Theory of Constraints – and product management

Assumptions, constraints, Marketing, Product Management

Eli Goldiratt in the 1960s formulated this the Theory of Constraints and over the next 30-40 years he went about figuring out the solutions in various manufacturing companies. They had a lot of consultants world wide, some of whom directly still utilise the framework given by this theory or have modified it with changing times.

Goldiratt during his lifetime had written a few books out of which Goal and Goal II are so well written, with the story so tightly woven, that you don’t realise that you are reading a book which is about serious business.

Like with any theory there are proponents and then there are some who don’t realise the value and identify flaws – like in the real world there could be more than one constraint acting in parallel. These could be true.

However , I have found the theory very logical, in that it goes step by step in a well defined manner. If you go through the If… AND If…. AND If ….. Then. If you have done logic circuits using gates(AND, OR etc. ) then it is even more easy to understand.

Aa lot of times we are faced with the dilemma, that we have introduced a product, after identifying a niche in the market, with breakthrough technology, which has a novelty factor also, but the market is not accepting it. So you start figuring out the reasons.

One way to do the analysis and figure out the course correction is using the theory of constraints, by using the If …AND , If …. Then construct. As you start speaking the logic of the conditions you automatically start realising the flaws in your assumptions and start figuring out the possible challenges because of which there’s no pull in the market. I have found it’s a good way to surface the assumptions that you have taken during the launch of the product. Sometimes it actually makes you go down to where you started the buyer’s journey for your product. It can get you down to first principle thinking because it is so logical.

So while you do a lot of careful planning while launching, you should also be ready to work on a course correction if things are not going as per plan. Its your product, so a product management person you have to do whatever it takes to make it successful.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Just ask….why finding what’s wrong is critical

Assumptions, Marketing, problem solving, Product Management, Questions

I have a pretty large ego. This comes into play a lot of times. And most of the times when I let it takeover I end up with a mess on my hands.

Especially when we have been in a role for some time we create a tool box for solving problems…and we end up molding the problem into what can be solved by the tools in the tool box.

So when things are not going the way they should be, in the market , we end up taking action using our tools which have proven worthy earlier. We assume we know the problem and like earlier can be solved the same way.

However markets are different…..they are dynamic in nature…the customers, your competitors and the environment are all changing, all the time. As a marketing or product management person you cannot let time pass while you keep grappling with the tools in your tool box.

This does not mean that having a tool box of proven techniques is bad. It is just that we should be quick to figure out if things are not working.

Sometimes its better to find out what’s wrong then to be proven wrong by the market. That happens when you start asking.

Till next time then…just ask.

Carpe Diem!!!

Prioritizing the top 3 or 4 – Product Management

Assumptions, B2B, differentiation, Marketing, Marketing Ecosystem, Marketing Stamina, messaging, prioritizing, Product Management, segmentation, single target market

Last week I put up a post in which I highlighted the top issues that we need to focus on when looking at the product management in a technology environment. Product Management being a subset of marketing, some of the core items remain the same. However the focus changes a little. In my opinion, B2B technology buying needs to prioritize as follows:

  1. Understanding the ecosystem for technology adoption
  2. Getting footfalls (incase of a store) or hits on your website or people coming to your webinar
  3. Cost of various media to get you the traffic
  4. Cost of converting the footfall into a buying public

Perry Marshall calls items 2-4 as Traffic, Conversion and Economics. The reason I put the ecosystem first is because there’s a huge dependency on the existing infrastructure for the technology to be adopted. Most technology products that fail are because the ecosystem did not exist for the adoption.

Since 80/20 is fractal within each of these there’s a further 80/20 which exists. So within each database/list, there could be about 20% who would respond 80% of the times or even within the ecosystem there could be a 4% which accounts for the 64% of the ecosystem dependency.

If you are able to identify the few challenges in the ecosystem that you will face which can have a major impact on the success of your product, addressing them will ease your product launch or product entry or penetration dramatically. Its the small hinges which move doors in all areas.

Till next time then

Carpe Diem!!!

Calling out the elephant in the room – Assumptions -3

arrogance, Assumptions, ego, Leadership, Marketing, Product Management

Last 2 posts I had written on listing out the assumptions about your marketing plan or product management plan. I have gone into quite a bit of detail there.

I had no plans for writing a third post for this topic. I subscribe to the newsletter Knowledge@Wharton. I was surprised when I got the newsletter in the email today. The headline of the first item was…..Want to Become a better leader? Question your assumptions

It’s an article where the Dean at Wharton Erika James spoke with author and professor at Wharton Adam Grant on his new book Think Again; The Power of Knowing What you Don’t Know . As per the article , this book is about why executives should reconsider their approaches to manage people….

You can read the full article here.

Not listing out the assumptions for marketing I mentioned was a sign of either arrogance or ego or you just being too naive. Depending on the stage in my career I have been all the 3.

But after reading this I realized that what I thought was a good practice for marketing is also a good practice for leadership. Like in marketing if you let your arrogance or ego come in the way, so in leadership if you can’t see and accept that some assumptions that you are making can defeat your purpose then you are in a bad spot.

I haven’t read this book yet, but just the fact that this came up was very serendipitous. I am definitely going to be buying the book to look at how he thinks on the assumptions for leadership.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!