A New Way of Learning for Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers

A Quick Look at Training Methods

Today’s training programs and courses for Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers are cumbersome at best–and not very effective. I’ve experienced lots of training (as the trainer and as the trainee), and most of it is simply not good.

I began questioning training and teaching methodologies for decades. While attending yet another boring lecture from a teaching assistant at the University of Michigan School of Engineering, I wondered why the best professors at the U were not being filmed.  Then students could watch the lectures at their convenience and be able to learn from the best–not from inexperienced assistants.

Class time could then be spent asking questions and discussing key topics.

Not recording these lectures was a massive fail!

Effective Flight Training

In my sophomore year, I began my Certified Flight Instructor rating using the airplanes of the Michigan Flyers Club, which I had founded the year before.

We were taught how to teach (and learn) using a proven methodology developed during World War II to train pilots and later adopted by the Federal Aviation Agency as the basis of training civilian pilots like me.

It goes like this:

  1. The maneuver is explained to the student by the instructor
  2. The maneuver is demonstrated by the instructor along with a complete, detailed explanation
  3. The student performs the maneuver and is instructed how to do it.
  4. The student then does the maneuver himself while explaining it to the instructor

This method worked like a charm then and still works great today.

Today’s Turgid Training Template

A few years ago I started training product managers and product marketing managers using the same “show up and throw up” lectures with hundreds of slides that every training organization in the world seems to have embraced.

It was not working very well.

Similarly, when sitting through four days of the Blackblot Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager training, I am not sure how much of the overwhelming content I remembered.

When delivering 280 Group’s Optimal Product Management training (which I helped write) to the Botswana Telecommunications Company, a junior product manager in the back asked if we could work through one of the product management templates.  An excellent request, but we didn’t have time.  Lectures were taking up all the time.

Recently, when talking to Steve Johnson, who has trained over 10,000 product marketing managers during his time at Pragmatic Marketing, he said his students “did not want to sit through 250 slides… they wanted to have had discussions.”

What We’ve Learned

In short, we should be teaching product management and product marketing management just like teaching people to fly.  By giving them the information they need and letting them learn by “doing it.”

In fact, if we teach that way, learning and retention go from just 5% (according to the National Training Lab) to over 90%! See the illustration of this at the top of this post.

And if we teach the way that is described below, the major objections that product managers and product marketing managers have had in the past about getting trained simply melt away.

  1. Courses are offered at inconvenient times, and I don’t have time to take away from work–or my family
  2. It’s nice to learn “what” I need to do, but it is much more important to learn “how” to do it
  3. Courses are built to cover EVERYTHING, and we only need to learn specific skills and techniques.  In fact, the “broad classes” typically don’t address my immediate pain points and often don’t go into enough detail on the topics of most interest.

Introducing the Spice Catalyst Professional Development Learning Methodology

  1. First, identify those things product managers and product marketing managers MUST do so, their product has the greatest chance for success.  This will be covered in greater detail in a future post.
  2. Put subjects or courses in a logical flow that builds on each other.  (More about the Spice Catalyst Agile Product Lifecycle in a future post.)
  3. Break up the courses in small, digestible topics that can be consumed at any time and any place, including on mobile devices
  4. For each topic:
    1. Take a pre-topic quiz to help focus on the key learnings
    2. Identify clear learning objectives
    3. Provide compelling lectures reinforced by bullet points
    4. Show examples to aid in remembering the key points
    5. Conduct real-world exercises, that together, constitute a draft plan of action
  5. Provide a PDF version of the lectures along with notes to be used as a reference in the future
  6. Have the exercises in a Workbook template that can be shared with the instructor for mentoring, coaching, and feedback

This “new” methodology will give you the training you need–where and when you need it!  It is incorporated into our pre-boot camp online, on-demand courses and accomplished in the boot camp.

(Note: If you share this article with your social network, we will give you a coupon for access to any one of our courses worth $196 for FREE!)

Click here for an overview of the courses in order to pick the one you want.

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About the Author:

Go to https://dfradin.youcanbook.me, to schedule a time to talk. David Fradin has trained thousands of managers throughout the world in the successful management of products. With over 47 years of experience across major companies, 75+ products and services and 11 startups, he infuses his workshops with insights gained as an expert product leader, product manager and product marketing manager at companies like Apple and HP. He was classically trained as an HP Product Manager and was then recruited by Apple to bring the first hard disk drive on a PC to market. As a result of his leadership and management skills, Apple promoted him first to Apple /// Group Product Manager and later Business Unit Manager at the same organizational level at that time as Steve Jobs. He recently authored “Building Insanely Great Products: Some Products Fail, Many Succeed…This is their Story” Lessons from 47 years of experience including Hewlett-Packard, Apple, 75 products, and 11 startups later. Go to: http://amzn.to/2lyRhn7 Coming soon will be "Organizing and Managing Insanely Great Products" and "Marketing Insanely Great Products." His workshops cover the founding values, vision, product lifecycle and management employed by Apple at its start and which it subscribes to today. You can learn more about his workshops at https://spicecatalyst.com/get-brochure-professional-development-training-courses-description/ Soon to be released by Wiley and Sons, in the Early of 2017, is a seven volume set of university level textbooks entitled: "Foundations in the Management of Successful Products" covering keys to product success, product market strategy, marketing, soft skills, user experience, user interface, product engineering, and product support. What students will learn in the workshops, online courses and books are cover what has made Apple the most valuable company in the world today.

One Comment

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