Missionaries vs. Mercenaries

One of my all-time favorite quotes in our industry comes by way of the legendary VC, John Doerr, where he argues that “we need teams of missionaries, not teams of mercenaries.” This point captures so much, and gets right to the heart of the most important trait...

Innovation vs. Execution

In my last article I discussed how we need to simultaneously learn fast in product discovery, yet still release with confidence in product delivery. I got a very good response from this article, as well as many questions as to how teams can get better at one or both....

Discovery vs. Delivery

Most of us are working on solving some pretty hard problems, and it usually ends up taking some fairly complex systems in order to power these solutions.  As such, for most teams there are two very significant challenges to tackle: First, discovering, in detail, what...

Roadmap Alternative FAQ

In my prior article I discussed my favorite alternative to conventional product roadmaps.  That article seemed to strike a chord in people, and I received quite a bit of very positive feedback.  However, I also received more than a few questions. This didn’t really...

The Alternative to Roadmaps

I have always loved the General George Patton quote: “Don’t tell people what to do; tell them what you need accomplished, and you’ll be amazed at the results.” Unfortunately, typical roadmaps do just what the General warned against – they tell the team what to do....

The Role of Product at Apple

It pains me to write this article. I have been an unapologetic Apple fanboy for as long as I’ve been in this industry, and published articles at the debut of the iPhone, and the debut of the iPad, congratulating Apple on what I believed would go on to become extremely...

Leadership vs. Management

I would argue that two of the most importance competencies in building great product organizations, indeed nearly any significant organizational undertaking, are leadership and management.  Yet so few people actually consider what each of these really means.  Many...

Product Fail

NOTE: This article is a narrative version of a talk I’ve given for developers at the Craft Conference and for product managers and designers at Mind The Product. In this article I’d like to discuss the root causes of so many product failures. I see the same basic way...

Autonomy vs. Initiatives

To continue on the series on team autonomy (see autonomy vs. leverage, autonomy vs. mission and autonomy vs. ownership), I wanted to add one more important dimension to this discussion which concerns the practical implications of working on large, multi-team...

Autonomy vs. Ownership

In my recent articles I have been exploring the critically important but complex topic of autonomy of product teams.  First we discussed the trade-offs between autonomy and leverage, and then we discussed the trade-offs between autonomy and mission.  From your...

Autonomy vs. Mission

In my last article I discussed the trade-offs between the sometimes conflicting goals of team autonomy versus leverage.  Quite a few of you wrote to me and said this was a hot topic at your company, and several asked about the same basic topic, but less from an...

Autonomy vs. Leverage

Virtually every leading tech company has jumped on the empowered, dedicated/durable, cross-functional, collaborative product team bandwagon, and I think things are much better for it.  I don’t see very many companies that are still using the old models (primarily the...

The Power of Customer Misbehavior

There are of course many ways to come up with significant new product ideas.  Historically, the two main approaches have been: 1) to try to assess the market opportunities and pick potentially lucrative areas where significant pain exists; and 2) to look at what the...

Shared Learning

One of the tenets of Product Discovery, Lean UX and Lean Startup methodology in general, is to try and avoid or reduce waste.  Mostly that means tackling the situation where we design, build, test and deploy a solution that fails to meet its objectives.  However, in...

Establishing a True Product Culture

In my last article I discussed the differences between an IT Mindset and a Product Mindset.  I must have struck a chord because I heard from so many people, from all over the world, that they were stuck in an “IT Mindset” organization.  Unsurprisingly, their next...

Product vs. IT Mindset

The role of the product organization is to consistently deliver significant new value to the business through continuous product innovation.  At a startup, the product team either innovates and provides real value or the startup dies.  However, in larger, more...

The Internal Agency Model

I have long written about the importance of dedicated, durable product teams and that we should always strive to optimize for the team and not for the individual function (e.g. product management, user experience design, engineering, test automation, data science,...

Profit and Loss Responsibility

One question that I continue to get from many company leaders is whether or not product managers should be given P&L responsibility for their products. The origin of this question comes from the days when companies had a portfolio of products where each product...

The Delivery Manager Role

I have always been interested in taking the holistic view of product teams and understanding and appreciating each and every critical role.  In a recent article I wrote about the dynamics of strong teams versus weak teams, and judging from the response to that...

Good Product Team / Bad Product Team

NOTE: My friend and colleague Jeff Patton is the author of an upcoming book on the general topic of User Stories and especially the technique of Story Mapping.  I was asked to write a foreword for this new book, and this article is an excerpt from the foreword.  I was...
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