John Cutler chats to Product Plan's Jim Semick.
In Summary: Marty Cagan has famously declared roadmaps to be 'the root of all evil'. Jim deconstructs why this view has some merit, why dates are so contentious and why PMs are often reluctant to share their roadmaps widely.
Jim recently published a 'Guide to Product Roadmaps' and, in this wide-ranging interview, he sheds light on the intrinsic tension between strategic thinking and feature development in Product Management; not least the tendency for roadmaps to become (long) wish lists of requirements.
Finally, he addresses the issue of 'product fetishisation', the inclination to value the product at the expense of the customer, and the problem you are meant to be solving.
An entertaining and insightful interview with a true Product veteran.
Don't be a janitor, says Product Hub's Cynthia Andre.
In Summary: Although frequently classified as one of the best jobs in the US, Product Management is not known for its clear, linear career path. In fact, the nature of the role changes drastically from company to company.
To help aspiring PMs, Cynthia offers 3 tips for staying on the right path.
Firstly, it's important to think critically about your product and the market opportunity. This means having a strong vision for the future of the product, the market need it addresses and how it needs to adapt as industries change.
Next, it's important to exude confidence. Product Managers should feel equally comfortable talking to the C-suite, engineers and their peers. Confidence most often derives from data and validated hypotheses. A proven idea is valid no matter where it comes from.
The next skill is communicating your findings to different audiences. Most products involve multiple stakeholders, gatekeepers and decision makers. To communicate with each effectively, it’s critical to know when to give a basic overview, as well as when to go deep when questioned.
Finally, it's important to differentiate yourself. Having a vision for yourself and your career is just as important as having one for your product.
Or someone else will, says ProductPlan's Maddy Kirsch.
In Summary: As a Product Manager you can expect every product you oversee to encounter some setback on its way to market. There's no shame in this, as long as you appropriately and clearly set expectations, early and often, with all relevant stakeholders.
However, many Product Managers fail to properly do this during product development. Often, this is because they worry about disappointing people or about making demands on the Product Team.
To counter this reluctance, Maddy outlines a number of vital techniques for setting expectations correctly during product development. These include 'under promise / over deliver' (a classic Amazon practice) where you set expectations low in order to surprise and delight with the execution, employing 'realistic optimism' with regards to how you frame likely outputs and 'chunking down' your overall strategy into discrete themes that can be evaluated individually.
Expectations are vital both to your product’s success and to your own success as a Product Manager, make sure you manage them well.
Vague requests and slow feedback demotivate and unsettle Product Teams, says Aha!'s Zach Schneider.
In Summary: It goes without saying that happy engineers are more productive, more thorough, and more likely to stick around for the long term.
Despite their best intentions, Product Managers can often be ineffective when passing on information. The result is that engineers become frustrated and feel that they are left to manage the product by themselves.
Providing prompt and detailed feedback can be invaluable to engineers trying to iterate features at speed. Nothing is more frustrating than ambiguity (and vagueness), so PMs should ensure they put in the work to provide explicit and thorough direction.
Finally, showing gratitude builds confidence and respect. Recognition for hard work or a successful release goes a long way towards motivating engineers to do their best work.