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lmckeogh July 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Jim, I will assume that by your statement “creating a new product” that you mean something more than just an incremental innovation. Given that, yes, there is a risk. As the product manager on the project, part of your role is to mitigate that risk through analysis and understanding of both the internal and external factors at play. I don’t think you need to play chicken little. The team is aware of the risks. They are probably bringing you the issues unsolicited. Other stakeholders are also in the naysayer seat. If your analysis and understanding are solid you should be the foundation that the successful project is built on. That said, heed and address the concerns.

Gartner coined a “Hype cycle” a few years back. While there are some problems with this, I think it could also be applied to any new project. As a product manager, your goal is to get to the Plateau of Productivity. Dwelling and promoting the project risks could get the team stuck in the Trough of Disillusionment. There are enough other obstacles to to navigate. Give the project a champion until the writing on the wall is crystal clear.

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

Good points. In my experience all too many product managers select a feature or a product to implement and then hope for the best — really no risk management going on. As you pointed out, it’s really the role of the product manager to be aware of all of the risks associated with their decision and then take steps to actively manage that risk. All the while keeping in mind that you can never make risk go away.

I’m aware of that Gartner study. You bring up a great point in that a product that you might be responsible for can fall into a period of disillusionment. However, it’s the product manager’s role to keep the team together and to keep working towards the final goal: a successful product.

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