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Product Strategy: The Essentials41:37 with Des Traynor
Solving your own problem is a great way to start building a product. With traction comes pressure to expand your feature set to satisfy more potential customers. Without a product strategy it's all too easy to build a toolbox of tangentially related features, rather than a holistic product. In the short term the former wins more customers, but in the longer term it costs you deeply. It becomes impossible to market your product. Your elevator pitch is still going when everyone is out of the building. Your product becomes hard for customers to use, or adopt. Without a product strategy you can quickly drift into building consultingware, adding just that one more feature for that one more customer. This fast paced, light hearted talk builds upon lessons learned from consulting with, and helping over 100 start-ups identify their core features, and orient a product strategy around them. It explains the commonly-used and commonly-misunderstood approaches to start-ups and presents easy to action takeaways for analysing your product and planning your product roadmap.
[MUSIC] 0:00 Thank you. 0:03 Cool, so I'm going to talk about product strategy so 0:06 first question I ask is is everyone here roughly 0:12 involved in self transference that way shape or form? 0:18 I am not at the dentistry conference? 0:24 No? 0:27 Who here has worked on software products or has worked on a software product? 0:27 Okay cool, a reasonable mix. 0:31 So, product strategy to me is like 0:33 the gap between strategy itself like business strategy 0:35 and actual design when you are designing a piece of work, so when you sit 0:39 down, with with like wire frames, or persona's or site in ops or what ever, 0:41 that's kind of like the design side, and then business strategy is the flip side. 0:46 And, this talk is kind of like the 0:49 essentials or at least [UNKNOWN] essentials and, this 0:52 here is your graph, of like how much pain you have to sit through before it's over. 0:55 So we go like time over here on the Y axis, and topics over on the X. 0:58 When we get to here you're all doing 1:02 stuff, you're really not enjoying it, you'll be okay. 1:04 And the real way I see this is you should, for any 1:06 given product, you should have a vision, and a vision is kind of 1:10 where do you see the future going, to make sure that you 1:13 actually build something that is relevant by the time you finish building it. 1:15 And your mission is within that, and above that you've gotten 1:18 the jobs your product does and it goes all the way up. 1:22 And we'll go [SOUND] the whole point about the, the next piece is 1:24 just a little bit fluffy, but it's to solve what I call like 1:28 the Cheshire cat problem, so, anyone who's ever read or watched Alice in 1:30 Wonderland might be familiar with this scene, where Alice asks, where do I go? 1:33 And he says, well, where you going? 1:36 And she says, I don't know. 1:37 And he says, doesn't really matter which way you go then, does it? 1:39 If you don't, basically if you don't have a plan 1:42 for what you're doing you're not in a good position. 1:43 So your vision is, your vision for a product 1:46 is basically where do you think things are going? 1:49 So let's say for example your target 1:50 domain is you're building a project management tool. 1:53 Alright? 1:55 Well, the first thing you should ask is what's changing in project management so 1:56 you don't literally deliver what's what most 2:01 people do is deliver yesterday's technology tomorrow. 2:04 So what's changing in your project some 2:07 [UNKNOWN] some examples will be like something 2:09 I can say you might believe there's a rise in remote working or you 2:10 might believe that there's a decrease in 2:12 the importance of frequency of project deliverables 2:14 or you might believe things like Prince 2:16 two or Agile are being outdated or whatever. 2:18 Or you might as the last people 2:21 were saying believe that my projects sh-, should 2:22 be sold on the results they delivered and not so much on the hours they bill. 2:25 But like that would be an example of things you believe. 2:28 If you're building say, a music app, you might believe 2:29 that like there's no longer a concept of music ownership. 2:32 And in fact, the idea of owing a CD, I had to explain 2:34 to my own niece, why iTunes had a CD icon back in the day. 2:37 Which is kinda funny cuz it was just, literally people don't 2:40 see CDs anymore if you're growing up, which is kinda funny. 2:43 But things change in music and the reason you have to know about 2:45 what's changing is so that you can actually build a solution for it. 2:48 The other side along with your target domain for a product you also 2:50 have to know what's changing in 2:53 technology itself because you are building technology. 2:55 So the obvious things here are like you know the phone is now 2:58 a primary device, things like wearable computing 3:00 same progress, things like field bonds whatever. 3:02 Social software. 3:04 Your customers are all connected to each other. 3:05 So the first piece you'll, you'll need for any given product you're working on. 3:07 Whether you're a contractor building it for somebody else or 3:11 whether it's your own start up is a combination of 3:14 what the domain will look like in x years and 3:17 what software itself is gonna look like in x years. 3:19 You can pick your own x here. 3:22 If you're building to sell something within two 3:24 years, you don't need to worry about 2020. 3:26 If you're actually building, like, what you consider for your life's work however, 3:27 you do need to start thinking about, like, where things are headed long-term. 3:31 So, like, you know, don't build a killer Fox replacement 3:35 basically, if you're expecting to still be around in 2020. 3:38 So, once you have a vision, you have to sort of pick out a mission. 3:44 And the best definition I have of a mission, for a company or for 3:47 a piece of software, is why does it exist, other than to make money? 3:50 So, it's assumed that if you do a good job, you'll make some money along the way. 3:55 But, when you take that off the table, what is the, what's left over? 4:00 So, if you take something like Twitter. 4:05 Alright, Twitter is going IPO and they're gonna be, everyone's going to be pretty 4:06 well to get at that or at least the significant share holders will be. 4:10 But even if it flopped Twitter has made a dent in the universe regardless. 4:12 So that's because they're mission was to be the heartbeat of the planet. 4:17 And it was basically anytime anything live is happening 4:20 anywhere, Twitter is where you go to find out. 4:22 Even if the product and company fails, they have achieved that. 4:24 So your mission should be like, given that you've got a set 4:28 of beliefs about how things will look, what difference do you wanna make? 4:31 I know this is a little bit woolly I'll get much more practical 4:35 in a second but if you don't have a disk shaped right you're screwed. 4:37 So a mission statement has nothing to do 4:40 with targets or objectives for you business so it's 4:43 not to be number one or to hit a million in revenue by the end of the year. 4:45 That's not a mission, that's just something you want to do. 4:50 If your company succeeds, how will the future be different, basically? 4:53 And this is like the, what Steve Jobs is getting at when he 4:56 spoke about, like, you know, what dent are you putting in the universe? 4:58 You can actually do this. 5:01 So like, GitHub, for example, their mission is literally to help 5:03 individuals and companies, public and private, to write better code, faster. 5:06 That's why they exist. 5:10 That is their raison d'etre. 5:11 Engine Yard is, to give developers and development teams technology 5:13 and services necessary to reliably deploy develop applications at scale. 5:17 PayPal are here to build the world's 5:22 most convenient, secure, and cost-effective payment solution. 5:23 They all actually have, this is what they want to do to the world. 5:26 And no one's talking about money. 5:30 So, that's the, sort of, the whistle stop tour of 5:32 what I consider to be a vision and a mission. 5:36 And when you sit down, especially, this is especially 5:38 true if you're a, a contractor or a consultant. 5:40 If the person you're building for doesn't 5:43 have reasonably sharp, straight answers on these 5:45 topics, It's a good indicator that they're gonna be the sort of client who 5:48 flip flops halfway through their project and goes oh I see we, why don't 5:52 we sign up with Pinterest that's really important all of a sudden you know. 5:55 They're the sort of ones who don't have their head straight 5:58 on where they're going, they're mostly 6:01 likely to change direction very frequently. 6:02 So the next piece is about focusing on the job 6:05 that it is that you want your product to do. 6:09 And there's a little bit of theory here but it's. 6:12 And it's pretty, pretty practical. 6:14 Clay Christenson has this theory called Jobs to be Done. 6:16 And a few of you have probably heard it before. 6:19 But his key point is that no one buys things because of your demographic. 6:21 But we still study demographics and talk about them like they matter. 6:27 Like we sell our, our payment solution to 25 to 35 year olds. 6:30 And it's like, does that have any bearing on why, why they choose your product. 6:32 His argument is, that basically situations occur in your life, and also need 6:37 to solve a problem, and you hire a product to solve that problem. 6:41 Now, in and of itself that's stand is pretty straightforward. 6:47 But, his insight is that you focus on the problem 6:50 and forget about who it is that's trying to do it. 6:53 There's no insight into who. 6:55 The insight is in the situation and the problem that has arisen. 6:57 So, stop looking at customers and like this here is a 7:00 typical persona for, I actually did this one so [INAUDIBLE] markers [LAUGH]. 7:02 This is a persona for like a family hotel and [INAUDIBLE]. 7:06 They target like you know sort of parents and children 7:10 type holidays and they have a package and all this 7:13 sort of stuff and they use to obsess over well 7:15 turns out [INAUDIBLE] slight shift we've gone from 35 to 49. 7:18 To 30 to 49 I'm like oh should we 7:22 make the buttons bigger, like the [UNKNOWN] impact on anything. 7:23 But if you start to looking at the jobs that people want. 7:27 And this is like Peter Joker's famous point about, the 7:30 customer doesn't buy a nine inch drill it buys a nine inn hole. 7:35 And this is exactly what jobs are about job, when you think about the job 7:42 that people are coming to your product to 7:46 do you can start ignoring things that correlate 7:47 for example most of our users are 7:51 iPhone users that's not really relevant unless you're 7:52 just selling an iPhone app in which case 7:55 that's the you know, market decision you've made. 7:56 So, some things will correlate with customers. 8:00 So, all paying customers uploaded profile photos. 8:03 All right, the grill talking community is like rife for these sort of insights. 8:06 like, everyone uploaded a profile photo, therefore, let's make everyone 8:09 upload a profile photo and they'll all become paying users, right? 8:13 That, like that's literally how they see this sort of stuff working. 8:16 What are things that actually cause a purchase, which is what's more 8:19 interesting and what you can actually use to really improve your product. 8:22 So, an example I heard for a project manager tool that we're working 8:25 on is like, the very second I invite a client, I can't turn back. 8:29 So, once you realize that, and why can't you turn back? 8:33 Because you can't go mail your client and say hey sorry we decided to change. 8:35 We didn't want to upgrade project manager tool for the extra 8:37 29 dollars, so we're gonna ask you to go back to e-mail. 8:40 No one does that. 8:43 So, some things actually cause the purchase, 8:44 and some things actually correlate with the purchase. 8:46 But if you focus, which most people do, on 8:49 on things that correlate, you get really bad analysis. 8:51 You get this sort of analysis. 8:54 Whenever I see fires, I see fire, I see firemen. 8:56 Therefore, firemen cause fire, right? 8:58 It's pretty straightforward. 9:01 In fact, you can actually argue, that the more firemen, the bigger the fire. 9:02 So, that's pretty obvious what they do, right. 9:06 That is what, you know, basically 9:08 the whole correlation causation fallacy is about. 9:10 When you talk about your product from the point of view of, the, you know, 9:12 who's consuming it and what attributes they have 9:16 rather than what causes them to consume it. 9:18 You make that mistake. 9:21 So what I believe is far, far more useful 9:23 prospective is, like, what job people are trying to do. 9:26 And a job has a few different parts to it. 9:29 It's the problem somebody is trying to solve. 9:31 It's the situation they are in. 9:34 It's the considerations that, so who else is in the running. 9:37 And lastly, it's how do they define success. 9:40 And, what's interesting when you look at something 9:44 like who else is in the running is like, 9:46 if you take, a classic example is food in an airport, right. 9:50 In Heathrow there's like Gordon Ramsey's restaurant, sit down fancy meals etc. 9:55 And there is also like Pret a Manger or whatever it's called. 10:00 And there's like coffee shops and all that sort of stuff. 10:04 And if you're actually late for a flight, they're not competing, 10:06 they're all in the food category in the industry of food. 10:10 But they're not competitor, because your consideration set does not include 10:13 something that, re, require a reservation or a one hour sit down. 10:16 It's gonna be like who's got the, the 10:20 most portable quickest food you're, you're quality barrier goes 10:21 way down which is why airline food is 10:25 just atrocious in general or airport food as well. 10:26 But like, you know, you're selling your product which is portable, 10:29 quick, cheap, food, no sorry, portable, quick food, no where near cheap. 10:31 so, to understand really what jobs I'm trying 10:36 to do, you have to understand these four components. 10:38 So it's like, what is the situation? 10:40 I'm hungry. 10:41 What? 10:42 Eh, sorry. 10:42 What's the problem? 10:43 I am hungry. 10:43 What's the situational context? 10:43 I'm in an airport and I need to be on my flight in like 25 minutes. 10:45 Considerations, who am I looking at and then how do I define success and that's 10:48 actually what tells you if you are going to pick your project or pick your product. 10:52 So if your if you are selling let's say 10:56 [UNKNOWN] chalking you have to look at what's the problem? 10:59 And you start to realize well hang on maybe the issue is that people need 11:01 a way of [UNKNOWN] their clients to tell them the feedback in a better way than 11:04 e-mail and text messages, okay so that's the problem, and then you start to, you 11:08 drill into that and you say well what 11:11 situations do people want to report these things? 11:13 Well maybe it's when they're looking at a website, 11:15 so maybe you install a little gadget on your 11:17 website that says click here to report a bug 11:18 while you're testing, then what's the considerations of that? 11:20 Well, It's like all of the different competitor you're considering and email 11:22 still in there, cuz every now, everyone always falls back to email. 11:26 And then finally what is success, like what's the best version of this product. 11:28 So when you understand the job, you realized the jobs 11:33 are actually have long life span, like hundreds of years. 11:36 And they transcend any technology and I say this because, a common sort of 11:39 interpretation is, alright, so somebody really wants to throw a pig into a wall. 11:45 I'm like, No, that's not the actual job here. 11:48 No one sits down and says I really need to throw pigs at a wall. 11:50 What they actually want to do is play Angry Birds. 11:53 But they don't even want to do that. 11:54 They just want to be entertained for ten minutes, you know. 11:55 I'm like the, you know, the, the value prop of Angry 11:58 Birds is on its phone, but it's also a quick game. 12:03 You know, it's not like a long-running, you know, role playing strategy. 12:06 It's actually something you can play while waiting 12:09 for a bus, and still get resolution out. 12:11 But speaking of the sort of long life span, 12:15 you realize that I, in this case here, there's 12:17 like five generations of technology all doing the exact 12:19 same job which is keep me entertained on the train. 12:22 And, Ev Williams spoke about this recently. 12:26 So Ev Williams is the founder of Twitter, founder of Blogger, founder of Medium. 12:29 He's a pretty successful entrepreneur. 12:33 And one of his points is that like if 12:36 you wanna build a billion-dollar company, and he'd know 12:38 cuz he's done it it says, take a human 12:40 desire, one that's been around for a really long time. 12:43 Identify the desire, or in this case, I would argue it's 12:47 the job and then use modern technology to just remove steps. 12:50 So the desire to share photos or actually share memories has been around forever. 12:55 This is photo sharing 1.0. 13:02 We all used to keep shoe boxes full of photos under our bed. 13:04 And when your friends call around, you'd go through them. 13:07 And, you know, you go on a holiday, you'd get all the photos when you got home. 13:09 It'd be incredibly embarrassing to look through them. 13:12 And then photo sharing 2.0 was this. 13:15 A lot of us are probably around the right age to remember this. 13:17 But you'd take a photo on a digital camera, 13:20 pop out your card, pop it into your laptop, 13:21 open up Photoshop, re-size it, upload it to Flicker, 13:23 and then email all your friends with the album. 13:25 That was actually what we did. 13:27 You know, and it was a light-years ahead of this. 13:29 Cuz you and your friends didn't have to have to be besides you, you know. 13:31 But when you actually use modern technology 13:34 to take out all of the steps, you 13:37 get something like this, which is as Ev 13:40 would point out, a billion dollar business, right? 13:43 Another example of an old job that has steps 13:47 removed or improved, is, has anyone seen Square Cash? 13:50 So Square, the US I guess, financial provider, 13:56 has released the ability to just email money. 14:01 It's quite amazing. 14:03 I can basically send one of you guys an email. 14:05 I'm not going to, but I could send you a mail. 14:08 I put the, I put the dollar sign amount in the subject line. 14:10 I say whatever I want to say here. 14:14 All I do is CC cashitsquare.com and voila, you get your cash. 14:15 That's going to be a billion dollar business. 14:19 If it's not Square that does it, someone's going to do it. 14:21 But someone is going to take the whole, dad wants to give somebody some money. 14:22 Straight away, and it'll arrive straight away. 14:25 And like the simplicity of email is what beats things 14:29 like, well you know, you can log on here and 14:31 hit a transfer and search, search for your friends, then 14:33 connect to your Facebook friends, then find your network and all. 14:35 Just email it with the amount in the subject line. 14:37 Done. 14:39 Next problem. 14:39 Like, that's what it means to actually remove steps. 14:41 You could argue that medium is like the job of 14:44 blogging that I have tried to solve with bloggers so 14:46 many years ago but he's just cut out an awful 14:49 lot of the steps and now it's like just start writing. 14:51 Start writing, you don't want to change it you know and again, it'll do pretty well. 14:53 So when you think about your product strategy what 15:00 you realize is that You'll be doing more, one 15:01 or more jobs basically so like some of the 15:05 jobs in the realm of say project management will 15:07 be like update the client, review progress sharing information 15:11 with the team, start a new project with a 15:14 new client, review any individuals contributions we'll see if 15:16 you want to hire them or fire them or whatever. 15:20 Estimate the completion dates. 15:22 There is a lot of them things. 15:23 And you're not gonna be, you don't have to take them all on, but you 15:25 do have to take on a certain about such that you actually do some value. 15:27 So, one of the implications of jobs is that you 15:31 have to forget about categories or industries that you work in. 15:34 So, your product does a job for people, that's what it 15:39 does, you are not in the help desk category you are 15:43 not in the project manager category you do a job and 15:47 if you focus on that job you will get it right. 15:49 If you obsess over the industry you work in you end up like these guys they are 15:52 finding it the hard way that buying a newspaper 15:57 isn't actually a job that people want to do. 16:00 What they actually want to do is this job, which is be entertained 16:02 for like periods of time and subjects that are interested in bite sized information. 16:06 And these two guys they're both doing the job, this one's 16:11 just more mobile, portable probably cheaper I guess, can be used anywhere. 16:15 But even like say Metro newspaper the free one they give away on transport. 16:18 They're suffering as well, because no one's even picking them up. 16:22 Like, this is an industry that literally cannot give its product away, you know. 16:25 And that is just simply because they believe that they are selling 16:29 newspapers, or, their advantage over newspapers was, we were the free ones. 16:33 Another example I see of this a lot is, like, a weather product. 16:37 So weather sites are like so obsessed on being weather sites and 16:40 what that actually means, is that they improve everything in their product 16:46 to be meteorologically accurate and no one gives a shit,like people like 16:48 ya know if precipitation's 42% oh what does, is it going to rain? 16:53 That's what I want to know, don't give me a percentage indication 16:57 of precipitation, if it's going to rain, when's it going to stop raining? 17:00 All of the, all of the recent innovation in 17:03 weather software has not been by getting more precise 17:05 or getting more, giving you more like countries you 17:10 can look at weather at or more, future predictions. 17:13 It's not actually that useful for most people to know that like 17:16 in 6-1/2 months it may or may not rain with a 58% precipitation. 17:20 No one know really, what that means. 17:23 The stuff that's doing really well here is 17:24 like Umbrella Today, do I need an umbrella today? 17:26 Or like this is Dark sky, what's it like now, and when's it going to stop. 17:29 That's basically the job they do, and it turns out, like when 17:34 you actually localize your your understanding 17:36 of the job, to those particular things. 17:39 Wetter is actually far more accurate for like what's gonna 17:42 happen in the next hour than is on any other point. 17:44 And it turns out most people want to know like should I leave now 17:48 or should I hang around for 20 minutes and will I miss the rain? 17:50 Or when's this rain gonna stop or should I wait? 17:52 They're the actual jobs that people have around weather. 17:54 So when you get like these daily forecasts they actually get. 17:57 They're actually not what people want. 17:59 And again, this is just an understanding of the 18:00 job under which people try to use a weather, app. 18:02 An example from our own company is kinda funny. 18:05 This is the one that really hit it home for me. 18:08 We, so Intercom basically tracks people who are using your software product. 18:10 And we have [INAUDIBLE] built this feature, which is 18:14 just a map of who's using your software product. 18:16 That's a map, and these are all just your people. 18:19 That was that. 18:21 We thought it was a map. 18:21 So we asked, well, why are people using this? 18:24 And. 18:26 It is a popular, part of the product. 18:27 We're like, well, why, why are they doing this? 18:29 And it turns out people use this, when they want 18:31 to show their, that their business is doing well globally. 18:33 For example this is some important 18:35 Irish politician or probably ex-important politician. 18:37 And, this is our product, and these guys are showing it off. 18:39 And what they're actually doing is, like, look at us. 18:42 Our product is global. 18:44 That's [INAUDIBLE], that's what they're saying. 18:45 What do people like to tweet? 18:47 Like, so this is a time tracking app 18:48 called Freckle, tweeting to say, like, you know? 18:49 Look how popular our product is. 18:52 We've got customers all over the world. 18:54 This guy's remarking that seven presentations at a demo day 18:56 all use the map cuz, again, they're trying to show, look. 18:59 We've got this global expansion. 19:00 And you kinda realize that this is not a map. 19:02 If we are to improve it as a map, 19:05 we'd go for, like, better precision with clustered users. 19:07 We'd have more zoom, zoom controls, better segmenting, and 19:09 you know, all those sort of fancy geographical precisions. 19:12 But the product isn't a map. 19:14 It just happens to look like a map. 19:16 What the product is, is actually a way to show 19:18 off your business So the way you do that is 19:21 we get a nicer mop or download it as an 19:23 image, or make it more alive and more visually stimulating. 19:24 Or one of the features people are asking us for is like can you make 19:27 it so I can down, download it as a keynote slide to put into my presentations. 19:30 And you sort of realize right no one's using this for a mop. 19:34 If we were to improve this along the lines 19:37 of geographical precision it'd be a waste of time. 19:39 In fact it would probably have a negative impact because it would slow the map down. 19:42 Where as if we improve it along these sorts of lines,let's make it beautiful. 19:46 I just took this shot today. 19:49 We've got like a few users knocking around London today. 19:50 And, when we, when we start even with this little red pin, we changes all the time. 19:53 And people go batshit. 19:59 I preferred the blue one, I preferred the red one. 20:00 I'll make it looks like a user, and I'll make it look like this. 20:02 Cuz they actually care about how it looks, not at all about what it does. 20:04 So, one thing you should understand is, if you 20:08 are building new technology, and I was talking with guys 20:10 earlier who are definitely doing this, is that, technology that 20:13 does not have a job per-assigned to it will fail. 20:15 un, fail's probably too strong a word. 20:20 Here's an example of technology that didn't have 20:23 a job, as in, we could do this, 20:25 so we did do this, but now we don't know what people should do with it. 20:27 It turns out that the, it's not a massively useful thing to be 20:30 able to move around marginally faster, about one foot higher than other people. 20:34 Which is basically what a Segway can do for you. 20:39 And when they rolled it out, they wondered why it 20:42 couldn't get like, you know, mainstream at auction or whatever. 20:44 A Segway has all the problems of a bike in that you have 20:47 to lock it up and all that, except it's worth a lot more money. 20:49 It has like, you know, fuel consumption issues. 20:52 It is charging. 20:54 And it doesn't, it's not as as fast as say a motorbike or 20:55 a moped, like it doesn't fit any particular job, or so you think but. 20:58 When I was out in America long enough and actually started 21:03 to find jobs, the most popular job, it turns out there 21:05 are cases when you want to move around a city, reasonably 21:08 slowly, but not totally slowly, you don't want to get tired. 21:12 And you want to be a little bit hard on the average human. 21:16 And they found this job, also they found mall cops as well. 21:19 And some airport police as well. 21:22 But, like, that's literally the final job they found. 21:23 I'll tell you two things. 21:27 If they had have known the market was this 21:28 small, they never would have bothered with their product. 21:29 And if they hadn't started with this as the target market, they wouldn't 21:32 have built a segway, cuz it's still not the best solution for it. 21:35 So I worry that Google Glass could end up into this bracket as well. 21:38 You know everyone's talking about how cool it is and what it can do. 21:41 But no one's actually mapping it onto when 21:46 you're in this situation here's what Glass does. 21:48 What they are saying is other stuff. 21:50 So, 21:52 I've seen like in the six errors I guess at the end of this building. 21:55 I was talking to a few different [UNKNOWN] on [UNKNOWN]. 21:58 One thing that people just need to get a grip on is, is 22:01 just when you're building new stuff, there's like four ways it can go. 22:04 If you, you can have a big 22:12 market impact without actually building much new technology. 22:13 And that's usually what a disruptive innovation looks like. 22:17 If you have, massive new technology and you have a really 22:21 well identified job, that it, will actually do, that's a game changer. 22:24 the place you don't want to be stuck as a 22:29 start up, but it's okay to be as University, or 22:30 as someone like, like, like, you know, say great large 22:33 companies, like Microsoft who can afford to invest heavy upfront. 22:36 It's okay to be in the breakthrough category, which means you've made massive 22:40 techno, technological progress, but you've yet to perfect the product side of it. 22:42 You've yet to productize basically. 22:46 And down here is just, we're building a better meta strap. 22:48 Right? 22:50 We're. 22:50 The same. 22:50 We're. 22:50 We're. 22:51 We're doing the same thing. 22:51 We're just a little bit better. 22:52 But the one piece I always try and encourage start ups to Watches like that. 22:53 You know, there's this famous quote, like you can 22:58 recognize the pioneers by the arrows in their backs. 23:00 Or like, I think the American equivalent is the first 23:02 guys get the arrows and the second guys get the land. 23:04 And that is the whole the danger of being first to market. 23:07 Which is the first to market is often also the worst to market. 23:11 As in, they've built it, they're showing everyone what it is, 23:15 but they don't, they're not showing it in the right way. 23:18 So, to re, they're showing off all this cool, like, and this is 23:20 why I like, you know, touch screen has been around since the early 80s. 23:22 Like, multi-touch has been around since the early 80s, and everyone's showing it 23:25 off, but no one ever actually thought, well, what is this actually useful for? 23:28 And it's only when somebody actually ties it to a job, they 23:32 get all the credit, which is why Steve Jobs or an Apple 23:34 get to walk out on stage and say we invented but like 23:37 this but the reality is we all no they didn't invent it. 23:38 They just managed to get it up here which is the difference. 23:41 So with all that said that's kind of what I see as the importance of Jobs. 23:46 Some music? 23:50 Nice. 23:53 So, 23:56 some jobs naturally fit together and you put them together 23:59 into what your product actually is and what your product does. 24:01 And how many of these you choose is an issue of the scope of your product. 24:04 And, obviously the usual start mantra would apply. 24:09 Like start small and, you know, expand, be hesitant to expand. 24:11 But now let''s just talk about scope, so if you're not enjoying this we're here 24:16 just fyi so I like this quote by Jamie Zawinski who worked on Netscape, 24:20 he says every program attempts to expand until it can read your e-mail, and I 24:27 saw yesterday linkedin launched something that actually 24:31 asked to read your e-mail so it is 24:34 >> Still proving true today 24:35 your product definition, [COUGH] most of all products exist within a 24:39 workflow so when you're picking the set of the jobs your 24:43 product does you have to start at some point in a 24:46 workflow and stop at some point in a workflow, so like 24:48 basecamp, the project manager tool starts when a project starts after 24:51 the first meeting, and it ignores the sales calls, it doesn't 24:56 talk about payments or contracts, all of that stuff exists within 24:58 the flow of landing a client and building him software or 25:01 building anything for him, but they don't like, they are not around for that piece. 25:04 Key Note the software I am using right now it does not 25:08 let me brainstorm in Key Note easily, I can't like do mind 25:12 maps and that sort of stuff, it literally, Key Note's like when 25:14 you are ready to put your slides together you come talk to me. 25:17 So that's when I got a clean keynote. 25:19 And keynote's gonna stick with me until 25:20 I'm done with this presentation, but it's not 25:21 gonna let me upload it online and tweet the link and all that sort of stuff. 25:23 That's beyond, all of that is my workflow, but like, it cuts out at one point. 25:26 Skype for example starts whenever I want to call somebody or I 25:30 want to receive a call, but Skype isn't about finding people to call. 25:34 That's a different problem. 25:38 That's like life and shit. 25:38 You know? 25:39 So the point I would guess I'm making is you have to draw the line somewhere. 25:41 So let's say like you're a project manager invoice Intuit, or whatever. 25:46 You might decide, Right, we'll do the create project, 25:50 track time, generate a report, but we're not gonna 25:53 to create invoice creation and we're not gonna mark 25:55 them as paid, and we're not gonna do account recognition. 25:57 Or you might decide, You know what? 25:59 We'll do the invoices, but that's where we stop. 26:00 Well you have to pick a place at which you stop. 26:02 So, there's a couple of guidelines I offer you on this. 26:04 One of them is start up the first point 26:07 in the workflow where you can add unique value. 26:11 Don't start any earlier because if you can't 26:14 add any unique value you are just going 26:16 to be competing on like a weak ground 26:17 which is, start using our stuff for no reason. 26:20 We have nothing extra to bring you. 26:22 And you know, it's kind of a hard argument to make. 26:23 And when you decide where you want to start, if you work 26:27 ahead of transition from the previous step you're in a great position. 26:29 So, here's a product, right. 26:33 Organize your travel plans. 26:35 So, travel plans such as you, all you guys coming to 26:37 this conference or me coming to this conference usually look like this. 26:40 Shop around for flights. 26:43 Find one, share it with anyone that's coming along with you. 26:44 Book your flights. 26:47 Enter your details. 26:47 Get your confirmation. 26:48 Forward your confirmation to a friend. 26:49 Enter the itinerary in a calendar. 26:50 Share it, you know. 26:51 This is just a general flow that you go 26:53 through when you're doing something like planning a trip. 26:54 >> So you have to realize that like if you want to do the job of travel 26:58 organization you probably should not start here because 27:02 you're just gonna be yet another flight engine, you 27:04 probably shouldn't start here because it's still in 27:06 the flight engine area, you could look at building 27:08 a social network around this sort of stuff, 27:12 what's interesting is Trip It did this very well. 27:14 Trip It decided to start at the point at which you 27:17 finally booked, and that's the first point you actually have any plans. 27:21 And to integrate with the seamless step the way 27:24 Trip It works is they say, the very second 27:26 you get a confirmation, confirmation email, forward it to 27:29 Plans at tripit.com, and we'll take it from there. 27:32 And they were, if they weren't thinking about the 27:35 whole flow you're in, they would have been like, 27:37 you know, well, let's start with like, [INAUDIBLE] flight 27:38 search, or let's start with new flight, where's it from? 27:40 Blah. 27:43 Enter flight code. 27:44 But they're like, no, the user already has a receipt. 27:45 Let's just start from there. 27:47 So that's why Trip It basically can give you like, 27:48 instant value straight up by basically saying, send us your receipts. 27:50 If you're gonna do like time tracking, it might 27:55 be like well, here's the flow as it exists. 27:56 And, again, the same question will be where 27:58 will you start, where can you add value? 28:00 You will get a copy of all these slides [UNKNOWN] in case I'm going too quick. 28:01 So, that's where you start. 28:05 You pick the first place you can add a unique value. 28:07 Go one step back and work at it. 28:10 What's the best way you can integrate there? 28:11 Can you API into the product or can you received their 28:14 emails or what can you do and then where do you stop? 28:17 Well you should stop in one of these three conditions. 28:19 If the next step has a well defined market leader and 28:23 you don't want to compete with them for example if the 28:26 next step is like receive payment via paypal and like you're 28:28 you're building like you know say like a a boat tracker. 28:32 You're not going to be like yeah well lets take on paypal too. 28:34 You know? 28:37 Or at least you shouldn't be. 28:38 They've got some pretty cool technol similarly, Amazon, eBay, Tumblr, whatever. 28:39 You know? 28:44 Don't take on somebody that isn't in your core 28:45 competency that you're not going toe to toe with. 28:46 Also, if the next step has no common sort of agreement on how it's done. 28:49 So let's say the next step is, like, you 28:54 know, let's pay our salaries to all our contractors. 28:56 Well that's different in every company, and it's different in every country. 28:59 So you're gonna be building like 150 29:02 different integrations to try and get that done. 29:04 So it's not a great idea. 29:06 Or if the next step is something that you kind, just kind to help. 29:08 So if the next step is like, well I 29:10 would normally happen in this point in the sales process. 29:12 Yeah, go ahead and pick up the phone and ring. 29:14 Leave us. 29:17 You're not gonna be like, let's build 29:17 VOIP, or let's take on a telephone network. 29:18 You know, there are some battles not worth picking. 29:20 So, I kind, kind of call this, like, this Goldilocks principle, 29:23 which is like, if your product is too big, nobody can adopt 29:26 it, because the workflow it takes on is far too many, and 29:29 you're gonna bump into too many different areas where you're not compatible. 29:31 So someone's gonna be like, Oh well I actually do that to your 29:34 spreadsheets cuz I have to forward that to Michael in accounting ya know. 29:36 And then you're like well you can't use, you can't use the 29:39 later 2 3rds of our software maybe you'll still use the first third. 29:41 It's not gonna work cuz you wanna charge for the big value 29:44 and they're only using 30% of the value they're gonna feel ripped off. 29:46 So that's the two big problem. 29:50 Two small is that you can get dismissed as a 29:51 feature not a product so That's the common phrase, which 29:54 is, you do one thing really well, and people often 29:58 say, well, it sounds like a feature, not a product. 29:59 So, em, I'm trying to think of the 30:02 mo, best example I've seen of this re, recently. 30:04 I saw a product that, basically, [LAUGH] it's a, a smart pause that basically um-. 30:06 If you pause your music, and it detects that 30:11 enough time has passed, it'll start playing it again. 30:13 And you're looking for like $20 for this, and I'm like no. 30:15 No, sorry. 30:17 That is just too small a piece of my work flow. 30:18 So there's a just right size for you and for the market you're going after. 30:20 So, 30:26 when you're at this point like, the, the perils 30:29 of traction which is as you start to get 30:32 users you'll be confronted with like millions of different 30:34 reasons why you should build millions of different features. 30:37 And this is what I think what Apple 30:41 weregetting at when they had this most recent outburst. 30:42 Which is is there any water around? 30:45 No. 30:47 [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, cool [UNKNOWN]. 30:47 [COUGH] Which is like there's Apple has this 30:50 quote, there's a thousand no's behind every yes. 30:53 Which is that they Apple basic claimed that they've thrown away better product. 30:54 That's done, most companies have released. 30:58 They claim they are very good at saying no. 31:00 But what I'd like to go through here 31:03 is the most classic reasons you'll be told here's 31:05 why you should build this and it's kinda a good acid test to see if you should. 31:07 The first one's always well we built this and 31:13 now look at all the new engagement we have. 31:14 I'm like, okay, [INAUDIBLE] is it actually a useful engagement? 31:16 Cheers, thanks. 31:22 And by useful I mean, like, Facebook could release a variation of the like button. 31:24 So they could safely release the most common request they get is, 31:30 I think, the the dislike, or the whatever the opposite of like is. 31:33 They don't even what that is yet. 31:37 But if they released that button would it tap into new engagement? 31:39 It wouldn't basically, because what happens is instead 31:41 of clicking that button people just type something instead. 31:44 People type wow, so sorry, hope it all works out. 31:46 So the question isn't like, the question is will you get 31:49 new engagement, not will you push engagement around from place to place. 31:54 Cuz software's a complex system. 31:58 So if someone's spending time somewhere, and you decide to split 31:59 it, and you say, well you can do this or that. 32:02 What you get, the matter of fact is the exact same amount of behavior. 32:04 That's not actually a win. 32:07 That's actually a loss cuz you bought some 32:08 extra complexity and got nothing back in return. 32:09 Diet Coke did something similar when they released Diet Coke with Lime. 32:13 And what they did was basically no new sales, they just 32:17 had an extra few people who were drinking Diet Coke with Lime. 32:19 And it wasn't like, you know, that's kind of the, the, like, sort of 32:21 FMC, fast-moving consumer goods version of releasing 32:25 extra features that are kind of marginally useful. 32:28 Every new [INAUDIBLE] buys Diet Coke with Lime was gonna buy diet Coke anyway. 32:30 The other point of that is like, there's 32:35 like, such things as like, useful and useless engagement. 32:36 Useless engagement. 32:39 You could put tetris into your product and everyone will 32:40 play it and you'd be like yah, we've got engagement. 32:44 But that's you know, if you are a project manager too and people 32:46 are dicking around playing tetris that's not really a great situation to be in. 32:48 Another common argument is oh, but it's a really small feature so we can build it. 32:53 Or not even who has ever worked on 32:57 the software project knows that this is basically what 32:59 we estimate as being the cost of the feature 33:00 and this is actually what the feature looks like. 33:03 So always be careful and also as a side note its 33:05 a shit idea to include a feature because its small and quick. 33:10 That's like, that's a, that's a road map decision at best, but the scope of 33:13 work is nothing to do with whether or not it should belong in the product. 33:16 They're two separate discussions entirely. 33:19 Just because you can do something quickly, it doesn't mean it's a good idea. 33:20 Like, I could rob a bank pretty quick, you know, Feature blackmail's another one. 33:24 This customer's going to quit unless we build it. 33:29 One, that's probably not true. 33:31 They're probably saying that to ,to get what they want. 33:32 Two, even if it is true that's not the reason under which you built software. 33:35 Another one is, we can just make it optional. 33:40 So let go, not everyone wants it, make it optional, boom. 33:42 This is what you end up with some sort of seven page preferences 33:45 screen where you can turn on the accounting modular or turn it off. 33:48 And you could turn on what happens there is you're opening the door 33:50 to somebody who's just got a smarter, more useful pro, possibly cheaper product. 33:53 We've got nothing else to do. 33:58 Well, as anyone who's worked in a kitchen knows, 33:59 if you've time to lean, you've time to clean. 34:01 So, like, if you, if your team has nothing else to do, let them go fix books. 34:03 Or let them work on hobby projects, whatever. 34:07 Don't let them odd shift to the product because 34:08 you're sick of looking at them do nothing, you know. 34:10 That could, basically, idle hands are like literally, the Devil's tools. 34:12 Another classic is like, well, our competitor already has 34:17 all this, so therefore, we should build it all. 34:19 And whatever, never realizes that, everyone's looking at each other as 34:21 competitors, and they're all saying, we should all build all that shit. 34:24 And like, the secret is, as we all know, 34:27 like, What you're seeing is [INAUDIBLE] they've got reports, 34:29 rejections, distribution metrics and what they're saying is we 34:31 need to get rid of this, this would never work. 34:34 This never made sense. 34:35 So they're in the middle of killing all this 34:36 shit while you're in the middle of copying it. 34:37 It's never like you know, don't let that be your guiding light. 34:39 There are literally hundreds of reasons to add a feature 34:43 to a product, and most of them are bad ones. 34:45 The if you're ever gonna add stuff to your 34:48 product too you have to ask yourselves the following. 34:50 Does it fit with the vision? 34:52 Is it a forward step along the way? 34:53 Will it matter in five years? 34:55 Will it generate new engagement? 34:56 Will it grow the business? 34:57 Can we design it in such a way such that reward is better than effort? 34:59 If it succeeds can we actually support it succeeding? 35:02 So let's say you, you decided to release your 35:05 Android app, but you only contracted your Android developers. 35:07 Can you actually afford the success of that, if it takes off? 35:09 Does it benefit all our customers? 35:13 That's another one. 35:14 An interesting one about reward and effort, like so Google plus for example. 35:15 They had this insight where they wanted, they believed that people 35:18 wanted to put their friends in circles to reflect the, like 35:21 the real life way you actually have college friends, and work 35:23 friends and this friends and that friends and they're actually right. 35:25 [INAUDIBLE] what many people want to do, but it's really 35:28 hard to design that switch that the reward you get for 35:32 doing that is actually better than the effort it takes to 35:34 maintain a group of friends and drive people around all day. 35:36 So it's kind of like one of those broken problems. 35:39 So and the last piece is just analysis an improvement so. 35:43 We've gotten all the way down through the vision and mission. 35:47 We've picked out our jobs. 35:49 We've defined the scope. 35:50 We've decided what's not getting, gonna get built. 35:51 And then for the, for the few that made it through, 35:53 how do you look at it. 35:58 Well, product strategy 101, is basically this. 35:59 This is the simplest chart you can ever 36:02 draw if you wanna like, blow your clients minds. 36:03 All of the people all of the time, none of the people none of the time. 36:06 Get metrics and you just plot it and you sort of see what goes where. 36:09 And this highlights any sort of dodgy 36:13 features that should not have ever been built. 36:15 This is again, and, I don't know what type of product this 36:19 is probably project margin again, And what you're looking for is this. 36:21 These are your star features. 36:26 This the stuff you should [INAUDIBLE] being very careful not to build. 36:28 The danger with a few people heavily depending on a 36:31 feature is, if you kill it, you're gonna cause uproar. 36:34 But you have not managed to get everyone to use it. 36:38 So you should always be able to plot your features out like this. 36:40 And this is just basically metrics. 36:42 This is like analytics, you know, day one sort of stuff. 36:44 So, what you should then, like, look for, for 36:48 any given feature what percentage of people are using it? 36:51 So this is the fantasy product, right? 36:54 No one here has a product that looks like this. 36:56 What this is saying is that, mostly everyone uses mostly everything. 36:58 The best example I can think of for this, 37:03 and they've ki, they've killed it recently, is Instagram. 37:04 Instagram, we're in a situation where most people 37:09 uploaded photos, most people commented, and most people liked. 37:11 But then they added tagging and all this other stuff. 37:14 And user profiles and all this other stuff. 37:15 And they've gone into slipping down. 37:17 Where, now they're gonna end, they'll soon end up like, somewhere like this. 37:18 Where a, this is more atypical. 37:22 You have a few core features that everyone uses, and then 37:24 you kind of [UNKNOWN] to build on anything on top of that. 37:27 Ocassionally you'll find things like this. 37:29 Google+ is like this in my head. 37:31 [COUGH] Everyone admits that Hangout is a great feature 37:32 in Google+ but it's the only great feature in Google+. 37:35 Which is so, Hangout is like, whenever I 37:39 was in Google+ it's usually to do a Hangout. 37:41 Everything else, and they've got a lot of 37:43 other junk in there, is untouched, you know. 37:45 Or relatively untouched. 37:47 Like the, I say untouched. 37:48 Five minutes? 37:49 What they would say is, well there's a 185 thousand people used yesterday. 37:50 I'm like yes, I get that but it's 37:53 still [UNKNOWN] at 4% of your networking, you know? 37:55 So one point is, if you do find yourself in 37:59 this situation, where you've got one killer piece of your product 38:01 and that's it, there's usually an opportunity to send, to build 38:05 a product around that one innovation and make that your product. 38:09 That will be like smaller, and possibly worse 38:12 but it will actually Be amazing in comparison. 38:15 And that's kinda what disruption is about. 38:18 So you should ask yourself is there a large group 38:20 of customers who use only one or two of the workflows. 38:21 And then if we junk everything else can we build a better product base or not. 38:25 So [COUGH] again, like I'm pretty sure if somebody could 38:29 get [INAUDIBLE] and build that as a product it'd be amazing. 38:33 Is, as, have they released it separately? 38:38 >> [INAUDIBLE] 38:40 >> Brilliant, well they must have been in on my talk. 38:42 [LAUGH] 38:44 Yeah, so when you're in this situation there's ways to improve the product. 38:46 And, there are, oh let me go back. 38:51 Right. 38:56 There is three ways you can improve a product: increase adoption of 38:56 a feature, increase frequency of a feature, a feature is used, adoption 38:59 is [INAUDIBLE] from using it, or make a deliberate improvement, make the 39:03 prod, make the feature better but just for those who are using it. 39:05 So, what this looks like is here. 39:08 If a feature is smack, bang here, which means 39:11 You can get everyone to use it a little bit. 39:13 Or you can get people to use it really often. 39:18 Now obviously you want to get it up here. 39:22 But like for any given thing you want to 39:25 do, you have to deliver an approach to get there. 39:26 So if you actually want to increase the 39:28 amount of people who are using a product... 39:30 What you do is, you research, you rank, and resolve 39:32 the barriers to usage, so it might tell you, I would 39:36 do that, but I can't import the CSV, or I 39:39 would do that, but I can't change the footer, or whatever. 39:41 You rank them, and go after them, and the way you rank 39:43 them, or the way you find those out is, basically, ask users why. 39:45 Why aren't [UNKNOWN] using a reports because they don't see the 39:47 volume, why not because they can't show it to their boss, 39:51 why not, because they can't get into good form, why not 39:53 because the x form tools aren't good enough why not because the 39:55 API doesn't support the data, okay let's improve the API, that's 39:57 how you actually approach these things, but you don't just do one 40:00 user, you have to ask why lots of time to lots 40:02 of different users and you end up with this sort of thing. 40:05 You now know exactly what it is you need 40:08 to do to improve the adoption of the feature. 40:10 And basically what this is what I call it, you 40:13 have to maintain your product market with a fish or cut 40:15 bait sort of strategy which is kill it if no one's 40:18 using it and if it's halfway there, make it worth using 40:21 If you want to get people to use your product, to use a feature 40:27 more you have to give them more triggers to get them doing it more. 40:29 So facebook learned that basically by throwing more shit into your 40:32 activity feed you actually check it more because you see that little 40:35 red one more and you hit it more, you know, linked 40:38 in have learned lately, has anyone gotten mails from linked in lately? 40:40 Linkedin, I've learned, that basically by doing this whole, 40:44 endorse for this, endorse for that, endorse for the 40:46 other, they're, they're basically managing to make us all 40:48 log in far more often than we ever did. 40:50 Cuz frequency's all about creating habits. 40:52 Basically what you want to do is have a trigger. 40:54 Johnny has endorsed you for MySQL. 40:57 Have an action, endorse Johnny back from MySQL. 40:59 Have a reward, you have endorsed Johnny, why don't you endorse five other people? 41:01 I'm gonna have an investment which guarantees a future trigger. 41:04 Do you want to connect to Johnny's friends? 41:07 Yes? 41:08 Okay, let's do that. 41:09 And now all of a sudden I've got five more people 41:09 who are gonna endorse me, so we're gonna [UNKNOWN] five more times. 41:11 That's the cycle you need to get. 41:14 So that's how you increase frequency. 41:16 That was what I wanted to talk about. 41:19 We're now down to close. 41:20 Can we get the slides? 41:22 Yes. 41:23 They'll be online. 41:24 You can mail me des@intercom will be on the blog. 41:25 You can read more on the blog. 41:26 I'll include references here in the slides before you get them. 41:28 Blogs insideintercom. 41:31 Thanks so much for listening. 41:32 I'm around for questions if anyone has any. 41:33 Thank you. 41:35 >> [SOUND] 41:35
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