Yesterday, I finished my first draft of my first Forrester publication. The subject is the product development process and how it needs evolve, not merely mature.
Around Forrester, the first publication is a rite of passage. Sure, Mr. Smarty-Pants Industry Guy, you've written millions of words over your career, but can you write a succinct, useful document in the Forrester style? And can you back up your claims with data?
Since I'm normally able to write pages and pages of text without too much effort, my daughter was thrilled to hear that this first Forrester piece was a real challenge. Writing useful advice is not like blogging. Researchers are not pundits.
My planned research will appear soon in the official list. Once they appear, I'm very interested in getting a thumbs up or thumbs down on these topics from product managers (and those who love them). If you don't see your top challenge--collecting requirements, building product plans, helping craft product marketing, etc.--tell us!
I'll add a notice here once my planned research list goes live. Please take a look and provide feedback.
In the research business, it's important to have data. However, to be credible, you also need transparency.
If you're a Forrester client, you have access to the data we collect for our research. Obviously, that helps you maintain confidence in the advice we give. However, transparency is as much about community as it is about confidence.
In academia, you'll often hear the expression research community. That phrase describes an active discussion among those involved about (1) what needs to be studied, (2) how these topics should be studied, and (3) the conclusions individual researchers reach. Subjects, methodology, results--whether you're a physicist or an historian, a lot of people always have a lot to talk about.
Forrester already invites you, Dear Reader, to tell us what questions you'd like to see us answer. You can see the current list of planned research here. My research topics will appear on that page soon; meanwhile, you can always talk to me directly through this blog.
Why listen to Forrester for product management advice? To answer the question, let's return, for a few minutes, to our salad days as college undergraduates.
In at least one introductory course (Philosophy 101, Western Civilization 101, etc.), we were all introduced to Plato and Aristotle. In the small section of Raphael's The School of Athens shown here, Plato is to the left, pointing upwards to the realm of the ideal. On the right, Aristotle is gesturing down, to the realm of the real.
Plato thought that the important questions, such as what is the best form of government, could only be answered through contemplation of abstract concepts. Aristotle, on the other hand, thought that scientific inquiry was the better path towards useful knowledge.
Every research project must start with a precisely-worded hypothesis. During an earlier stint in academia, I certainly saw attempts at hypothesis-free research. Not surprisingly, it went nowhere. (Never underestimate the power of academics to turn the interesting into the tedious.)
Therefore, it’s not enough to say, “We here at Forrester are looking into how to help product management.” You have to say why it’s worth helping them, and what the problems they face really are. Based on the impressionistic experience of being a product manager, here’s my thesis, step by step.
1. TI is immature The technology industry may not be in its infancy, but at best, it’s in its adolescence. The shift from information technology (IT) to business technology (BT) is the industry’s growing pains. (For more details, click here.) Companies are under increasing pressure to build technology that’s immediately useful for specific users and tasks.
As a new Forrester analyst, starting a blog is great way to think aloud about my research, which focuses on product management in the technology industry (TI). That’s a careful choice of words, since I’ll be writing both for product managers and about product management as a key business process.
This blog will give you another window into our role-based research here at Forrester. As a research organization, we want to make sure that we’re focused on the right questions, and make it easy for you to give feedback on our work. In other words, you’re a colleague, whether or not you’re a customer (yet).
To put it another way, my mission is to be BFF4PM—best friend forever for product management. That’s how I’ll measure success; please tell me how I’m doing.