13 minutes with Anthony Murphy: Founder of Product Pathways. Predicting the future. Strategic discovery. Seeking out early adopters. Balancing short-term revenue versus long-term vision. Modeling the future. Hiring. Technical architecture and debt. Capacity. BJ Fogg's behavioral model. Shipping super early, even when it's a concept. Setting goals. What needs to be true?
21 insights. 7 rapid-fire questions. Show transcript.
What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?
Really good question and an interesting one for me. As a product coach, I don't work with a single team. I work with multiple clients, multiple companies and product teams all over the world. But, one of the benefits of that is I get to see interesting challenges.
1) Predicting the future. If I think about some of the clients I have right now, probably one of the most interesting I'm working with now is what I would deem as a horizon three product. Essentially, the horizon model is near term, mid term, far term. They're essentially shaping the future doing some really cool, market-leading AI, 3D rendering technology, but a cool market for that doesn't exist today. So how do you convert that into revenue? That's a whole other challenge. We’ve been spending the last 12 months in doing that. Part of it is ”Well, what does the future look like? How do we predict the future?” So we've been spending a lot of time doing modeling on previous trends, like the rise of chat as opposed to calling people up, and all these other trends. Essentially, using them as predictive models to try and predict the future. Predicting the future in order to create a market in order to create revenue.
2) Strategic discovery. We need to have confidence in all those things. They are just models. It doesn't mean that that’s exactly what the future's going to hold. We need to be able to validate some of that, gain confidence in it, and really calculate the value of whether that's something that's worthwhile doing.
3) Seeking out early adopters and innovators. We spend a lot of time naturally seeking out early adopters and innovators. They really are our core market today. If you think about the diffusion of innovators, they're going to be on core market today. And then one day, that will become an everyday thing that everyone's using, and then we'll really crack into that. But that’s one of the things that we really focused on. That's a real hard thing to do, especially it's a B2B product. So how do you work out B2B innovators? It's it's a unique challenge, but that's definitely where our revenue is coming from today.
What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?
Working with lots of clients, I see some common challenges. I spend a lot of my time working with startups, or product managers in startups and a lot of scaling companies.
1) Balancing short-term revenue versus long-term vision. I think the biggest challenge that companies dealing with right now, as well as another client of mine, is balancing short-term revenue, or that's stability of revenue, versus long-term vision and gain. If you use that client as an example, their market, their future, doesn't exist today. So it's hard to make revenue off something that doesn't exist, but you need to make some revenue, you call it the completely investment-funded. That's not gonna work out longterm. You need revenue, but there's a danger of starting to fall into this trap of building something for today and missing out on that future, and not being ready for that future, when it comes. So that's a huge kind of challenge. I mean, I've been overcoming it in some of those ways that I've kind of mentioned before.
2) Modeling the future. That's a really interesting one. We really overcame that by looking at previous trends and building a few models around that, but a super unique challenge that I haven't had to deal with before.
3) For one of my clients, they had really big retention issue. Classic leaky funnel. You got plenty leads coming in, but not everyone is staying in there. So, I spent a lot of time with them, reshaping their product strategy to understand those gaps and balancing that. It was a good challenge.
What are 3 roadblocks that you are working on now?
1) Hiring. I'm working with a VP of Product at the moment at a growing startup, and probably the biggest roadblock we have right now is just c. They’re growing, they’ve got to grow, got to go with it, get more people, but the market's super competitive, and I think most people and most product leaders and people in product and tech know this, salaries are through the roof. People are hard to come by, negotiating is a huge challenge, especially when you're a small company and you can’t really pay Microsoft will Facebook salaries. It’s super competitive. That's probably one of the biggest roadblocks I'm working with with them at the moment.
2) Technical architecture and debt. This is a real start-up and scale-up kind of problem. Technical architecture and debt. It's really common for companies, the way we start, start-ups will just hack it together, basically. Architecture, from a technical product point of view, often is monolithic. We don't have to think too much about the future, cause it doesn't matter. We might not have a company in 6-12 months time, so it doesn't matter. But then there comes a point in time where you start to get product-market fit. You start at the scale and start to grow. And then all of that debt and architecture starts to hinder you since, essentially, it becomes a bit like chains. It becomes a big roadblock, because then you want to grow as quickly as possible, but suddenly you're constrained by your architecture, your tech debt to grow that quickly. So you then start to balance all these big bets that you want to do, and these cool new features and functionality to grow a company against the fact that, “Hey, we don't actually have a scalable platform. How do we overcome that?”
3) Capacity. A roadblock I'm dealing with right now with clients in the same space, in startups, is just capacity. There’s always a million things we want to do. When you're a 200 plus scale-up is one client, or even a small 15 person startup, you only have so much you can do because you only have so many people.
What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?
I really liked this question actually, and it made me think, because I use a lot of mental models.
1) All models are both correct and incorrect at the same time. I have an overarching mental model that is all models are both correct and incorrect at the same time. What I mean by that is I think they're all about 80% correct. There's obviously always exceptions. It's a really good one that keep in mind because you just can’t anything as a 100% applied to everything. It's not going to work. You need to use different models and apply it. Some models that I've been using recently. This is where my headspace went to.
2) BJ Fogg's behavioral model. I love that. It just talks about motivation versus, essentially, behavioral change, or habit change, and which is highly applicable in the product space. Especially when we think about shipping new features or even new products. How do you get people to change their behavior? How much motivation is needed? How easy, how hard is it? I think it’s a fantastic model for that.
3) Classic flywheel model. I've been doing a lot of work around product strategy. So, definitely, that's been in my head, and Wardley Mapping has been as well. For those who aren't familiar with it, look it up. It’s super big and complex for me to explain it, but it's been super useful with Horizon 3 product, and that client, just because it's a really good way to map out things that are early innovations versus later in their life cycle when products become commodities. So it was just a really good way to map out the market, do some modeling, thinking about where do we want to target, how do we want to position ourselves, and all that.
What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?
1) Launch early. I know that sounds so simple, but launch super early. Like, even before you have a product. I've done that several times now. Put something up there. Pre-sales, or even just a pitch on it, and see, AB test it, to start to see what type of traffic are you getting from it? I worked with somebody who said, ”Sell the vision first and then built it next.” I thought that's a really good way to frame that. Because if you can’t sell the vision, even when you build it, you're gonna have a big problem. I think shipping super early, even when it's a concept.
2) Westendorp price sensitivity test. I don't see people do this enough. Just a really good test. A good thing to put into discovery, especially if you launched a new product, or changing the price point, or those types of things, just to see. where that price point sits and how it resonates with, and actually have some discovery, some research, that backs up the price that you set in for your product. I think that's important.
3) Setting goals. Another one that probably seems over simplified, but what I like to do when I launch new products is I basically go, “If this is to be successful, what needs to be true at the end of the first week? What needs to be true at the end of the first month? 60 days? 90 days?” Essentially, I'm trying to measure success. You're looking for signals like, “Are we going in the right direction? Is this successful?” If not, then we can pivot, and we can do it at different intervals.
What are 3 questions that you love to ask and why?
It depends on the context, but some of my favorite questions, for asking users when I'm looking at market research. Some of my favorite questions are:
1) Have you tried to solve it? Or how are you trying to solve it currently? Or how have you solved it in the past? Essentially you looking for patterns, like “We’ve been building this big spreadsheet to try and solve this problem.” You're like, “Oh, cool. Tell me more about that.”
2) Tell me more about that. That’s probably another question. I love to say, “Tell me more about that.” I do that with my team as well and other people that I coach. It’s just a great way to dive into things and get people to talk more.
3) Pause and just have silence. Maybe the last question that I'll throw in there, won't be a question. It’s something that I like doing, and it works really well as a technique, and you can do it in anything, market research, customer interviews. Pause and just have silence. If you create an uncomfortable silence, nobody likes it. You want to fill the space, but just hold the space. And sometimes the best question is no question. Then, the person will start talking and they'll start talking about something super interesting and super relevant. I like doing that. Good technique.
Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?
3 people came to mind pretty, pretty easily, actually. I work with some awesome people and know some really good product leaders.
1) Adrienne Tan. She's the founder of Brainmates. She's also on the Board of the Association of Product professionals, which I'm also Director of, which is something I do in my part time, but all-around an amazing product person. She's the always giving people wisdom and she should be great. She's always good to talk about these things and always up for it as well.
2) Erin Soo Kee is somebody who came to mind as well. She’s a Senior Product Consultant at a product consultancy called Product Rocket. I think she's just an awesome product leader. She's got some really good go-to-market experience. She's launched really complex b2b products in large enterprises. She would have some interesting things to say around that.
3) Büşra Coşkuner. She’s a fellow product coach. She’s in Switzerland actually, to get some geographical diversity in there as well. I think she's got a wealth of knowledge, I always love talking with her. I learned so much when I talk with her every time, so she came to mind as well.
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