If you want to build an innovative culture, it’s essential to understand product management’s fundamentals. This way of thinking is crucial for avoiding the traps and pitfalls of traditional siloed and project-centric approaches to digital transformation.

Equipment finance leaders understand this is part of building their own innovation skills toolbox, and wanted to know:

  • What if you are not a tech company?
  • What if you have never encountered product management as a leader?
  • Is it still possible to immediately apply the foundations of product management and interactive design into our businesses?

Jen Swanson and Joe Ruekert joined the UnConference team on May 25th for the product mindset session: Product Management Fundamentals for Innovation.

Jen’s consulting practice, Jen Swanson Consulting, focuses on transforming the end-to-end customer experience through effective product management, team development and coaching, digital experience strategy, and multi-channel customer engagement.

Joe Ruekert is co-founder of Fahren, a digital talent and leadership solutions company focused on helping organizations with their digital transformation efforts.

The goal?

To not only learn the fundamentals and framework of product management but have the beginnings of a product canvas to use and potentially expand on for your own initiatives.

The day’s hands-on experience in defining a product included:

  • Defining the customer and user using the Empathy Map
  • Narrowing thinking to clearly define the problem
  • Create the opportunity statement (elevator pitch)
  • Value metrics
  • The risks, blockers, and dependencies for making the product successful

“Getting in my customer’s mind about their hopes, dreams, fears and anxieties triggered new thinking for me.”
– Deborah Reuben

Key takeaways:

  • Project vs Product Management – Projects have an end, but products endure and need to be managed over a lifecycle.
  • A well-designed product solves a problem in a way that is valuable to the customer AND the business.
  • Getting outside of your day-to-day is where you find awesome insights.
  • Wise product managers know when to use the right tools.
  • Employees are “customers” of your system too…

“You have to get outside of your four walls and talk to customers to build empathy and understanding. You must do this to gather data to understand the ideas and opportunities that they may have, or that you may have to build them.”
– Joe Ruekert

“Innovation is very discovery-driven, but never thought of discovery as a constant de-risking cycle. That’s a great frame.”
– Unconference attendee

“Whenever I got to the risk area, I scratched it and said that’s not the best idea. This helped to show what to say no to… and I didn’t spend a lot of money on a proof of concept!”
– Ricardo Rios

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