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...

Milestone Swarming

In my last article, I discussed the power of milestones and I promised I’d talk about one of my favorite techniques for rapidly delivering on milestones.  First, as a reminder, by milestone I mean delivering on some significant achievement for your business.  This...

The Power of Milestones

In this article I wanted to talk about a concept that seems to be increasingly missing in product teams. I find too many product teams just pounding away on the product backlog, story by story.  Too many members of the team don’t really know how and why the stories...

Flavors of Analytics

In an earlier article (Flavors of Prototypes) I heard from many people about how it helped them to see prototypes in a new and more powerful light. Even though I had written previously about each separately, putting them together can help people get the big picture....

Flavors of Prototypes

Prototypes of various forms have been around for as long as we’ve been doing software, since the famous Fred Brooks quote: “plan to throw one away, you will anyway.” However, many things have changed.  Not the least of which is that the tools and techniques we have...
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