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The Product Market Fit Pyramid and Inspirational Roadmaps, More from the Minimum Viable Product Conference

I was famished after the morning sessions and looked forward to hanging out with some product managers.  Before getting lunch however, I saw none other than Alicia Dixon holding court with our own Brandon Luong and other PMs from around the country.  Sure enough, I arrived just in time to hear a war story about the contentious relationship between product managers, executive leadership, and the engineering corps.  One of the repeating refrains I’ve heard while walking the halls is that there is still a disconnect between engineering a solution and design a product.  Day 2 will have some talks and resources for product managers to build solid relationships with engineering and communicating the team mix to build a great product.

At lunch I ran into Dan Olsen before he had to trot off to his afternoon session.  Dan has written a new book, the Lean Product Playbook, and his presentation was going to center on Achieving Product-Market Fit. “Standing up a lean startup is like getting started at the gym,” Dan said. “You get started at the gym and you don’t know where to begin, which weights should I use, how many reps I should take, all of those things.  My book is the missing manual for the lean startup.”  I was convinced and I wanted some of this knowledge so I headed to the Ballroom’s Mezzanine.

Startups come up with great ideas and often times this ideas fail to succeed because they just didn’t fit a specific market.  Dan’s book helps startup achieve product market fit by working through models and asking the right questions.  He’s created a product-market fit pyramid consisting of 6 steps:

  1. At the base you learn about your target customer and truly understand their characteristics.
  2. Thoroughly understand underserved customer needs.  Think in terms of the problem space using emotional insight to learn what’s needed.
  3. Craft a value proposition consisting of features and must haves that will differentiate your product from the competition.
  4. Specify the MVP feature set including one or two target features that distinguish your product from others.
  5. Build a delightful UX.
  6. Test everything you’ve created with customers and then rinse and repeat until you’ve honed down to the right solution.
Test assumptions with your MVP, then prototype and test it with users.

Test assumptions with your MVP, then prototype your product and test it with users.

Dan uses a number of models including the Kano breakdown of user needs vs. satisfaction as part of the discovery process.  He concluded his talk with some Do’s and Don’t’s for running product tests in front of customers.


  1. Explain how their feedback will be used to improve the product.
  2. Ask questions and then be a fly on the wall.
  3. Take lots of notes.


  1. Ask leading questions.
  2. Explain the UI or help complete a task.
  3. Respond to user frustration.
  4. Get defensive.
  5. Blame the user.

I was about to pack up and head over to the Dome until I saw Bruce McCarthy’s opening slide.  It was him sitting in the driver’s seat of a Ferrari. In my mind I was like, okay, I’ll stay. And then I saw him walk on stage sporting Sparco racing shoes.  A man whose title slide consists of him in his sports car and casually wears racing shoes deserves my attention.  He must be the product management Stig.

CEOs are deliberately bad at math.

CEOs are deliberately bad at math.

Netprospex’s Bruce McCarthy delivered the appropriately titled, Developing Inspiring Roadmaps.  Bruce is a seasoned product manager with 20 years of experience and have experienced acquisitions, mergers, and raising money, “It’s hard to build a great business or a great product if you don’t know where you are going.”   Bruce shared two key premises of the roadmap, “a roadmap is a path to your goals, and a shield against doing unimportant tasks.”  In addition to showing you the way roadmaps inspire by gaining buy-in from executives, builds confidence with sales, creates customer loyalty, encourages stick-to-itiveness and over delivery from your team.

The key to creating an inspirational roadmap is to first create 1 to 3 measurable and challenging goals, then combine those goals into an aspirational vision.  Once you have your goals and vision you can then prioritize which ideas, features, and functions should be included into your product.

Check out tomorrow’s post for daring to deliver, working with engineerings, and going beyond the MVP.

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