My Stories Are Too Short…

My team says that my stories are too short, insufficient. Except when they say I’m long-winded, overspecifying HOW instead of WHAT. What’s really happening? Thoughts on engaging with our teams to unpack issues and work better together.

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Why CEOs Should Not Be Our Primary Source of Customer Input

It’s easy for CEOs to think that they personally are the best-informed people within their companies about what customers need and what markets want. In reality, product and design teams have the time, focus, expertise, and large numbers of non-selling interviews to do more objective validation of product ideas.

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What Do Product Leaders Worry About? (Survey)

My year-end survey of 120 product leaders about their top issues: building the right thing, portfolio trade-offs, training/mentoring, capturing authority, and others – including getting products built and to market.

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“I’ll Quit Unless…”

Employees can deliver ultimatums (“I’ll quit unless…”), even if that’s not their real intention. Poor communication meets unretractable threats. As managers, we need to avoid panic, listen for underlying issues, and identify solutions.

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The Slippery Slope of Sales-Led Development

Occasionally building something unique and small for a single customer makes sense. But enterprise software companies can easily fall into the habit of including custom work in too many of their major deals… with disastrous results. This (long) post lays out root issues and possible solutions.

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How to Make Time for Customer Interviews & Validation

Product leaders need to push their teams toward regular direct user/customer feedback, unmediated by sales or marketing or support. I’m suggesting one live user interview per week. But how can we find time for that, and make it important enough to compete with other urgent work?

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Do Infrastructure Teams Need Product Management?

Many infrastructure development teams don’t have a product manager. That forces an architect or senior developer to manage a range of responsibilities they are not best equipped to handle: settling conflicting business priorities; internally “selling” the value of architecture; tying technical decisions to business metrics; making connections between software and end user joy.

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Understanding Enterprise Product Companies

Enterprise companies are structurally different from consumer and SMB companies, and product management tools are different – even though we have similar product/market goals. What should B2C product folks want to know before crossing over?

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Talking Directly with (Real) Customers

Product managers need to talk — often — with actual end users and buyers. We need to listen, interview, understand and empathize with paying customers. Unmediated by marketing, sales or researchers. What organizational barriers block this essential work, and can we remove some of them?

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Your Audience’s Real Roadmap Questions

Your different audiences have different (often opposing) goals and incentives, which means they probably want different product decisions and therefore different roadmaps. You need to understand and anticipate their agendas.

What are the questions that various groups really want to ask, and how does that shape our roadmap conversations?

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