Monday, April 27, 2009

Models - Not the ones your're thinking about

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As product managers and marketers have you ever been in situations where you're starting to draw graphs or tables, using analogies, trying to visualize something that cannot be directly seen, trying to infer patterns from data? Well chances are if you dug a little deeper on Google for what you were discussing there's most likely someone who's done a study around it and come up with a model for it. So why reinvent the wheel?

There are obviously some caveats to this,

  • There should be a good enough usable model around what you're looking for not a model someone just threw together one night in a highly caffeinated state (well then again maybe you do)
  • In general they are from reputed sources, vetted and widely accepted (this ones not necessary though)
  • That they are extensible without rendering them useless
  • Also need to watch out that it really applies to the problem space or statement that you're trying to make, and it does not overly complicate things.
Here's examples of ones I've used in the past;

Now a lot of these can be used readily and presented on in meetings while others are more for hashing out your own thoughts or getting a convincing case going where you see a pattern and are looking to guess the outcome. Models or frameworks fit right in that sweet spot, where someone's spent serious time and effort (sometimes their entire life) researching and building that model. So the next time you get the urge to create your own model to describe something check online there might be a model out there ready to use and extend.

Newbie PM hint, models help you become more informed. So you dont walk into meetings and throw out ideas like wouldn't it be cool if we identify our customers by market share and market growth. Wonder if anyone else is doing that ... well ever heard of the BCG Matrix :-)

Needs to be complemented with .. Brainstorming alternatives .. Experience and learning .. but you can rarely beat a good proven model.

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