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Why Aha! Turns into Oh Crap! in Product Management

How often have you heard the following remark? “I stepped out of the shower this morning and…” or “I was walking out of Starbuck’s when I got this killer idea…”

Sound familiar? Were the examples too close to home? As product management and product marketing professionals, managing and translating the “Aha moments” can be a full-time job or at least a full-time distraction.

How do you handle the Aha! moments?

From Aha! to Oh Crap!

Product management and product marketing have to know and understand the difference between the Aha and the Oh Crap.  It’s a fine balance. Great ideas openly flow in companies surfacing from internal and some external sources. While some may have value, what’s the difference and how do I know?

Scott Sehlhorst, author of the Tyner Blain blog recently shared with me, “In product management, you have to see the big picture view. Product Management has to be founded in data, data and more data.”

While Aha’s may be great ideas, ask yourself the following questions to discover if your Aha! is worth pursuing or is headed for Oh Crap-City.

  • Where did the Aha! originate?
  • Does the Aha! have supporting data?
  • Does this Aha! add any value to your product strategy or roadmap?
  • Does it overcome any competitive threats?
  • Who’s willing to buy your Aha?
  • Will this Aha! cause any disruption in the company’s vision?
  • Will the Aha! affect any cadence in teams such as development, engineering and marketing?
  • What monetary or internal business value does the Aha! possess?

Aha! – Not a Replacement for Visibility
In my post, “Was that just an Aha! Moment?” I shared the insights from an interview conducted by Art Petty. Art shared, “Product management leaders often struggle in gaining visibility with the executive team because they have not proven they can lead the products and have relinquished ownership to other departments or even worse, decision by committee.”

I’ve often experienced product marketing and product management folks who get swept up in conversations or what if’s that gain momentum and materialize as Aha! moments.

Without an active connection with customers, markets and fresh data, we struggle to build products of value and gain influence at any level.  With an absence of data, influence and credibility, we often resort to Aha! moments that lack insight and evidence. This causes an Oh Crap scenario.

While product management and product marketing will always work in environments where ideas often overshadow real market value and Aha’s are rewarded as innovation, to gain influence.

“The power of influence is perhaps the most important tool in your professional toolkit. It should be a skill that you are constantly working to improve. It blends in a number of your personal traits including likability, compassion, empathy and understanding. But it also requires that you put the effort on your end to be able to justify anything you might need” shared Stewart Rogers in his post Authority vs. Influence.

I couldn’t agree more. How have you managed the Aha! moments in your organization? Hopefully you:

  1. Can visualize the Big Picture
  2. Represent real problems for real people
  3. Build the right kind of influences
  4. Keep Aha! in check

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