Sell based on value, not price

QualityHow much does a premium latte actually costs the neighborhood shop down the street to make? What about that national chain of coffee shops we all know and love? Most of us probably don’t want to know the answer to that question. We might find out just how much money we are giving away each year.

As we have seen, there are a lot of different costs we might be talking about. These include fixed costs and variable costs. Buried in those are even more costs that our accountant friends love to talk about. A person can get rather dizzy trying to sift through all the different ways a company can look at its costs. Continue reading

All companies should be centered around innovation

innovationEvery company that has ever existed started with someone who had an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Even if they did not come up with the original idea or were the first ones to market. Starting a competing venture is essentially saying you think you can do it better, which is an example of an innovative spirit.

The problem is that many companies lose their way. They innovate and revolutionize their way to success. The champagne starts flowing and the victory parties are thrown. Then the fear sets in. The fear of losing what has been created, obtained, and achieved. This puts the leadership team in a defensive position. So instead of following the formula that got them there (throwing caution to the wind and risking it all), they hedge their bets and play it safe. They lose that entrepreneurial / innovative spirit that brought them the original success. Continue reading

You don’t have to be artistic to be creative

Artistic vs CreativeI am not artistic. I can’t draw inside the lines, my style is jeans and a t-shirt, and I can’t hold a tune to save my life. In my family, my brother got all the artistic chops. He plays a couple different instruments and is a really creative guy. He makes the coolest wood engravings I’ve ever seen. I’m always blown away by his ability to take a blank piece of wood and transform it into a work of art.

Despite my inability to properly match the colors of my daughter’s clothes, I work to constantly develop my creativity. This does not mean that I practice painting, or have taken up piano lessons. I think that creativity can be expressed in a multitude of ways.

The way I define creativity is the ability to question everything and not see limitations. By doing so you can see the world around you as a blank canvas. To draw something on that canvas, you have to know who you are and what it means to express yourself. Continue reading

Standardization & the impact it can have on products

bp'sIn the last post we talked about some of the positive and negative impacts that variation can have on your products. In this article we will be looking at the opposite of variation, which is uniformity. Some of the ways product managers can create uniformity is by standardizing on systems, product features, and pricing schemes. There are people who dedicate their lives to mastering the subject of standardization (think six sigma and lean manufacturing). What I hope to express is that just like variation, standardization can be a double edge sword. Continue reading

Simpler is Always Better

SimplicityThis is a rule I strive to live by as a product manager. As I work to improve my product line, I ask myself, “Is this the simplest version of the product that I can create?”

As my team and I create the controls for our product line, we are always asking, “Are these the simplest systems we can create?” We use this question to review all of the product design standards, sales strategies, and manufacturing processes that are in place.

As the demand for our product has grown, our team has naturally had to grow as well. We continually ask ourselves, “Is this the simplest organizational structure possible or are we creating layers of bureaucracy that inhibit us from future growth?” Continue reading

Capturing Innovative Ideas

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Has a new idea ever woken you up at 3:00 AM in the morning? Maybe the seeds of inspiration were planted in a meeting or conversation you had earlier in the day. You might not have even be aware that the idea was gestating somewhere in the back corners of your mind. Then suddenly, at the most inopportune time, boom. Full blossom. The idea hits you in the middle of the night before your big meeting and now you can’t get back to sleep.

This is a regularly occurring event for me and it is very exhausting. Many of the systems and products that are an integral part of my department have been the result of my insomnia. For the sake of those I work with (because I get a little grumpy when I am tired), I have had to develop idea capturing systems. In doing so I have been able to accomplish two things: Continue reading

The Systems Development Cycle

As an engineer, I really enjoy this part of my job. Creating and implementing systems is at its core an engineering function. You have to understand the tools and materials available to you and design a machine that does its job both efficiently and effectively. The simpler the system, the easier it is to understand and maintain.

Systems Development Cycle

Systems Development Cycle

When you are taking a new product from research and development to market you will experience the full systems development cycle. I have broken this cycle into what I believe are six steps. Many product managers are tempted to stall out on step four, while many others will likely never make it past step two. Continue reading