Interview with Michael T. Eckhardt: Lessons from Silicon Valley – Product Managers Do’s and Dont’s

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First of all could you give our readers a quick overview of yourself and your work?

Worked in New York for 5 years in the early 1980’s. Was then recruited in 1985 from Harvard Business School, to my first company in Silicon Valley. This was the exciting time of revolutionary technology breakthroughs by Apple + IBM + Intel, and many others. For the past 20 years, I’ve invested the majority of my consulting efforts in helping high-tech companies in Silicon Valley – software, hardware, web – accelerate their market success. We accomplish this by combining a company’s smart teams and core product offerings, with our Chasm Institute strategy tools, frameworks, and workshops. Fun stuff and very satisfying – I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living!

 

From your experience: what are the biggest mistakes organizations make when going to market?

Biggest mistake we see is “naïve optimism” by executive teams. Meaning that their judgments + forecasts are often based on their own hopes + aspirations, while successful tech visionaries focus instead on the hopes + aspirations of their target customers. That’s where real innovation and product success begins.

 

How do you see product management developing within the next few years?

We’re seeing a shift inside the best + most innovative tech companies – from a focus on a narrow definition of “Product Management”, to a much broader and deeper definition that we call “Whole Product Management”. I’ll address this important shift during my upcoming PMF session in Zurich.

 

What 3 tips would you give an organization to consider on a strategic level?

Here are three tips for product managers, from our newest book “ESCAPE VELOCITY – Free Your Company’s Future From The Pull Of The Past”

First – for disruptive innovation to win in the market, it requires more than just enthusiastic employees … it also needs enthusiastic customers, partners, and allies – an entire ecosystem.

Second – if you don’t know where your product or service is competing on the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, be worried. Very worried.

Third – cross-functional work experience instills a product manager with real wisdom. Don’t therefore shy away from a career path that moves across the 3 key functions of marketing, R&D, and sales. It’s well worth your time.

 

What can our attendees expect from your presentation and which 3 learning points can they take back to work?

That Product Managers and Executive Teams can help create great companies in the next 5 to 10 years, if they apply a more innovative + systematic process for managing / launching / growing product lines. At Chasm Institute, we address this priority with (1) a set of tools + methods to score + rate + rank market opportunities – in order to focus on the winning ones (2) a methodology for knowing what to do, and not do, as product managers launch innovative new products, and (3) the 9 key factors that accelerate customer adoption + revenue growth as products enter the market. Those are three learning points I’ll be addressing in my session, with specific examples of both best and worst practices in the world of product management. Looking forward to the PMF in Zurich!


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