Process vs. Model

There’s an old saying which comes from the world of statistics: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”  This has always resonated with me.  While conceptual models are never perfect, I find them to be an especially powerful tool for explaining important...

Analyzing Product Strategy

One of the key responsibilities of a strong product manager or product leader is to understand your market and industry; which trends are relevant, what the competitive landscape looks like, how business models are evolving, and the broader industry dynamics.  There...

Communicating Product Learnings

Sharing what we learn in a startup typically happens naturally because the product team and the company are pretty much the same thing.  However, as companies scale, this becomes substantially more difficult, yet it also becomes increasingly important to do. A...

The Customer Letter

In this article I’d like to discuss another discovery framing technique. For smaller and more typical size product discovery efforts, the opportunity assessment is usually sufficient.  But when embarking on a somewhat larger effort, there may in fact be multiple...

The GPM Role

I’ve been working with several companies that are experiencing rapid growth, and there’s a role in these growth-stage product organizations that I find especially effective. The role is titled “Group Product Manager,” usually referred to as “GPM.”  The role has been...

My Favorite PM Interview Question

I’m going to share here one of my favorite interview questions, even though that means I won’t really be able to use it anymore.  But I’ve got lots of others, and I think this is valuable for all product managers to consider where they stand on this, and why. One of...

Focus on Value

I have a little heuristic which I find useful.  If I see a particular issue going on in at least three companies at the same time, I figure it’s a common and serious enough issue that it’s worth writing about.  In truth, I’ve already written about...

Beyond Lean and Agile

I have been working exclusively with technology product teams now for a full 35 years, and I’ve seen countless processes, methodologies and techniques come and go.   In large part that’s the nature of the beast.  People are always searching for a silver bullet, and...

Product Manager vs. Product Owner Revisited

Five years ago I wrote an article arguing that it is essential that the product manager is also the product owner.  My motivation, which I made no secret of, was that I was worried about this point because more than a few companies were using the relatively new role...

Planning Product Discovery

Much of product discovery work doesn’t actually require a lot of planning. We need to come up with a solution to a particular problem, and often this is straight forward, and we can proceed quickly to delivery work.  But for certain efforts, this is decidedly...

Why Women Make The Best Product Managers

Recently I gave a keynote address to the Mind The Product Conference in London, and in that talk I wanted to illustrate, by example, the essential role that very strong product managers play for their team and their company.  Most people noticed that all six of my...

Behind Every Great Product

When I first decided to start The Silicon Valley Product Group, I had just left eBay and had some very strong opinions about what makes great product teams, and great product cultures…

Vision vs. Strategy

Overview In recent articles on keys to product success and the alternative to roadmaps I have highlighted that if you want the benefits of product team empowerment and autonomy, then you need to provide each team with the necessary context in which to make good...

Technology-Powered Disruption

Most people by now have read Marc Andreessen’s Why Software Is Eating The World.   This was written back in 2011, and I’ve been watching his predictions play out in companies all around the world.  While my focus is primarily on technology-powered software products,...

Tribute to Bruce Williams

This has been a tough year for the technology industry.  In March we lost Andy Grove, and in April we lost Bill Campbell. Sadly, in May we lost Bruce Williams.  Bruce had been fighting Pancreatic Cancer for the past year and a half.  He had been in an experimental...

Developer Powered Innovation

There is a very common fallacy about developers in our industry, and I think it hurts countless companies. Have you ever heard the old accusation that developers only want to solve problems for themselves?  They’ll spend countless hours, often on their own time, to...

Product Success

Exactly a year ago I was invited to give a keynote at the Craft Conference in Budapest and I discussed the 10 biggest reasons why product teams fail.  You can watch that talk here, or read the narrative article here. As I mainly shined a light on why so many teams are...

Women in Product

Note 1: I’m focusing in this article on women, however, my points here are intended to apply to all under-represented groups. Note 2: I am highlighting here the product role, which is a subset of the “women in tech” topic.  I would also love to see more women in...

Discovery Coaches

In my last article on Discovery Sprints I mentioned the concept of Discovery Coaches and several people asked me about that, so I thought I’d describe more about what this role is and when it’s helpful. For many years, as teams move to Agile methods (they usually...

Discovery Sprints

I find that many teams, especially those new to modern product techniques, are looking for a structured introduction to modern product discovery.  In this article, I’d like to describe the concept of a discovery sprint, and also introduce you to a new book that goes...
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