Harry Potter

What Every Busy Product Manager Needs to Know About Prioritization

Product managers develop ideas by reading industry reports, speaking with customers and prospects, and attending conferences. But then they must field ideas and feature requests from executives who drop in, marketing departments that want new features to promote, sales teams that promise a feature to close a deal, and more. These ideas for new features don’t trickle in with a manageable flow; they crash in like a tsunami and leave product managers feeling overwhelmed and understaffed.
Every product manager knows that feature prioritization plays a vital role in determining how successful a product will be. And with product managers facing a long list of to-dos, most prioritization is done with gut feelings, many of them seek a better, more data-driven way to make decisions that won’t add time to the process.

But here’s the tricky part of the prioritization equation: in 42 interviews with product managers, the most common frustration was not how to stop these suggestions from coming in, it was how to prioritize the feature suggestions they receive. The answer isn’t always clear from the start, and the company’s current prioritization process leaves stakeholders asking, “Where’s the beef”?
Enter: the following four step process that can help you show your stakeholders how and why you make decisions about upcoming product features.
Step 1: Quickly separate good ideas from everything else.
First, stop treating every request equally. Some feature requests aren’t very good, and everyone — except for the requester — knows it. So why do we insist on fully analyzing each request when some can quickly be dealt with?
I’ve found these three questions can quickly, and in a data driven way, separate good requests from the bad::
Is it valuable to the market?Anything might be valuable to a particular customer. A project manager must therefore make sure that the product is built for the market, not the customer.
Is the feature feasible and does it pass conceptual integrity.Can this feature actually be built? If it can be built, can it maintain the product’s coherence?
How much work it will take to build this?Is the resulting functionality worth the investment of time and budget it will take to build it?
Each of these three questions will filter the request through a mix of qualitative and quantitative analyzes. These questions aren’t perfect, but they’ll save time so you can more thoroughly analyze your team’s best requests.
Step 2: Link remaining ideas to overarching product and corporate strategy.
This may sound remedial, but in reality linking individual ideas to the big-picture of product and corporate strategy is incredibly nuanced and difficult because most product and corporate strategies aren’t well articulated. The prioritization of your initiatives will be easier if you know how closely each supports your mission as a company and product developer.
If you’re anything like the majority of companies in the world today, your corporate or product strategy might look something like the following:
Example corporate strategies:Expansion into new industriesSelling through different channelsFinancial targets including sales growth, margin percentage
Example Product strategiesImprove engagementImprove awarenessCustomization for specific verticals
Any new idea in development needs to clearly advance at least several of these strategies, and the expected advancement should be quantifiable.
Step 3: Allocate time for more frequent communication.
Here’s a situation that might sound familiar to you: someone asks, “Where’s the feature you committed to deliver?” and inevitably, you don’t remember what feature they’re even talking about! The truth of the matter is that product managers often miss opportunities to communicate. And in a world in which it takes the average person seven times hearing a message for it to sink in, that’s a missed connection that needs to be remedied.
The challenge lies in communicating a feature’s status seven times without being a bore. The solution is to communicate with your team more frequently through monthly, weekly, and quarterly newsletters and business reports that talk about features, the market, major wins, and status updates about your customers. Then meet weekly, monthly, and quarterly with key stakeholders to share updates and new information. This may sound like a lot of communication, but all the information exists in your inbox.
We’ve heard the litany in favor of persistence time and time again: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Editors rejected Harry Potter 12 times. Google pitched 350 VCs before one said yes. Changing how you prioritize and communicate feature requests is hard work. Don’t let the hiccups you have along the way prevent you from moving forward. If your product management team is struggling to prioritize a mountain of feature requests, don’t hold back. Get started today with as perfect a plan as you can and accept the fact that you’ll work to make it better over time.

From Jixxr to Jennifer: 25 top facts on the year in popular (and not so popular) baby names

B.C., Nova Scotia and Manitoba released their annual lists of top baby names this week, revealing only minor changes from year to year, or region to region. Like the names in almost every other province, they feature a collection of strong, two- and three-syllable names with lots of “l”s, “m”s, and “n”s. They also reveal some Canadians’ desire to make their kid stand out from the crowd, even if that means his name is Jixxr. The National Post‘s Jen Gerson has compiled a list of the top 25 baby name facts, in Canada and elsewhere. We know you’ll read it:

  1. There is little regional variation in baby names in Canada. The most popular names in B.C. generally reflect the most common names in Ontario.
  2. The most popular names for girls generally repeat across all provinces. This year, Olivia, Emma, Emily, Ava or Sophia made top five lists across the country.
  3. For boys, those names include Liam, Ethan, Lucas, Noah, William and Mason.
  4. In all of Canada, the most popular names were Olivia and Emma for girls, and Liam and Ethan for boys.
  5. Liam, a shortened form of William, means “strong-willed warrior and protector.”
  6. Olivia is the female form of Oliver. It means “olive tree.”
  7. According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 385,937 babies were born between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
  8. Most babies were born in Ontario and Quebec, with 142,448 and 88,250 newborns last year, respectively.
  9. The third most fertile province is Alberta. Almost 13,000 more babies were born in Alberta last year than in B.C., even though B.C. has a population that is larger by 560,000 people.
  10. Certain Atlantic provinces and Quebec bucked trends, preferring a more variable set of popular baby names.
  11. In two provinces, Newfoundland and P.E.I., the name Jaxon — from Jackson, or “son of Jack” — was among the most popular. With eight babies in 2013, Jaxon was tied for the fifth most popular name on P.E.I.
  12. Also tied for fifth place with eight babies in P.E.I. was Cohen. Although growing in popularity across North America, the use of the Jewish surname as a first name by non-Jews can be controversial. ‘‘The name Cohen is reserved for the priestly caste descended directly from the biblical Aaron,” one web site notes. The trend may have begun with The O.C.’s popular character Cohen, but you may also be able to blame Leonard.
  13. The most popular female name in P.E.I. in 2013 was Brooklyn (nine girls were thus named).
  14. Canadian names generally mirror popular American baby names. According to U.S. statistics, the most popular female names in 2013 were Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava. For boys, Noah, Liam, Jacob, Mason and William topped the list.
  15. Quebec bucked trends in the rest of the continent with names like Lea, (625 babies) Florence (455), Alice (439), Samuel (704) and Alexis (699) rounding out top-five lists. Liam was nowhere to be seen among the top five.
  16. Popular culture maintains a compelling pull on the minds of new parents. Fantasy-genre Game of Thrones inspired one-off names like Catelyn, Daenarys, Osha, Sansa, Tyrion and Theon in Ontario and Alberta. There were 97 Aryas in Ontario, for example. The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter spawned a few real-life monikers.
  17. Last year, the Alberta government pointed out its most unique baby names of 2013. Individual newborns carried names like Urban, Hurricane, Logic, One, Alias, and Jixxr. Girls’ names included Eunique, Conshens, Tempest, Arrow, and Lava.
  18. Ontario highlighted proper places, including 43 Londons, 41 Viennas, and 16 Parises.
  19. Canadian celebrity names are also proving popular, including 15 Drakes, 10 Shanias, 10 Crosbies, and nine Avrils. (The rapper Drake’s first name, by the way, is Aubrey, while Shania Twain’s first name is actually Eilleen.)
  20. British Columbia offers an interactive database that tracks baby name popularity over the past 100 years. It shows that of the top five most popular girls’ names in the province — Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Emily and Ava — Olivia is gaining in popularity. About 300 babies per year are now given that name per year in B.C., double what it was 15 years ago. Sophia appears to have plateaued, at about 200 babies.
  21. In B.C., the popularity of the name Emma peaked in 2003 with 352 babies. Emily reached its peak in 2000 with 363 babies.
  22. For boys in B.C., Liam, Lucas, Benjamin and Mason appear to be growing in popularity. Ethan peaked in 2002 at 419 newborns, and is on the decline.
  23. B.C. only starts recording name usage once a name is used more than five times in a year; that database shows that virtually no one in B.C. was named Olivia before 1974.
  24. Similarly, the records show no Avas prior to 1988.
  25. No recent baby names have come close to the popularity of Jennifer, which was the top female baby name in the U.S. between 1970 and 1984. There is no comparable data in Canada, but the trend seems to have held true here as well; in B.C., for example, 764 Jennifers were named in 1984. In 2013, that number had fallen to 15.