Category Archives: Customer & Product

From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to Space…

Last week I joined my good friend  Den Delimarsky and his colleague Courtny Cotten hosted me on The Work Item podcast. “In this episode, we dive a bit deeper into Charlie’s approach to product ideation and design, discuss the importance of having a principled organization, and ask questions about his most recent adventure around space.” Czech it out here (I love that the transcript is available along with the audio): From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to …Continue reading

How to be a Secret Agent (of Change)

This post documents some essential tools I’ve collected in my “change toolkit”. By sharing them, I hope more leaders will become even better change agents, or at least be better at dealing with change.Continue reading

Open Office Hours with Charlie

Last month I offered “office hours” to anyone who wanted to chat with me. It was an experiment to see a) if interesting people would reach out, b) if I could be useful to these people, and c) if I’d be exposed to domains where I could spend more of my time in the future. All three hypotheses have turned out true. Thank you to all of you who utilized this so far! I still …Continue reading

Interview with Authority Mag: Homes Of The Future

Jason Hartman recently interviewed me for Authority Magazine. Check it out. Homes Of The Future: “The Future Of Smart Homes” With Charlie Kindel of SnapAV Some quotes: One of the things that really motivates and drives me professionally and personally, is the idea of how technology can improve people’s lives in their homes… I realized then that I was doing it all wrong and that everybody around me was doing it wrong and that they …Continue reading

Broken Windows – Right Idea, Bad Analogy

It is well understood that no product is perfect and small issues will always exist. Without an ongoing mechanism to fix those issues, not only do they not get fixed, they pile up. Having a clear Lexicon and Taxonomy is critical to getting large numbers of people moving forward towards a vision. Having the lexicon be composed of terms that make logical sense, disambiguate, and are memorable is important. Over the years of building many …Continue reading

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are complete processes built around a tool, owned by a leader that gets adopted broadly and regularly inspected and improved to ensure things get done, not because everyone has good intentions, but because the mechanism’s elements structurally force the desired behavior. “Good intentions never work, you need good mechanisms to make anything happen.” — Jeff Bezos I’ve written previously about how Good Intentions are Never Enough and why mechanisms are needed, but I didn’t go deep into how to make mechanisms actually work. …Continue reading

Work Backwards From The Customer

At the 1996 Microsoft Professional Developer Conference (PDC) I stood up in front of 8,000 customers and announced what I’d been working on for the previous two years: the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). On stage, in front of all those people, we wrote and demoed code running on one Windows 95 PC talking over the network to code on other PCs. This was back in the day when being able to write programs that worked across a …Continue reading

Focusing on users is not Customer Obsession

Let’s talk Customer Obsession and how it is different than user obsession. My definitions: Customer: An individual (or entity) that pays you, directly or indirectly, for value you provide. User: An individual that is forced to use something you provide. Users fall into three buckets 1) people unhealthily addicted to something (heroin), 2) employees forced to use something in order to do their job (IT systems), or 3) people who are products of services that sell them …Continue reading

Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit

Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly. – Amazon’s Leadership Principles This Leadership Principle actually combines two principles that go hand-in-hand. First, there’s the “Have Backbone” part and then the part about disagreeing but committing …Continue reading

Customer, Business, Technology, Organization (CBTO)

CBTO = Customer + Business + Technology + OrganizationContinue reading

What it Means to Be Great Product Manager

A Tweetstorm of mine from earlier in the week: https://twitter.com/natbro/timelines/611337333711843330 Piling on a comment @natbro made about PMs: Besides customers, there are two groups of people involved in building tech products: Engineers and everyone else. Only the engineers actually produce anything for the customer. The job of everyone else, especially PMs is to generate clarity and commitment to a purpose so that the engineers can create magic. Bad PMs don’t get this and think the …Continue reading

"Write Once…" is Anti-Customer

Just as in the ’90s, there’s a bunch of hype these days around solving the cross-platform development problem. Mobile platform fragmentation is killing developers, and if only every device supported some common language or technology engine we could all Write Once and Run Anywhere. If only. WORA was, is, and always will be, a fallacy. WORA reminds me of the mole in whack-a-mole. It just keeps popping up and the realities of competing platform vendors …Continue reading

Why Nobody Can Copy Apple

Horace Dediu has written another brilliant piece titled “Why doesn’t anybody copy Apple?”. As he points out, Apple is fairly unique in its command of vertical integration and many people point to that as the “why”. However, Horace also admits this can’t be the sole reason and he is unable to explain what that reason could be. I think I know. Tim Cook refers to integration and a great team as unique Apple advantages (but …Continue reading

A Mouse and Keyboard Don’t Make a Hardware Company

Microsoft is not, and never will be, a hardware company. Please don’t go off saying “what about Xbox or mice & keyboards?” Microsoft does not really want to build & sell hardware. Surface is akin to Google’s Nexus; a ‘north star’ product intended to lead OEMs in the right direction. “With Surface we wanted to make sure that no stone is left unturned, in terms of really showing Windows 8 in its most innovative form. …Continue reading

Apps Must Be Cross Platform

This is a copy of a guest post I wrote for GeekWire. View the original here. Maybe there are a few Robert Scobles out there who still believe that a significant number of successful apps in the future will be unique to any one client platform. Connected experiences across all devices is where the growth is and it would be insane for anyone, from a major brand to an early-stage startup to believe they don’t …Continue reading

Wanna Compete with Apple? Focus on Experiences.

TL;DR Apple’s insane profitability has the other big guys jealous and freaked out. None are stupid enough to try to compete with Apple on Apple’s terms. The way to beat Apple is to redefine the game by making apps irrelevant and by making mobile just a piece of the equation. The “Experience = Stuff / Time” model is a great way break the conversation down to really understand what is going to happen. In 1999 …Continue reading

Experience = Stuff / Time

The real value in creating new businesses is in delivering customer experiences. The ubiquitous nature of the web, devices, and social networks means successful companies in the future will understand this. The question is “what do people mean when they say ‘experience’”? This post provides an answer. Over the years, I’ve developed a mental model that helps me and my teams think about new businesses from a very customer focused perspective. I refer to it …Continue reading

Brand is a Critical Part of the End-to-End Experience

A commenter on another of my posts asked me to explain further why I think “brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services.” I took it as a challenge to actually get my thoughts on the subject down in writing. So here we go… I use the following mental model when thinking through end-to-end user experiences: Or, since this is not real math, in words: …Continue reading