Often I’m asked what the right balance is between new product development and investing in improving existing products. I suppose it’s natural for companies to want to have some sort of percentage guideline, but I try to get companies to think about these investments a little differently. To me, all of these projects are product investments, and rather than worry about whether you’re investing enough in new product lines versus existing product lines, I would rather have the team worry that they’re investing in the best opportunities.
Every so often I meet a product manager that tells me that they are not allowed to talk to their users or customers. Sometimes it’s because the sale reps want to control all access; or maybe it’s because marketing is supposed to be the interface with the customer; and occasionally there is literally a corporate policy restricting direct customer access because of worries about inappropriate statements or commitments. For whatever reason, if you work at a company where you’re told you can’t talk to your users, my advice is to first try hard to change this policy, but if that doesn’t work, dust off your resume and find a place where you can practice your craft and have a shot at creating great products.