My name is Nils Davis. My day job is as a product manager, for a product whose primary users are product managers. That’s very “meta,” to coin a phrase, a theme that repeats throughout my life and interests.
Product managers are the nexus of all the threads of communication within a company. On a daily basis I speak with engineers, sales people, technical support engineers, field engineers, technical writers, designers, and executives, both within my own organization and in those of my customers. I have to be conversant in all of their issues (or at least appear to be!) and, more importantly, be able to speak intelligibly to each, despite their different languages. As such, product management seems to me to be one of the best professions for a polymath – and one of the best places to see what really works in terms of “best practices.” In the product management world we constantly struggle to understand how products are successful, and why some are not successful despite the best efforts of our colleagues, while others succeed despite “doing everything wrong.”
My interests range far and wide, with a particular focus right now on what I see as some of the fundamental building blocks or key dimensions of the future, including:
- Augmented reality
- Alternative energy
- New materials
- Ubiquitous computing
- Behavioral economics
- “Thick value”
- Global demographics and the “bottom billion”
- Energy efficiency
I try to imagine the future in all its glory, then determine a path to achieve that future, and attempt to – at least – understand that path, and in some cases, help move the world along that path. This combination of “scenario planning” and invention has been a little bit lost in these days when innovation seems too often to mean a new “local coupon” application on the World Wide Web.
The articles on this blog reflect that range of interests – from “rules of thumb” for product managers, to interesting discoveries or developments from the frontier of the future, to my own thoughts about how things will – or might – turn out.
I welcome a conversation on these topics – obviously, all I know is what I read and what I think, and all that may be full of mistakes and misconstruings, so I need your help to navigate into the future. Please feel compelled to comment on what I put up here. I look forward to a critical conversation.
I have several older blogs in addition to this one – you will see the relationship clearly – if you want to check them out:
* My old product management blog – Wait, I Know This One!
* My old energy and materials blog – Barrier Busting
* My (somewhat more current) blog about cognitive policy and behavioral economics – Don’t Think Of An Elephant
You can also follow me on Twitter as @nilsie.
Book RecommendationsThe books on this list both inspire me and provide daily-use tools and insights.
DecisiveChip and Dan Heath hit another one out of the ballpark with Decisive, their guide to making better decisions through science - the science of understanding how our psychology handicaps us when it comes to decisions. With their simple WRAP methodology for improving your decision-making process, or that of your organization, your decisions will be much better.
Flash ForesightDaniel Burrus' Flash Foresight was one of the highlights of my reading list last year, full of valuable advice about "predicting the future' and how to know what part of the future is predictable and what part isn't. Highly recommended - I've returned to it over and over again since I first read it.
Lean StartupEric Reis' Lean Startup has fundamental (and in retrospect, obvious) ideas for how to build a startup successfully. Key concept is that startups operate in a world of complete uncertainty, so you need business practices that recognize that uncertainty and continually reduce the level of uncertainty, until you have discovered a real market, a real product that market wants, and a real way you can get that product to market profitably. You may think you know this at the outset, but the reality is that you don't, and at least you have to test your hypotheses. This book is about how to do that.
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