The unicorn employee

After many years of being either the hiring manager or candidate, it has become clear to me that there are a lot of recruiters and hiring managers who in reality are looking for a unicorn. In many cases, people are still employed for (documented and proven) skills rather than for (estimated) attitude and potential. There are also many out there who have a clear view e.g. on what the acceptable duration of every position in a cv might be.

There are very few who are really able to identify a unicorn even it is sitting in front of them. I am convinced that in many instances they simply don’t check if the animal in front of them looking like a horse, at first sight, is having a horn on its head.

What if the unicorn knew she/he had a unique set of benefits to add to the business? And what if this unicorn were treated like a horse by the majority of recruiters and hiring managers?

But there are some who are able to identify a unicorn for the specific set of benefits they are looking for. And they are also able to treat a unicorn as a unicorn.

Those recruiters/hiring managers will make a difference. This is the moment where the magic happens. Keep it up!

Digital transformation squared or even cubed


Glad to see that the so-called “Digital Transformation” is becoming something like mainstream. More and more companies realize that they urgently need to adapt to the new reality. It also shows that they start to understand how crucial true customer centricity has become.

So far, so good. Here comes the problem: While many companies are busy with their transformations the world has changed again. It is time to move to “Digital Transformation squared” or even to “Digital Transformation cubed.”

In all of my previous companies we were discussing things like the following:

  • We need to scale agile
  • Our platform is a monolith
  • The dependencies kill us
  • We need to create BI insights closer to the customers/business
  • We need seamless end-to-end customer experience
  • What is the role of Marketing if everything becomes “digital”?
  • Etc. Etc.

While those are busy with catching up with basics, there might be a missed opportunity to leapfrog the competition by addressing the “digital squared” possibilities. I am not saying this is easy. But this is the moment where you need to consider anticipating as much as you can even though you are busy with the current challenges. This is the starting point for serious discussions around

(Product) strategy – (Agile) ways of working – Product delivery

Don’t fool yourself and beware of the race between the hare and the tortoise to succeed…

Starting 2018 as self-employed

On Monday a new year will start. After having learned a lot of things during the last years and being more than ever convinced that customer & business focused product management are vital to the long-term success of technology-driven companies, I am offering my passion and skills to interested companies.

I am open to having this journey end with a long-term exciting position in a company that values this approach and creates the right environment to succeed.

I am looking forward to sharing my insights and experiences here on my blog. And am also looking forward to some energizing & inspiring discussions.

May the journey begin…


Importance of innovative technology for your business – really?

Found on LinkedIn




Yesterday I have read this post on LinkedIn talking about the current key technologies. It made me think about the role of “innovation” and Boards asking for the “next big thing”, the “pink rocket capable of flying us to the moon”.

Innovation happens when “invention” comes together with “value creation for customers & business”. This includes product delivery obviously. If any of those two ingredients is missing, innovation becomes meaningless.

If we are talking about key technologies, we tend to neglect that they are pure enablers. To put it more bluntly they are simple toys. From a commercial perspective, the thinking must start from a customer problem. In the majority of cases, there are existing technical solutions to a given customer problem that don’t require “key technology”.

What if some companies just cleaned up their registration flow instead of thinking about virtual reality? What if some CEOs tried to impress their Boards with improved conversion rate numbers instead of showing fancy “pink rockets”?

In most cases what you need to do is much more basic than you expect it to be. And please don’t start with technology, but with a customer problem and your existing product…


Product management – the three disciplines

Based on my personal experience I would see three disciplines
for any senior level product professional

  • (Product) Strategy: Is based on the company’s business strategy and gives a long-term guidance on which products & services will build a competitive advantage. Which features will create value for customers and business? The product strategy is based on the company’s current and/or future capabilities.
  • (Agile) Ways of Working: Enables a learning organization based on agile principles and best practice. Makes sure organization builds a sustainable competitive advantage based on its “people platform”.
  • Product Development: Ensures delivery of agreed products & services in scope, on time & on budget

All three disciplines must be addressed together. Also, a good role definition should include aspects of all three. In an ideal world, the surrounding organization would be a mature product company. I have posted about this earlier here.

Consumers aren’t happy with the status quo in Gaming

Yesterday I stumbled upon a blog post on EGR. More specifically please read this:

The core gambling products are relatively unchanged from those offered a century ago so it’s easy to understand why operators are usually resistant to change. But this year we’ve seen rising evidence that consumers are hungry for new products, and that the current way of doing things may not be the best approach.

From a new generation of online casino firms changing what an online casino experience needs to be to Sky Bet changing the very nature of the consumer sports betting offering to PokerStars attempting to reinvent online poker this year has seen no shortage of indicators of what comes next. Sky Bet’s sports betting offering is now led by the RequestABet product it helped bring to market, with more traditional betting markets often side-lined and placed below the scroll.

Mobile is, of course, a major part of this change and products designed not just for the smaller screen and touch navigation but for the new consumer mindset that comes with it will continue to provide growth opportunities for the bold. While the old way of doing things will continue to dominate, and continue to be profitable in the short-term, there is a sense that even more radical approaches may prove a breakthrough in the coming 2-3 years.

It is amazing to what extent the Gaming industry has been able to maintain the status quo. Now the big question is: Who is going to drive the next wave of change? What will build the competitive advantage over others? And this will most likely not be adding more marketing bucks and throwing more bonus money at players.

Someone I spoke to during the last days said it is all about the “people platform” and much less about the technical platform. The ability to tap into customer insight systematically and build relevant products & services fastest will make a difference. And this will need the right people platform. The good thing about this is that it is sustainable. If your organization has learned and keeps learning, the probability that you are going to belong to the winners is increasing massively.

Is your organization up to it?


Four years later – still the very same (digital) challenges

Yes, I am resuming my blogging activities now. And yes, I am having a lot of conversations with lots of different people due to my new situation.

But what strikes me most: Immersing myself in my own thinking and perception of a couple of years ago, I am realizing that there hasn’t been so much progress since 2013/2014.

Back then, it was difficult to find top-level executives who would feel the urgency to create more value more systematically for their customers. Also, it would be hard to find product development organizations who have understood how agile, product discoveries etc. etc. work.

And today? Still not that different. Where are the disruptors who are winning market share because they have built superior ways of working based on an employee empowerment, trust & appreciation culture? How can it be that there aren’t more north stars showing us the way?

And don’t get me wrong: To me, this is just a question about when and not about if it will happen. IMHO I think there are four reasons for this:

  1. Lack of sense of urgency. Especially in industries where there is still no competitor up for it, there is no need for change. Only the opportunity is a missed one. As an example, I am thinking of XING & LinkedIn in the social networking space.
  2. Lip service. Many companies pretend they are all about customer value. But they have not yet understood how radical they will really need to change in order to really build customer value. There are many examples out there.
  3. Functional silos. It is still about Marketing vs. Product vs. Commercial etc. etc.
  4. Command and control ways of working. Many companies are still stuck in the early industrial age. Here it matters to control and the employees are more or less seen as “machines”. The reflex of the CEO in times of uncertainty is to exercise even more control over his/her company.

To understand the impact of what is coming up you simply need to listen to the more savvy employees. They are less and less willing to accept a tayloristic worldview. This manifests in increasing employee turnover. And this creates a sense of urgency.

But organizations behave like organisms under a virus attack. They defend the system and make sure the virus is eliminated before it can do too much harm. I have seen a couple of talented individuals being “spat out” like that without having had any major impact on their organizations.

What if the attack were a friendly one? If it were the opportunity to build a competitive advantage over those who have defended the attack? Think about it!