Digital Product Management (In-Person Class)

This is a 7-week course I currently teach in the residential MBA program at UVA’s Darden School of Business. If you’re looking for the online course on Coursera, check out: Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals.

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the modern practice of product management in digital. Students will learn how product managers create product/market fit for new products and enhance it for existing products. The students will also learn how generalist product managers establish successful interfaces with key functions like design, development/engineering, data science, sales/marketing and support/operations.

This course will help students understand best current practices in the area and how to apply them in their role as product manager. We’ll pay special attention will be paid to lessons learned in Silicon Valley and other innovation centers.

By the end of this course, students will understand how to:
– Create actionable focus to successfully manage a product’s fit with the market
– Explore disruptive new product concepts through discovery and rapid concept iteration
– Manage hypothesis-driven feature testing to amplify the success of an existing product
– Collaborate with a product team on design and development via agile
– Collaborate with sales and marketing teams to scale product/market fit
– Collaborate with support and consulting teams to optimize the customer journey
– Engage with project managers to support your projects

Prerequisites

There are no course prerequisites.

Teams + Projects

There is a group project at the end of the course.

Course Structure

The material below is organized around sessions of roughly 90 minutes/each.

Grading

Category Due Date Percent of Final Grade
1. Attendance & Participation Every day/ongoing 50
2. Individual Assignments (as stated on Canvas) 20
3. Team Project Exam period 30

Attendance & Participation: 50%

My objective is to provide a stimulating environment for you to learn the process of software development. This portion of your grade includes the following:
being prepared for class: understand the topics at hand and being able to discuss the cases and assignments
on-time, full attendance
I expect you to inform me before class if you will be missing. Absences for reasons other than illness for which I do not receive prior notice will count against your class participation grade.

Individual Assignments: 20%

These will be graded based on a rubric available with each assignment.

Group Project: 30%

This is your team explanation of what you did and why in the form of a portfolio entry on Behance.

Session 1: Finding Product/Market Fit

Objective

Understand the fundamentals of exploring, identifying, and focusing product/market fit.

Case

Aardvark

Class Preparation

  1. Review the case and be prepared to discuss these questions:
    A) What ‘problem’ is Aardvark solving? For who? What current alternative(s) would it replace? Why is that problem interesting from a customer perspective? Why is it interesting from a venture perspective?
    B) Let’s say your job is to choose a more specific early market segment for initial testing- it should be defined by (at least) a specific type fo customer and a specific problem/job. What would you pick any why? How would you go out and reach this early market for testing?
    C)  Given their backgrounds, why didn’t the founders start by just build some software to start testing a solution? Why not go straight at it?
    D) What is a ‘smoke test’ and how did Aardvark use them? What was hard about smoke tests? What’s the difference between a smoke test and a prototype? How are they the same? Different?
    E) Product/market fit is a central concept in modern product management and product creation in general. The following Wikipedia entry is a good, quick introduction: Wikipedia on Product/Market fit. How would you describe the situation at Aardvark in terms of product/market fit?

Session 2: Scaling Product/Market Fit

Objective

Understand the fundamentals of scaling initial product/market fit.

Case

Dropbox: ‘It Just Works’

Class Preparation

  1. Review the case and be prepared to discuss these questions:
    A) What ‘problem’ was Dropbox solving? For who?What current alternative(s) would it replace? How were they able to validate the initial concept without building working software?
    B) Looking at their Y-Combinator application (Exhibit B), what hypotheses would you say they validated vs. invalidated? How would you have tested those early hypotheses?
    C) Where do you think they should focus now and why? More importantly, how can they test that focus quickly to see if it’s the right recipe for the rapid growth they need? What metrics would you use as focal points in that testing?
    Note: There is a lot of information in this case (example: financial statements) that may or may not be central to answering the questions above.
  2. Read the following post and be prepared to discuss the questions below:
    A) Laura Klein, Identify and Validate Your Riskiest Assumptions
    Why is it important to identify assumptions? Why and how should you prioritize them? How would you apply this to Dropbox’s current situation?
    Note: I listened to this at 2x speed on YouTube and found it fine, but I’m already familiar with the material. I just mention this so you know the option exists.

Supporting Materials

  1. HBS Note: Hypothesis-Driven Entrepreneurship: The Lean Startup
    This introduction to Lean Startup fits well with the case.

Session 3: From Product/Market Fit to Strategy & Execution I

Objective

Understand how product/market fit drives a company’s strategy and execution on customer experience and revenue drivers.

Class Preparation

  1. Prepare a Partial Business Model Canvas- Center & Right Sections OnlyA) Pick a Business (or Product)
    WHAT? Pick one you you know well. This might be something you worked on personally, a startup idea, or just a product you know well from being a customer/user.WHERE? Prepare some kind of a web doc (Google or MSFT) to use in your submission- it will have the various components you see below.B) Defining Problem Scenarios, Alternatives, and Value Propositions
    WHAT? What problem/job/desire is the company delivering on across their Customer Segments? How would you define and measure engagement for the various problems/jobs? What are the current alternatives?

    WHERE? Please record this on a table like the one you see in the examples below. I would add this to your web doc (see above) with its own page(s).

    EXAMPLE? Here are a couple of examples: A) Problem Scenarios at Enable Quiz (Startup) B) Problem Scenarios at HinH (Enterprise)

    C) Defining Engagement Metrics
    WHAT? How do the customer problems/jobs relate to the company’s current or hypothetical/future Value Propositions? How would you define and measure customer engagement with those propositions?

    WHERE? Please record this on the table above underneath the corresponding Problem Scenario/Job to be Done.

    EXAMPLE? You’ll find these in the examples above (item B).

    D) Proposition to Segment Mapping on the Business Model Canvas
    WHAT? Describe the relationship between Customer Segments and Value Propositions on the Business Model Canvas.

    WHERE? This would be on a separate slide or slides in your working (web) doc. There’s a sample for Google Slides here: Business Model Canvas Form- Google Slide

    EXAMPLE? There’s an example here: Value Propositions on the BMC.

    E) Storyboard the Customer Journey
    WHAT? For your top Proposition, storyboard the customer journey. How does someone go from knowing nothing about the product and its proposition to being ‘very disappointed’ if it wasn’t available? Pencil and paper is fine- just snap a photo with your phone to add to your web doc.

    Bonus points for using some defined framework like AIDAOR see Storyboarding the Customer Journey or AARRR . 

    WHERE? Please add digital copy (photo) to your working doc.

    EXAMPLE? See the AIDAOR tutorial above. See also this student example: Spotify-Storyboard-Marlon.pdf. 

    F) Describe Customer Relationships and Channels on the Canvas
    WHAT? Using your Storyboard as a foundation, describe the Customer Relationships and Channels on the Canvas.
    Do you think the company in question has areas where they could improve, or at least investable ideas for them to test?

    WHERE? Take a photo of your paper storyboard and add it to your working doc.

    G) Describe the Revenue Streams (Canvas)
    WHAT? 
    In particular, you should be prepared to discuss the relationship between the Value Propositions, Customer Segments and Revenue Streams. For example, how does a particular Value Proposition drive revenue?

    WHERE? I would add this as a separate slide in your working doc. The Google Doc’s template has some layers to get you started if you want to make specific annotations, but please feel free to add those (or not) as you see fit.

    H) At what phase of the ‘Four Steps’ from Steve Blank’s Customer Development framework (see below) is this product or company?
    WHAT? Read the quick reference on the Four Steps below, and consider which step is most applicable to this product. Please be prepared discuss why and/or how you’d make a more specific conclusion.

    WHERE? Just make a note anywhere you see fit.

    Supporting Materials

      1. Business Model Canvas Tutorial
        This is a relatively compact tutorial aligned with the assignment, though there are plenty of others.
      2. Business Model Canvas Form- Google Slide (option 1- preferred)
        Be sure to read the note on the first slide about layers and editing the Canvas elements.
      3. Business Model Canvas Form Printable PDF (option 2)
      4. Quick reference on personas: Personas- The Littlest Reference
      5. Reference Note: Four Steps to the Epiphany

  2. Read the following post and be prepared to discuss the questions below:
    A) HBR: What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager
    What other contributors besides engineer and PM, if any, drive a company or product?
    What ‘philosophy’ would you attribute to Apple? To Dropbox? Aardvark?

Notes:
– Templates/forms for editing the Canvas appear below.
– You will use this same business in Session 11 when you prepare the Growth Hacking Canvas.

Supporting Materials

  1. Business Model Canvas Tutorial
    This is a relatively compact tutorial aligned with the assignment, though there are plenty of others.
  2. Business Model Canvas Form- Google Slide (option 1- preferred)
    Be sure to read the note on the first slide about layers and editing the Canvas elements.
  3. Business Model Canvas Form Printable PDF (option 2)
  4. Reference Note: Four Steps to the Epiphany

Session 4: From Product/Market Fit to Strategy & Execution II

Objective

Understand how product/market fit drives a company’s strategy and execution on delivery and cost drivers.

Graded Assignment (Individual)

  1. Finish Your Business Model Canvas- Left/Delivery Sections
    A) Determine the Company’s Business Type
    WHAT? Read Unbundling the Corporation and Consider Business Type. What is (or should be) the business’ principal business type: Scope/CRM, Infrastructure, or Product? Why? What facts or circumstances would you want to know more about or test to make a determination? How would you use such a determination to focus the delivery activities of the business? How well does your focal product or product modality fit with this overall company-wide business type?WHERE? Make a note of this wherever you see fit.

    B) Describe the Key Activities and Key Resources (Canvas)
    WHAT? What are the companies Key Activities and Key Resources? How are they uniquely, strategically important to the business? How do they relate to business type?

    WHERE? I would consider adding notes on this on a stand-alone slide if you have something you’d like to communicate visually. Otherwise, it’s fine to just note these on the Canvas.

    C) Describe the Key Partners (Canvas)
    WHAT? What are the Key Partners for the business? How do they relate to the business’ Key Activities and Resources? Are there partners the business isn’t using strategically that you think might be a win for them? If so, why?

    WHERE? I would consider adding notes on this on a stand-alone slide if you have something you’d like to communicate visually. Otherwise, it’s fine to just note these on the Canvas.

    D) Describe the Cost Drivers (Canvas)
    WHAT? What is the Cost Structure for the business? What are fixed vs. variable costs? How does that align with its business type? To the extent the business is pursuing new innovations (and what healthy company isn’t?), how can it reduce up front cost and risk while increasing the velocity of its innovation pipeline?

    WHERE? I would consider adding notes on this on a stand-alone slide if you have something you’d like to communicate visually. Otherwise, it’s fine to just note these on the Canvas.

  2. Integrate Right, Center Sections and Complete the Canvas
    Submit in whatever web doc format you like.

Class Preparation

  1. Read the following post and be prepared to answer the questions below:
    A) HBR: Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything‘.
    What does Lean Startup change?
    Why does it need changing?
    Why is that change hard?
    B) Uservoice: The Top 5 Technical Skills Every Product Manager Should Know
    Why do you think these skills are/aren’t important?
    Why do you think it’s important for a PM to be able to deliver on this: “Estimate how long it will take to build A vs. B.”?
    And how, exactly?

Supporting Materials

(see previous)

Session 5: Interface to Design & Research

Objective

Understand the fundamental jobs of design and how to collaborate with designers to explore and scale product/market fit.

Class Preparation

  1. Complete a Day in the Life for a Classmate
    A) Suppose the MBA program wants to understand more about your experience as a second year student as part of a broad project to improve and evolve the student experience. The foundation of good design is a vivid, actionable understanding of the user. To kick off this project, the MBA program is creating a few day in the life compilations
    B) Find a partner- doing design research on yourself doesn’t (usually) count!
    C) Talk through a day in the life with them. You can see find example questions and notes in the tutorial below.
    D) Get them to send you photos based on what you all discussed and put together your day in the life board. Any format is fine: Google Docs, Google Slides, even PowerPoint if you really like. The basic format of the day in the life items is generally: a) time of day b) headline/description c) brief notes on what was happening and why d) photo (very important). See the Supporting Materials below for example.
  2. Compile a List of Relevant Problem Scenarios/Jobs-to-be-Done
    A) You don’t need to cover everything the student has going on, but topics related to learning and career/professional development are likely to be most relevant.
    B) For each problem scenario/JTBD include a description, a metric, and a current alternative.
    C) You can write these up separately or include them with your Day in the Life board.
  3. Read the following post and be prepared to discuss the questions below:
    A) Martin Lindstrom: Why Small Data is the New Big Data
    What does the author mean by this? Is it just clickbait? What have we learned about small data from the ascendence of big data?
    B)  Ben Yoskovitz: A Day in the Life of Your Customer
    Why might day in the life be important?
    How does your day interface with one of your favorite products?

Note:
– Prepare in whatever format you like but a Google Doc is highly preferred.

Supporting Materials

  1. Day in the Life Tutorial
    This tutorial provides background, examples, and a process for creating a Day in the Life (made much easier by the fact that you’ll be the subject).
  2. IDEO: Day in the Life Example
    This one is kind of a two-for-one: this is a nice, quick day in the life example about a design researcher (the kind of person that would go out and create day in the life compilations for a living).
  3. Tutorial on Problem Scenarios

Session 6: Interface to Development- Dev. & Design

Objective

Understand the interface between design and development on an applied basis through agile user stories.

Class Preparation

  1. Prepare a Set of User Stories
    A) Start with the problem scenarios you created for your subject company when you did the Business Model Canvas (session 3).
    B) Pick either an existing feature or a feature you think the company should consider and draft a set user story assets you could use in discussion with a developer.
    A) Start with an ‘epic’ that describes the interaction overall. This will still be something relatively small and specific like ‘‘As Ted the HVAC technician, I want to know the pricing and availability of a part that needs replacing so I can decide my next steps.’
    B) Draft a storyboard (pencil and paper is fine) and break down the steps a user might go through in this epic. Think carefully about the details of that experience.
    C) Expand that detail with a set of child user stories that decompose the epic into smaller chunks. These need not correspond directly to the individual frames in your storyboard, but the storyboard should generally support/explain/be relevant to the detail in the child stories.
    See the user story examples and videos below for more specifics and examples.
  2. Read the industry posts and be prepared to discuss the questions below:
    A) Laura Klein: Qual vs. Quant: When to Listen and When to Measure‘.
    What’s an example of something you’ve worked on or wondered about where you think leading with qualitative research is the right move?
    How about quantitative?
    B) ‘Eric Reis: Case Study: UX, Design, and Food on the Table‘.
    Why do you think the team lost sight of the larger user experience?
    C) Jeff Patton: The New User Story Backlog is a Map
    What’s wrong with a flat backlog? What’s a story map? Why is it better?

Supporting Materials

  1. Intro. to User Stories
    User stories are an alternative to specifying software in a traditional requirements document. Instead of specifying all the details of an implementation, they provide detailed narrative about the user experience the team wants to deliver. The team then users these are a centerpiece to ongoing (daily or hourly) discussion about how to design and code the software in question.They have this format:
    As a [persona],
    I want to [do something],
    so I can [realize some testable reward].Epic stories summarize an interaction that are then decomposed into more detail with child stories.Here are some examples:
    A) User Stories from Enable Quiz (Startup)
    B) User Stories from HinH (Enterprise)For more on creating stories, please see these videos:
    Preparing for Great User Stories
    Writing Great User Stories
    Skit: Storyboarding an Epic

Session 7: Interface to Development- Dev. & Agile

Objective

Understand the operation of agile at scale, the problems it addresses and the practical challenges in making it work.

Case

Salesforce.com: The Development Dilemma

Class Preparation

  1. Review the case and be prepared to discuss these questions:
    A) Should they finish the sprint on time, and deploy what was “done” and releasable, or should they ask Parker Harris and the executive team for a delay?
    B) But where should they go from here?
    C) How should they identify the priorities for each successive sprint? For example, should they focus on bringing the most resistant, poor-performing groups up to speed, or start with the ones that were doing somewhat better and eager to learn more?
    D) Would it be better to have most groups performing adequately, or should they work on creating a few “stars” to serve as examples for the rest of the organization?
    E) And would Salesforce.com be able to keep adapting ADM to meet the needs of the organization as it continued to grow?
  2. Read the industry posts and be prepared to discuss the questions below:
    A) HBR: Agile at Scale
    There’s a proposition that you can’t replace command and control through command and control. How does that work with agile?
    What do you think makes implementing agile difficult? What are the early rewards?
    B) SVPG: Revenue of the PM & SVPG: Scaling Agile FAQ
    What does the author see as the most important parts of agile and why?
    What do you think he’s suggesting for large companies undergoing a digital transformation?

Session 8: Interface to Development- The Delivery Pipeline & DevOps

Objective

Understand the role and implications of test coverage in development.

Class Preparation

  1. Prepare at least Two BDD Tests for Your User Stories:
    A) For the user stories you’ve written (and feel free to tweak them as you go), write at least two BDD tests using the Given-When-Then format. See the BDD Tutorial below for details.
  2. Read the industry posts and be prepared to discuss the questions below:
    A) HBR: Continuous Development Will Change Organizations as Much as Agile Did
    What do they mean by ‘continuous development’?
    Why is it important?
    B) Your Delivery Pipeline 
    What is a delivery pipeline?
    How do you know what yours looks like?
    What’s the best way to improve it?
    C) Laura Klein: Is Continuous Deployment Good for Users?
    This was written in 2009. What important things, if any, do you think have changed since then?

Supporting Materials

  1. BDD Tutorial
    This provides a focused introduction with an emphasis on the relationship to user stories.
  2. Wikipedia Page: BDD
    If you want more on the broader context and application of BDD, this is a good resource.

Session 9: Interface to Development- Dev. & Test

Objective

Understand the role and implications of test coverage in development.

Class Preparation

  1. Read the following industry posts and be prepared to answer these questions:
    A) Martin Fowler: TestPyramid
    What is the test pyramid and why does it exist?
    B) Spotify: Engineering Culture @ Spotify: Part 1 & Part 2
    How is this culture different than what you’ve experienced and/or read about?
    What parts of getting it working are hard, would you guess?
    What’s the relationship between alignment and autonomy and how does it relate to the practice of agile?
    B) Brian Donohue: Three-day no-meeting schedule for engineers (Pinterest)
    How do meetings affect engineers?
    Why might an engineer need to be in a meeting and how do you think this is best managed?

Session 10: Interface to Sales & Marketing- Growth Hacking

Objective

Understand the interdisciplinary nature of promotion for a digital product and its home in the Growth Hacking movement.

Case

Growth Hacking at Bazaart

Class Preparation

  1. Review the case and be prepared to discuss these questions:
    A) Where would you focus, growth-wise? How important is user acquisition vs. engagement with the app vs. monetization?
    B) Given you take on the above, what growth experiments would you run? Why?
    C) What do you think about the team’s claim that translating the app to Russian cost $0?
    D) What is the relationship between their work on customer discovery and their lexical strategy on the app store?
    E) What do you think about their decision and approach on switching the app’s behavior to require that users sign-up right away? What metrics would you have baselined and watched? What else would you have done in initiating the experiment?
    F) How would you approach the job of increasing reviews? What do you think about Bazaart’s approach?
    G) What’s a MAU? A DAU?
  2. Read the following posts and be prepared to discuss the following questions:
    A) Growth Hacking Posts
    Wikipedia Page on Growth Hacking
    Sean Ellis: Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup
    Andrew Chen: Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing
    How is ‘growth hacking’ the same vs. different from marketing?
    What makes a good growth hacker? How would you prepare for such a role?
    How would you create the right kind of environment for a growth hacker on a team?
    B) SaaS Metrics (OPTIONAL)
    The SaaS Metrics that Drive Growth and Keep You From Plateauing
    What are the SaaS metrics that drive growth?
    What’s important about SaaS pricing? What process do you use to get to the right answer?

Session 11: Interface to Sales & Marketing- Customer Development

Objective

Understand the interdisciplinary nature of promotion for a digital product and its home in the Growth Hacking movement + the relationship between the maturity of a startup (or project) and the right interface to the market.

Graded Assignment (Individual)

  1. Design Experimentation and Metrics for Your Problem Scenarios/JTBD (Big Picture) & User Stories (Small Picture)
    You have a core engagement metric as a starting point. In order to help your team analyze and decide whether a given approach is working, sketch out the metrics for your project: Onboarding metrics, Engagement metrics, and Outcome Metrics.A) WHAT? Pick a Problem Scenario/JTBD and for each type of metric, answer the following questions:
    What does this mean?
    What is the interval?
    How might we test this?
    What are the metrics?
    What’s tricky? What do we need to watch?WHERE? Please create a table similar to the one you see below (Onboarding, Engagement, Retention), and add it adjacent to wherever you’ve written up your Problem Scenarios/Jobs-to-be-Done.EXAMPLE? See Example A- Enable Quiz and Example B- HVAC in a Hurry. Please note: the relevant table with Onboarding, Engagement, and Retention appears after the table with the PS/JTBD.B) WHAT? Zooming in to the story/feature level, sketch out metrics for your individual user stories to help you decide whether a particular story and its implementation is working:
    What questions are relevant? Why?
    How might you instrument observation for this?WHERE? Please add a column “Analytics” in the table where you detailed your user storiesEXAMPLE? See Example B- HVAC in a Hurry. Please note: the table with the user stories appears at the end of that section.

Supporting Materials

COMING SOON

Other Class Preparation

  1. Read the following industry posts and be prepared to answer the questions below:
    A) Laura Klein: The Three Reasons Your Visitors Don’t Convert
    What do you think of those three reasons? Do you see others?
    Which of the three areas would you focus on for the product or company you described in your Growth Hacking Canvas?
    B) Steve Blank: Convergent Technologies: War Story 1 – Selling with Sports Scores
    What did the example company really care about? What was the relationship between how they felt and what they thought?
    At what phase of a startup or project might a professional salesperson be a productive investment?
    What inputs do they need from the rest of their team?
    C) OPTIONAL Lars Nilsson: Inside Sales 101: Lessons Learned Taking Four Venture Backed Startups to IPO
    What’s important about focusing your sales team?
    How is data important?

Session 12: Interface to Support

Objective

Understand the interdisciplinary nature of support and its role not just as a way to solve customer problems on a one-off basis, but also to better understand how your overall customer experience design and execution are performing and how to improve them.

Class Preparation

  1. Prototype Post-Mortem Reporting
    A) Congratulations- you’ve just been promoted to PM of Amazon Alexa. This is where Jeff Bezos is expecting his next billion and learning quickly about how customers are interacting with this very new type of product is critical. There are plenty of resources to throw at Alexa, but focus is still how you get a good product. One good source of information about this is the reviews on your company’s popular ecommerce site. But what do you do with it?
    B) Let’s say you decided to start with reviews on the Echo Dot. Do you see any common themes? How do the lower reviews differ from the higher reviews? What’s actionable about these reviews?
    C) Let’s say you have a meeting tomorrow with an MBA intern whose job is to help you research customer experience with existing product. You’ve agreed that existing reviews are a cheap and cheerful place to start learning about this. One thing you both have agreed is that it would be useful to add some structured metadata to the reviews for classification as a way to look at the prevalence of patterns and how they relate to everything else you know about the reviews (which is a ton!). For example, a tag might be ‘Privacy Concerns’ or ‘Negative Set Up Experience’.
    D) How would you tag these reviews for analysis? You’ve got the stars, but what else is interesting, actionable? Does it matter why they seem to have written?
    E) What does your analysis say about product/market fit? Is the team missing the mark anywhere on p/m fit or do they just need to smooth out rough spots in the customer journey?
  2. Read the following industry posts and be prepared to answer the questions below:
    A) The Importance of a Customer Postmortem
    What is a customer post-mortem?
    Why is it important, and how would you use it?
    B) Nastia Root (Google) on Creating a Strong Interface with Support
    How does this PM create a strong interface with support?

Session 13: Final Presentations I

Objective

Integrate and apply your understanding of the class’ topics

Graded Assignment (Group)

  1. Complete Final Project
    A) What part of product management are we applying here?
    Everything a product manager does should be anchored in one of two activities: 1) exploring product/market fit or 2) scaling product/market fit by creating productive interfaces with collaborators. If you’re doing something other than this, you may be doing something that’s necessary at the moment, but you risk becoming a ‘product janitor’, reacting to the results of a broken infrastructure instead of building a great product.

    B) How do I team up for this?

    Find a team (min. 2, max. 4) and a topic. Likely topics are the company or product one of your has been using for the individual assignments, and nothing wrong with reusing that work. For notes on submitting a project and joining a team, see the Syllabus page.

    C) What are the minimum required project elements? And what about the format?
    In terms of format, whatever’s been working for you so far with your individual assignments is probably the right answer. The only requirement is that it’s some kind of web doc (Google or MSFT).Please anchor the submission with the following elements, which you should feel free to refine from your individual assignments:
    1) A testable view of product/market fit that describes: a) PS/JTBD b) Alternatives and c) Value Propositions
    2) A testbed of metrics for your selected PS/JTBD with the elements from your Growth Hacking Testbed assignment (notes and metrics across Onboarding, Engagement, Retention). Please note: You may wish to extend this, for example, including notes and metric related to acquisition, but I’ve described that below.
    3) A Business Model Canvas with at least the right side completed. You don’t necessarily need to fill out the whole Canvas. If your topic has achieved some degree of product/market fit, I would focus more on adding other fundamentals via the Canvas and if it hasn’t, I’d focus more on the problem scenarios and related work like subject interviews.

    D) What else might the team include?

    This is where you need to apply judgement as a PM would. You should include some additional content in one or (maybe) more of the topics below, but not all of them. I would go deep on one or two vs. lightly engaging with more. If you see topics below that aren’t familiar to you, there are Supporting Materials, including tutorials and templates, in the final section below.If the venture is new and unproven, you might focus on better understanding the potential customers and their problems/jobs in your area of interest. Your focus should probably be much more on finding the right customer and problem vs. specifics of a solution. Relevant deliverables might include some but probably not all of the following:
    – Customer interview transcripts with insights encapsulated in personas & problem scenarios (jobs-to-be-done)
    – Value proposition design and ideas for MVP-based experiments for testing the ideas. If you want to go all-in and focus on this part, you could also run one of the experiments.
    – Early narrative on customer experience via storyboards and (maybe) agile user stories.If your subject product is mature, you might focus on exploring the details of a single feature that you see creating or changing to enhance or extend product/market fit. Drawing on the methods you’ve learned in class, work on moving the needle for this product. Bonus points for empirical observations and testable ideas, and even more bonus points for tested ideas. Relevant deliverables might include:
    – Analysis of what product/market fit is for this product and why it’s working. This might include secondary sources or primary sources like interviews with existing users and/or exploratory user testing the existing product.
    – Soluble, testable ideas on how this product might improve (enhance or expand) its product/market fit.
    – Ideas for research (customer discovery interviews) and/or proposition testing (via MVP) for the above.
    – Interview transcripts and personas, problem scenarios and/or testing results from your MVP.
    – User stories extended to comp’s and testable prototypes/wireframes for your new feature.
    – User testing results for the above.

    E) How will the submission be graded?

    Your team’s submission will be graded on five primary dimensions:
    1. How well described is the product’s current or hypothetical product/market fit? If you’re working on an existing product, this will have a lot to do with the use of secondary sources and, where needed, primary sources (empirical research). If you’re working on a new/hypothetical product, this will have a lot to do with the testability of your ideas and any testing you’ve done. In particular, a specific view of a hypothetical early market persona is generally important for a new product.
    2. How strong is the customer discovery? How clear and actionable is your view of who this customer is, how the product fits into their day, and what problems/jobs/habits it’s delivering on?
    3. How well designed and tested are the target propositions (or proposition)? Are they well anchored against existing, observed problem scenarios? Is there a clear view of how the proposition might be better than the current alternatives? How will the team test motivation using MVP’s/product proxies? Bonus points, of course, for any testing the team has executed.
    4. How well articulated is the target user experience? Is it supported by vivid, testable narrative in the form of storyboards and user stories? Is there a clear view of how a 1.0 would have its features rigorously prioritized to get in front of users ASAP?
    5. How well designed is the usability research design? Bonus points, of course, for any testing the team has executed.
    Note: Your team does not need to cover all these areas. In general, it’s better to a) focus on what you think makes sense for where the product is in its maturity and b) go deep on a couple of areas vs. shallow on many.
    Please submit against the Canvas assignment. 

Supporting Materials

Note: All the tutorials below have examples and links to a template. The examples generally appear at the end- see the table of contents for specifically where.

  1. Venture Design Template
    This Google Doc has forms for most content in the Venture Design process– personas, problem scenarios, experiments, user stories, user testing design, etc.
  2. Interviewing Customers (Customer Discovery)
    The Customer Discovery Handbook is a good place to start: see specifically the section ‘Persona and Problem Hypothesis’.The material in my Coursera course’Agile Meets Design Thinking’ is also relevant here, specifically the Week 3 content. Here are two specific videos you may find helpful for review: 1) Researching Personas 2) Drafting an Interview Guide 3) Drafting an Interview Guide (Problem Scenarios) 4) Interviewing Trent the Technician 5) Testing and Enhancing Your Problem Hypothesis
  3. Operationalizing Customer Insight with Personas and Problem Scenarios
    The persona and problem scenario tutorials are a good place to start.The material in my Coursera course’Agile Meets Design Thinking’ is relevant here, specifically the Week 2 content. Because the course is organized around agile, you will see references to user stories- don’t worry about those for now; we’ll cover them later in the class. Here are two specific videos you may find helpful for review: 1) Designing Problem Scenarios 2) Needfinding with Problem Scenarios.
  4. Using Storyboards
    The storyboarding tutorial has notes and examples for applying this technique across topics. As a reminder, I highly recommend sketching these on a piece of paper and including a simple snapshot of that sketch in your material. The tutorial mentions a SaaS tool, which is fine, but probably a better fit for formalizing a storyboard for more formal presentation.
  5. Testing Value Propositions & Applying Lean Startup
    The Lean Startup tutorial is a good place to start.The third week of my Coursera course ‘Running Design Sprints‘ focuses on the practice of Lean Startup. Here are a few specific videos you may find helpful for review: 1) Lean Startup and the Systematic Drive to Value 2) Focusing Your Ideas 3) Unpacking Your Assumptions.
  6. Describing User Experience with User Stories
    The user story tutorial is a good place to start.My Coursera course ‘Agile Meets Design Thinking‘ covers the creation of user stories, the main topic of Week 4. Here are a few videos that might be helpful for review: 1) Preparing for Great User Stories 2) Writing Great User Stories 3) Adding Test Cases to User Stories. My Coursera course ‘Managing with Agile‘ covers the use of story maps, particularly relative to the jobs of ‘learning’ and ‘deciding’. Here are a few videos that might be helpful for review: 1) Good Collaboration 2) Slicing the Lasagna.
  7. Driving to Testable Specifics with Prototypes
    The prototyping tutorial is a good place to start.My Coursera course ‘Running Design Sprints‘ covers the process of prototyping against user stories in Week 4. Here are a few videos that might be helpful for review: 1) The Inexact Science of Interface Design 2) Usability with Donald Norman’s 7 Steps Model 3) The Importance of Comparables & Prototyping 4) Creating Interactive Prototypes in Balsamiq.
  8. Testing Usability
    The usability testing tutorial is a good place to start.My Coursera course ‘Running Design Sprints‘ covers the process of user testing against user stories in Week 4. Here are a few videos that might be helpful for review: 1) Fun & Affordable User Testing 2) A Test Plan Anyone Can Use (Part 1 & Part 2).

Session 14: Final Presentations II

Objective

Integrate and apply your understanding of the class’ topics.