Wèishéme (Why) – Product Anonymous – Sept 26th

Hi everyone,

Some of you know I’ve been in China for the last several months – but I’ll be back next month & presenting at the next #prodanon on Thursday Sept 26th!     Will be great to see everyone!!

Eventbrite - Product Anonymous - September 26  - Wèishéme

I’ll be talking about:


(that’s ‘Why’ in mandarin)

Being immersed in a brand new & very different culture, ‘why’ has been floating around Jen’s brain and spurred her thinking on why ‘why?’ is the most important question we can ask.

Whether we’re talking with a customer or end user, determining which feature to build next or how to market our product,  understanding the ‘why’ is needed to help us connect, make our products great & create success.

Come hear why it’s the most important question & how you can get to ‘why’ faster.


In case we don’t know each other, here’s the backstory…

After several months in China, Jen Leibhart will be back in Melbourne for the September meeting.   Jen is a co-founder of Product Anonymous,  co-organiser of Product Camp and has been a product manager for mobile & web products including games, recruitment software, ecommerce, news, communities & more.


As usual we’ll be at the Mail Exchange Hotel on the corner of Spencer & Bourke St.    Go down the escalator, head to the left side of the bar where the restaurant is then look to the left where the function rooms are.  That’s where we are.

We’ll be there for 6pm onwards & the talk starts about 6:30p.

Eventbrite - Product Anonymous - September 26  - Wèishéme

The Art of Decision Making – Part 1: The process

So what are decisions anyway?

Decisions take ambiguous information and make an outcome. Some see decisions as a set of finite cognitive steps, and some see it as part of a circle of deciding and learning. Both are true, and overall they share common ideas but with different level of detail. After all, the steps are just a framework that represents something that can happen in an instant.

My favourite is the 6 step model:

1. Define the problem

The simple example of defining the problem is when we are presented with two or more alternatives. For example, “Do we follow option X or option Y?” Or perhaps you have received a specific question like “Should we commit resources to this?” But this is rare and clinical – the real world is much more nuanced.

2. Identify alternatives

You’ve got your problem identified, and you immediately think of alternatives A, B and C. Are they enough alternatives? How can we identify more?

3. Evaluate alternatives

It is time to evaluate our listed alternatives. You probably have a gut feel already, but how can we do this more rigorously?

4. Decide

So we now have some well evaluated alternatives, and finally it is crunch time. Someone has to make a decision.

5. Implement

We have made our decision. Now what?  Surely everyone will just crack on with it. Or maybe not…

6. Follow-up and evaluate the results

Learn from the outcome, but keep an eye on it too.  Is it time to course correct?

The above 6 step model is pretty simple, and only an overview.  We will spend the next few sections on each of these. We’ll break it down, explore some tools, think about some of the people issues (dare we call it politics?), and try to propose some way forward when it is not so clear which way to go next..  Please feel free to comment below to add to the discussion

Read the introduction  or go forward to read part 2 on defining the problem

Steve is a Product Development Manager at Telstra Wholesale.  The views expressed in this post are his only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Telstra.

The Art of Decision Making – Introduction

Decision making is hard.

Product management is about decisions every day. Snappy decisions about small features, and long drawn out decisions about expensive commitments.  Not only is each decision different, the way we make each decision is also different.  And, since we deal with people every day, there is always some added complexity.  Our methods, tools and ideas are constantly adapting to the needs of the decision.

Decision making stops being a science and becomes an art.  And in product management that art is our job.  So we need to be equiped with the right tools and ideas to be effective.  This series tries to take some of the best practice in the industry, share it and open the debate.  It’s a chance to expand our choice of tools in the process.

But why is product management different?

In product management we’re often tasked with the vision of the product. Of course this isn’t intended to be some fluffy concept, it is just a word that fits nicely. We are supposed to have some long-term goal in our minds; what it looks like, who will buy it, how it works, how it fills a customer need, etc. It has a current state, a final state, and some time in between – and it is all a bit fuzzy. And frankly the way we get from here to there isn’t always that clear either.

Product managers must have a vision, but it won’t be 20/20

And then there is the strategy. Or should we say strategies. The product strategy is how we intend to attain that mythical vision. There might also be a corporate strategy on how this fits in with the need of the organisation. And there might be even more strategies to do with customers, people and so on. Together these should offer guiding priority – the path forward and what is important.

And while product managers might have some say in the strategy and vision of the product, they are not enough. There is a long string of decisions and actions along the way that get us to the future state. And just like how every person is defined by the decisions they make, the same applies for the product. It is the decisions that product managers make that realise the product.

The enactment of the vision and strategy then becomes a set of decisions being made. Decisions by you and by your team. These decisions, in turn, lead to other decisions, based on interpretations and what you say and do. And if the decisions aren’t being made directly, then they get made somewhere else, where they might not be coordinated

Visible decision making provides guidance to you and your team. People understand the reasoning and direction, which in turn will help propagate into future decisions. Not just decisions by you, but decisions made by other people based on what you say and do.
So giving reasoning is important to decisions and to propagate your strategy and vision.

We have to be careful with decisions. Decisions are strategically important.

So what are decisions anyway?

In the next series of articles we’ll explore the process of decision making, break it down, and add in some advice from the trenches.  Please feel free to comment below to add to the discussion

Read part 2 – Defining the Problem from the Art of Decison Making series

Steve is a Product Development Manager at Telstra Wholesale.  The views expressed in this post are his only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Telstra.

The Art of Decision Making – write up from session

Steve Bauer recently led a session at Product Anonymous on decision making for Product Managers.  The result was an exciting discussion about some very common issues that we face every day.  Steve has turned this discussion into a series of blog posts that we are going to host here.

A mentor of mine once explained to me that ‘strategy’ is really a set of decisions being made.  And that really hit home for me as product managers have to make decisions every day.  And sometimes (often!) getting to a decision is hard work.So through this set of posts we’ll be exploring the Art of Decision Making for product managers.  There will be some strategy, some self examination, some tools and even some heuristics.  And by the end hopefully we’ll identify how we can even improve our influence through our decisions.This series was developed out of a discussion at a Product Anonymous meeting.  Full credit goes to the team and the attendees for providing insight and critical analysis.Bio: Steve Bauer is a Product Guy.  He is passionate about product management; the vision, the product and the team that brings it to life.  He is currently the Product Development Manager for Mobile at Telstra Wholesale, and has a background in mobile; including with Nokia, Symbian and Samsung.  This content doesn’t reflect his past, current or future employers.

August 22nd event – Employing Social Data for Passive Insights

At last month’s Product Camp, Aaron Wallis had put forward a topic on Uservoice but then wasn’t able to attend camp so we’ve asked him to come along to this month’s Product Anonymous.

His topic?  ‘Employing Social Data for Passive Insights’

Social data offers more than just whats hot, and what’s not. Lets have a look at how social data offers a unique insight to product development and strategy.

Aaron Wallis is the Founder of Lexer. Lexer is a data driven consultancy that’s passionate about the value behavioural technology can bring to all aspects of business.

Eventbrite - Product Anonymous - August 22  - Employing Social Data for Passive Insights