I freely admit that I buy far too many books about product management and innovation techniques.

A few years ago, I realised I’d got into the habit of reading a book, feeling inspired by what I’d read, putting it away, and then if I’m honest, I struggled to recall it just a week later.

Many of us spend hours reading, listening to podcasts, and completing online courses, but if we’re honest, how much of it really gets used or retained in any meaningful way?

Over the last year, I’ve started researching and experimenting with different ways to improve how I…

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

On average, we spend about a third of our lives at work. And for most of us, we’d like that work to be interesting, challenging, and allow us to utilise our existing strengths as well as develop new ones.

I have always been interested in career development and I recently took some time to really reflect on my career, including what I enjoy doing and the types of roles I want to do in the future. …

And keep your sanity in the process.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Whilst I’ve been job hunting, I’ve found a few things that have worked along the way which I thought I would share in case it helps others in a similar situation.

1. Use the time to reflect on what you really want

Whilst your next role might not be your dream job, I still think it's helpful to use this time to better define what you are aiming for. This will ensure a more focused and effective job search and ensure you are going in the right direction.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What sorts of industries are you most passionate about? Energy? Fashion? Gaming? Fintech? Healthtech? …

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Most companies talk a lot about the importance of product innovation for their business. And yet their processes, culture, and management are usually 100% focused on exploiting the core business and milking their existing cash cow.

And when they do try to innovate with something new, the failure rates are high, often reported as 60–80% failure rates for new product launches.

So, what are the main reasons why product innovation fails? Below are the 5 reasons that I see as the most common and some thoughts on how to address them.

1. Backing product ideas too early

It happens all too often, companies come across an…

When I started building new products about 20 years ago, product management was a role that you ‘learnt on the job.’ It was hard to find best practice and actionable advice.

Today, it’s a completely different story. There are some amazing product and innovation experts out there, who thankfully are happy to share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of us.

In no particular order, these are the talks and people that have helped shape the way I think about product discovery. Please add in the comments any that you think I have missed.

1. Design Sprints by Jake Knapp

In this talk, Jake shares…

Thanks to Product School for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Giving a product talk enables you to share your unique product ideas, experiences and insights to help others.

It‘s also a great way to build your own personal brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. This can also lead to all sorts of networking and career opportunities.

Very few people are natural public speakers. Most exceptional public speakers when asked, will admit that it was something they have worked hard at perfecting.

Good preparation is absolutely key to ensuring you have an insightful and entertaining talk that your audience will love. …

Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash
Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash
Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash

It’s so important to test your new product idea long before you feel ready.

Many product managers I speak to, feel uncomfortable running experiments until they have done the necessary due diligence. Whether that be fleshing out the proposition, the business case or doing some technical feasibility.

Although this is natural to want to be thorough, usually by the time they have done this, they are too invested in the idea. This could be financially, through time invested or even just emotionally, and it becomes much harder to adapt it or walk away.

The good news is that there are…

Thanks to Blake Wisz for sharing their work on Unsplash.

When I meet product managers, I am still amazed by how few of them have a regular practice of speaking directly to customers.

There are always plenty of excuses for why they haven’t done it yet. In many cases, they don’t feel ‘ready’ to share something with customers but when they do feel ‘ready’ it is often too late. You have become attached to your idea and you and your team have invested time and energy in it which makes it harder to be objective or change course.

Having regular customer interviews can be one of the most powerful things…

Thanks to visuals for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Up until about 3 years ago, I hated even the word ‘networking’. Urgh. It made me think of cringy industry events with salespeople dishing out their business cards and making idle small talk.

And I admit, I wasn’t very good at it. I occasionally went to these events, talked to a handful of people about not a lot, ate the sandwiches and left wondering what the point of it all was.

I now realise I had completely missed the point. Big events are one tiny aspect of networking (okay, maybe not at all now) but networking itself has so much…

So you need some new ideas for new products or new product features? You round up your most creative colleagues, some post its and sharpies, some great snacks and … ta-da… the magic just happens! Right? Hmmm …. rarely.

All too often the ideas that come out of brainstorms are dull and predictable. And worse still, the brainstorms themselves can be incredibly frustrating for those attending with a few loud voices frequently dominating the more introverted members.

After running and attending too many ineffective product brainstorms, I started to implement some of the techniques that I had seen work from…

Caroline Parnell

Product Leader and Mentor. Previously at O2 and Vodafone. Interested in product development, innovation and helping teams thrive.

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