In his article, Innovating in Large Companies, Marty Cagan highlights the fact that many successful companies allow their engineers to spend 20% of the time on innovative projects of their choice. Marty encourages companies to allow Product Managers as well as engineers to spend 20% of their time innovating. Why is this a good idea?
– Because many successful products come from the bottom up rather than the top down.
Tim Brown, in his Harvard Business Review article, stresses that innovation comes through observations, observing how people use current products - what products could help them do their jobs better.
Marty in the same article reminds us “that innovation is rarely about solving an entirely new problem. More often it is solving an existing problem in a new way. So watching people struggle with their existing solutions is a great way to highlight innovation opportunities.”
Good product managers, according to Jeff Lash, do not just gather requirements — they understand unmet needs, existing problems, and opportunities for improvement, and they then use that information to determine the requirements for the product.
So what are the characteristics of innovative Product Management? Tim Brown identifies five attributes that can be applied to a Product Manager:
1. The Product Manage has EMPATHY: that’s to say they have the ability to image the world from multiple perspectives, they put people first, they notice things that others miss and use their insight to inspire others.
2. The innovative Product Manager is an INTEGRATIVE THINKER they use analytical processes along with their ability see all the key points and the things that seem to contradict aspects of a problem. They use novel solutions to solve existing and/or emerging problems.
3. Product Managers must be OPTIMISTIC they have an inbuilt believeth that there will be a solution to any given problem.
4. EXPERIMENTALISM: The Product Manager understands that significant innovations don’t come about from small incremental tweaks.
5. COLLABRATION: Product Mangers work along side many people with different disciplines. They also have more than one discipline themselve.
The innovative Product Manager adds value through observation, insight and understanding.
Successful Product Managers collaborate to ensure innovative product development
How Product Managers can avoid innovation traps #part 1
How Product Managers can avoid the innovation trap #part2
The innovation Value Chain and Product Management