Workshop on "social product management" is done!

Had some great conversations with the workshop attendees on how PM teams are incorporating social media into their customer and market intelligence (including, but not limited to, requirements). Thanks to all who attended.

Interestingly, we spent a good deal of time talking about the type of questions people ask. In trying to make sense of both social media and PM deliverables, I made a distinction between problem-centric questions, which center on the customer, and product-centric questions, which (as the name implies) focus on the vendor's products and services.

In the technology industry, people are far more used to posing product-centric questions. Gradually, companies are learning the importance of the problem-related questions. However, it's easy to slip from one into the other. It reminds me of how I used to struggle with guitar fingering. As a novice player, I would concentrate for a while on keeping my fingers straight on the frets. Inevitably, as I started to think about other things (strumming, rhythm, etc.), I'd start to roll my fingers slightly to the side, which made it harder to hit the notes I was trying to reach.

Problem-centric questions are a lot like good fingering: it takes time, experience, and discipline to reach the point when you shake free of the bad habits. Obviously, there's a time and a place for product-centric questions, but not every time.

[Cross-posted at The Heretech.]

Comments

re: Workshop on "social product management" is done!

There may be some ways to help customers to help break the habits. For example, I like the way the folks at 37signals have organized their forums.One section asks: How are you using Basecamp, to prompt questions and stories about what people are trying to do with Basecamp.They still have the product centric stuff like how to, feature requests, bug reports, etc.Perhaps organizations can do some simple things to help their customers to help them focus on a mix of questions.

re: Workshop on "social product management" is done!

In your analogy of learning guitar fingering: When I changed jobs from 1 Fortune 500 firm to another, I tried to use the same "fingering", or communication techniques, learned previously. In the new firm, PMs and their vast local and virtural team members solidly managed product and user needs via multiple piloting and testing. But one thing I never mastered in the new culture was egotistical, executive level competitiveness which could, in any given period, cause teams to recoil into modes of protection vs modes of innovation.