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...

Where Should Product Management Live?

The single most frequent question I get from product leaders in companies both large and small, is where should product management live? The choices are most often engineering or marketing. While if you have the right personalities, it can work in either place, I’m...

The Smartest Guy in the Room

As product people, we’re first and foremost in the idea business. We have to come up with great ideas and then make them a reality. While this takes skill and practice, the main ingredient is something that I don’t know how to teach. We depend on smart people for the...

Market Research Capabilities and Limitations

If your company is like many, there’s some natural tension between marketing and product. One often controversial topic is the appropriate role in product creation of market research tools and techniques such as focus groups, customer surveys, site analytics,...

Framing Product Decisions

Judging from all the feedback from the last posting, it sounds like quite a few of you are struggling with your company’s process for product decisions (or lack thereof!). Lots of complaints about endless meetings without structure or decisions, second guessing...

Growing Pains

In the last newsletter I spoke about the differences between large and small product companies, and how different they are and how different type of people thrive (and struggle) at each. However, I did not talk about the case where a small company quickly grows into a...

Does Size Matter?

Two questions I get a lot are: “Is now the time to join one of the cool new startups?” and “The startup I’m at isn’t doing so well, should I join one of the big guys that’s hiring so aggressively right now?” I’ve worked in all sized companies, from brand new startups,...

Microsoft’s Advantage

In my last posting I criticized Google’s culture including their hiring practices. In this issue, I’d like to talk about the company that I think does the best job in the industry at consistently hiring strong people. I’ve recruited, interviewed and hired literally...

Corporate Hubris

“Hubris: The false pride that comes before the fall” – Wikipedia I probably get more questions from product people about Google than any other company. With their astounding success, it seems everyone wants to emulate them. Regular readers of my blog and...

Death of a Salesman

For as far back as I can remember, it wasn’t enough to have a good product, you also needed a strong sales person to get the customer to actually commit and sign the check. In fact, the lack of skilled sales people was and remains the limiting factor for many...

Gentle Deployment

One of the fun things about working on a 1.0 product is that you get to start fresh with your community of users. It’s true that your user base is still influenced by other products and services that they’ve been exposed to, but overall you don’t have to worry much...

Rapid Response

I’ve talked elsewhere about the pitfalls of confusing product launch with success, and how important it is to not lose focus after you ship your product or service. In this article I wanted to say a little more about what you should be doing during this critical phase...

Fear, Greed and Lust

I find it ironic that so many of us in the product world come from science and business oriented backgrounds, yet such a large part of what we do every day is really all about emotion and human psychology. Most of us may not think of our job this way, but we should....

The Product Manifesto

The New Year always gets me thinking bigger picture. For some that means reviewing the company mission statement. For others, it means coming up with your annual or quarterly objectives. For me, I’m partial to the Manifesto. A Manifesto is a public declaration of...

Outwit-Outlast-Outplay

Sometimes being a product manager can feel like being on Survivor, and worrying about your product team voting you out at the next product council. Product management is hard. Leading a product team is hard. You make countless decisions, and not all of them will be...

eBay’s Secret Weapon

Look at any successful company and you’ll find a set of people that stand out and are the ones that really make the difference. It may be the difference between a great product or a terrible one. Or the difference between getting the business partnership the company...

Managing Up

One of the most common questions I get from product managers, usually working at large companies, is how to manage their managers? They are frustrated with their manager. Not that they don’t like their manager, but that they feel like the sands keep shifting, their...

Does Company Culture Matter?

Company culture is one of those vague concepts that can mean different things to different people. I use the term here to capture the company philosophy in terms of how it treats its employees, customers and partners, and the impact this has on product teams. These...