The Dreaded Zombie Product

At every company I have been at with some history (more than a decade or two), I have found there to be at least one product that is long beyond the “Milk it” stage. Orders have dropped off, and customers have moved to either a different technology, or into a replacement product. Of course, you still get the occasional batch of orders for it, thus the hesitancy to discontinue it formally.

The development of a product should follow a lifecycle from investigation, definition, to alpha, then beta and production. You will note that I didn’t say “and finally, production”, that is because there is one more phase that is difficult to actually achieve, obsolescence or discontinuance.

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Three Generations

I recently renewed my passport. As I didn’t need it immediately, this time I chose to go though the proper process (fill out the form, mail it in with a check, and wait for the State Department to return it).

It was to expire on March 19, 2016, so it was indeed due. Of course, whenever I open my passport, I think of all the trips, both business and pleasure, I have taken over the last 20 years. Perhaps, I will catalog all my entry/exit stamps, but for now, they will remain memories.

As the last time I needed my passport in a hurry (and I had an employer who preferred we use the expediter service), I was somewhat insulated from the process of renewing. Fill out the form, pay the service, and 3 days later I had my passport in my hot little hands. This time, I got the passport, and the passport card (recommended by our hosts we will be staying with in Mexico, as it greatly reduces the time at the border), and paid the expedite fee, as I don’t like being separated from my passport, even when I am not traveling. Also, as 2006, when I last renewed, was when they began requiring passports for trips to Mexico and Canada, there was a crush of applications at that time that led to long delays in processing, and now it is 10 years later, and the threat of the RealID rules are causing another goldrush on the passport services, I felt it prudent to expedite.

Less than 2 weeks later, I got my new passport book, and a few days after that my passport card. But I was bummed that I didn’t get my old passport back. I, like many, enjoy thumbing through the visa pages, remembering my trips.

Yesterday, in an non-descript envelope, my canceled passport was returned. Yay!

Strategic Marketing Definition

The words “Strategic Marketing” evokes grand ideas and concepts. But as with many phrases, there is more than a little bit of ambiguity in the perception of those who hear it. Different groups within the organization will likely have quite different interpretations of “Strategic Marketing


When Sales hears the term “Strategic Marketing,” they think that means helping them sell more to what they know they can sell, focusing on the obvious, proven strengths and strong markets. They think of you helping them find more opportunities that are invisible today.

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Managing un-sexy products

If you follow the #prodmgmt or #prodmktg hashtags on Twitter, and the ever increasing variety of product management blogs, it would seem like every product management job is some leading edge, hyper tech start up product that is positioned to be the next Facebook, (or Dropbox, or {insert cool cloud technology}).  However, it is much more likely that you work at a company that has a history, and that you will find yourself managing a ho-hum product, in a market that you may not be super excited about.

Example:  A foolish mistake on a recent trip found me without my toilet kit.  Yep, I forgot it hung in the bathroom.  Apart from my electric shaver, there wasn’t anything worth crying about.  But it did mean I needed to replace my shaver.  Bummer.

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The City (San Francisco)

This week, I spent a couple of days up in San Francisco. There was a big trade show, SPIE Optics and Photonics West at the Moscone center.

As always, it was YUUUUUUUGE in the colloquialism of The Donald. Three halls, and seemingly a thousand exhibitors. Cameras, Software, Lenses, a LOT of lasers, and everything else that might be related to optics and optical devices.

Since I know a lot of people in this space, it was good to get up there to reconnect, and to catch up. I was there Tuesday and Thursday, and met with a lot of people, getting some leads. Good stuff.

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