And keep your sanity in the process.

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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.

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

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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 interesting new technology, trend or product idea and throw lots of resources at it without fully understanding whether it’s the best solution. …

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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 his career experiences at Microsoft, Google, and startups and how the same product development process played out every time. Too much upfront product development based on internal decision making and a lack of customer empathy and testing. Jake introduces the concept of Design Sprints that enable you to make rapid progress on your product idea in just 5 days. …

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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 now so many ways to test early product ideas cheaply and quickly. …

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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 you can do as a PM. You’ll hear real stories, real human problems and uncover key insights that will positively impact the future of your product. …

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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 more to give. …

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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 Google’s Design Sprints. The results were 10x better brainstorms than what I had experienced before. …

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Most businesses recognise product innovation as a key driver of future growth. However, very few treat it seriously enough to have a clear strategy and repeatable process in place to manage it.

For those working in innovation, it’s important to keep up to speed on the latest thinking and techniques in order to test and learn what works in your own business.

Below are the 7 innovation books that I have referred back to and recommended the most. …

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

I recently offered myself up as a product management mentor on LinkedIn and had over 50 requests for advice. Many of my mentees were aspiring product managers asking the same question - ‘How do I get my first product management role?’

I’ve been repeating a lot of the same advice, so to help my mentees (and hopefully others!) I thought I would capture some of my advice here.

1. Think about the type of role you want

These days the term ‘Product Manager’ (PM) covers a broad variety of different roles, so it's worth being specific on what you want to do.

You may not get your ideal role first time, but defining from the start what you are aiming for will ensure a more focused and effective job search. You can better define what skills or experience you need, how best to pitch yourself and how to tailor your job applications. …


Caroline Parnell

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

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