Product managers are typically responsible for the management of product innovation of the products that they oversee; they are after all well placed to do so as product managers will have a deep understanding of their products and the customer problems that the products are designed to solve. This extends to the target audience, the way that the product is built, and also the various ways that it can be used. With such an intimate understanding of the product they have built, it’s no wonder that they’re also at the forefront of innovation for said product.
However, innovation doesn’t happen as a spur-of-the-moment thing. While we’d all love to have that lightbulb moment ourselves, the reality is that innovation slowly builds up over a long period of time and it’s affected by everything from competing products to collaborative efforts. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the role that a product manager plays in promoting product innovation.
Product managers tend to have a lot of control over the process of creating and designing a product. They’re the ones that everyone else listens to and looks to for advice. This means that, as the product manager, you need to be responsible for encouraging the idea of innovation and giving your team members the green light to explore different possibilities. Not only should you encourage this, but you should actively be showing others how to do this. Setting an example is a great way to encourage your staff to follow in your footsteps. It gives them a sense of direction and it shows them that you’re willing to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
Establishing a culture of innovation can be challenging, especially if your company isn’t accustomed to it. However, once you get started, you’ll find that it’s quite easy to maintain that momentum. It’s all about giving your team more freedom to explore their ideas and find new ways to add to your products or even change them by adding unique touches or additional features. You can even encourage this by offering bonuses for new ideas or even allocating a budget to your team that can be used specifically for researching new ideas and trying them out with company-funded prototypes.
Innovation can only occur when you have an environment that supports it. With a strong product manager leading product innovation, you will also need to give your team a platform that can support it. A platform that not only encourages collaboration, but also empowers team members to contribute ideas without fear of rejection and / or judegment, regardless of their role.
There’s no telling who in your team will come up with that eureka moment first. It could be the product manager themselves, or it could be the new intern that joined just two weeks ago. If you encourage the sharing of ideas, it gives everyone the opportunity to try new things out and experiment with ideas that others have shared. This can create a culture of innovation where your team feels more involved with the process of developing a product, and it can be extremely rewarding when someone does come up with a brand-new idea that helps the business grow.
Once you and your team have come up with innovative ideas, it’s time to start actually implementing those changes and taking things to the next level. This is where it’s important to start planning out a product roadmap for your product while also including the many innovative ideas that you’ve been discussing with your team.
A cohesive roadmap should include the new ideas that you plan to implement, but also reasons for their inclusion. This makes it clear why it’s an innovative idea and why you want to include it in your product. You can also prioritize these different features and improvements to your product so you know which ones to allocate more resources to. Roadmaps can also make it easy for executives to see what you have in store for a particular product, and it can also help you show your current progress and compare it to what your future plans are.
Good product management skills can help encourage product innovation, but you also need to have effective product road mapping skills in order to turn those ideas into tangible changes.
Product innovation is also at the very core of our product management consultancy; iterating on a process and service that exceeds our clients' needs and adds real value to their next project. If you are interested in hearing more about our experienced team of product managers, please get in touch.