Roles and Ratios

Last week I attended a truly unusual conference (www.gelconference.com).  Anyway, as I was walking around I met quite a few people that recognized my name from the newsletter, and soon it became apparent that there’s some common questions out there, and I thought I’d...

Design vs. Implementation

NOTE: “Design” below refers to User Experience Design, and not Architectural or Systems Design. There are many things in the software development process that can and should be done in parallel. For example, I have long argued that requirements and design...

Engineering Wants to Rewrite!

Few words are more dreaded by product managers than being told by engineering: “No more new features! We need to stop and rewrite! Our code base is a mess, it can’t keep up with the number of users, it’s a house of cards, we can’t maintain it, the site is a dog!” This...

That Dog Won’t Hunt

In the previous article I argued for some very significant changes to the way most teams produce software. Several of you wrote to me and asked that I elaborate on my final point, which had to do with the fact that once you have a product definition that works, you...

Great Products By Design

I do not believe great products happen by accident. In every case, behind every great product I find that there are certain truths. Today I want to share ten such truths. I try to keep these in mind on every product effort: 1. Engineering is important, but user...

The Product Council

Even in small companies, getting decisions made is often time-consuming and frustrating. Every product company needs a mechanism to get the key stakeholders and decision makers together to make timely and informed product decisions. My favorite way to ensure this is...

Lessons from Apple

I have to admit to a strong bias up front: I love Apple. I think they’re responsible for some of the best technology products our industry has produced in the past 25 years, and I have been a fan of the company since the Lisa (which I consider a prototype for the...

Innovating in Large Companies

In the last article, we discussed techniques for getting stuff done in a large company. Now I’d like to talk about the related problem of innovating in a large company. There is a lot of cynicism out there about whether or not you can really innovate in a big company....

Thriving in Large Companies

Many of my readers work in large companies, including Adobe, Amazon, AOL, Apple, eBay, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, and Yahoo, and two of the most consistent themes from your questions and comments are: “how do I get things done in a large company?” and “how do I...

Assessing Product Opportunities

Recently I’ve written about reinventing the product spec, and the reasons to move from a heavy-weight PRD to a light-weight high-fidelity prototype as the basis for your product spec. But where do these ideas come from, and how do you decide if you even want to build...

Strategy vs. Execution

It’s funny how often I’m asked whether I am a “strategy guy” or an “execution guy.” I completely understand the reason for the question, as I think it’s true that most people prefer one or the other; in fact, they often very strongly prefer one or the other, or...

Help Prevent User Abuse

What is User Abuse? It is when you unnecessarily and (hopefully) unintentionally mistreat your users by releasing changes to the user community that they don’t appreciate. I know it’s hard to believe that not every one of your users is waiting excitedly for all of...

Succeeding With Remote Development

One of the most common situations today is where the product manager is in one location, and the engineering team is somewhere else. I don’t only mean outsourcing to India either – the remote development team might be a consequence of an acquisition or merger, or...

Revisiting the Product Spec

I think the product spec is long overdue for a renovation. Some would argue that Agile methods accomplish this by doing away with the spec altogether. I’ve written about some of the issues and limitations of Agile methods elsewhere, but in many respects I think they...

Meeting Hell

Do you ever feel like you come in early, work frantically until late in the evening, day after day, week after week, yet at the end of the month you didn’t get anything important done? Is your day packed with back-to-back meetings, with bursts of e-mail in between? If...

Product Management vs. Product Design

The last note discussed the different types of user interface design – interaction design and visual design – and tried to make the point that both are required for a good user experience. But the response surprised me. So many people wrote to me to complain that...

Usability vs. Aesthetics

I think most would agree that the general state of web site design is still in its infancy, at least as practiced by most companies. While there are some notable exceptions, many sites, even from major players, are often either very difficult to use, downright ugly,...

Product vs. Marketing

In many product organizations there are problems between product and marketing. The problems might range from mild friction to downright dysfunction. In theory, there shouldn’t be a problem. The product team is trying to create a product that customers will love, and...

Back to Basics

Normally I focus on the product definition aspects of creating successful products. My reasoning is simple: it doesn’t matter how great a job you do in building your product if it isn’t the right product. That’s really the role of the product manager; to define the...

The Next Big Thing

You can read about technology breakthroughs in the green tech space nearly every day now, but my favorite has been watching the guys at Xerox PARC turn their expertise in electronics, materials science, printed circuit board technology and systems software towards the...