The Accidental Product Manager

The Accidental Product Manager

By Jim Anderson
Managing a product is not just a business, it’s a science. Nobody knows more about the science of product management than Dr. Jim Anderson.

As Dr. Anderson says “I don’t embrace excuses from product managers about why their products are not successful, I embrace solutions.”

Over the last 25 years, Dr. Anderson has transformed failing products worldwide. Dr. Anderson will turn these money pits into money makers. Welcome to the premier blog for learning how to develop, launch, and manage wildly successful products.

For a product to be successful, it takes an entire company working together.
More places to listen

More places to listen

Amazon Product Managers Have Grocery Store Dreams
The product managers at Amazon have a big problem on their hands.  The  company, which is already huge, wants to keep on growing. What this  means for the product managers is that they always have to be looking for new businesses that Amazon can expand into.   They think that they may have come up with one that could, over time,  make a substantial contribution to the company’s bottom line: a new line of grocery stores.
October 14, 2019
How Indian Product Managers Do Battle With Retail Goliaths
Retail giants Amazon and Walmart really, really want to start selling a  great deal in India.  In fact, they are willing to spend billions to set  up shop there. However, their success is not guaranteed.  It turns out that they are going to be battling the countless number of  mom-and-pop stores that are already there and these stores are not  going away any time soon.  How is this battle going to sort itself out?
October 7, 2019
What Will It Take For Sam’s Club To Be Successful In China?
In the world of shopping in bulk, you have choices.  Specifically, when  you need a huge amount of toilet paper or paper towels, you can choose  to go to either Sam’s Club or Costco. Where do you choose to go? If you are like most people,  if you have a choice you generally choose go to Costco. It’s not clear  why we make this choice. I suspect that one of the reasons is because  Sam’s Club is so closely tied to Walmart that most of us really don’t  want to go there. You would think that the Sam’s Club product managers would have a real challenge on their hands when they  went to China.  However, it turns out that was not a problem.
September 30, 2019
Why Don’t Amazon’s Product Managers Understand Europe?
Let’s face it: Amazon is a very big company and they have done a lot of  different things very well.  However, it turns out that they may not yet  be able to do everything perfectly. One area where the Amazon product  managers are still struggling is in Europe. Specifically, when it comes  to selling both apparel and footwear they have not yet quite figured out what Europeans really want.  What can the Amazon product managers do to fix this problem?
September 23, 2019
Hey Product Manager, Can I Ride Your Bike?
If you lived in a modern city, how would you chose to get around town?   Yes, you could always walk – however, that’s going to take a lot of time  and you are going to be tired when you get where you are going. There  are cabs / Uber / Lyft and these all work, but they can quickly become quite expensive.  Most cities have buses and subways, but how far away from you is the  closest stop and how close is it going to get you to where you want to  go?  In these modern times in which we are living, it turns out that you  may have another option – ride a bike.
September 16, 2019
Starbucks Product Managers Try To Get Their Customers To Come Back Later
Clearly product managers at the Starbucks coffee chain have no problems getting customers to drop by their stores in the  morning and purchase coffee.  However, as is the case with product  managers everywhere, the Starbucks product managers are under pressure  to keep growing the firm’s profits.  If they are going to do this, then  they need to come up with a way to get their morning customers to come back to the stores later in the day and buy more coffee.
September 9, 2019
Product Managers Prepare To Battle It Out Over A New Type Of Milk
When you go shopping, what do you get?  If you are like most of us you  probably pick up some eggs, some cheese, some vegetables, and, oh yeah,  some milk. However, what type of milk do you get? For a  very long time our choices have been somewhat limited. We always got  the same types: whole, 2%, or skim. However, some creative product  managers are getting ready to change the product development definition  of milk and the existing milk product managers are going to have be be  ready to deal with it.  What’s going on here?
August 26, 2019
Product Managers Struggle To Use Price To Make Their Products Popular
As product managers, when we want to boost the sales of our product, one  of the  “levers” that we have to make this happen is the price of our  product.  If everything works out the way that it should, if we lower the  price of our product then sales should go up. However, product managers  who work for traditional retailers are discovering that for them their  product development definition has changed and this lever is not working  the way that it should. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the  fact that their customers are starting to use more technology when they  shop is part of the issue.  What can be done to put control of a product’s success back in the hands of product managers? 
August 19, 2019
Are Watch Product Managers Almost Out Of Time?
So here’s an interesting question to kick things off: do you wear a  watch?  Not all that long ago, the answer to this question would have  been pretty much “yes” for everyone. I mean, how else were you going to  be able to tell what time it was? However, as with all such things in  life, things have changed. Now when people want to know what time it is,  they whip out their mobile phones and glance at them. Kids these days just don’t think about purchasing the fancy watches that their parents used to buy.  What can watch product managers do to change things? 
August 12, 2019
Amazon Takes On Walmart: Who’s Product Managers Will Win?
I suspect that if I asked you to take a moment and feel sorry for the  product managers who work for Amazon, you probably would not.  For that  matter, if I asked you to take a moment and feel bad for the product  managers who work for Amazon, you probably would also find that hard to  do. However, it turns out that being one of these types of product managers is quite difficult.  The reason that it is so hard is because although your company is  already very large, you are still under a great deal of pressure to keep  growing your product lines.  What’s a product manager to do? 
August 5, 2019
Create and Barrel Product Managers Learn To Be Social
Crate and Barrel sells a lot of furniture.   They are now faced with the age old question of how best to get their  furniture noticed by their potential customers. In the past, the firm  relied on what had always worked for them: still photographs. However,  lately that has all changed. The company now has over a million  Instagram followers. They also now produce more digital content then  they produce photographs. New videos are published on YouTube weekly.  What changed at Crate and Barrel?
July 29, 2019
How The Yum Product Managers Are Adapting To A Changing World
I can’t actually tell you if it would be one of the best product  management jobs to have, but I can tell you that it would certainly be  one of the most delicious.  What am I talking about? I’m talking about  being a product manager who works for YUM Brands.  You know, the company that owns the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC  brands. It turns out that the world of fast food that these folks live  in is undergoing a great deal of change and that means that these product managers have to scramble to change their product development definition and keep up. 
July 22, 2019
Amazon Product Managers Decide To Do Battle With UPS
As I’m sure that we all know by now, Amazon is a very large company that  does a lot of different things: they ship books and products, offer  cloud computing resources, and even run an internet based television  channel.  The product managers at Amazon are under an enormous amount of  pressure to always be looking for ways for the company to keep on growing.  This is why they have expanded in to such diverse areas as grocery  stores. However, now the Amazon product managers are taking a closer  look at how they run their business and they’ve decided that it’s time for some of the firms that they have been relying on to go away.  Now  Amazon is getting ready to update their product development definition  in order to take on UPS and start its own delivery business. 
July 15, 2019
Can Coke Product Managers Make Their New Alcoholic Drink A Success?
So for just a moment, picture yourself as a product manager for one of the most iconic products out there: Coke-Cola.   You’ve done a great job – Coke is one of the most popular drinks  available and no matter what country you go to, it is very well known.  The company makes an enormous amount of money from your soft drink  product every year and in all honesty, traditionally you’ve only had one  real competitor – Pepsi. However, in the past few years, things have started to become a bit more challenging for you.  More and more of your customers are staring to reject the sugary  beverage that you are offering them and instead they are choosing to  drink water and sports drinks.  What’s a product manager to do? 
July 8, 2019
Can Product Managers Save “American Idol”?
So who among us has not heard about the famous TV show “American Idol”?   This is the show where anyone can try out to be on the show and the  best singers are then selected to compete in a multi-week competition in  which one of them will eventually be crowned the “American Idol” and  potentially get a lucrative recording contract. This show used to be  very popular, then it fell out of popularity and eventually ended up  getting canceled. However, now another network is thinking about  bringing it back.  Can their product managers change its product development definition and bring a once popular TV show back from the dead? 
June 24, 2019
Amazon Product Managers Prepare For War With Walmart Product Managers
 Amazon is a large and powerful company that dominates the world of  online selling. Walmart is a large and powerful company that dominates  the world of bricks & mortar selling.  These two firms are starting  to come into conflict when it comes to next-day home delivery as Walmart starts to move into online sales and Amazon starts to move into home delivery.   The product managers at Amazon are going to have to sharpen their  skills and review their product development definition in order to go  into battle with the product managers at Walmart.  
June 17, 2019
Boeing Product Managers Struggle To Come Back From The 737 MAX Disaster
Every product manager job is different. Some are easy and some are hard.  Right now, being the product manager at Boeing who is responsible for the 737 MAX jet would defiantly fall into the difficult category.  The reason that this would be such a hard job to have right now is because this airplane has experienced a set of disastrous crashes.  In October, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed just minutes after taking off  from Jakarta, Indonesia. It was the first fatal accident involving a 737  Max. 189 people died. This was followed in March when Ethiopian  Airlines Flight 302, involving the same Max jet model, also crashed  minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board.  How can product  manager come back from product setbacks like this?  
June 10, 2019
Product Managers Deal With The Challenge Of Cup Holders
So if you were a product manager who was in charge of an automobile,  what do you think that your #1 concern would be? Do you think that your  customers would care most about how fast your car could go? How about  how many doors it has or the size of its tires? Could it be the sound  system or the built-in navigation system?  What’s very interesting is  that although all of these items may be important to your car buying  customer, they may not be the one thing that will cause them to buy or  not buy your car. What could that one thing be you ask?  How about cupholders? 
June 3, 2019
Product Managers Discover That The Circular Is Not Going Away
So if you are running a business and you’d like to keep your customers  aware and informed about what products you are offering, what’s the best  way to go about doing this?  In our modern age, a lot of product  managers would look at their product development definition and say that  you need to update your web site and they’d be correct.  However, what  more and more store owners are discovering is that one of the oldest retailing tricks has somehow survived the arrival of the e-commerce wave – the paper circular. 
May 20, 2019
Barnes & Noble Product Managers Rediscover Books
Quick question for you: when was the last time that you were in a Barnes & Noble bookstore?   When I tried to answer this question, I had to think about it for  awhile. I think that the last time I actually entered one of their  stores was around Christmas when I had whittled my list down to the last  few people who are always hard to shop for. Since then, I haven’t been  back. The Barnes & Noble product managers know that I have not been  back – that’s a problem for them.  Clearly they need to make some changes in order to get people like me to both visit their stores more often and, of course, buy more stuff! 
May 13, 2019
What Can Store Credit Card Product Managers Do To Remain Viable?
So if I was to take a look inside of your purse or wallet right now,  what would I find? I’m willing to bet that you probably have either a  Visa or a Mastercard credit card, perhaps an American Express credit  card or even a Discover credit card. However, what else would be there?  Would you have any store issued credit cards?  Perhaps from Walmart, Macy’s, Home Depot, etc.?  Well guess what, these  store issued credit cards are in trouble and their product managers are  scrambling to find ways to change their product development definition  in order to save them. 
May 6, 2019
Is The Best Product Defense A Cheap Defense?
Shaving is something that men without beards or mustaches do just about  every day.  In all honesty, I don’t think that we spend a lot of time  thinking about shaving – it’ just something that we do.  Over at Gillette, since they make razors, they spend a lot of time thinking about how men shave and they have reached a startling conclusion: their products cost too much! 
April 29, 2019
How Can Product Managers Save The Internal Combustion Engine?
Let’s face it: if you are a product manager for the traditional car engine, called an internal combustion engine, things are looking rather tough for you right now.  The world is changing and you’ve suddenly got a lot of completion.  The arrival of popular electric vehicles and a bunch of new government  regulations about pollution mean that internal combustion engines are  now at risk and their product development definition is going to have to  be changed.  The good news for product managers is that the auto makers  and oil companies are coming together to find ways to save this type of  engine. The secret appears to be a new high-tech engine oil. 
April 22, 2019
Product Managers Struggle To Get Their Customized Email Correct
So let’s talk about email for just a moment.  If you are like me, you get a ton of the stuff. In all honesty, most of  it is junk and I just end up deleting it even before I read it.   However, there are those one or two emails that just happen to catch my eye.  I’m in the market for something and that email seems to be talking  about what I know that I’m looking for. When this happens, and it  doesn’t happen very often, I will open and, gasp!, read the email.  It  turns out that retail product managers are currently not doing a very  good job of getting me to open the emails that they send me. What’s up? 
April 8, 2019
Product Managers Try To Find Stores To Fill Malls
When was the last time that you went out to a mall?  For most of us, it’s  probably been a while. We used to always go to the mall – that’s where  you could get stuff, especially during the holidays. However, with the  arrival of online shopping most of us don’t go to malls  as much anymore. This has created a problem for mall product managers.   Creating and filling a mall with stores used to be a straightforward job  for product managers: get a few big stores, get some smaller but still  well known stores, and ta-da you had a mall.  However, with today’s changing retail situation, mall product managers are having to change their product development definition and how they do their job. 
April 1, 2019
Grocery Store Product Managers Get Ready For The Future
Product managers for grocery stores have actually had it pretty easy for  quite some time. If you think about it, your local grocery store  probably has not changed all that much since you were a little kid. Oh  sure, now they have organic vegetables and perhaps they create prepared  meals, but their product development definition has not really changed  all that much.  It turns out that big changes are getting ready to come. With the arrival of “shop from home services”, grocery stores are going to have to change in order to stay in business.  It sure seems like their product managers are going to have to start to get innovative. 
March 25, 2019
New Product Competition Challenges For Product Managers: Balloon Toys
How many of you have ever been involved in a water balloon fight? I’m  willing to bet that most of us have at some point in time.  Do you  remember how that went? You got some balloons, then it seemed to take  forever as you used the hose to fill the balloons, and then you  proceeded to run around your yard throwing your balloons at your friends  trying to get them as wet as you possibly could. I think that we can  all agree that the biggest delay in our fun was the annoying time that it took to fill up all of those water balloons.   Well good news, that problem has been solved. However, soon after it  was solved someone else came along with the same solution.  What’s a  product manager to do? 
March 18, 2019
The Shortest Product Manager Job Ever!
So here’s a quick question for you: what is the shortest time that  you’ve ever worked at a product manager job?  Product managers are  generally considered to be valuable members of the product team who work  on the product development definition and we can have a direct impact  on the bottom line of the product project that we are involved in. We’re  valuable and generally a company would be resistant to getting rid of  us as long as our product is doing well.  That’s why I was surprised when I got fired after two weeks on the job at my new product manager position. 
March 11, 2019
Restaurant Product Managers Discover Too Much Of A Good Thing
As product managers, the one thing that we’d all like to have is more customers.  We dream of the day that we’ve created a product development definition  that will cause our customers think about our product and then as  quickly as they can take action to get their hands on it.  These hopes  and dreams are no different for product managers who work in the  restaurant industry. These product managers have the same set of things that they want. A little while back they thought that they had found a  way to make it happen: create mobile applications to support their restaurant!  Well, good idea, but it came with some side effects that nobody had counted on… 
March 4, 2019
The Digital World Changes The Way That Food Company Product Managers Operate
Let’s be straight about a few things: the world in which we live is  currently changing. A lot. Nowhere is this more evident than perhaps  when we take a look at how consumers go about buying food.   This used to be a simple task: people jumped into their cars with their  food shopping list in hand and drove to the local grocery store and got  what they needed. However, with the arrival of that internet thing,  this is all starting to change.  People are now starting to shop for food  online. What this has meant for food company product managers is that  their world is changing. Case in point. People who are shopping online  tend to just buy exactly what is on their shopping list. Nothing else.   This means that product managers have to come up with ways to change  their product development definition so that they can convince them to  add last minute items that they may not have been planning on buying.  How are they going to do that? 
February 25, 2019
Is It Time For Product Managers To Go Meatless?
So let’s see a show of hands. Who here enjoys a delicious, juicy,  burger? Hmm, I don’t see everyone’s hands going up, but I do see just  about everyone’s hands going up. There is no question that in the  developed 1st world countries, people do love their meat.   There’s just one problem – it turns out that it’s really expensive in  terms of land, water, and feed to raise the animals that produce all of  that meat. As the rest of the world starts to develop a taste for protein,  we’re just not going to be able to keep doing things the way that we’re  doing them today.  Looks like its time for the product managers to step  in and lend a helping hand by changing their protein product development  definition. 
February 18, 2019
How Can Product Managers Tell Customers To Not Use Their Product?
Every product needs a product manager. This means that things that are  good for us (think vegetables, running shoes, and protein bars) all need  product managers. Likewise, things that are legal but perhaps not so  good for us also need to have their own product managers (think guns,  fatty foods, and porn). Into this latter category falls cigarettes.   There is no doubt that cigarettes are a big business or that they are  bad for the customers who choose to use them. They are legal, but they are also generally considered to be deadly for those who choose to smoke. This is the way that the world has been for quite some time. Until things changed.  All of sudden, cigarette product managers found themselves in the challenging position of having to find ways to get their customers to not smoke. 
February 11, 2019
Will The Amazon Hub Program Solve Amazon’s Package Delivery Issues?
 Just imagine if you were a product manager at Amazon. What would one of  your biggest challenges be? There’s no problem with Amazon having what  your customers want – Amazon is huge and they’ve got a lot of warehouses.  No, your biggest problem would be just exactly how you were planning on  getting what your customer has ordered from your warehouse into their hands. Like a million times a day. Good news. Amazon thinks that they may have found a solution to this problem: hub. 
February 7, 2019
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