The Role of Technology

I’ve been spending a good amount of time this past couple of years – and especially the past few weeks – thinking about the root causes of the chasm between the best product companies and the rest. Most of you know that my writing is intended to be very practical and...

Working From Home

For many readers it might seem surprising to you to see me publish on working from home when I’m such a vocal fan of the magic of co-located teams.  But in this situation of COVID-19, with the need to delay the spread as much as possible, it is far more important to...

Team Objectives – Summary

We need some way to assign and manage work to product teams, and we want to do this in a way that is empowering and executes on our product strategy.  This is the purpose of Team Objectives. Assuming you have embraced the empowered product team model, and you have...

Team Objectives – Accountability

The companion to empowerment is accountability. Product teams are given the space and time to come up with the solutions to the problems they are assigned, but with that empowerment comes responsibility and accountability. So we need to discuss what happens when a...

Team Objectives – Management

Continuing on our series on team objectives, once product teams have their team objectives for the quarter and are pursuing, active management will still be needed. Much as the product strategy requires ongoing tracking and managing by the product leaders, the team...

Team Objectives – Collaboration

Continuing with our series on Team Objectives, there are several forms of collaboration that are essential, yet often confusing to product organizations as they optimize for team autonomy and empowerment. Shared Objectives The first and most basic form of...

Team Objectives – Commitments

While most objectives are meant to be aspirational, where we aren’t sure which will succeed and to what degree, and we can vary the degree of ambition the team strives for, there are always certain cases where we need the team to make what is called a high-integrity...

Team Objectives – Ambition

We have now assigned one or more specific problems to solve to each product team, but we’re not quite done providing the necessary context.  When leaders ask a team to work on solving a problem, it’s important to be clear with the team on the level of ambition they...

Team Objectives – Action

Keeping in mind the principles of empowerment that team objectives are designed to encourage, we are ready to have the product teams get to work.  So let’s discuss the mechanics of assigning objectives to product teams. Assigning Objectives To Product Teams To be very...

Team Objectives – Empowerment

NOTE: There is so much widespread confusion out there on OKR’s, it’s a very difficult topic to discuss because everyone brings their own very different experiences and perspective to the conversation.  If your company is using OKR’s today and you believe they are...

Team Objectives – Overview

After many years of being a very vocal advocate for the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) technique, in the majority of companies I meet, I have stopped recommending the practice. That’s because, in so many companies, even though conceptually the technique is simple...

Product Strategy – Management

Continuing on our series on product strategy, at this point we have focused the organization on a small number of truly important problems, and we have identified the key insights that we will leverage, and have converted these insights into actions in the form of...

Product Strategy – Actions

Continuing with the series on product strategy, in this article we need to leverage our insights into action. At this point we have focused on a very small number of critical problems, and we have done the hard work to identify the key insights that power our product...

Product Strategy – Insights

Continuing with the product strategy series, in this article I’d like to discuss my favorite, yet the most difficult, aspect of product strategy, which is to generate, identify and leverage the insights that will provide the foundation of the product strategy. You’ve...

Product Strategy – Focus

To continue with our series on product strategy, in this article I’d like to focus on, well, focus.  The importance of truly “picking your battles” as an organization. And I don’t just mean deciding what to work on and not work on, but picking the few things that can...

Product Strategy – Overview

Ultimately, empowered product teams are all about giving teams hard problems to solve, and then giving them the space to solve them.  But, how do we decide which problems they should solve?  Answering that question is what product strategy is all about. Remarkably,...

The Coaching Series

Article: The Coaching Series Over a year ago I published an article on Empowered Product Teams that described the main focus of my work for the next couple years. As many of you know, most articles I write begin their life as a hope-to-be chapter in a future book.  I...

Coaching – Ethics

In this final article on the series on coaching, I’d like to discuss one of the most sensitive, yet potentially most important topics, and that is the subject of ethics. As readers of these articles know, the four big risks that every product team needs to consider...

Coaching – Happiness

This article may seem an odd topic.  You may be thinking that it’s not the manager’s job to be responsible for her team’s happiness. However, pretty much anyone that’s worked in tech for any amount of time knows that a manager can easily be responsible for a product...

Coaching – Strategic Context

To continue with our series on coaching, in this article I will be covering a different aspect of coaching, which has to do with ensuring the product manager has the necessary understanding of the broader business context in which her team is operating. I refer to...