Ask the Experts: It seems like there is so much to learn in my new product role. Do you have any advice on where to start?

Related Framework BoxMarketMarket Problems

Pragmatic Marketer Volume 10 Issue 1

You should always start with Market Problems. You wouldn’t get in a car and start driving without knowing where you’re trying to get to. And it’s the same thing for anyone starting a new product role.

It’s very easy, no matter what your title is, to get caught up in executing activities and tasks and not thinking strategically. There’s always somebody standing in your doorway, saying: When can you get this roadmap done? Can you help with this sales call? Or can you go to this event? The people who get into product jobs are can-do people. They never say no, they just go and respond.

But when it really comes down to it, no matter what task you want to pursue, you have to start with Market Problems. First and foremost, you must understand what problem you’re trying to solve, and then use that context for all other activities. If you do that, you’re golden.

To get to those Market Problems, one of our favorite sayings around Pragmatic Institute is: “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” It means that you have to leave the building and listen to the market, rather than just dreaming stuff up. You discover those problems in the market by interviewing your customers and potential customers. Then, you dig deeper to find out how common those problems are in the market.

All of the activities we include in our Pragmatic Institute Framework, from strategy through execution, are important. But in our courses, we drive people to think about what problems they are trying to solve first. Then the rest of it is more powerful, and the pieces will tie together more cleanly. And your execution will be smoother, because you stopped and thought about it before getting on the road.

Do you have a question for our experts? Send us an email at

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  • Jim Foxworthy is president of Pragmatic Institute and an industry veteran with more than 30 years in the computer industry. Prior to becoming president, Jim was an instructor for Pragmatic Institute and headed a consulting firm focused exclusively on implementations of the Pragmatic Institute Framework. Contact Jim at

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