No Silver Bullet

More than 20 years ago Fred Brooks published a seminal essay on the nature of software, called “No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering”.  If you’ve never read it I’d highly encourage it, as even though it’s ancient by the standards of our...

Outsourcing Core Competencies

I work exclusively with commercial software product organizations.  Organizations that must create products and services that thousands or millions of users must make an independent decision to use or buy.   This is in contrast to custom software companies that create...

Product Discovery Diary

When product managers and designers move from the very linear, Waterfall-based processes, to the much more iterative and exploratory discovery-based process that I and others advocate, they sometimes take a little while to appreciate and adapt to the fast pace and...

The Product Discovery Plan

In my last article, I discussed the situation where Product Discovery is essentially not discovery at all, but rather just a mad dash of just-in-time spec writing so that the engineers can be kept busy.  I discussed how important it is that the date not be driving...

Feed The Beast

For those that haven’t heard the term before, “feed the beast” refers to one of the most common problems with product teams, and one of the top reasons for failed projects.  It’s very easy to spot.  If you find a product manager that is scrambling to finish up his PRD...

Holistic View of Product

For a startup, where there’s typically just one product team, it’s not too hard for the leaders to keep in their heads a holistic view of the product.  However, this quickly becomes much tougher as the company grows first to a larger product and soon to multiple...

Product Discovery vs. Product Optimization

As readers of these articles know, I am a big fan of high-fidelity prototyping and user testing on current or prospective customers.  These techniques form the basis of Product Discovery; it’s the key to discovering the minimum viable product – a product solution that...

The Two-Week Rule

I need to interrupt my series of articles on product portfolio planning because over the past week I learned of three completely different companies that all had fairly disastrous product results for the same core reason: they delayed talking to customers until it was...

Principles of Product Portfolio Planning

Over the last several months I have been working with some clients to revisit how they do product portfolio planning.  Essentially the process they use to determine where to invest and how much.   I’ve discussed the purpose and the common frustrations with how product...

Lessons from Amazon

Several people pointed me to this great little talk by Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.  If you haven’t watched this yet you should.   I thought his talk did a great job highlighting a few key points that pertain to my current theme of product portfolio...

Lessons From Incubators

In the last couple articles I discussed product portfolio planning lessons we can learn from the Venture Capital industry. In this article I wanted to discuss a similar but different type of mechanism for managing product portfolio investments, known as business...

Your Business Plan is Wrong

In my last article on “Lessons From the VC Industry” I included some thoughts suggested by a VC friend of mine, Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital.  In his thoughts he shared with me he had another insight that I didn’t include because I thought it was so important...

Lessons from the VC Industry

In earlier articles we discussed the purpose of product portfolio planning and the frustrations with current product portfolio planning.  In this article I’d like to look outside the typical world of product companies to a related industry that is in the actual...

Frustrations of Product Portfolio Planning

Continuing with the series on product portfolio planning, earlier I enumerated the purpose and objectives of the product portfolio planning process, but in this article I wanted to discuss the common complaints from executives and product leadership alike about the...

The Product Scorecard

How does your CEO know that every product manager’s efforts are aligned with his business strategy? How does your CEO clearly communicate to your product managers the business priorities? How does your CEO know which product managers are making good decisions and...

Portfolio Grooming

I have never seen a technology product company that didn’t have more ideas they wanted to pursue, than capacity for pursuing them. So constrained resources is a reality of our world. Sadly, this keeps many companies from pursuing some truly promising products. Product...

The Purpose of Product Portfolio Planning

I am in the midst of a series of articles on product planning, but I’ve received several e-mails asking where this fits into the overall product organization, and the product discovery and product development processes, so I thought I’d make sure before proceeding...

Business Strategy vs. Product Strategy

In keeping with my recent theme of product planning, I’d like to focus in this article on an important distinction and source of frustration in many companies, and that has to do with the differences between business strategy and product strategy. Many companies...

The Board of Advisors

In my last article I began a series on the product planning process. I wanted to start by emphasizing that the most critical aspect to product planning is to have an effective mechanism for separating the good ideas from the bad (see The Seven Deadly Sins of Product...

The Seven Deadly Sins of Product Planning

Product planning is a big topic that many product organizations struggle with. It spans a range of activities including business strategy, product strategy, product roadmaps, portfolio management, opportunity assessments, project planning and tracking, and project...
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