Why is it that sales’s first reaction to something new is to give it away?

I know that I can’t be unique here.  We develop a really cool new feature/module/functionality.  Early validation and customer feedback is hugely positive.  Phrases like “game changing”  “revolutionary” “must have at any cost” are bantered about.

Then comes time for mainstream release, and without question, the sales organization demurs that it should be “bundled” in.  Or offered “gratis”.  Or become part of the main product.  This happens time and time again, and really frustrates the marketing side of my persona.  We just developed something that is a huge value add differentiator, and we have an opportunity to increase our market visiblity and share by a period of exclusivity.  And the stakeholders who can take this and run with it uniformly believe that we should give it away.

They want to turn it into a checkbox in the presales evaluation process.  Huh?  Really?

Sigh.  If the work I do to find differentiation generating features nets to no increased value, and the work of our development team truly does nothing more than fill out a checklist for a presales evaluation, then why bother.

The lowpoint of product management.

Ever read something that made you feel dumb(er)? #ui #ux #consistency

I saw a quip on Slashdot about a Google researcher who found that ~90% of his subjects (aka people) that he was observing didn’t know that the keyboard shortcut ctrl+f would bring up a dialog to find the desired phrase/word in the current document.

Amusing in itself, but not too surprising.

The real interesting thread happened in the comments.  (http://goo.gl/Oor9X for the page and the related comments, BTW)

There was a reasonably long thread about why the menu for find was invariably in the “edit” pull down menu.  Lots of odd justifications, and postulates (think: find + replace is an editing function etc).

As a product manager, and one who grew up during the computer revolution, the answer is boneheaded simple.  Back in 1984 (or perhaps 1985) when Apple introduced the original Mac computers.  They also published design guidelines.  There woudl be a mnimum set of pull down menus (file, edit, help) and that certain functions MUST be in the same place if they are used.  This allowed for a consistent user paradigm.  it was an early attempt (quite effective too) to enforce celar and consistent styles and user interactions.   

Compare that to the types of programs used for editing text (non windowed environments.).  You had Wordperfect control commands, Emacs key comands.  In fact each word processor had its own set of codes.  No standardization, no consistency, huge sunk cost to move to a new platform.  

Now, we look back and wonder why this happened, but the truth is that it was good, and we all benefit.

Wrong Turns in Life

Last week, I was chatting with a colleague, and I made an off the cuff comment that the day my life began to fall apart was the first day that I took a Product Management job.  I was only half joking, and this week has given evidence to support the conjecture.

However, about 25 years ago, a golden opportunity arose, and I foolishly didn’t take advantage of it.  A little known fact is that I worked my way through college as a chef.  At that time, I was a sous chef at a country club, and I rather enjoyed my work.  Challenging, rewarding, exciting, and a great outlet for creative impulses.

Somehow, I caught the eye of a member who owned a few resorts, and lo and behold, I was granted an offer to move to Hawaii for 6 months (under contract) to work at one of his resorts.  Room and board taken care of (I would have a room provided during my stay), spending money, and 6 months to prove myself (which would have been a breeze).  Alas, I was in a (bad) relationship, and I turned down the opportunity.

To this day, I wonder what might have been.  Would I still be there?  Would I have stayed in Hawaii?

Ah, introspective at its finest, as I slog through another round of OEM licensing agreements.

Hawaii Five-0 observations

Lately, I have been watching a lot of classic TV series on Netflix Streaming.  Lots of fun, although it did highlight that my cable modem is ancient and needs to be replaced with a DOCSIS 3.0 box, to prevent hiccups.  

One show that I have been cruising through is Hawaii Five-0.  The early episodes are remarkably cheesy.  Hopefully they get less ridiculous as the seasons go on.  

But, one thing I noticed is that there is never a rainy day in Honolulu.  I will keep a vigilant watch, but I suspect that we may never see any precipitation on the big island.  I know from my trips there that some of the wettest places in the US are on the islands.

I will take a bullet, and keep watching for a crappy day in Five-0

Computers and Precision machining to the rescue

This morning I got my second crown.  Both upper rear molars are now crowned.  

The first one I got ~ 20 years ago.  I ate a hard candy and the tooth completely crumbled.  Getting fitted for the crown was a bit arduous.  Two impressions (before and after grinding of the teeth), followed by three weeks of wearing a temporary crown awaiting the porcelain and stanless.  Then, it took some fine finishing to get it all to fit.

This one was much easier.  Numb the mouth, grind the tooth, do an impression, and send in the information.  2 weeks later (plus a few days since I was unable to get in last week) it is back, and it literally took 20 minutes to install.  It was a perfect fit, and no adjustments were required.

What is different?  Well, the fact that digital 3D imaging and modeling software, coupled with high precision mills, and the result is a much better fit, first time around.  

Do a search on “dental implant measurement” for a quick dive into the technology to make this all happen.  Way cool stuff.


Great post from Slashdot

Talking about “Why people who make things should learn Chinese” and this snippet of a comment really got me smiling this AM.


I’m sure there was a time not long ago when the people of England and France were saying “Those Americans…we’ve got to keep an eye on them or they’ll end up being almost as powerful as our Roman Legion and Spanish Armada and then we’ll have to deal with them”. But of course, the British and French had gay sex and created Canada, and that did something, I’m not sure what, but they sure like their hockey up there. Hell, they fucking riot when they’re behind in the second period“.


Hats off to PopeRatzo for making me laugh this AM

Oops scenarios in meetings

Today, while projecting for our iteration planning meeting, my google talk client popped up a notification on a new email with the title “Regarding the job opportunity xxx”  Oops.  Didn’t really want the team to see that one.

Sigh, one more application to shut down prior to meetings.  

Why is it that…

When you are joining a conference call, and you are prompted to speak your name and press pound or hash, you suddenly have to cough, sneeze, burp etc?  Never fails…

Travel blues

I know that in a perfect world, all the presence and meeting tools would obviate the need for business travel.

However, if you live in the real world, and you are a product manager, you realize that some significant fraction of your time needs to be spent on the road.  Be it visiting customers, technology partners, or pressing the flesh at events (roadshows, tradeshows, conferences, etc).

In the new world, where the airlines are consolidating, reducing the number of seats, and working to maximize their revenue generation potential, any flexibility and perq’s you used to enjoy as a frequent flyer are about as rare as hen’s teeth.  As a Gold (or 1K) level member on United, I used to enjoy early boarding, priority baggage (not only free but with the magical flag in the tag to get your bags spun first), about 90% of the time an empty seat next to you (really nice in coach on an international flight), and a pretty liberal upgrade policy (like auto 1st class upgrades domestically).

Now, with every flight sold out, you get none of the upgrades or open seats.  The baggage still gets the priority tag, but the ground crew pretty much ignores the priority.  Upgrades are pretty much reserved for the 1K members, or global services.  And the real clincher, there are so few open seats, that you can’t book mile sponsored tickets to any desirable destination, or on convenient dates.

Add to that a plethora of canceled flights (I suspect to keep the open seats on other flights non-existent), oversolf flights, airplanes that aren’t cleaned (if you find used tissues, orange peels and banana peels in seat back pockets, well, ick).

There really aren’t any good aspects to business travel.

Remember when?

If you had an early eveneing flight, and got done early, you could go to the airport and have a reasonable chance of flying home earlier on Standby?

Yeah, those days are gone.  Too full flights, and the mentality of nickel and diming passengers to death have killed this little bit of flexibility that us frequent travelers used to enjoy.

Sigh, as I contemplate a trip this week.