I caught up today with Steve Johnson, arguably the world’s foremost, and most entertaining, educator on Product Management. The interview started off calmly, but somewhat off-message, with Steve talking about how sometimes, tactical activities are the most strategic. “I’ve been growing in my appreciation of the people in marcom. They’re such an easy target, but let’s face it, with out them, the office would be pretty boring and ugly. It’s time to recognize the beauty that they bring to the tech company,” Steve said, wistfully recalling his first marcom coordinator, though he wouldn’t mention her by name.
Steve’s employer, Pragmatic Marketing is widely known to offer the “industry standard” training courses on product management, and has recently expanded its offerings to include more advanced topics such as roadmapping, conducting effective customer interviews, and choosing fonts and colors for your company’s brochures.
The company publishes a grid that is both its framework and its company logo. Steve offered the grid as an example of where tactics and strategy are indistinguishable from each other.
As the interview progressed, however, Steve seemed to be heating up, often stratying from the script that he delivers week-in and week-out as part of his courses. “Strategy crapagy”, Steve said in an outburst, “darn it, my opinion is not only relevant and interesting, but my opinion rules!”, seeming to contradict his oft-quoted edict.
“Sometimes, a data point does describe a market”, he raged, seeming frustrated with Product Managers who take his advice too far. “You can’t have a line without a single point!”
“Strategy is over-rated, Alan. Sometimes you have to get in there and just do it! Look at Nike, that’s what they do!”
There you go, straight from the horses mouth.- Alan
April First, 2008
(Updated: April Fools!)