Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long Term Mutual Prosperity

According to Michael Hoseus, Executive Director of the Center for Quality People & Organizations, and co-author of TOYOTA CULTURE, the heart and soul of the Toyota Way, to only be in business to make money is the lowest level of maturity that exists for a company. Long-term mutual prosperity is a goal shared by the company and the employee that brings the two together, and establishes a consensus, trust, and long term commitment to success that becomes the shared purpose of work. While the company targets profit, growth, and sustainability, and the employee seeks job stability, growth, and their development, the two can come together forming a mutual commitment around long-term mutual prosperity.

Happy New Year,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My employer, SIMULIA, featured in the local TV News

With Rhode Island leading the nation in unemployment (currently 9.3%), the NBC news affiliate in Providence filmed and broadcast a segment on my employer yesterday to highlight a high tech company that is bucking the trend. The clip includes images of our offices, and showing our software. I work directly with the people interviewed. Subham, Susan, and Ken. You can view the video by clicking the image above or at http://www.turnto10.com/, but I don't know how long the video will be available online.

Steven Fransblow's presentation on building innovation dynasties at BPMA

Steven Fransblow of Innosight gave an eye-opening talk this week at the Boston Product Management Association November meeting on the JOBS™ approach to successful innovation.

The JOBS™ blueprint focuses on four key issues:
J: Job - What is the problem to be solved for a specific consumer and set of circumstances?
O: Objective - What are the functional, social, and emotional metrics of purchase and use?
B: Barriers - What are the financial, skill, time, access, and behavioral obstacles that prevent the job from getting done satisfactorily.
S: Solutions - What are the products, services and compensating behaviors that can overcome the barriers, achieve objectives, and satisfy the requirements.

One of Steven's key points was that successful innovation does not mean making "perfect products". It means making products that delight customers without overshooting the requirements which often leads to schedule delays, cost overruns and uncessesary complexity that detracts from successful adoption.

In addition to books published by Innosight, and an MIT Sloan article, Finding the Right Job for Your Product Steven provided the following free online resources for more information.

Strategy & Innovation: Innosight’s newsletter focusing on strategies for business growth.

Innosight’s blog highlighting recent disruptive innovations


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Charter for Compassion

3-1/2 minutes of inspiration worth watching. It came to me from TED Ideas worth spreading.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Product Camp Boston coming in 2009 - update

Updated Dec 11- 2008: The date and venue have been set. February 28, 2009 -at Microsoft Startup Labs, Cambridge, MA. Check the wiki for updates.

I'm helping some BPMA members promote Product Camp Boston. The target time frame is the end of February 2009. Your vote will help decide the exact date.

ProductCamp is a collaborative gathering of Product Management and Marketing professionals who come together to learn, share, and interact with their peers. ProductCamp has no attendees, only participants. Everyone who attends is expected to actively participate in leading a session, round table discussion, speaking on the topic at hand, or volunteering.

Bar Camp has been around since 2005 - they tend to focus on technology, social networking and other topics, although Bar Camp might be of interest to some Product Mangers, our field is not typically a primary focus.

The first Product Camp was in Silicon Valley in Q1 - 08 followed by Austin Texas in June. Product Camp uses the Bar Camp format while focusing on Product Management Topics.

Get involved. It promises to be an exciting day!

keywords: ProductCamp Boston, PCamp, Product Camp

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Marc Lesser: Accomplishing More By Doing Less

I'll make time to watch this Google talk.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Boston Product Managment Association Career Panel

The Career Panel and job fair organized by Leslie Ament was a memorable event. Space was tight, because the room was at capacity - breaking all past BPMA attendance records. The panelists were articulate, informative and sometimes humorous, keeping the attendees deeply engaged.

My favorite gems that came out of the panel were:

Sally Silver: Employers are looking for knowledge, skill, experience and accomplishments. Attitude and preparation, confidence and energy are the keys to communicate these characteristics.

I'm not sure if it was Lynn Tartaglia or Dora Vell who said: "Never turn down a job that you haven't been offered." They both talked about being willing to explore opportunities - you never know where they might lead.

Sally Silver: You cant be a buyer and a seller at the same time. If you want the job, you need to be a seller first. After convincing the employer you have the characteristics to succeed, is the time to become a buyer and let the employer convince you to join the company.

Lynne Tartaglia: How to stand out: 1) Capture my attention & leave me with a unique and memorable idea. 2) Convince me you know the technology without killing me. 3) Know what you want- keep in mind employers pay for value.

Dianne Condon, Patricia O'Neil, & Sally Silver: Develop relationships with hiring managers. Although they are busy and hard to reach, when they need help, recruiting is their top priority.

Great job by Leslie, George, Ferenc, Jon, Karen, Sarela, Jane, and the entire BPMA team who pulled this together!

photos by BPMA member Doug Bonin. Visit Doug's Flickr page for more

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Understanding and profiting from variability

Malcom Gladwell’s TED talk “What we can learn from spaghetti sauce” articulates a fundamental shift in science and economics from old school thinking. Until recently, the focus was identifying universal rules or the best single solution to a market problem. Over the last ten to fifteen years, the revolution in science and economics has been to understand variability and seek clusters of solutions that provide a better fit across the population and better satisfy market needs. In the past, scientists, psychologists, economists tended to seek universal rules that govern how everyone behaves. The recent trend is away from a single optimal solution toward understanding and taking advantage of variability.

“What we can learn from spaghetti sauce” describes how Howard Moskowitz learned to apply Rule Developing Experimentation (RDE) the systematic process of designing, testing and modifying alternative ideas, and products in a disciplined way so that the developer and marketer discover what appeals to the customer, even when the customer can't articulate the need.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Boston Product Management Association (BPMA) will host a Career Night on Sept 18

Being the Director of Program Planning for The Boston Product Management Association, I couldn't resist putting in a plug for the Career Night and networking event starting at 5:30 pm on September 18, 2008 at Oracle Corporation in Burlington, MA. Leslie Ament, the BPMA Director of Employer and Recruiter Relations put together a strong panel of senior-level human resources executives and recruiters to speak on "Memorable Candidates: How They Got the Offer or Promotion." This is a particularly relevant topic at a time when many area companies are cutting costs by freezing hiring, reducing staffs, and eliminating departments.
BPMA is a professional association dedicated to the career development of product management and product marketing professionals, and is a not-for-profit, membership-based association that offers both local events and a comprehensive set of online resources. Membership is comprised of product professionals such as product managers, product marketing managers, product planners, brand managers and other professionals engaged in the management and development of products or services. BPMA offers many opportunities for professional growth and development - including monthly professional development programs.
The senior human resource and recruitment professionals participating on the panel are:
Senior HR Experts:
-- Patricia O'Neill, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, ATG
-- Michael Quinn, Vice President Talent Management & Development, Thermo Fischer Scientific -- Lynne Milbury Tartaglia, International HR Director, iBasis, Inc.
-- Diane Condon, Director of HR, Phase Forward
Senior Recruiters:
-- Dora Vell, President of Vell & Associates
-- Kristin Motta, Director, CM Access.
-- Larry Kahn, Vice President of Recruiting for New Dimensions in Technology
-- Carla Marcinowski, Vice President, Sally Silver Companies
-- Judith A. Miller, Esq. has successfully helped individuals and businesses resolve employment issues for more than twenty years.
Location and Registration Information
When: September 18, 2008
Time: 5:30 -9:00 pm
Who should attend: Hiring managers, job seekers and employment professionals
Click for preregistration:
I hope to see you there.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Do we have time for beauty?

When will we make time for something extraordinary?

I heard a great story on All Things Considered tonight during my drive home. Today, the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten won a Pulitzer prize for feature writing for his story about what happened when he recruited Joshua Bell, one of the most accomplished classical musicians in the world, to appear incognito in a Washington DC metro station, playing some of the world's best music on a Stradivarius violin with an estimated value in excess of 3.5 million dollars. This performance was arranged as an experiment -- In an ordinary setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty overcome routine? The anonymous virtuoso performed for 43 minutes as over 1000 commuters passed by, with only a handful pausing for more than a moment. Bell promised not to “cheap out” on the performance: He put feeling into the performance, playing with enthusiasm, he leaned into the music and arched on tiptoes as the music soared. Here’s an excerpt from the article describing what happened. You can hear a recording of the performance and view video clips at the Washington Post website.

Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.

A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

When interviewed after the performance, Bell said hadn't known what to expect, but for some reason, he was nervous.

"It wasn't exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies," he says. "I was stressing a little."

"When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."
Toward the end of the feature, Weingarten philosophizes about what happened;

In his 2003 book, Timeless Beauty: In the Arts and Everyday Life, British author John Lane writes about the loss of the appreciation for beauty in the modern world. The experiment at L'Enfant Plaza may be symptomatic of that, he said -- not because people didn't have the capacity to understand beauty, but because it was irrelevant to them.

"This is about having the wrong priorities," Lane said.

If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?

My mind jumped immediately from the radio story to an article I had read yesterday in the Sunday Parade Magazine about the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

In September of 2007, Randy Pausch, a 46-year-old computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who has terminal Pancreatic cancer and expected to live for just a few more months said goodbye to his students and the Pittsburgh college with one last lecture called "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams," on his life's journey and the lessons he's learned. The Wall Street Journal called it "the lecture of a lifetime" and those who have seen it more than agreed. The video is long, but very worthwhile. I sent this link with the complete lecture video to each of my kids and my siblings. I'm offering prayers for Randy and his family as they face this very difficult challenge. Please remember them in your prayers as well.

In yesterday's Parade article, Randy Pausch recalls his childhood experience of the first lunar landing.
I was 8 in the summer of 1969, when men first walked on the moon. I was at camp, and we campers were brought to the main house to watch the moment on TV. But the astronauts were taking a while, and it was late. The counselors sent us to our tents to sleep, and we missed the first walk.I was peeved. I thought: “My species has gotten off our planet and is in a new world for the first time, and you people think bedtime matters?”

I'm making an effort to hear the music, smell the roses, and experience the people who come into my life every day.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boston Product Management Association Promotional Video

Jerold Gefland, principal owner of Boston Digital Video shot and produced a short promotional video for the Boston Product Management Association. The video provides a glimpse of the March 20 meeting where the featured speaker, Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing provided an update on Product Management in 2008.

I made a brief appearance in the video along with several of my fellow board members. Check out this two minute video and see what BPMA is all about. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Silicon Valley Product Management Association Newsletter

Ivan Chalif, a Senior Product Manager at Strong-Mail Systems wrote an insightful titled, "I am NOT the CEO of my Product" in the March /April issue of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association Newsletter. He outlines several reasons, such as his lack of control over staffing / resource decisions and macro level strategy. He concludes that the product manager's role is much more like a Chief Operating Officer (COO) than a CEO. While the COO has some strategic responsibility, the role is more focused on tactical, and short-term operational management, which means he is responsible for the development, design, operation, and improvement of the systems that create and deliver the firm’s products/services. The COO is more involved in the day-to-day operations working in a roll-your-sleeves-up and get-your-hands dirty function, which is more aligned Product Management activities.

You can register here for free email updates from the SVPMA

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Celestial Events and Meaningless Probabilities

Photo by Atomicshark via Flickr under a creative commons license

There were two fascinating celestial events last night. My wife and I were standing on the front lawn, bundled up from the cold, looking at the total eclipse of the moon, which occurred under clear skies from 10:00 to 10:50 pm Eastern time.

Earlier in the evening I was listening to the radio debate about the US Navy shooting down a disabled spy satellite in a deteriorating orbit. When I got up this morning I heard on the radio news that the Navy hit their target, then later in the story the newscaster said, "the odds of being hit by falling space debris are one in a trillion."

That is a completely meaningless probability.
Does it mean that each individual , such as myself has a one in a trillion probability of being hit or any person, out of over four billion people living today has a one in a trillion probability of being hit? Does the probability apply for today, for this event, or over my lifetime?

I later found an online AP article by SETH BORENSTEIN that went into more detail describing various probabilities related to being hit by space junk that were bandied about in the news this morning.

The AP story was a little more specific than the radio news report about the one in a trillion odds. The article said that Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies, which studies these issues, "puts the odds of anyone being hurt by any piece of re-entering space junk at one in a trillion, saying you are far more likely to get hit by lightning." This statement of probability is better than what the morning newsreader said, but still contains ambiguities. Does anyone refer to one specific person, such as me, or the entire human population? Does any piece of space junk mean any piece from this satellite, or any of the hundreds of pieces that re-enter the atmosphere every year?

The end of the article included a more sensible point by David Ropeik, a Boston risk communications consultant, and author of Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Dangerous "This is the type of risk that shouldn't be reduced to mere numbers It's the nature of the risk, not the number." Of course the morning drive time radio news isn't about making sensible points.

Heads up!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Watch Chris Crowley talk about the key concepts in Younger Next Year.

Chris Crowley is an amazing person. In this video he explores a few of the ideas that allow individuals to manage their aging process, improve their health, and become Younger Next Year. Anyone approaching or already in middle age must watch this 8-1/2 minute video.

If you have any doubts, consider this quote from Chris written in June of 2007 after he finished a three day Ride the Rockies bike tour.

"THIS MORNING, INDEPENDENCE PASS, 12,100 FEET and plenty steep. Hardest thing on the ride and a great crescendo. SO BEAUTIFUL! And so steep! Gain 4000 vertical in about seven miles. Something like that. A TEENY BIT YOUNGER THIS YEAR. I was surprised and relieved to notice that my time for my century ride this year (a blazing 102 miles, over one 9,500 ft. pass) was 14.9 miles an hour average..."

That's a considerable achievement for anyone and awesome for a guy who is a couple of years north of age 70.

See Harry's seven simple rules to learn more about how you can be Younger Next Year.

I'm a true believer and living proof that this apprach works. Just do it!

Update Feb-16-2008

I got an email this week from the subject of this post, Chris Crowley, I'm very proud to say that he considers me "a major centurion" in the Younger Next Year revolution. Thanks for the compliment Chris!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Innovations in Search

An article in today's MIT's Technology Review discusses ongoing innovations in search.
Dan Crow, product manager at Google, says people are generally happy with the interface as it exists today. "The basic format hasn't changed much because it's been successful ... It works well for most of the users most of the time."
There is no argument that Google works well compared to what was available in the past, and been very successful; but there are huge opportunities for further innovation. The current implementation delivers results that are popular. It's often difficult to filter through a large volume of search results to find information that is meaningful, accurate and relevant.

I found Google's introduction to their public experimental search lacking. I joined the experiment for Right-hand contextual search navigation. Google's offering of alternate views for search results (list, info, timeline, and map views) didn't grab my interest. Although I'm enthusiastic about the value of the timeline view, the others didn't get me excited. I was a little relucant because it wasn't made clear up-front, what signing up for a Google experiment means. Now when I open a new browser window and search on Google, I get some extra GUI elements that provide context prompts based on my search results. I signed up in MS Explorer, and the features don't seem to carry over automatically to FireFox. My first impression of the new tools is positive, but I like to know what I'm getting into before I sign-up for something online. I guess the fact that I went ahead indicates that Google has earned my trust enough for me to take a chance on something new.

Related links:
Clusty Search clustering 2.0


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Improv Wisdom - Just Show Up

More interesting reading.



Interesting Reading on Innovation

Lessons Not Learned About Innovation Q&A with Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School
Understanding the Process of Innovation
The Essentials for Enlightened Experimentation
Why Managing Innovation is Like Theater
Cheap, Fast, and In Control: How Tech Aids Innovation
Boston Consulting Group Measuring Innovation Aug 07
Boston Consulting Group Sr. Management Innovation survey Aug 07

Strategy & Business Magazine Online

from Manyworlds.com blog
Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation
, James Andrew and Harold Sirkin lay bare the nature of cash traps and explain how companies can make more profitable innovations by using a four-phase “cash curve” framework. As Andrew and Sirkin see it, the purpose of innovating is “to generate cash.” Their framework structures the process of sorting through innovative ideas and managing them until they yield financial returns.

No time to draw conclusions yet, but I'll come back and revisit this topic as time permits.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior is a new book from Atlantic Systems Guild, scheduled for publication in February 2008. It is a collaboration by Tom DeMarco, Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Steve McMenamin, James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson. I met both Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister through the Boston Software Process Improvement Network and am a fan of their previous book Waltzing with Bears about managing risk in software development. Although the Atlantic Systems Guild general focuses on software development issues, this book really focuses on people issues and behaviors that are applicable anywhere.

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies applies pattern recognition concepts to human interactions in the project environment. The Guild focused on the hidden notions that govern behavior and interactions on projects and teams Just as architect Christopher Alexander and his IT counterparts Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John M. Vlissides, deal with the technological aspects of software patterns, this new book focuses on the social and human aspects.

The book identifies 86 project and team behavior patterns, which often go unrecognized, and provides amusing 1-2 page vignettes describing each of them. The patterns are the unwritten rules that frequently drive behavior. People tend not to think about them, or acknowledge them for what they are. The first step to dealing with behavior patterns is recognizing their existence.
The book has been endorsed by:

Howard Look,VP, Software, Pixar Animation Studios
Alistair Cockburn, author of Agile Software Development
Ed Yourdon, author of Death March
Warren McFarland, Professor, Harvard Business School and others

If you are interested and willing to invest a few minutes, you can download an 18 page sample pdf that includes the table of contents,introduction, and a few patterns.

Dead Fish: From Day One, the project has no chance of meeting its goals; most people on the project know this and say nothing.
Film Critics: Film critics are team members or corporate spectators who have determined that the value they add to the project lies in pointing out what has gone wrong or is going wrong, but who take no personal accountability to ensure that things go right.
Hidden Beauty: Some aspect of the project’s work moves beyond adequate,beyond even elegant . . . and reaches for the sublime.
There is an aesthetic element to all design. The question is, Is this aesthetic element your friend or your enemy? If you’re a manager, particularly a younger manager, you might be worried that any aesthetic component of the designer’s work could be a waste, little more than the gold-plating that we’re all taught must be avoided. This aesthetics neutral posture in a manager acts to deprive designers of appreciation for work that is excellent, and to refuse acknowledgment of any valuation beyond “adequate.”The opposite posture requires that you be capable and willing to look in detail at your people’s designs, and be aware enough to see quality when it’s there.

The book is now available for pre-order through Dorset House or Amazon. (The current Amazon price is $35.95 with a 5% pre-order discount)
Roller coaster image available under a Creative Commons License from Kalense Kid's photos

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm an inventor.... well, a co-inventor anyway

I was greeted at home tonight by a letter telling me that one of my patent applications has been granted. US Patent 7,321,699, Signal intensity range transformation apparatus and method. Abstract: A system and method for manipulating image data is disclosed. Generally, the system and method identifies useful grey-levels within an input image. The image is then scaled based upon the identified useful grey-levels.

The application was filed in September, 2003, while I was working at JAR Associates, Inc. and is assigned to Rytec Corporation, an innovative manufacturer of high speed industrial doors who contracted JAR for R&D services . It is a reminder of a very exciting time in my career when I worked on some extremely challenging technical problems with a very talented team of individuals on an exciting opportunity for a visionary customer.

Previously, I've been a co-inventor on four patents for automotive components. The patents include two for a combustion pressure sensor 5,038,069 & 5,126,617. The others are for transmission gear position sensors 5,902,975 & 6,518,525.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here is a useful summary on writing good requirements by Scott Sehlorst on the Tyner Blain blog. Scott derived and refined the list starting from Pragmatic Marketing's Requirements that Work Seminar.

Attributes of good requirements:
based on Pragmatic’s List (1-8) + Two Three Four More
Necessary => Valuable
Design Free

Scott provides links to articles on each attribute that provide additional details.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What is a wiki?

Seth Godin blogged recently about a shortage of digital coaches. While I'm not a digital coach, I've been told I do a good job of boiling down a lot of information to explain complicated topics to non-experts. I maintain a website for my church, which includes a wiki, where other parishioners contribute content without any direct involvement from me. I received an email earlier this week from someone in the parish asking me, "what is a wiki?" After a quick search of the web- including wikipedia, I thought this would be a good topic for a blog.

The term wiki derives from the Hawaiian word for "fast." A wiki enables web pages and documents to be written collaboratively using a web browser without any specialized training or software. A single page in a wiki is referred to as a "wiki page", while the entire collection of pages, which are usually well interconnected by hyperlinks, is "the wiki". A wiki is essentially a database for creating, maintaining, browsing, and searching through information. A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Generally, there is no review before modifications are accepted.

Wikis allow visitors to create, modify or delete the content of a web page from their browser, and usually record the history of who changed what. Wikis enable creation of collaborative community websites, and are trending toward eliminating the need for specialized skills and software to create and edit content on a web page.

The administrator of the Wiki decides who is allowed to modify the site. Some wikis are open to changes by anyone, others limit modifications to trusted members, and some use moderators to arbitrate disagreements. The Wikipedia free encyclopedia is the best known Wiki, where hundreds of thousands of users add to the collective knowledge. where hundreds of thousands of users add to the collective knowledge. On Wikipedia, an entry started by one person is often iteratively refined by other contributors who collaborate to produce a consensus.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Product Management Blogs

One of my resolutions for 2008 is, as Steven Covey wrote, (habit # 7) "sharpen the saw".
Some blogs I will be watching more closely include:

Product Beautiful
The Cranky Product Manager
Silicon Valley Product Group
How To Be A Good Product Manager

Happy New year,