Being a product manager is a tough job at any company. But imagine working at a company where your main product line is going to go away. The good news is that you have several years before this happens but it going to happen ,and there is absolutely nothing you can do about.
So what do you do? Milk it for as long as you can? Try to buy into another business line? Or take your existing product expertise and try to innovate and do something completely new (but unproven)?
Fast Company’s story on Sylvania and their New Venture Group (NVG) is an inspiring read for product managers. Sylvania’s main business of making light bulbs is facing a bleak future but here is how they are handling it:
- They are not in denial that their business is in trouble
- They made a conscious choice to do something about it
- They created a new group dedicated to innovating and bringing new products to market (and gave it budget and resources)
- They are wiling to take risks – such as funding product development before any retails orders had been placed
- They are willing to explore and take design inspiration from anywhere
NVG — which banged out 20 new products in the last fiscal year — is the fastest-growing unit of Sylvania’s billion-dollar LED business and already profitable in its second year, with revenues due to triple by 2013.