The luxury of managing a new product! The excitement, the high interest, the novelty effect that makes people so committed. The R&D budget is not in question...
It's like choosing only to spend your vacation when the weather is favorable: ”As a Product Manager I work only with new and exciting products”. Great idea, harder to accomplish for most of us.
There is a natural interest in a new product. It will take on a new market, create sales, perhaps even turn the business around? In these times the Product Management job is great, the strategies have not yet been tested, the sales curves can only point upwards and the general sentiment is that everyone chips in.
But, let's not confuse plans with reality, new with good and excitement with good business!
When everyone else is hyped, the Product Manager needs cynicism. If not just for the sake of spending the right amount of money on the right things, the ever-present harsh reality.
How to deal with this then? A few vital points to remember:
- The benefit of the hype is that the marketing effect will be strong, maybe even viral. People will want to believe above and beyond what the product actually will do.
- A new product does not have to contain everything with an excellent level of performance. No one expects that, even if they say so. Use that to your advantage. Develop a good-enough product – the “minimum lovable product concept”.
- Use the fact that the techy R&D guys are burning with enthusiasm, that's a great thing! But control the scope and the extent of their influence. Someone needs to match their ambition with the actual need in the market.
- Cut away the flabby parts directly, save the resources for a rainy day by putting it into existing products. If the product is a smash hit you'll need to fix all sorts of customer issues always appearing with a new product. If the product is a dud, the company will need either a new ”New” product or extending life of the existing products.
There is one person that absolutely cannot get carried away by the novelty of the new product. You guessed it, the Product Manager! Keeping a cool head is essential. Let everyone else help you while they are at it, but being cool means perhaps it is wise not to be at the fore-front of the high-profiled marketing...
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