Student Experience | Product Management, Week 2 | Jessica Park

By Jessica Park January 29, 2016

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Famous pivot stories are often failures but you don’t need to fail before you pivot. All a pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision. Whenever entrepreneurs see a new way to achieve their vision – a way to be more successful – they have to remain nimble enough to take it.  – Eric Ries

Ah, the pivot. I never afforded much thought to a perfectly timed pivot, but this week my fellow Product Managers (in-training) and I were soon to stumble upon such a thing.

This week we explored pivots and changes in strategy. It was interesting to discover some of the successful companies around today that were actually born from strategic pivots. For instance, PayPal evolved from the PalmPilot – well, sort of. In the late 90’s, the company known today as PayPal developed software to store encrypted information on PalmPilots. This innovation soon led to the email transfer capability of USD funds, followed by the now hugely successful worldwide online payment system.

In class we were divided into groups and assigned different everyday problems for which we were to develop a Product Canvas. A Product Canvas is in the same vain as the “elevator pitch” in that it should clearly and simply explain your vision/goal. There are also 3 key areas that must be identified:

  1. Target Group: Who is the target segment and what is their problem?
  2. Big Picture: What is the product and how does it solve the target segment’s problem?
  3. Product Details: Why is this product better than the existing reality or competition?

My group and I had trouble honing in on one main problem scenario and one key target segment, as we kept skipping ahead to the final step; brainstorming new product ideas. Thankfully Bal and our teaching assistants were never too far to keep us on track, not allowing us to skip the critical first two steps. The moral of the story here is: you can’t solve something when you don’t even understand the problem.

After spending ample time deliberating our key problem scenario, target group and product we finally realized that the personas we had created for the target group were actually just the users and wouldn’t necessarily be the buyer. It was so easy for us to overlook the (now) obvious fact that in many cases the user and buyer of a product are not always synonymous. Enter Pivot. It was so clear who the target buyer group was after we stumbled upon our epiphany about the user segment that we were able to pivot with ease and seamlessly change our strategy for a successful end product idea.

Next week we’ll be moving onto strategic planning.

Until next time…

Jessica is taking BrainStation's Product Management Course in Toronto!

Jessica is taking BrainStation’s Product Management Course in Toronto!

Product Management
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