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Proven Ways Product Managers Develop New Ideas

Yes, some ideas appear to materialize from thin air. But experienced product managers know that nothing happens in a vacuum.
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When you think about big product ideas -- you know, the ones that shake up industries and change the world -- it can often be easy to romanticize their origins. A flash of brilliance or a sudden realization that leads to ground-breaking innovation. But the reality is that generating great product ideas takes work -- and planning.

There are two major steps that you need to take before you can start churning out new ideas. The first step is to work closely with your senior management and product leadership team to define your goals. Establish a firm definition of what your team and product's goals are for the next three to six months.

What are a few examples of product goals?
  • Growing your user base
  • Retaining more users
  • Increasing conversions
  • Improving performance
Of course, your goals will vary depending on your product. Product managers
with senior management to figure out where your concentration areas should be in the short term.

For example, you might see customers quickly get started using your product and log several hours in the first few day, but you are having trouble bringing them into long-term use. If that is the case, then your goal might be to acquire new users. Or, you might notice that conversions from customer referrals are very high. However, very few of your customers refer other users. If that is the case, you should consider creating a goal around referrals. As a product manager, you want to look at these goals and consider which types of product themes might correlate to these goals.

The next step is to start researching. Research and analysis will play a key role in helping you to come up with new ideas. On the research front, you can do both primary and secondary research.

In product management, primary research involves monitoring customer behavior. Secondary research involves monitoring competitors to review their products and analyze what they excel at -- and where they can improve.

Research should be hands on as well. It is important for product managers to try new products and explore different user experiences. The more you are exposed to, the more familiar you will be with potential feature sets that might help you achieve your goals.

Stay in the moment, but observe and take note of clever or seamless executions. Remember how enjoyable that travel app was to use and how easy it was for you to achieve what you needed from it. Draw on your experiences and incorporate them into your own product.

Yes, some ideas appear to materialize from thin air. But experienced product managers know that nothing happens in a vacuum. They use goal setting and research to cultivate more ideas that map to their business.

And that is how product managers come up with new ideas.

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