EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products


What is it about the top tech product companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix and Tesla that enables their record of consistent innovation?

Most people think it’s because these companies are somehow able to find and attract a level of talent that makes this innovation possible. But the real advantage these companies have is not so much who they hire, but rather how they enable their people to work together to solve hard problems and create extraordinary products.

As legendary Silicon Valley coach – and coach to the founders of several of today’s leading tech companies – Bill Campbell said, “Leadership is about recognizing that there’s a greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge.”

The goal of EMPOWERED is to provide you, as a leader of product management, product design, or engineering, with everything you’ll need to create just such an environment.

As partners at The Silicon Valley Product Group, Marty Cagan and Chris Jones have long worked to reveal the best practices of the most consistently innovative companies in the world. A natural companion to the bestseller INSPIRED, EMPOWERED tackles head-on the reason why most companies fail to truly leverage the potential of their people to innovate: product leadership.

The book covers:

  • what is means to be an empowered product team, and how this is different from the “feature teams” used by most companies to build technology products;
  • recruiting and coaching the members of product teams, first to competence, and then to reach their potential;
  • creating an inspiring product vision along with an insights-driven product strategy;
  • translating that strategy into action by empowering teams with specific objectives—problems to solve—rather than features to build;
  • redefining the relationship of the product teams to the rest of the company;
  • detailing the changes necessary to effectively and successfully transform your organization to truly empowered product teams.

EMPOWERED puts decades of lessons learned from the best leaders of the top technology companies in your hand as a guide. It shows you how to become the leader your team and company needs to not only survive but thrive.

This book is meant to complement the EMPOWERED Product Leadership Workshop.

See what people are saying:

“Every product leader – no – every CEO and senior management team should read this. Now.”

— Phil Terry, Founder, Collaborative Gain; co-author, Customers Included

“There are only a few people in the world with the experience to outline the secrets of world-class product organizations. That’s what Marty and Chris do in this book. This is essential reading for every product leader.”

— Wyatt Jenkins, SVP Product, Procore

“INSPIRED motivated a generation of product managers to build products customers love, and EMPOWERED is the blueprint leaders need to transform their organisations and empower their teams to deliver on that inspiration.”

— Martin Eriksson, Co-Founder, Mind the Product

“EMPOWERED is a must-read for product leaders in the same way INSPIRED is unquestionably the most influential book in tech product management.”

— Felipe Castro, Founder, OutcomeEdge

“Marty and Chris have written the definitive book on product leadership. Their emphasis on coaching as a key leadership skill and the detail on how to do it well, makes EMPOWERED a must-read for new, aspiring, and experienced product leaders alike.”

— Teresa Torres, Product Discovery Coach, Product Talk

“This is the missing guide to product leadership. It gave me the tools, mindset, and practical insights to excel in my role. I fully expect to come back to this book on a recurring basis – as I do with INSPIRED. EMPOWERED needs to be on the shelf of all product leaders and aspiring product leaders.

— Gabrielle Bufrem, Manager of Product Management, VMware

“EMPOWERED is full of actionable straight talk for anyone looking to understand how the best product teams operate. The book demonstrates that great product companies aren’t made by magic–the structure and leadership of the whole product development organization creates the environment for success.”

— Holly Hester-Reilly, Founder, H2R Product Science

“I recommend INSPIRED to every entrepreneur and burgeoning product person I talk to as the must read. That must-read list just doubled with EMPOWERED. It’s destined to become a classic.”

— Shawn Boyer, Founder, GoHappy and Snagajob

“EMPOWERED dives deep into the tough organizational and cultural issues that get in the way of most companies I work with today. This is the experience and advice I’ve been waiting for in one book.”

— Jeff Patton, Product Process and Design Coach

“I’ve known Chris for well over a decade. He is one of the finest product leaders I know. The product managers who worked for him went on to become great product leaders themselves in some of the best tech companies around. If you want to learn from the best, this book captures those lessons.”

— Doug Camplejohn, EVP and GM, Sales Cloud, Salesforce

“Once again, Marty’s wisdom and unique perspective have synthesized best-in-class companies, cultures, and leaders into a thesis and set of principles that are transformational. Easy to consume and apply, EMPOWERED is a must read for product leaders and all leaders who are convinced there must be a better way.”

— Chuck Geiger, Former CTO Chegg, IAC, PayPal, eBay, Wine.com, Travelocity

“If you’re leading product people or even the whole product organization of your company, this book is for you. It’s the first book to outline the underlying philosophy behind stellar product organizations from a leader’s perspective, and its many examples make it easy to understand these concepts and apply them in your company’s environment.”

— Petra Wille, Product Leadership Coach

“As one of the most respected leaders on product globally, Marty takes us for a fascinating ride that will help you become a better product leader so you can do what you do best—create satisfying, engaging experiences for your users and customers.”

— Simon Zhang, CEO, GrowingIO

“To thrive in this age of constant disruption, companies must accelerate innovation and continuously deliver products customers love. A higher level of consistent innovation can only come from truly empowered teams. Over the past several years, Marty’s insights, practical advice and wisdom have been immensely valuable during our transformation to a highly empowered product organization. In this book, Marty provides an essential blueprint for building empowered teams. If you are serious about achieving extraordinary business results and developing a product innovation culture you can be truly proud of, this is a must-read!”

— Shamim Mohammad, SVP, Chief Information and Technology Officer, CarMax

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with Marty for many years, and yet, every time he comes out with a new book or article, I’m filled with both excitement and fear. What new product techniques are our competitors using and we are missing? EMPOWERED hits the mark dead on, and provides a recipe for creating great products. Marty has a knack for making difficult product techniques seem both necessary and tangible. Read the book and rejuvenate your company!”

— Jeff Trom, CTO, Workiva

“The core challenge of all tech companies today is to be a truly product-led organisation, with continuous product innovation resulting in sustainable competitive advantage. EMPOWERED gives executives and leaders the key to understand how they need to change their companies in order to survive and thrive.”

— Frerk-Malte Feller, COO, Afterpay

“If you are wondering what will ensure your company survives, or why your products are failing, read this book. This is the “how to” manual for building great product companies that last.”

— Amanda Richardson, CEO, CoderPad

“I included INSPIRED as mandatory reading for anyone joining my product development teams. Now I’ll add EMPOWERED to the list of mandatory reading.”

— Joca Torres, CPO, Gympass

“INSPIRED has been a manual for our team to build better products. EMPOWERED is now a manual to build a stronger team. Everything I’ve read from SVPG is spot on, and often feels like I can use it the same day.”

— Ian Cairns, Head of Product for Twitter Developer Platform

“EMPOWERED is first and foremost about permission. Companies have to give themselves the permission to orient around a culture of product centricity. Everything from org structure, to technology, to culture and coaching derives from this. And nothing embodies this idea more than Marty’s writings.”

— Punit Soni, Founder CEO, Suki


About the Authors:

MARTY CAGAN, widely recognized as the primary thought leader for technology product management, is the founder of the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG).  He served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.

CHRIS JONES has spent over 25 years building and leading product teams that defined new product categories at startups to F500 software companies including Lookout, Symantec, and Vontu. A holder of multiple patents, he has discovered and developed new products in consumer and enterprise mobile, web, data, and platform services.

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