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If You Don’t Know Who Is the “Captain”, Then Expect a Titanic!

By Ahmed Ragab posted 01-08-2021 17:04


PDMA Body of Knowledge: Product Innovation Management Insights #2

PDMA Body of Knowledge: Product Innovation Management Insights #2

Read time:
3 minutes

The kHUB Curator Team members have each been assigned a BoK section to own.  This includes seeking, editing and sharing content related to that section.  The curators are also sharing their perspective of various sub-sections of their chapter and contributing personal examples, experience, or related articles corresponding to the subject matter.

Chapter 7 Insights – Product Innovation Management


If you don’t know Who is the “CAPTAIN”, then expect a Titanic!

Product innovation management is an ongoing, iterative, and empirical process that needs to be owned by an independent mindset that will always fight for the functionality, innovation, and added-value of the product. Add to this list, honesty and assertive voice of the customer.

Different roles inside organizations can accomplish product innovation responsibilities. As PDMA’s BOK, Section 7.3 says “The role of managing product innovation can lie with a range of job titles — from the CEO of small to medium-sized companies, VP of innovation in large companies, product innovation manager, brand manager, product manager, and more.”

Some organizations are giving this responsibility to either the commercial manager, COO, PMO, technical team, or even a marketing officer. Sometimes, internal corporate politics may push this responsibility to even an irrelevant stakeholder/department! How come?

The confusion comes from the misunderstanding of the product innovation process and its respective lifecycle starting from conceptualization (including strategy components) to commercialization. In their recent report “Product Innovation: Who is really in charge?”, Deloitte has mentioned that “Innovation is everyone’s responsibility, but it requires directional guidance, sponsorship, and focus on becoming a meaningful business asset.” And this is the trigger of the “Product Manager” role in modern and agile organizations.

Isn’t it ironic that organizations call for innovation while insisting on playing the game, the old school?

How the Product Manager is the “C-A-P-T-A-I-N”?

  • (C) Competent – Very skillful person who covers one or more angles of the product innovation triangle (technology, business, and user experience)
  • (A) Agile – A believer in iterative growth of delivering a commercialized and shippable product.
  • (P) Proactive – a product manager shall always serve proactively to accommodate the customer’s future needs or anticipate the market’s growing requirements.
  • (T) Tactful – Handling product development teams, customers, business owners, and other stakeholders will need a tactful mindset that can orchestrate and handle all stakeholders' interests reasonably without significant compromise on the product quality or resource utilization.
  • (A) Adaptable – Starting a backlog with certain features and end some later sprints with totally different characteristics. Adaptable mindset and attitude would enable the product manager throughout the product lifecycle. 
  • (I) Intuitive – Representing the customer's voice has never been a pragmatic mission. It always needs active listening, intimacy, and deep customer understanding to facilitate the customer’s pain areas' discovery sessions. Only then you can design the right solution/feature!
  • (N) Nimble – When it comes to briefing the customer requirements, well-articulated customer requirements will definitely reflect on the final outcome. A nimble product manager will eloquently facilitate this process like magic!

Upon defining our captain, either we identify this captain or the product innovation ship would probably sink!

Related Articles

  1. PDMA Body of Knowledge: Product Innovation Management Overview
  2. Four Steps to Product Management Excellence for B2B Companies

About the Author

Ahmed Ragab

Ahmed Ragab is an award-winning digital transformation practice leader in UK(2016) and the author of The Butterfly Organization (Amazon). As a recognized speaker and thought leader in the MENA region, Eng. Ragab has delivered various digital transformation & innovation consulting engagements over the past 14+ years. His expertise covers the end-to-end cycle starting from conceptualization to commercialization with delivery excellence of multimillion USD programs by working with global advisory, audit, technology firms, international organizations & UN/EU Agencies.

Currently, he is leading Government Digital Transformation Consulting Practice at DataStars Co. with a vertical focus on Products & Services Development. Besides his contributions to Academia Liverpool, he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Digital Transformation at the University of Hull.


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