Interview with Rich Mironov

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Rich Mironov is a veteran of six tech start-ups (including as founder/CEO and VP Products/Marketing) and CEO of Mironov Consulting.

He will be speaking at Product Management Festival on the topic of “Product Managers, Product Owners, and Scalable Agile Product Management Organizations”

What’s the best aspect of working as a product manager?

For me, it’s the mix of customer challenges (What does this segment need? How can we solve a specific customer’s unique issue?) plus technical work (collaborating on solution architecture, getting the right things to the top of the queue) and organizational problem-solving (how do we make good company-wide trade-offs between one-off sales opportunities and platform investments?). Throughout the day, there are all kinds of people to work with, and a wide variety of problems.

What’s your favorite product management blog / journal / etc.?

I’m biased toward my own writing (www.mironov.com) but am a big fan of Teresa Torres (http://www.producttalk.org/), Ken Norton (http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/07/24/12-things-product-managers-first-30-days-new-company/), Tristan Kromer (http://grasshopperherder.com/) Steve Johnson (http://under10consulting.com/), Ellen Chisa (http://blog.ellenchisa.com/), Scott Sehlhorst (http://tynerblain.com/blog/). And a good collection of writers On Product Management (http://onproductmanagement.net/).

What are the biggest mistakes made in product management?

I think we confuse the individual tools and methods with the mission. We should be using LeanUX techniques or scrum/kanban development models or A/B testing or MPVs when they are appropriate, at the right points in the product lifecycle. Product managers are the people who have to make difficult trade-offs among competing forces in order to deliver successful products. At every moment, we have to push for strategic choices: Is this product idea good enough to invest in further discovery/testing versus other ideas we are considering? Can we meet real customer needs with this version or must we add one more feature? Invest all of our R&D in the current product or split off resources to expand the portfolio? Keep a simple pricing model or add tiers/complexity to increase revenue and solve broader problems? Invest in improved test infrastructure or finish our committed feature?

Better techniques and more data are wonderful; faster development processes are awesome; more customer feedback is golden. But few decisions are easy. Product managers have to bravely move things forward in the face of conflicting goals and market uncertainty.

How important is creativity in the product management process?

I consider three kinds of creativity critical to product management:

Market Creativity: Can we solve a problem differently and gain strategic advantage? Deeply understand customer needs, resegment, reprice, re-assemble existing products into new configurations…
Technical Creativitiy: Collaborating with our dev teams, can we find innovative ways to make complex problems simple, or complex products easier? Are competitors applying too much of the wrong tech?
Organizational Creativity: How can we get Sales, Marketing, Channels and Product to work better together? How do we put the right incentives into development and innovation processes?

How do you see the future of product management?

I see us coming back to basics: after Agile and Lean Startup and LeanUX and Growth Hacking and Crowdsourced Roadmaps and Platforms-as-Products — we still need to orchestrate the many groups in our companies to build and ship great products while making a profit. Dogma and buzzwords are not as helpful as deep customer awareness and good product strategy.

Rich Mironov

Rich Mironov

Mironov Consulting

Rich Mironov is a veteran of six tech start-ups (including as founder/CEO and VP Products/Marketing) and CEO of Mironov Consulting. Since 2006, he’s provided full-time and interim product management consulting/mentoring to more than 70 large and small technology companies. He wrote “The Art of Product Management,” and has been blogging about products since 2001. He founded the first Product Camps, chaired the first product owner/manager tracks at the annual Agile conference, and speaks/teaches widely on product strategy, agile, entrepreneurship and product management organizations.

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