How to Create Products Customers Love – Marty Cagan


Marty is the Founder and Managing Director of the Silicon Valley Product Group, where he works with and advises many of the leading technology teams in the world.

How do you significantly improve your chances for success?
How do you create products that can sustain a business?
How do you make sure it is you that is doing the disrupting, rather than the one being disrupted?

Marty shares his ten most important lessons of how to create products that customers love.

Marty’s keynote at the Product Management Festival 2013 in Zurich.

Marty Cagan presenting 10 principles of product management

Marty Cagan presenting 10 principles of product management

Especially in software development it’s hard to envision a product or solution that people will like AFTER it was built. The role of the product managers has significantly changed in recent years. Failed products or solutions are not due to developers‘ faults but product managers‘.

1. Leadership over Management

Product managers should NOT gather requirements or collect needs from stakeholders. They should instead ask what significant problems you are trying to solve and inspire the team to find solutions.

Show the customers‘ pains, show according solutions via leadership. Solutions don’t come as a spreadsheet.

2. Discovery over Roadmaps and Requirements

At least half of our ideas are just not going to work. Customers will choose not to use them. They are potentially excited, but usability is too poor and they won’t figure out the usage. Or the product is too expensive.

The other half, the one that might work, will take several iterations until it works properly.

Requirements are killing time, they’re a waste of opportunities. Discovery, instead, will quickly find viable solutions and help iterate them.

Dual tracked agile is about iterating very quickly in product discovery and working on the solutions on a second track.

3. Outcome over Output

Features are output. But they are potentially pure vanity features. Are they actually improving the business? Instead we need business outcome!

Product score cards or innovation accounting focuses on business outcomes. Do whatever you have to do so that the product meets the objectives. Features are second.

4. Data over Opinions

Data is stronger than opinions. Running tests will bring up what the statistics actually say. Usability should be tested in the market since engineers and UX designers may easily disagree on what way to pursue.

Marty’s product managers start their day in analytics tools. They have to embrace analytics and data scientists.

5. Speed over Perfection

Many product managers try to define the perfect product. They will probably arrive to the market too late… Rapid iterations and rapid test and learn are a more promising paths! Learning leads to innovation! The number of iterations can be an important KPI.

Fake it before you make it!

6. Collaboration over Consensus

Designed by committee will kill most great ideas. Great teams collaborate in interdisciplinary teams, e.g. UX designers, engineers and product management. Engineers should not be just coders but also consultants.

Customers don’t know what’s possible. They will not bring innovation. Engineers are a great source for innovation because they know the technological potential.

7. User Experience Design over Features

UX design is paramount in today’s online world. Hence specialists should work on the workflows and the look and feel. Visual design is a big deal, it transports the emotions customers will have when using the product.

Create an amazing user experience!

8. Customer Discovery over Business Cases and Market Research

Business cases are the reason to put features on the product roadmap. But really, how should the Google Adwords product manager have known how much the product will do. Or the amazing Amazon Web Services, for that matter.

Clever product managers will try to get as many funds as possible as it will keep them covered.

Focus groups or surveys will rarely produce the results you need.

Customer or market discovery instead is all about creating reference customers. They are using your product live, they pay for it and they tell the world how great your product is.

9. Customers over Stakeholder or Competitors

Product managers come up with solutions that help the stakeholders succeed. Usually that’s good for the company, too.

Don’t copy your competitor’s features. Customers don’t leave for a competitor, they leave because of us. Because we let them down.

10. Value Creation over Value Capture

Most product managers spend too much time on pricing or little optimization. But that should be with product marketing.

Product managers should be in the big ideas, create more value big time! Customers should not be able to stand without your product!

Read more at Silicon Valley Product Group

Marty Cagan briefing Vera Brannen of Usable Brands

Marty Cagan briefing Vera Brannen of Usable Brands

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Walter Schärer bloggt über neuste Internet-Trends im Online Marketing, Social Media, Blogs, Web Analytics, SEO, Mobile und so.

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