Meyer, O’Bryan, new facilities, have UW optimistic

first_imgSophomore golfer Thomas O’Bryan had the lowest stroke average on the team last year with 76.58 strokes per round. He has since lowered that average to below 75 through the early stages of this season.[/media-credit]When Michael Burcin began to consider the head coaching position for the Wisconsin men’s golf team in the spring of 2011, he knew that there was a good gig sitting in front of him.Besides the glamour and draw of coaching in an elite conference, however, the Wisconsin golf program was far from dazzling. It had been 12 years since Wisconsin last placed in the top four of the Big Ten. But the lure of his first head coaching position was charming enough for him to jump on board.“I knew the program was not where it needed to be, but that didn’t really concern me,” Burcin said.Entering his second year as the UW head coach, Burcin would be the first to say success hasn’t really been a frequently used word in the program for many years. Regardless of the past, Burcin has Wisconsin ready to improve their vocabulary and add success to the list in 2013.And he knows exactly who he’ll need to help him do so.“Thomas [O’Bryan] and Chris [Meyer], for sure,” Burcin said, lacking all doubt. He’s exactly right, too. In two completely different situations, Wisconsin’s pair of smooth strikers will be looked upon to carry the Badgers throughout the season.Meyer is one of four seniors on the team, but is the No. 1 golfer that Burcin sends out into the fairways.A transfer from Minnesota, Meyer has consistently lowered his scoring average over his years at Wisconsin to the current team-low of 74.45. He is the Wisconsin leader stroke-wise, and while he may not like to forcefully admit it, he is by far the team’s greatest leader vocally.“He’s being modest,” O’Bryan said while sitting next to Meyer, a golfer three years his elder. “I think he definitely is the guy that really pushes everyone and myself. Personally, I really think he has taught me a lot and taken me under his wing since I got here.”And that parent-like relationship has benefitted O’Bryan quite well.The youngster from Aurora, Ill., arrived at Madison like most untapped golfers might. “Skinny and tall” was the description from Burcin, before he bulked up.“Thomas has an opportunity when he’s a senior, if not this year, to be one of the better players in the Big Ten,” Burcin said.The future is rather meaningless to Meyer, though, in the middle of his last season as a Badger. He’s also in the middle of a scoring battle with O’Bryan, whose own scoring average has similarly dipped beneath 75 strokes per round.Together, the two have combined to lower their scoring averages by a total of six strokes in the last 18 months, which Burcin labeled as something that, “just doesn’t happen.”Each of them were a big part in the Badgers strong finish to their fall golf season at the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic in South Carolina as well as their solid showing just last weekend at the Big Ten Match Play event in Bradenton, Fla.Meyer didn’t lose a match in the team’s trip out east, going 1-0-2, but was outdone by his sophomore teammate as O’Bryan dominated fellow Big Ten No. 2 golfers, going undefeated on the weekend with a 3-0 mark.Wisconsin and Burcin will use those pair of events as a springboard throughout the year and disregard much of the past three seasons where Wisconsin has finished 10th, 11th, and 11th in the Big Ten.One reason Wisconsin isn’t looking very far back in program history is that they’d rather sit back and adore what is around them, right at this very moment, which is their new, state-of-the-art facilities introduced at University Ridge this past November.Waiting months for the new indoor facilities to finally be finished, Wisconsin was relocated to Vitense Golfland, a Madison driving range, as well as the basement of the Kohl Center, during the site’s construction. For some players, their locker room came straight out the trunk of their car or in Meyer’s case, his own apartment. Having lived through it all, Meyer is enjoying a final resting place during his last season.“You really can’t put it into words,” Meyer said. “I feel like every team should have a home, a place that is theirs where they can get away and work on what they need to do.”The then-proposed facilities were actually on the short list of things that caught the eye of Burcin when he was weighing his coaching options.“When it comes to facilities, we are top five in the country,” Burcin said. “There aren’t five places that have better facilities than us.“When you combine the golf course, the short game area and [the new] building, I think we are probably number three in the nation.”The facilities paint more than just a pretty picture, however. They also help craft a bunch of ready-for-art golf swings. With that in tow, the Badgers have particularized their goals for the 2013 season.Wisconsin’s goal is to place in the top five teams at each event this spring, a goal that seems rather reasonable. For UW, it’s a simplistic means to their desired end. If they can accomplish that, they’ll be right where coach Burcin wants them to be.“If you finish in the top five every week, you’re going to qualify for regionals and a lot of good things are going to happen.”last_img read more

New Product Development Strategy Management Advice

first_imgSaeed Khan defines product management and new product development strategy, how it should be staffed, and what growing companies should do to get the most out of their product management teams.A lot of startup and expansion-stage technology companies say they believe and invest in product management. So, they hire a couple of product managers to handle the tasks they believe fall into the product management bucket and have those new team members report to either the head of marketing or engineering.Unfortunately, that’s exactly why a chasm exists between what most companies think product management is and what it should actually be, says Saeed Khan, a long time technology product manager and co-founder of the blog, On Product Management.A true product management function isn’t simply an extension of marketing or engineering, Khan explains. Rather, it’s a separate strategic function that should be responsible for driving new product development strategy focus, alignment, and market clarity.“I think the name ‘product management’ is one of the barriers that prevents people from really understanding what it is and isn’t. Product management is about so much more than the ‘product’ piece of it.”Khan sat down with OpenView for a brief Q&A to discuss his definition of product management and new product development strategy, how it should be staffed, and what growing companies should do to get the most out of their product management teams:It seems that, even among experts, there are myriad definitions of product management. What’s your definition and is there really more than one way to describe it?There’s a big difference between different definitions and different understandings. Different definitions of product management are OK. Different understandings are not.Fundamentally, product management is a business optimization function that oversees technology and product all the way from development through to go-to-market. Areas such as channel development, marketing strategy and positioning, and customer management, are all part of overall product management.If you look at consumer products, product managers aren’t responsible for the chemistry of the business’s products. They aren’t in the lab mixing ingredients and trying to tweak the recipe. Why should it be any different for technology companies?Sure, there’s a much closer relationship between bits, bytes and product management in software companies, but that doesn’t mean a product manager’s responsibilities should be any different. In the end, they have to focus on the success of the product. It’s just about requirements and what you should build? Other key questions include:How will that product compete?What can you do to take it to market?How should the product be priced and licensed?How will customers use your product?Those are all components of the holistic definition of product management and new product development strategy. If you’re not including them into product management, then all you’re doing is turning it into an adjunct of product engineering.For companies looking to implement product management, what role should they hire first?I think the biggest mistake most growing companies make is hiring one or two junior product managers and thinking they’re getting more value by doing that. In reality, for the first hire, the best thing to do is hire a seasoned product management executive that can lead a new team and feel comfortable sitting at the table with the CEO and management team.Ultimately, the head of product management is a leadership role, and new product development strategy is a primary focus. You need someone that not only understands how product management relates to overall business strategy, but also someone that can build and lead a team as the business scales.So, if you do hire an individual product manager first make sure you hire someone with the kind of seasoned experience that will allow them to own the function and bring credibility to it.If, instead, you hire two junior product managers and they’re overwhelmed by the job or aren’t able to meet expectations, then everyone else in your organization will lose faith in them and product management as a whole. That creates a vicious cycle that makes it pretty difficult to legitimize product management.After finding that perfect product management leader, who should be brought on next?As the breadth of functionality increases, companies need to be sure they specialize within product management. If you think about the way growing sales and marketing teams are built, you don’t hire a bunch of generalists that are jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none. For example, you hire lead qualifiers, lead generators, sales reps, and sales managers — specialized roles that can focus on specific tasks. With product management, it’s no different.So, after you’ve hired a head of product management and one or two quality product managers, the next hire should be a product marketing person that can work closely with the product managers. After that, you might hire a technical product manager — someone who can work more closely with engineering.Another hire could include a solutions specialist, who would be responsible for analyzing new use cases or scenarios that can be applied to the product road map. The idea is to create and fill roles that are all spokes in a very well rounded wheel.Once that team is in place, how do you re-delegate responsibilities that used to be owned by sales, marketing, or engineering to product management, without rocking the boat?Honestly, it depends on your corporate culture. Change is a process, not an event. So don’t expect to be able to take responsibility away from other departments overnight and experience a smooth transition.If you’ve got big picture people on your team who are able to put change into context, you might be able move quicker and the adjustment won’t be as dramatic. If you’ve got people who are more emotionally married to the product and your old product strategy, it might take some finesse.When you begin to formalize product management, it’s critical to set clear expectations and responsibilities. A product manager’s job is to unemotionally align the product strategy and the business strategy, and you need to put them in a position to do that. But don’t be surprised if a founding software developer, for instance, resists change.Here’s an example: I worked for a startup in the dotcom days that was looking to dramatically shift its product strategy. The CEO wanted to move away from a desktop product to a server-based product. From my point of view, it was a no-brainer.But there were people within the company who were really upset because they were emotionally invested in the desktop product. They were looking at years of work and thinking it’s going up in flames.The lesson is that product management and new product development strategy implementation isn’t always cut and dried. You have to factor in your company culture and size, and the personalities of the people that might be affected by it.Ultimately, you’re doing what’s best for the company, but you don’t want it to be such a disruptive change that rifts are created between Product Management and every other department.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis3last_img read more