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Strategic planning

PCAMPATL: Learning, Sharing and Discussions


PCampATL has been a great time.  Good discussion, networking and session facilitation. Great job by @jbrett and the rest of the volunteers.

Many thanks to the folks that attended the session and provided your insights on the things we get bogged down on.  Based on the discussion, it is clear we all get bogged down in the daily noise, the tactical and the stupid things which stop us from doing the right things for the business.

The State of Product Management: Tweets, Conversations and Near Quotes….

While not at all scientific, I’ve been talking more to folks doing software product management and I have compiled some near quotes, found some twitter posts and made some of the quotes up.  The general theme from folks is that something has to change inside their organization.  Everyone’s story is a little different – revenues are up, quality is down, resource reductions goofin up product delivery, profit is down and management expectations are just a little too aggressive for the marketplace. So here are some things I sorta overheard over the past 90 days:

“Yeah so I’m expected to run all strategy, product lines and market facing activities with no direct influence on development and a Sr. Manager title.” – Sr. Product Manager – 12/08/2009 at ~11:30 am

“It’s not like you can assume business as usual@Brioneja

“So the market is requiring contractual service levels and the customer support folks say that’s unacceptable and aren’t going to do it.  Yeah – that should be a CEO level discussion topic.” – Dir, Product Marketing – 12/08/2009 ~1PM

“So I had to spend like 85 person hours of cross-functional time to convince everyone that promotional marketing required a process based approach and why a value/problem based approach was the better idea over offering a 50% discount” – Product Manager – 12/08/2009 6PM

“Dude, I’m so glad I’m a technical product manager – those folks who don’t have a specified role with expectations can’t be having fun.  All I have to worry about is exiting the sprint, doing demos and training folks.” – Product Owner – November

“Is it roadmap update season already?” – Product Management Evangelist

“Last time I checked, you have a quota and I have a P&L – we have different time lines on our goals for the business.” VP, Product – October

“I need suggestions for managing ideas from anywhere into, through, and out of the product dev cycle. Software? #prodmgmt” – @DanielRunion

“Just give me the goals, a bunch of poorly written epics and I’ll give you a finely groomed backlog” – Product Owner – November

“Roadmaps are evidence of strategy. Not a list of features.”  – Product Management Consultant

“So we are working the third strategic plan of the year, of course you need the next big thing before the first one’s 50% done.” – Product Marketing Manager – Early November

“Going to be tough working there… I’m thinking I can’t triple the product revenue with reduced resources and the same marketing budget the last guy had.  Does that make me negative?… Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna take the job though.” – Soon to be employed Director of Product Management. – 11/20-ish

“I guess it’s exciting to be in charge of the biggest piece of shit in a dying market” – Dir, Product Management 12/4

“I’ve got 18 months of cost reduction and platform consolidation to wring out profit.  Next year’s metric is going to be so easy.” – Sr. Product Manager – 12/13/09 2PM

“Don’t get me wrong, I think big thoughts all day long and I like it, but at some point we need a decision and might just need a little time to build it.” Director of Development – 12/10.

“Is connecting online to Product Managers in your locale important?” @trevorrotzien

“roadmapping session drinking game: drink when you hear the word “refactor”” – @ptyoung

“I just chuckle at my “I see stupid people” coffee mug, I rotate that with my Pragmatic mug – “your opinon although interesting is irrelevant” – the sad thing is no one has called me out on it after 18 months – REALLY?!?!” – Interim Project Manager in search of Product Management Gig – 12/14/09

“I think CEO”s are beginning to think Product Marketing is the new MARCOM.”  – Product Marketing Consultant, 11/24

“in an adolescent market, a 1% position is completely unsustainable.” – CrankyPM

Strategic Planning: Friend or Folly?

It’s Fall, time to start preparing for your 2010 annual planning sessions.  That means aggregating data on 2009’s performance, making recommendations for 2010 and preparing lots of PowerPoint presentations. But for many companies, annual planning ends up being an exercise in futility. Here are some reasons why:

What Strategy? Strategy is discussed once a year, then it’s forgotten until next year. To be successful strategic planning and review needs to become part of the company’s management routine.

No Ownership. Most strategic plans fail for lack of ownership. It will be business as usual if everyone doesn’t have a stake and responsibility in the plan.

Day-to-Day Focus. Management and employees are too mired in everyday operating issues and not on the long-term.

No Communication. Everyone’s role in the plan’s success is not communicated down the line and many don’t understand how they contribute and why they’re important.

When do I sleep? The goals and actions that come out of the plan are too numerous for the organization to handle because people creating the plan failed to make tough calls and eliminate non-critical actions.

Yeah.  Right. The mission, vision and value statements are not viewed as legitimate and supported by actions, so they and the rest of the plan never get buy-in. Don’t underestimate the importance of these plan elements.

My company. My plan. Company ownership/management runs the meeting(s) and others in the room are reluctant to contribute honestly. Prevent this from happening by hiring an outside facilitator who can gather honest input. It will be money well spent.

It’s not my job. Someone needs to be accountable and visible for each part of the plan otherwise deadlines and deliverables will fall by the wayside.

Ed Adkins has an excellent blog on best practices for strategic planning that can help you get going with your own strategic plan.

Send me a comment and share your thoughts what’s worked for your own strategic planning.

Planning: A content audit (slacking: 2 of 3)

With the first in the series, Recycling: A Mid-Summers Night’s Writers Block (aka Strategic Planning) – 1 of 3 out of the way, I have continued to sift through content and metrics to see what was of interest and what wasn’t.  Sorta a Win-Loss analysis for content.

Analyzing Context and Content

There are lot’s of things to look at – content and links which was the main focus of my effort until a couple of days ago was actual posts – keywords, visitors and page views.  The main reason I started a comment review was to understand what conversations were where from a content perspective, since a recent comment from Marty Thompson was on a boring event post, which I wouldn’t have thought would get a comment.

Prior to Marty‘s comment a couple of days ago I wouldn’t have thought about reviewing comments.  Spinning through the comments ended up being a fun as part of the work so far, some really good feedback from a bunch of people including, but not limited to, the following:

Looking at conversations and content proved to be not just fun, but informative.  Not sure I have any conclusions, at least I have some data points, like the Duomo post which caused a conversation in real life today, a question on Facebook and a comment from Tessa – another cool person you should read.    The other thing I’ve found thanks to auditing comments is that there is a significant variety of content over the past two years – like random content.

Random Content Rules!

Maybe not, but oddly enough random posts are among the top post here.  The best example of  random content is still my first thanksgiving post which gets a good deal of random traffic on terms like “Funny things to be Thankful For“, most of these people appear to load at 1 other page – I think.   My biggest bounce page is on Geographic Topics for blogging, none of the topics which I think anyone posted on, but it does garner the most amount of spam comments for some reason.   The remaining top 5 terms in search are:

While the top five keyword pages here are randoms, Product Management and Marketing is creeping up with both PM & Social Media and Brands in the top 10.   It’s movement of product management content and brand into the search terms which is nice to see, since this one the strategic roadmap theme over the last year – focus more.

Corner Cases: Content of Interest

After looking at all the content, nearly 500 posts, I find that the content I like writing is not always the most interesting to others and the comments, page views and links prove this out.   While the data recommends otherwise, music and setlists are still going to be randoming into the blog, plus  leadership and career oriented content since these are things I like and have appeared to be sustainable.  Here are examples of some leadership and career posts:


Blogging for the past two years has been an interesting meander and after reviewing the convesations I have a significantly different view on what is valuable and what is not.     I really think everyone with a blog should invest some time looking at the progress, content and conversations over time and put a plan in place based on what you learned.