Product Management training from ZigZag
My company brought in John Mansour of ZigZag Marketing to do some refresher training and provide some ongoing guidance around our product management / product marketing function. While I am not going into details about the company perspective on the training, I can provide an overview of the training for reference.
A key element of all the training was simplicity. John Mansour repeated a number of times that if the new system isn't simple and helpful, then it doesn't make sense to use it. And for me, with no previous product management training, simplicity and the whole course were quite useful to put everything I've been learning on the job into context of a process. The in-class exercises also helped me formalize the knowledge I have about the industry and my products in a useful way.
The bulk of the training was spent in going through key elements of their Product Management Framework, which provides much more structure around what and how product managers and colleagues are supposed to be doing. Many of us expressed sentiments of the variety, "I already do many of these things, but not in a way that helps me complete the next task or reuse the material when I come back to it later." For people who have seen Pragmatic Marketing's Framework, I see a lot of overlaps.
The ZigZag framework makes a lot of sense from this perspective too. Get an understanding of the market in general, strategize on how to address that market, figure out specific customer needs, design & develop products to meet those needs and then launch & market those products. There is a lot of reuse of material from one step to another. John Mansour joked that this is "green product management" because the general outline is to re-use as much content as possible. Oh, and repeat the process in a sensible cycle.
In an interesting connection to Theory of Constraints, in the discussion of Strategy elements, I heard some parallels with the TOC idea of the "throughput operating strategy." Once the strategy for the company has been defined in conjunction with the product management efforts, make sure that everyone is aligned with that strategy. For those very familiar with TOC, this is the hardest: Step 3 - Subordinate everything else to the [decision].
Usability: "It's easy to make a product hard to use." Implication being that it's difficult to make a product easy to use. The key is to go back to the business problem users are trying to solve: Does the product help them or hinder them?
Proof point: "The product is nothing more than a proof point." Proof that we've done our research and really understand our customers' business problems.
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