Alex Cowan is an entrepreneur (5x), intrapreneur (1x), author, and instructor at General Assembly. He’s also the author of Starting a Tech Business. When he’s not teaching at GA, he’s often found advising companies and posting instructional materials for innovators and instructions on alexandercowan.com.
In “7 Essential Skills for the Full Stack Product Person” I introduced this idea of a “full stack product person”:
The response was great and thanks again to everyone who got in touch with the stories and perspectives. Based on that correspondence and some personal experience, I wrote up three quick sketches (before and after) about the concept’s practical application.
Sketch 1: The Full Stack Sales/Accounts Executive
SILO TO SILO
When the account expert talks to the technology and product expert about a challenging account situation, the frequent result is a two-way disconnect. I’m sure there’s a Dilbert cartoon about this, but I’ll skip that.
Our full stack product person (who is in an accounts role) instead relates direct observations on customer behavior, informed (but not overly detailed) ideas based on the current product architecture, and distills the underlying account drivers using his skills in design thinking and customer discovery. These inputs are relatable and actionable for the product/technology expert and together they move on to a constructive next step.
Sketch 2: The Online Marketer
The marketer following conventional recipes may end up chasing their competition in a shared circle of escalating AdWord prices and keyword contention.
The full stack marketer uses her skills in design thinking, customer discovery, and lean to learn how their customers actually talk about their needs and problems, and then runs experiments to validate or invalidate creative new angles on connecting with the customer via search.
Sketch 3: The Product Manager
SILO TO SILO
The silo’ed product manager might exaggerate that ‘all’ customers want a feature and, whether or not that’s true, this isn’t very actionable for the product technology expert/implementer.
The full stack product manager instead relates specific observations about specific customers (using personas, problem scenarios and their design thinking skills), presents their idea for an enhancement using the MVC, and and has drafted agile user stories organized with assumptions and prioritized for a lean experimentation. In this way, the full stack product manager gets more out of their colleagues in engineering/technology and is able to see if their approach is likely to work before over-investing.
What do you think? Do you have a story about the difference applying some or all of these skills made? If so, please consider posting a comment below or dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For more on the ‘Full Stack Product Person’ concept, I recommend this post: ‘7 Essential Skills for the Full Stack Product Person‘
- If you’re in the SF Bay Area this summer, I’m teaching a two-session Venture Design workshop at General Assembly where the participants will learn these skill sets (June 22nd & July 13th).