively you
may find a way to contribute to what the
marketing department is already doing.
Create a proper content marketing plan.
Recently, I attended a session at Mesh
2013 on Content Marketing given by
Joe Pulizzi @joepulizzi from the Content
Marketing Institute. He gave practical
advice on how to form this plan. At the
heart was defining a mission to include:
1) your audience; 2) what you are pro-
viding; and 3) what they will do with it.
Define these three items up front.
Use a content management system de-
signed for blogging. I use Wordpress. It
has a simple CMS edit for creating posts
and static pages, as well as free and
customizable Web themes. I have cho-
sen a responsive theme that adjusts the
view for desktop, tablet and mobile.
Find efficiencies wherever you can. I
use Hootsuite http://www.hootsuite.
com to schedule announcements of my
content on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
and Google Plus. Since twitter is a roll-
ing feed, I do multiple tweets about my
content over several weeks at different
times of the day and different days of the
week. I set up this schedule of tweets the
day I publish the post.
Identify your own influencers, and to
network with them if possible. Growing
a list of other people in your industry
Get a complimentary
digital subscription at >
(continued on page 10)
About the Author
Lori O’Grady @lori_
ogrady, is the author of
the weekly blog Demand
Accelerator where she
posts articles about the
business of Apps, So-
cial Marketing and Analytics. A project-
based consultant, who acts as Project
Manager, Product Owner and/or Vendor
Manager on online/mobile projects. To
hear more, please visit: www.deman-
and keeping up on what they are writing
about or referencing can make research
more efficient. On twitter, you can share
tweets of their content.
Once you have been blogging for some
time it is amazing how quickly you form
what I like to call a body of work. Looking
back at several months’ worth of posts
you can see trends of what was popular
and see what posts can be a basis for
other forms of content.
Slideshare (www.slideshare.net) is an
online resource for sharing presenta-
be a great
way to com-
points for in
ing post – or
be easy to
P i n t e r -
com) is a
Blogging 101 for PM’s(from pg 9)
form of the material
A body of work can also be the basis for
developing a book or e-book.
It is essential today for Product Manag-
ers to develop themselves as Influenc-
ers and be known in industry social net-
works. Because social has disrupted
traditional media, blogging is an inex-
pensive and quick vehicle to showcase
your skills and experience. Blogging is
the foundation of a good content market-
ing plan and can lead to other forms of
Best of luck blogging! Let me know when
your content is published!
Pragmatic Alumni Network & Socializer 2013
On Jun 25th 2013, a few
intrepid Pragmatic Alumni
and devotees got together
for a social drink, finger
foods, and discussion on
the state of Product Man-
About the Author
Mario Fernandopulle is
a Solutions Manager at
B Sharp Technologies. B
Sharp develops specialty
documentation and com-
plex case management
solutions across the
healthcare, social services, and com-
munity care sectors. Contact Mario at
As product managers, we’re tasked
with authoring content for the mes-
saging of our products and solutions in
various forms, including web site, bro-
chure content, proposals and marketing
presentations. In some customer envi-
ronments, we encounter complex busi-
ness workflows, demanding complex
products to meet customer needs. Here,
you can be challenged to articulate a
meaningful yet concise value proposition
of your solution. Most use diagrams and
pictures in our content to explain a con-
cept or make a point – after all a picture
is worth a thousand words. This may in-
clude workflow diagrams, value stream
maps, UML diagrams, flowcharts, etc.
Dan Roam’s book - “The Back of the
Napkin” - highlights some best practices
on this topic.
However, Roam does not simply present
best practices of diagramming. His ob-
jectives are to demonstrate the concept
of visual thinking to provide a framework
of visual problem solving in business.
Each concept is presented separately
with examples using the framework,
which then neatly ties together in a sec-
tion titled the Visual MBA.
In selecting a diagram to model a
problem and solution, Roam presents
the Visual Thinking Codex, a 6x5 ma-
trix of diagram examples. Based on
the scenario you are attempting to visu-
ally capture, you select an appropriate
diagram from the matrix, which serves
as a model. The matrix includes exam-
ples like simple charts to demonstrate
costs and revenues, bubble diagrams
for customer maps, flowcharts for work-
flows and complex multi-variable plots
for business case justification.
The first part of the book is aimed at
convincing the reader of the value of vi-
sual thinking and visual problem solving,
particularly for “non-visual learners”. At
times, the material seems academic and
high-level. However, in the second part
– Discovering Ideas - the book moves
into high gear. Roam does an excellent
job at demonstrating the value of his
frameworks to define problem spaces
and opportunities. The third part – De-
veloping Ideas – is the most compelling
part of the book in which Roam presents
the concept of the Visual Thinking MBA.
Roam presents a case study of a fiction-
al software firm that develops enterprise
accounting software. Using the Visual
Thinking Codex, Roam illustrates with
pictures how a manager could convince
the company executives to invest in a
costly application re-architecture over a
much less costly feature enhancement
on the current platform. Along the way,
many pictures are used to outline cus-
tomer purchasing power, user base, de-
cision makers, key influencers and the
competitive landscape to justify his rec-
The last section covers selling ideas
developed in previous sections. This
section is small compared to previous
sections, but provides a process for
demonstrating and convincing an audi-
ence of a solution.
As noted by the title, the book presents
the concept of visual thinking and prob-
lem solving. You will not get details on
how to best use a diagram or interaction
with a user on social media, or a mobile
app. The tools presented are particularly
useful for a management consultant (not
a surprise considering Roam’s back-
ground as a management consultant).
In that manner, there is a cross-over to
product management functions. As an
example, Roam’s Visual MBA example
can be extended to the scenario of a
product manager presenting a business
case for spending money to build a new
feature. Given the high level and adapt-
able frameworks and examples he pro-
vides, you can find a scenario and adapt
it to match your current diagramming
PM’s Book Review Corner
. TPMA Mentoring
Program - Take III
This season’s mentoring program has been a great
success and wound down in June. Thank you to all 56
participants. We hope you learned, set new targets and
developed from the experience.
TPMA’s third program starts in
September 2013 running through to
June 2014. To partake as a Mentee, you
must be a member, then just express your
interest in an email to:
NOTE: NOT a Job Referral Service!