Reflektions.com

Paul Ortchanian

This blog discusses leadership and product management. Contact me at paul@reflektions.com

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Below is a list of Paul Ortchanian’s upcoming and past speaking engagements. Product Management Festival 2018, Singapore Flash Belt 2008, Minneapolis, U.S. Flash Forward 2008, San Francisco, U.S. FITC Toronto 2008, Canada FITC Toronto 2007, Canada Flash Belt 2007, Minneapolis, U.S. Flash Forward 2007, Boston, U.S. FITC Winnipeg 2006, Canada FITC Toronto 2006, Canada FITC Toronto 2005, Canada Flash Forward 2005, New York, U.S. Flash Forward 2005, San Francisco, U.S. FITC Toronto 2004, Canada Flash Forward 2004, San Francisco, U.S.Banff Interactive Screen 2003, Banff, Canada Flash Forward 2002, San Francisco, U.S.

Product Managers, Make your CEO provide a clear vision

There are so many articles about the challenges and stresses of being a Product Manager. But this is an article about your CEO’s duty to set a vision, to define why your company exists. For some product managers, the thought of talking openly about the void left by a missing vision statement is paralyzing. And as a product leader gets more senior, the need to clearly define the product strategy intensifies. In Alpha’s Product Management Insights study of more than 150 digital product managers, 32% percent said that their biggest wish in the coming year was a clearer product roadmap / strategy. So how frequently do you and the CEO interface? Does the CEO provide general direction? He should provide general direction. Without it you can...

Our immersion into Deep and Machine Learning at WatchMojo

Big data holds big promises for WatchMojo. Back in Q1 of 2017, in my quest to create proprietary products and innovations to link past video views and engagement to future video projects, I had heard about algorithms that can learn from data without relying on rules-based programming. To create value for our viewers, I asked if we had a dataset, then set our objective to discover which videos would be highly engaging and shared. We researched online, hired a data scientist and after a few attempts analyzing our records, got to develop statistical techniques and build interactive visualizations. In our first attempt, we envisioned gaining a better understanding of our data through machine learning, but truth be told, I grew more confuse...

You accomplish everything through others

Imagine attempting to persuade a stakeholder and it results in increased resistance. So much talk, so much rationale, so many facts. And because your approach was logical — one that leveraged data, your experience, and expertise — friction and disagreement ensues. The Product Manager title alone won’t sway others, nor will it command the attention of stakeholders. Bottom line, we have no power to make other people see things as we do. You aren’t going to win every battle. Leadership is going to be wrong sometimes. Engineers will estimate wrongly. And Sales will always promise things your product doesn’t and will never do. And because you work at the intersection of groups of people — often people from different backgrounds — there will ...

The case for rotating though products

The market changes. Trends in the marketplace affect the appeal of your message and the profitability of your product. Winning products thrive on big thinkers with the expertise to solve common challenges. Should a company hire a product manager with years of experience in, and knowledge of, the industry? How about a product manager who can quickly master a market and domain. One with generic, transferable product management capabilities. One who engaged with not just new technologies but also new business models. Who evolved in tandem with the types of products, customers, and markets they engaged with. You make your own luck. Rotating through products doesn’t require an MBA or the perfect mix of business, technical and design...

To make engineers more autonomous create a partnership

It is 5:00PM in the office, and a member of the engineering team stops by the Product team desk and expresses they want to build everything at once. When discussed, the head of engineering states that excessive rework undermines motivation. That they prefer focusing on code without a lot of distraction. That continual change tends to corrupt the structure of the software and once something is “done" it should never be revisited. What is wrong with these people? Is there a subculture of haters holding back continuous integration so to prevent the validation of the evolving product? It turns out the answer is no. Customer-centric rapid delivery can be perceived as a randomized environment. Rework could show problems in the requirements ...

Great companies are built on great products.

Product Management aims to clarify objectives, priorities and help focus efforts on them. Founder Institute startup founders and attendees were focused and truly enjoyed my product management presentation. I was lucky enough to be able to talk about Product Management and how now it’s their job to sell the goddam dream… every day. Founder Institute is the world’s premier idea-stage accelerator and startup launch program. - check out my event deck below: Great companies are built on great products. from Paul Ortchanian

The story behind my advisory role at Porpoise

I’m delighted to finally be advising Porpoise, which I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Evidence from surveys, management consulting, journalistic and corporate sources show that CSR is an emerging and important driver of employee engagement. These sources identify CSR’s influence on employee attraction, retention, and satisfaction. Porpoise provides a turnkey solution for organizations to excel in this area. Their unique engagement-first approach to CSR transforms the way employees and companies support the causes they care about. “Only 31% of businesses engage employees on the company’s CSR objectives and initiatives1". It is true, and most businesses don’t use their CSR strategy development and implementation to rally the company ...

You need to be contagious and thrive on the right amount of tension

I've been in product for a while. Each year I write a few lines to re-frame what the hell it is I do and how to remain successful.--- Product management is a discipline of quirky nonconformists responsible of defining the “why". Winning products thrive on the direction of these individuals who evolve in tandem with the types of products, customers, and markets they engages with. I have yet to see a standard job description for a Product Manager. None of the work I do happens in a vacuum which is why we must learn to influence; not direct. Remain aware of company culture while managing the product system to build social capital. Earned social capital allows us to influence the success of product roadmaps. The first decision to make is...

The story behind WatchMojo's AI-powered chatbots

About a year ago, thanks to my product leadership role at WatchMojo I got to lead an AI-powered chatbot initiative. There’s been an explosion of messaging apps: 1.2 billion people use Facebook Messenger, 1.2 billion people use WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. Snapchat, in terms of non-native iOS apps, is No. 2 in terms of how much time people spend with that app. iMessage is the most used iOS app. And of course, good old-fashioned SMS is on 4 billion phones. Often companies decide to expand their product portfolio of offerings to better support an existing market. Instead, we decided to promote our existing set of video offerings to a new market segment. We wanted to engage users through 100M+ devices including voice-activated ...