Prioritize Opportunities, Not Solutions

I cringe every time I see product teams use a spreadsheet to rank the ideas in their backlog based on some made-up math formula usually consisting of things like business value, user value, and technical difficulty. While this exercise is pervasive, it misses the point entirely. Our job is not to prioritize solutions. A product […]

Source: Prioritize Opportunities, Not Solutions | Product Talk

Product Management vs Product Ownership

The organisation that I am part of introduced an overlaying Product Management department only fairly recently, less than a year ago. Early in the time it was exciting to see this role dedicated to market and customer perspective, but it raised questions over how this was different from Product Ownership from day one.

Over the course of the past year many discussions have been led and lot’s of articles have been led. This week Anthony Murphy shared his perspective and experiences on the Product Coalition. While my own experiences with this separated role have been predominantly positive, I tend to see the necessity to split responsibilities for larger organisations. The article is reflecting on why the Agile movement created the Product Owner in the way it did and how it was meant to abolish the Product Manager to start with.

A story of love, hate, oppression and triumph

Source: The Collision of Product Management and Product Ownership

Competitive Analysis and Strategy To Win

A product’s success is not only defined by its features. Whether it can win in the market to a large extent is owed to the environment it is offered. Customer requirements, competitive offering, market climate, environmental conditions, total cost of ownership (TCO) can have an impact on the products success. A competitive overview is essential for any product manager and a competitive analysis can help sharpen the view.

Product School just today let Joao Fiadeiro share the experience he gathered during his tenure at Google as a Product Manager for Youtube.

Competitive Analysis and Strategy To Win by YouTube PM in Product School.

Competitive Analysis
Competitive Product Analysis

Source: Competitive Analysis and Strategy To Win by YouTube PM – Product School

Pyramid of product manager needs

Benoit des Ligneris describes a model in his article about the environment in which product management has to navigate. This environment has many influences, and a product evolves with influences from many sources. The Maslov inspired pyramid of Product Managers needs starts with real world dependencies. The market is the basis for any product, hence is the most needed input to any product and the product management. Further in the article Benoit describes the individual layers and why they are relevant to the Product Management organisation.

While objectively everybody will agree a Product Manager will need to mediate between these layers, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the level of influence each individual layer has in a particular organisation. Most often the influence on the product is reversed and higher levels influence outcomes more than they should.

It’s the product management organisations responsibility to feed the product by its needs and not just represent but balance all layers in the decision management process. A lot like in the Maslov pyramid, a healthy product starts with basic needs.

Product Management Pyramid
Product Management Pyramid

A useful and visual mental model that represent the product management role in relation to its environment.

Source: The pyramid of the product manager needs (Maslow inspired)

What Makes People Upgrade Products?

With the release, a product ain’t done yet. Customers may like that product and go for with this product for a long while. At some point, a new release will bring them to make a decision. HBR has a perspective on the drivers for these decision points.

CULTURA RM EXCLUSIVE/ROB PRIDEAUX/GETTY IMAGES through Article source

People splurge when they think they’ve grown.

Source: What Makes People Upgrade Products? Thinking About Self-Improvement

26 incredibly useful Google Calendar tips

Google Calendar is sure popular with people in likewise positions. The linked article has a bunch of pointers that I had no clue about yet. Those are useful for me, thought I share.

Upgrade your agenda with this cornucopia of advanced options, shortcuts, and features for Google Calendar.

Source: 26 incredibly useful Google Calendar tips

Tech for Managers

First, I was excited to see a “Web Technologies for Managers” course exists.

Then, I reminded myself how often I rant on the internet that “tech is dead” and all industries get digitized. It’s not too long ago that successful companies required their managers to have an understanding of the business they are in. That is mechanical engineers managing car manufacturers, electrical engineers managing electronics businesses. Only the digital industry seems to have technical managers and business managers.

I periodically remind people how difficult the question “are you doing business or technology” is any tech driven. Even McDonalds has their managers flip burgers to start their engagement with the company, to give them an understanding of how the business looks like really.

Next time you hear this question, or worse, ask this question, ask yourself: “Am I in the right business”. Likely, you are better qualified doing something else. The reasoning for this harsh thought is simple. Assuming you see yourself in the high tech business and expect your counterpart to do business with you, you need to radiate confidence about what you are doing. Asking this question high tech managers clearly transports you only know half of the story.

Being an engineer and a business person, I haven’t taken the course itself, hence I cannot recommend it. But I can recommend any person in the business to flip burgers for a few weeks, or the digital equivalent, follow a few technical tutorials. Preferrably from the company you are working for but also, Google, AWS or Github offer plenty of free courses to get your hands dirty. And all of these are free of charge, there is no excuse not to understand technology to that extent that it adds value.

Nevertheless, here is the link: “Web Technology for Managers“. Go learn something.

Product Manual

Als “Product Hunt Product #4 of December 2017” ist das sicher keiner der heissen Tips. Product Manual ist aber trotzdem für jeden Produkt-Manager eine Erwähnung wert, weil sich zu allen relevanten Themen in der kuratierten Sammlung dort etwas findet. Angefangen von der Definition von Produkt-Management über Benutzer-Interaktion (Umfragen!) und Prototypen bis zur Strategie-Entwicklung.

Product Manual

Loaded with articles, videos, podcasts, and more, Product Manual is your essential guide to building remarkable products.

Source: Product Manual

Engineering Marketing

One important aspect of the implementation of product management roles and organisation, is the engineering partnership. The other day I found Julia Austins article on the topic that also touched the realistic options. To re-cap, these are either market oriented or engineering oriented. Either of these have their Pros and Cons.

My few thoughts on these two approaches:

Product Management driven Product development – While this indeed seems to be the more traditional approach, in which a “Product Manager” collects customer requirements. Nevertheless, it’s not necessarily a setup that is favourable for Waterfall development, nor is waterfall something favourable as as such for software development. It allows an organisation to maintain the customer focus through a dedicated person, that is incentivised differently than engineering.

Engineering driven Product development – This is an approach you can read a lot about from big tech companies recently. It requires a team that is well into the field the product shall serve, which often enough is not the case. In particular large and diversified companies will struggle to give find the right people at the right time, whereas smaller, growing companies can hire for the sharply defined purpose.

An compromise approach is sure the PM<>Engineering partnership to overcome the shortcoming, and the responsibility to maintain a customer focus is on the PMs shoulders