Author Archive

Marty Cagan, Partner at Silicon Valley Group gave a “Straight Talk on Product Ops” at the Lean Product Meetup in January followed by a fireside chat and Q&A.

Over 303 other product folk attended the live session wanting to hear from Marty about product ops.

Notes from the session:

  • So many companies define Product Ops differently
  • Some of the most toxic ones are taking off in some companies, important to raise the impacts so then it’s a conscious decision
  • “Product Ops operates differently at every company” – Product School, this statement is not that helpful, it’s different in every company, but some companies have similarities
  • We can’t even agree to decide what the common role of Product Manager is in the industry, so not surprised we’re in this situation with Product Ops
  • Like Dev Ops, Design Ops, people have thought cool we’re going to provide product managers with real tools to help Product get products into production quicker

More than 50 companies got in touch with their definition of how they use product ops:

  1. The Reincarnated PMO Model – product ops facilitate planning activities, they gatekeep all of the product requests – most damaging, not all that common
  2. The Two-in-a-Box PM Model – handles the day to day tasks involved with development – it’s like getting product executives to do the day to day tasks – 2nd most serious problem, splitting the product manager role from connecting customers, other areas of the business and engineers, last thing you want to do is cut that person in half, innovation goes right down, slicing the job in half is disempowered, more damaging than helpful
  3. The Delegated Product Leader Model – Product Ops ensures our PM’s learn the necessary skills and techniques needed to connect the dots between the activities of the various product teams – like a personal coach to the product managers, this is something the VP of product (head of product) should do 1:1 coaching from an experienced product leader
  4. The Production Operations Rebranding Model – Product Ops job starts when the product /feature launches making sure that things run smoothly, they’re helping more around customer service, more like customer success ops, not really focused on product, this definition isn’t a problem
  5. The Product Marketing Manager Rebranding Model – Product Ops covers two main activities: synthesizing ongoing customer feedback from sales, services and support (GTM strategy incl. beta and early release programs). This is due to politics if product marketing doesn’t have headcount but needs all this done. This method is a good thing and feels it is a good modern definition of Product Ops.
  6. The Force Multiplier Model – best one, really empowering product teams with Qual & Quant insights, product tools eg. roadmaping and best practices, would be better moved to this new Product ops team than buried in UX team – the problem is that companies are staffing this role definition with junior people, should be more like principle product manager level. So the structure should be:

CPO:

  • Product Management
  • Product Design
  • Product Ops – to empower product teams with Qual & Quant insights, tools and best practices

Nothing new in Product Ops from the different definitions, whilst The Force Multiplier Model isn’t new it’s well packaged and it came from Melissa from Escape the Build Trap. Solves the issue where UX have insights that no one does anything about. Puts the qual/quant insights squarely in product across all product managers – a more visible place where it has real value.

The two dangerous forces behind so many weak organizations:

  1. Scaling via Process rather than Leaders through people – SAFe is a good example of this
  2. Splitting the Product Manager Job – see 2nd definition above as an example, the product manager should focus on value and viability for the customer and not get involved in QA, design etc, there are people to handle this and the business should resource appropriately

Absolutely loved this read. In essence, Marty Cagan talks about the value of empowering product teams (several engineers, product manager, product designer) to serve customers with products that customers love, yet work for the business (by collaborating with stakeholders to come up with solutions that work). I particularly loved the fact that the majority of the book focused on coaching.

“Empowered product teams are all about giving teams hard problems to solve, and then giving them the space to solve them.”

“..this is really what I see in so many of the companies I visit. They have product teams that are more accurately feature teams, and they’re slaving away-pounding out features all day-but rarely getting closer to their desired outcomes.”

“Regardless of the reason for reviewing your topology, you should optimize for the empowerment of the teams by focusing on the dimensions of ownership, autonomy, and alignment.”

“Your highest-order contribution and responsibility as product manager is to make sure that what engineers are asked to build will be worth building. That it will deliver the necessary results.”

“Coaching is no longer a speciality; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach.” – Bill Campbell

“Moving the product teams from the subservient feature team model to the collaborative empowered product team model begins with trust”

One of the most common situations/questions I was asked last year was around not having time to read books and “how on earth do you find time to read so many books?”, so I’ve published this article to help others wondering the same thing.

So how do I find time to read any books, let alone so many?

  1. We don’t have a tv at home, so there are fewer distractions.
  2. We don’t have any kids yet (although this might change this year).
  3. I make it a priority because I enjoy reading about other people’s experiences, the subject of books I read I have an interest/passion in, and learning from books make a positive impact on me personally and professionally.
  4. I only ever have one book in progress at a time, always have the next one lined up, and use an Amazon wish list to manage my backlog of books. Also, I only buy physical books, nice to escape from the screen and having a book lying around is a motivator to pick it up and read it.
  5. I seem to have a thirst for learning from books since I only started reading non-fiction books at the end of 2019 for the first time since leaving college over 20 years ago, so I’ve had a lot of practical experiences to make sense of and huge amounts of wisdom to learn from. Because of this, I tend to be able to relate to what a lot of books say, which helps me absorb the content easier and makes me feel immersed in the experience.
  6. Other people reading (especially my wife) and those that share their book reviews inspire me to read more.

It ultimately comes down to priority. Anyone can find time to read books if they make it a priority and reduce time on other activities they have less interest in. Also, as you start reading and experience the impact, you’ll naturally want to increase the priority of reading books and therefore find more time to read.

If you’re reading this article, the below books will get you off to a flying start:

  1. Indistractable by Nir Eyal
  2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  4. Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins
  5. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

The majority of modern enterprise businesses now have a classic Scrum team setup (engineers and PO), but still wonder how they can respond to customer feedback quicker/more frequently, get ahead in the market, and innovate whilst protecting/growing revenue.

If you’re wondering this or generally interested in Agile, this book by Darrell Rigby is for you and will give you a very well balanced overview of what those next steps look like to unlock the benefits of Agile across the business, and introduces you to the concept of an Agile enterprise which allows bureaucracy and innovation efforts to coexist without the need for a big-bang approach.

An Agile enterprise involves creating Agile principles at every level starting from the top with an Agile leadership team, rather than just having an Agile tech team and the rest of the business bureaucratic. As a result, Agile Leadership is a big focus of the book and it dives into some starting points for principles:

– Employees learn by doing things themselves
– Trust is built over time
– Doing what only you can do makes everyone better off
– Customers are the best judges of what they want

To represent what a balanced approach could look like there’s a visual diagram showing an example of the agile enterprise operating model, which is fully customisable and “when you do it well, you create mission-inspired teams that work together across the organisation, both the run-the-business and the change-the-business elements”.

There’s plenty of inspiring success stories from Bosch, Amazon, Spotify and RBS too.

“More agile is not always better agile. There is an optimal range of agility for every business and for every activity within a business.”

“Genuine customer obsession sets a strong foundation for agility.”

View the book on Amazon here.

Here are some techniques to help you decide on what to read and do to improve:

1. Read a book that is relevant to a situation that you’re in now eg. Removing some bad habits, time management, reducing anxiety, understanding the full breadth of product management, levelling up your career, producing a product roadmap, putting together a product strategy, defining a compelling product vision, prioritisation, scaling a business from start-up, conducting customer interviews, improving soft skills, handling conflict, struggling to influence… and then try out the various tools or ideas you’ve learned in the book. Reading a book that is relevant to your current situation will likely help you absorb the content easier too, enabling you to extract even more value from it. There is a book for every situation nowadays, just search on Amazon and you’ll be surprised at what you find.

2. Conduct basic gap analysis in your knowledge/skills and read books on the gaps, then try out the ideas you’ve been exposed to. A performance review at work/feedback from colleagues is also a good source of insight on what to focus on.

3. Validate some of the nonsense you might be experiencing. If you’re experiencing a situation that seems a bit bonkers or you’re wondering whether there could be a more effective way of doing things, read a book with good recommendations that are always backed up by thorough analysis and then read some more similar books on the subject to further validate or increase your knowledge in the area. If several high profile authors are saying similar things and you’re experiencing the opposite, it’ll give you the confidence to question existing ways and in time help steer the ship in a more successful direction.

Now, if you’ve not got that opportunity at work to build up some practical experience of what you’ve learned (eg. If you haven’t got the autonomy or someone else does it) do it on the side or in your own time as an example/exercise and get feedback internally at work or from a mentor which will produce an extra benefit of being seen as being proactive and showing initiative. If you’re in an unhealthy culture where you’re not given room to experiment on your learnings, it’s likely time to seek haven in a more healthy culture.

On the other hand, if you’ve spotted a gap where something isn’t being done which you’re not directly responsible for, step up and try and fill that gap yourself whether it’s roadmapping, making a feature backlog more visible to stakeholders, market analysis, value stream mapping, reduce waste…

If you still aren’t sure where to start, the below books in that order should help get you off to a flying start:

  1. Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  2. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  4. Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins
  5. The Mindset of Success by Jo Owen
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  7. Indistractable by Nir Eyal

As Sarah Wood says in her book Stepping Up “the most important thing is that you get started, as quickly as possible. Done is better than perfect!” which also applies to both reading and doing.

Top 3 reads which made the biggest impact:

1. The Mindset of Success by Jo Owen

“The most important mindset for a successful career is learning and growth. If you stay still, you will fail.”

2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Once you’ve made the journey into the Now, you will no longer have problems (only situations) as nothing exists outside of the Now.

3. Stepping Up by Sarah Wood

What makes a good leader has changed over time, from being a dominant personality and didactic style to having leadership qualities of courage, kindness, trust, authenticity and empathy.

Thanks to all of the authors for sharing their wisdom, and thanks to my connections for sharing their book recommendations and inspiring learning experiences throughout the year.

Hope everyone has a nice festive break and a great learning experience next year.

Enjoyed this read by Scott Belsky where he uncovers a pragmatic set of techniques to help organise, prioritise and execute actions turning high aspirational goals into reality, gives tips on collaborating with other people to help accelerate progress, and provides good insight into effective leadership and self-leadership methods.

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration”

“To push your ideas to fruition, you must develop the capacity to endure, and even thrive, as you traverse the project plateau.”

“Making ideas happen boils down to self-discipline and the ways in which you take action.”

“Even when the next step is unclear, the best way to figure it out is to take some incremental action. Constant motion is the key to execution.”

“Nothing will assist your ideas more than a team of people who possess real initiative.”

A practical short read on how to properly talk to customers and learn from them by Rob Fitz.

Whilst the book focuses on validating new product/business ideas, many principles Rob talks about still apply to existing products, enabling you to understand how and why customers are using the product in the way they are and how they feel about the product vs. competitors – building up qualitative data about the UX.

Even though the book was published 8 years ago, it’s still relevant and I loved how the book focuses on having an informal chat with customers about their feelings and why first, before diving into getting feedback on solutions which you’d do in future conversations – how can you satisfy customers if you don’t understand them first. Also, with remote customer interview tools now available like User Zoom, Lookback and User Testing, it makes it easier more than ever to talk to customers weekly.

The Mom Test:

1. Talk about their life (or how/why they use the product in the way they do) instead of your idea
2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
3. Talk less and listen more

It’s called The Mom Test because it leads to questions that even your parents can’t lie to you about.

Link here to the book on Amazon.

It’s also a great companion to Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez.

Most books touch the surface of what it takes to achieve high aspirational goals, but The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky gives a comprehensive insight into what it really takes to reach them and long-term success, covering the highs and lows of the journey built on seven years’ of research.

You read in books and the news new venture kickoffs with inspiring missions and the big celebratory achievements giving a sense it’s quick and easy to reach them, whether it’s funding, IPO, market-leader status, job role…when in reality it’s not and instead takes relentless patience, grit and empathy to achieve long-term success which is the focus throughout the book.

The book is structured well keeping to around two pages on each subject, where Scott gets right to the point and focuses on modern approaches to help build and optimise your team and improve yourself.

“Milestones that are directly correlated with progress are more effective motivators than anything else.”

“The only ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ in business is self-awareness.”

“Don’t start to question your gut solely because it is different. Nothing should resonate more loudly than your own intuition. The truly differentiating factors of your project are the ones most likely to be different, misunderstood, or underestimated by everyone else.”

“Every leader needs to come up for air now and then. By temporarily disconnecting from your journey, you’re able to take perspective of all the moving parts.” – very relevant as I read this on holiday.

A fantastic read which I’d recommend to anyone struggling to progress towards their missions, looking to make sense of their experiences or generally interested in learning from Scott’s journey and wisdom.

Working smarter, not harder is the essence of this book. Dan tells tons of stories of how people have efficiently achieved their personal and professional goals by collaborating with other people and feeling comfortable about asking for help, rather than just going it alone in a silo.

People helping you with your high aspirations will also give you more freedom to relax, recover, do hobbies…which is important as Dan explains only “16 percent of creative insight happens while you’re at work. Instead, ideas generally come while you’re at home or in transit, or during recreational activity.”

Dan covers teamwork and leadership in detail talking about his winning formula of autonomy + goal/vision clarity + regular feedback = high performing teams.

“It all starts by setting a goal, a new bigger version of your own future. Then your next step is to ask, ‘Who can help me do this?'”

If you need some tips on how to reach bigger goals or you want to avoid procrastination, this is the book for you.

Written in the same novel thriller style as The Phoenix Project, Gene Kim touches on every element you need to transform a slow-moving monolithic digital setup to a more modern Agile and Lean operation which allows you to validate ideas and solve problems at speed, getting ahead in the market.

I found the original Phoenix book gripping and a fun read as I’ve not experienced a manufacturing plant environment before, but I found the Unicorn Project more predictable as I was reading it, but I guess that’s due to going through various Agile and DevOps transformations over the past few years…

…saying that, it was still a pleasure to read the heroics of Maxine, Kurt and Brent with their relentless perseverance and motivation to continually improve and learn whilst getting ideas to customers, hearing about the fruits of the impacts they were making, and the value that a dedicated and empowered team can have, through a different lens.

“A healthy software system is one that you can change at the speed you need, where people can contribute easily, without jumping through hoops.”

“Because the distance from where decisions are made and where work is performed keeps growing, the quality of our outcomes diminish.”

“It’s been true for hundreds of years and probably thousands more: employee engagement and customer satisfaction are the only things that matter. If we do that right, and manage cash effectively, every other financial target will take care of itself.” Amen!

Another fantastic book by Gene which I’d recommend for anyone experiencing significant delays in the value stream or generally interested in DevOps.

“Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine.”

This book by James Clear has to be the best book I’ve read on continuous improvement. James’s approach is to just focus on making one tiny change, continuously, which in itself will yield positive results and in time a powerful outcome.

The content is structured around the Four Laws of Behaviour Change (obvious, attractive, make it easy, satisfying) and gives you some good tools and strategies that can help you build better systems and shape better habits.

Throughout the book, there are dozens of stories about top performers, who have faced different circumstances but ultimately progressed in the same way: through a commitment to tiny, sustainable, unrelenting improvements.

“There is a version of every habit that can bring you joy and satisfaction. Find it. Habits need to be enjoyable if they are going to stick. Choose a habit that best suits you, not the one that is most popular.”

James also talks about some common pitfalls to avoid when creating habits, one of which “is that they can lock us into our previous patterns of thinking and acting-even when the world is shifting around us…

…a lack of self-awareness is poison. Reflection and review is the antidote.”

Over a million of these books have been sold, so if you haven’t read it yet and are interested in self-improvement, psychology or wanting to take control of your habits, I’d recommend this book.

Link here to the book on Amazon.

“85% of job success comes from well-developed people skills.”

“70% of team issues are caused by people skills deficiencies.”

It’s becoming increasingly more common for Product Management and therefore product managers, who are generalists, to sit at the centre of the business surrounded by specialists, making collaboration with everyone in your team and stakeholders across the business a fundamental part of the job in order to manage the product and product business effectively. How you handle these relationships will contribute significantly to the success of the product and your role as a product manager.

Human Powered by Trenton Moss will give you a better understanding of yourself, increase your empathy to help forge better relationships and provide you with the tools you need to inspire those around you, setting you and your product up for success.

Throughout the book, there are short realistic stories with characters as examples to explain situations and resolutions making them easy to digest and relate to.

They don’t teach you how to handle conflict at school, but Trenton does a great job of setting out a framework to help you resolve conflict. The book covers 5 other key areas, with a framework for each including:

1. Conflict resolution
2. Strong relationships
3. Leading and influencing
4. Facilitation
5. Storytelling
6. Outbound comms

I’d recommend this book for all product directors and product managers/owners.

EQ is the new IQ!

You can order the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781336067/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_fabc_4ZFMT00SGSVD473E0K56

This is the best book I’ve read on DevOps and it follows on nicely from Gene Kim’s other book The Phoenix Project.

It’s quite easy to think that DevOps practices are just something that dev teams deal with and the value is simply just an increase in throughput, but the book provides clarity on the colossal value that adopting a DevOps culture and the principles can have on teams, the business, and customers.

Throughout the book, Gene echoes the importance of having the whole product team (product manager, designer and several engineers)) involved in the transformation, as well as focusing on outcomes, and to achieve outcomes you need to collect data and learn through experimentation which is covered in the book too.

Gene gives good advice that it’s important to avoid funding projects and instead you should fund services and products: “A way to enable high-performing outcomes is to create stable service teams with ongoing funding to execute their own strategy and road map of initiatives”.

This is the most comprehensive and practical DevOps guide out there and the layout makes the content easy to digest. The book covers:

– History leading up to DevOps, and Lean thinking
– Agile, and continuous delivery
– Value streams
– How to design your organisation and architecture
– Integrating security, change management, and compliance

The principles and tech practices of:
1. Flow
2. Feedback
3. Continual Learning and Experimentation

“Our goal is to enable market-oriented outcomes where many small teams can quickly and independently deliver value to the customer”

Previously ‘Product Management’ as a function has been part of the tech or marketing department and it’s still a relatively new concept to have Product Management as a separate department in an organisation.

As a result, there are many common misconceptions that the main function of Product Management and the Product Manager/Owner is to define features themselves and work with tech to deliver them, making it somewhat frustrating when marketing, insights, commercial team or any other department outside of product make a request which takes up tech effort which could have otherwise been spent on pushing your own changes.

So if this is a misconception, what is the role of Product Management in the wider organisation?

Product Management as a function/department sits in the middle of the organisation where the Product Manager is a generalist who collaborates with the specialists across the business to help manage the product business and develop the product, which includes working with:

  • Technology / DevOps and Designers/UX to learn through experimentation and reach outcomes early and often by developing the product continuously
  • Marketing to grow the product
  • Customer support to help them provide an A* customer service
  • Legal / compliance team to ensure the product is compliant
  • PMO / Project Managers to support them on cross-cutting high-value initiatives
  • Commercial / Bus Dev to take advantage of opportunities
  • Data / Insights team to gain access to qual/quant data, learn and understand how you can use data better to deliver more effective outcomes
  • The C-suite especially CEO to understand the business goals and ensure your product goals aligns with them
  • Yourself, the market and customers to analyse qual/quant data to find out what problems there could be to solve

As a Product Manager, you may feel overwhelmed by a sudden bombardment of requests coming from certain departments all of a sudden for example marketing requests, and a positive way of looking at this is that these inputs are essentially all just product ideas and part of qual/quant data analysis to help improve the product/product business which as a Product Manager you need to manage.

You may also find that you are spending the majority of tech resources on marketing requests for months, which is absolutely fine, if this is the highest priority work – the importance of growing the product business should not be underestimated.

With lots of valuable input incoming at a frequent rate, as a Product Manager, it means that you need to be organised, proactive and utilise your emotional intelligence to ensure you get the most out of everyone and that you handle situations rationally. What will help you is:

  • Accepting and believing that you are one team working together to improve the product/product business
  • Having a tidy data-driven prioritised product backlog which anyone can access
    • This will make it easier to say why someone can’t have what they want now!
  • Presenting your product roadmap, successes and what’s up next to key stakeholders on a regular heartbeat, but also ensuring that stakeholders have access to real-time updates of the product roadmap. Aha.io is a great tool for this
  • Know your customers, market, product strategy, backlog and data, so you can be assertive and lean into tense situations – Managing Product = Managing Tension is a great book to help give you confidence to lean into tension

A Product Manager is accountable for the success of their product and therefore also needs to manage the product business, not just develop a product.

Steven Haines is a globally recognised expert in Product Management who has done incredible work professionalising Product Management. I’d recommend reading the below books of his:

As Haines says “The system of product management touches and influences all the organic supporting structures-all the business functions. Think of the human body; product management is in the circulatory system, the neural network, and, of course, the command and control center (the brain).”

A PRD (Product Requirement Document) helps a product manager write a story on how to get from problem -> solution methodically. Often problems can be so big, complex and have ambiguity that it’s hard to know where to start, so a PRD will help you rationally approach the problem and get the support you need to reach an efficient and effective outcome.

It’s important to point out that it’s not necessary to:

  1. Use a PRD for every single problem/idea, normally only for epics/initiatives/features/medium or large-sized items.
  2. Complete the whole document, only fill out bits you need, you may find that you only complete the problem/value and hypothesis parts.
  3. Work on it in a silo. You will achieve a more efficient and effective outcome if you get the rest of the product team (designer and engineers) and stakeholders involved at the beginning in a workshop format so that you can work as one team across the discovery phase.

A good place to create a PRD is in Confluence, so it’s easily accessible across the business allowing colleagues to easily comment remotely. I’ve also used Google Docs previously and copied some of the information into the epic of JIRAs to reinforce the problem we are looking to solve/projected value we are looking to get after to the development team.

The first few PRDs you write you might find it quite slow whilst you work out how to get hold of the qual/quant data, but you soon pick up speed as you become familiar with the key elements of discovery and have the data already accessible at your fingertips.

It would also be helpful for new starters if you add a completed example of a PRD to the top of the PRD template which will help add some context for them. Some PRDs can be quite lengthy if the problem is big, complex and has a lot of ambiguity, so it’s worth adding a table of contents at the top making it easy to navigate through the document.


Including a list of people who are involved:

RoleContact
Product Manager. <tag person/<name>
UX/Design<tag person/<name>
Technical<tag people/<names>
Stakeholders<tag people/<names>
Jira/Design/Helpful Links <tag person/<name>

Problem/Value/Idea

A description of the problem or idea along with projected value if you have this. This is a good chance to spend quality time digging into the problem to build up a business case using qual/quant data.

  • Idea: Supporting Dark Mode in our apps…
  • Problem: Our iOS app is currently a 3* rating and Android app 2*, with the top problems being…
  • Problem: 70% of our customer support queries relate to promotions which cost us £x / month
  • Problem: Our day 1 churn rate is higher than we expect…
  • Problem: We currently release new software iterations monthly, rather than daily…
  • Problem: In the latest customer survey, 10% of respondents report the product being slow and unstable…
  • Problem: 20% of customers don’t feel rewarded for their loyalty
  • Problem: Our total marketing communication engagements have gone down since complying with the new GDPR regulations, making it harder to talk to customers frequently
  • Projected Value: Saving customer support costs by £
  • Projected Value: App rating > 4* resulting in healthier ASO and raking and therefore an increase in organic installs creating 20 new customers a day
  • Projected Value: Day 1 churn rate under 20% resulting in £xx revenue increase
  • Projected Value: New customer conversion rate > 30% resulting in £xx revenue increase

Hypothesis

List out one or more hypotheses you come up with to test out. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with the whole product team (designer and engineers) and stakeholders, not only to compile the list of experiments but also what data you need to learn and what tools you might need to execute the experiments.

  • Providing existing customers with the ability to refer their friends will increase new customers incremental by 10% worth an extra £xx revenue increase
  • Having a stepped registration form will increase the registration rate by 10%
  • Solving all customer queries in the app store and responding to every app store review within 3 hours will increase customer satisfaction and therefore our app store rating, which will in turn help ASO and our app store ranking

KPIs

  • Volume of engagements with feature x
  • Conversation rate
  • ARPU
  • CPA
  • Retention rate
  • Day 1 churn rate
  • LTV
  • Registration rate
  • Crash levels
  • Deposit elapsed time
  • Session time
  • Login elapsed time

Market Analysis

If you have competitors who have solved the problem already, this is a good place to document the UX. Also, detail your target personas and other details about the market which will give you a better idea of who the product iteration is for.


Customer Research / Validation

Detail any qual/quant data you have gathered relating to the problem/idea eg. customer interviews, financial/engagement data, trends, and any historical experiment results which are relevant.


Constraints

  • Regulatory live date of x
  • Marketing tv campaigns going live x
  • Low front-end development capacity
  • Utilising platform/tool x
  • Time to market
  • Dependencies on teams x

High-Level Requirements / Use Cases

This shouldn’t be at user story level (detailed spec), but instead, just an idea of customer flows/use cases and considerations covering:

  • Functional
  • Non-functional (since the rise of DevOps, this gets covered as BAU/as part of development in most cases)
  • Customer support
  • Marketing
  • Tracking

Flow

Embed a mock-up, flow, UX or prototype.


Risks

  • Lots of ambiguity, so it could take a while to reach the desired outcome
  • Other higher priority work could mean that we don’t have the tech capacity to get the solution to market in time to reach the optimal outcome
  • The problem may not be such a big problem when we go to market
  • We may only solve part of the problem because of x
  • It could take more than 3 months before we learn because of x

Technical Considerations

  • We have plans to replace the existing platform in the next 12 months.
  • We need to conduct an RFP on tooling
  • This is the first time we are conducting experiments, so we need to considering process and tooling

Go-to-market Strategy

This is where you can detail the elements you need to consider/action to have a successful go-live covering:

  • What product support marketing require to market the product iteration effectively
    • Special promotions
    • Signposting across the product
    • Training, user guides
  • Customer support training
  • Release preparation to coordinate with any time-sensitive fixed timeframe marketing campaign especially TV ads
    • Day 1 plan
    • Feature switch process
  • Regulatory approval
  • Production access for end-users

Q&A

Adding a question and answers section at the bottom allowing you to add notes from meetings and tag anyone responsible for answering the question.

QuestionsAnswers

Excited to have received an early copy of Human Powered by Trenton Moss.

Psychology and Product Management are my favourite subjects, so I’m really looking forward to reading this book which combines them both.

Product managers are generalists and require support across the business from specialists in every area making EI skills important to have when working in Product Management. Demand for high EI skills will grow significantly over the next decade, especially as it becomes even more common for businesses to put Product Management at the heart of their organisation, so it’s great to see books like this addressing the skills gap.

Review of the book to follow over the next 2-3 weeks!

More info on the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781336067/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_fabc_E7C7NMM41NDZDYYX3FCG

Rewiring your brain to avoid your mind crippling your energy as it obsesses about past or future events is difficult, but it is absolutely possible, and this book makes it much easier.

It gives you tools on how to do it written in an easy to understand question-and-answer format to show you how you can silence these thoughts and use that energy more practically.

Essentially once you’ve made the journey into the Now, you will no longer have problems (only situations) as nothing exists outside of the Now. It is here you will find joy, are able to embrace your true self, and feel comfortable in the present.

“The energy form that lies behind hostility and attack finds the presence of love absolutely intolerable”.

Over 7 million people have read this book, it’s a best seller on Amazon, and I can understand why.

Loved reading this book by Eliyahu Goldratt as it’s written as a novel in a fast-paced thriller style, so once you start reading it it’s hard to put down.

Although it tells a heroic story of a manufacturing plant being saved from closure, the improvements closely resemble modern software development techniques – especially Kanban, as it touches on managing constraints, throughput optimisation, continuous improvement, less (smaller batch sizes) but more frequent, prioritisation, waste, the right KPIs (Goal), capacity, effort, WIP, value, estimation, and teamwork.

Throughout the book, rather than the external consultant (Jonah) just telling the plant manager (Alex) how to solve all of the problems they were facing at each stage of their continuous improvement journey to save the plant, Jonah coached Alex by asking him questions instead and getting him to find the answers out for himself, which sets Alex up for success in the future…reminded me of The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stainer.

If you liked The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim you’ll love this book as it’s written in a similar style, and comes with all of the drama of balancing family life with a high demanding job.

In this book, Frank Barrett writes remarkable stories on leadership, learning, and innovation from a range of industry settings-from Jazz performance to automotive manufacturing.

Saying ‘Yes to the Mess’ ultimately means accepting as a management team that you don’t have control over how the teams on the front line get to the end goal or get a detailed plan on how they’re going to get there, and Instead, you can see how the team navigate through the uncertainty by learning along the way, being curious, creative, innovative, driven to succeed no matter how many experiments fail, and having fun along the way…aka improvisation.

Whilst there is no mention of product management in the book, there are clear lessons that can be learnt from jazz, which are also covered in other Lean product development books on how to handle uncertainty – by providing a vision and empowering the team to decide how they are going to get there, which as a result yields creativity, ownership, autonomy, learning, loyalty, speed, and value.

Jazz is a ‘risky business’ and the mindset of jazz would work in a multitude of environments with high uncertainty such as a product innovation hub, a new product that hasn’t been validated in the market, or a brand new feature for an existing product. Everything is an experiment to a jazz player, which reminds me of the hypothesis-driven product development approach.

After reading this book I definitely have a greater appreciation of jazz because of the level of risk and improvisation that takes place.

This wasn’t an easy read, but I enjoyed it, as it provided a unique angle on leadership from different perspectives.