The Inconvenient Truth About Product

Every week I continue to find product teams laboring away on old-style product roadmaps that have been painstakingly negotiated with management and stakeholders, sometimes for several quarters in advance.  I have written several times about the problems with this...

Vision Pivots vs. Discovery Pivots

The term “pivot” is probably one of the most overused and abused terms in today’s product teams.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, see Your Business Plan Is Wrong. As I work with different teams I find the term used in so many different...

Top-Down Dates

In my last article, I discussed how we manage public commitments in an Agile, Dual-Track environment.  In that article I talked about those public commitments that are needed to run a business, such as when a customer can count on getting some capability, or when a...

Managing Commitments in an Agile Team

The past several articles have discussed the nature of Continuous Discovery and Dual-Track Agile.  In this article I’d like to discuss another dimension of working effectively in an Agile environment, which is how we manage commitments. In most Agile teams, when...

Assessing Customer Impact

In my last article I wrote about the trends of continuous discovery and continuous delivery.  At the end of the article I pointed out that while I love these techniques because overall they are much better for our customers, and for our ability to rapidly improve our...

Continuous Discovery

I have written recently about how product teams do product discovery in parallel with product delivery.  I have also written about how teams sometimes like to time-box their product discovery work. What I’d like to write about in this article is an increasing...

Product Manager Charm School

Recently I wrote about Apprentice Product Manager programs, where companies recruit and groom high-potential product managers.  Quite a few people asked me about this program and the type of curriculum that I have provided for my own teams in the past.  In this...

Dual-Track Agile

When I first start working with an Agile product team, one of the most common situations I find is where the teams have long and frustrating Sprint planning meetings because backlog items are poorly defined and not well understood; they have slow velocity as well as...

Apprentice Product Managers

I find that most tech product companies out there are struggling to find enough very strong product managers.  I have written many times in various ways about how critical it is to put very strong people in this role, and I meet execs every week that tell me that they...

Time-Boxing Product Discovery

In my last article I talked about one technique for applying Scrum concepts to product discovery – the opportunity backlog.  In this article, I wanted to talk about another, which is to time-box product discovery. First, for those that are not familiar with the term,...

The Opportunity Backlog

Recently I was with my friend Jeff Patton, one of the pioneers in applying Agile to product organizations, and he told that he has been advocating the term “Opportunity Backlog” as an alternative to the product roadmap. I have written earlier about the...

Lead Engineer as Product Owner

Many companies I meet are confused about roles and responsibilities.  They’re not sure the difference between product managers and project managers, or between product managers and product marketing, or between product managers and interaction designers, as just...

Lessons From Leaders

One thing I love to do when I visit with companies is collect their favorite quotes and mantras.  It helps me to understand their culture and their values.  We all deal with certain truths about building technology products, and I find that certain quotes resonate...

Product Scorecard Stages

Normally I like to keep my newsletters to discussions of organization, process and best practices that I believe apply to nearly all technology companies, and I limit the number of product-specific techniques I discuss because of that.  I save the product-specific...

Defining Good

I consistently get asked questions like the following: “Just look at Facebook/Amazon/Google (usually one of those three).  Don’t you think they have a terrible product?  How could they possibly be so successful?” No matter how many times I hear the...

Live-Data Prototypes vs. Production

I have written earlier about the differences between user prototypes (simulations intended to test the user experience), and live-data prototypes (actual code intended to send live traffic to in order to test real behavior). ...

The Product Manager Contribution

Recently I was asked by a very smart CTO: “I understand the need for a great user experience designer, but if we have a strong designer, and that person is paired with a strong technology lead, do we really still need a product manager?” For many teams,...

Viable Product vs. Minimal Product

To continue on the series of articles describing the critically important concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), in this article I wanted to contrast the concept of Viable Product with what I call “Minimal Product.” So often I meet teams that tell me...

Social Contract for Product Managers

If I were starting my career in product today, I would do anything I could to get into a very innovative program at Stanford called the Stanford Design School (aka “d.school”).  I absolutely love the curriculum and the faculty.  But this article is not...

Product Management Then and Now

Occasionally in my work with technology product teams around the world, I run into product managers that are still practicing the role as it used to be defined back in the PC era of technology.  These organizations are inevitably frustrated, as the role was not...
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