Ken Rona on Setting New Product Development Career Goals

In Chapter 15 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Ken Rona answers "What Goals Are You Setting as You Look to What Comes Next in Your Business Career?"  Rona notes he was hired by Turner to do a specific thing.  As his software product development project reaches its halfway point, Rona and his team begin evolving from a minimal viable product, or MVP, to the consumer marketing to foster adoption. 

Ken Rona is a Vice President at Turner Broadcasting, where he leads teams across advertising sales, big data software development and business strategy.  Rona earned a BA and MA in Political Science from Stony Brook University and a PhD in Behavioral Economics from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: What goals are you setting as you look to what comes next in your business career?

Ken Rona: You know, I think you’d like to think that people have kind of--always know what the goal is. When I got hired at Turner I got hired to do a very specific thing. And we’re about halfway through that build I think. Maybe a little less, so my goal is to finish that build, so goals right now in terms of on a business sense are subcomponents of the build and making sure that thing is adopted so one of my big concerns—one of our big goals right now is, now that we’ve built a—there’s this phrase in the startup community called minimally viable product, it’s like how little do you need to –a software product, or even a hardware product, you need to make something interesting to a consumer. That the consumer would actually really want to pay for. Or use it, right? 

So we’re past that point, we’ve got to a point of the analytic tools we’ve created are more than minimally viable. In fact, they are some of the enterprise class tools that are available out there are—we are finding that we actually have a lot more functionality in our home built stack—home built analytic stack than these tools that have been being developed for 15 years. So now the question and it’s very clear, anyone who looks at it says, yes, of course. Now the challenge is in getting those tools adopted. So the challenge, and it’s always this way in technology. The challenge is not the building of it, although that can be challenging if you’re the IRS or the FBI who takes you know way, way longer they need to build something. But my staff is very competent, really good developers; they stood this thing up really fast. We have a really nice stack, a really nice set of tools. 

Now the challenge is getting these things adopted by the users. So our kind of primary goal now is, now that we’ve built something that is more than minimally viable, how do we get folks use it. I mean if we can’t get folks to use it, one of two things, right. Either we were wrong, we got it wrong, or we didn’t do a good enough job of advocacy. This is why you have evangelists. So I think the phase we’re shifting into a little bit is now more of an evangelism phase, so my goals kind of professionally are for people to adopt the tools, and that we get business impact from it. That’s what really drives success I think for certainly how I perceive it. If we’re not having business impact, what did we do it for? 

You know, personal goals, are I think are pretty much the same, you know, keeping the wife happy, keeping the kids healthy. You know, helping their development. And I think that’s—the only goal I would add is, it is a goal—I really hope next year, I really, really hope next year when we do this, I can say, “Erik, I finally bought that convertible.” That is really—That is a goal. My wife—I think my wife is blanching because when I show her the kind of car I want I think she can’t get her head around the fact that it is twice as expensive as any other vehicle she has ever owned. And truthfully, I’m having a bit of a hard time with it too but I’m just gonna go for it