TEI 229: Do you have the best entrepreneurial skills for product management – with Michelle Duval


Manage episode 233236747 series 1538235
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Understanding attitudes, motivations, and blind spots with your product teams.

Product Manager Interview - Michelle DuvalWould you be interested to know what start-up founders with successful exits of up to $1.2B have in common? I know I would, because start-up founders share similarities with product managers. Indeed, many founders also take on the responsibility of product manager for their business.

Our guest, Michelle Duval, shares the first 20-year study of what successful entrepreneurs and business builders do share in common. Further, the research has been applied to intrapreneurs — those Everyday Innovators in organizations who are striving to create more value for customers.

The study is called Fingerprint for Success. Listen and learn what qualities are needed for your success.

Also, you’ll hear about an assessment you can take in a few minutes to help you identify your key strengths.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[3:10] How did you get started in this line of work?

I created one of the first coaching businesses in Australia and ended up working with creative people like artists, actors, and writers. I saw both successful people and those who were struggling to get off the ground. We ended up with 15 years of an inventory spanning hundreds of clients and noticed that attitudes have an impact on how commercially successful someone is. We followed that up with a quantitative study that also found significant correlation between attitude and business outcome.

[7:17] What is Fingerprint for Success?

The platform allowed us to commercialize the research. There’s an engine that measures 48 different aspects of work and benchmarks them against our success group. You can find out where your entrepreneurial talents are and where your blind spots are. We all have attitudes and biases and sometimes we don’t know what we’re not paying attention to.

[9:45] How does Fingerprint for Success apply to people in an enterprise?

People use it to map company culture, or look at a team or individual. You can identify where your organizational blind spots are. For example, people who have high degrees of creativity are not inclined to follow step-by-step procedures. Having procedures are critical to some part of an enterprise but not to others, and finding that balance is key. You can also see how your team or your organization compares to both the U.S. population in general, and some of the world’s most successful people. It can be really beneficial for creating a team of people with the right attitudes and traits for success on whatever your project might be.

[16:00] What are key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?

Initiation is a critical ingredient. How quickly do you turn your ideas into action vs. pausing for reflection? Being able to rapidly turn ideas into actions is essential for innovation. There’s also a high degree of self-efficacy, which means taking the first step without knowing what the other steps are. A second finding was a big-picture orientation. The goal is to figure out what’s most important to get the product to market, then come back to the details later. A third finding was an “attitude for indifference.” How motivated are you following rules and thinking outside the rules that have been set? Innovators have a high amount of indifference to the rules. This means they’re not constricted by the norms that everyone else is seeing in that environment.

[22:06] How do these traits compare between startups and people in enterprises?

Both have a sense of “ask for forgiveness, not permission” and they’ll do small tests to validate ideas. The funding process forces you to do that, as do organizational rules. Taking a small step means you’re inventing something as you go. The indifference is also common. If you’re the person in the organization who always breaks the rules, you probably rate highly in this area. Looking for these traits and fostering them are critical to building innovative teams.

[26:01] How can people use Fingerprint for Success to become more innovative?

Some blind spots are more difficult to manage and change than others. Your attitudes at work determine where you find fulfillment. You should find a role that aligns your work with your natural motivations and find someone else who can help you develop your blind spots. Find someone who is an example of the behavior you want to have and ask them how they do it; this is called modeling. The next step is to understand why that behavior is important and finding motivation for it. It’s difficult to change skills without motivation.

[30:08] How does Fingerprint for Success fit with tools like Myers-Briggs?

Those tools look at you as a personality type. We’re measuring your attitudes and motivations at work — what motivates you and gives you passion. We’re all nervous about jobs being replaced by automation. The most transferrable thing we have is our attitude and having that understanding of yourself and others allows you to be a high-performing individual on a high-performing team.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” -Albert Einstein


Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it on your favorite social network.

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