The Surprise We Can See Coming

surprised boy

While our functional/departmental co-workers are stuck in the issue-of-the-day or this week’s sprint backlog or customer escalation #847, there’s a need for someone (often a product manager) to look a few months ahead. To do scenario planning. To apply previous experience. To take the long view.

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EOL Cookbook


When it’s time to retire a commercial product or service, here’s an approach:
1. Get a list of all of that product’s users, if we know them.
2. Pick an end-of-support date and an announcement date.
3. Think hard about technical migration choices…

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Delegate, Trust, Verify, Protect


There’s an infinitely long list of things that product managers ‘should do.’ Take a look at any product management framework or job description. We rarely say, but clearly know, that it all can’t get done. How can we effectively delegate?

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“Why I’m Passionate About Product Management” (PCamp SF Keynote)


A lighthearted pictorial keynote from Product Camp San Francisco, Oct 2013. Since we typically talk about wearing lots of hats, I’ve instead referenced shoes.

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JobLorn: Missing My Former Product Segment

mechanical heart

Dear JobLorn: I have a complicated relationship with my ex-company. We had a bad breakup about a year ago which included a two-year “non-compete” agreement – the office equivalent of a Temporary Restraining Order. I love my old niche market, but had to take a product management job elsewhere to pay the bills.

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5 Market-Facing Skills for (Some) Agile Product Owners

Value Exchange

Completing a three-post skills model for product owners, partly borrowed from product management… For some projects, product owners need market-facing skills as well as core agile practices (release/sprint planning, story writing, prioritization, backlog grooming). They *may* need to tell economic stories, segment users, design incentives and take a portfolio-level view.

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Joblorn: Grumpy About Unfunded Projects

Development tip jar

Rich: I’m a product manager writing PRDs, but my features are always de-prioritized when engineering allocates resources. (We have constrained engineering bandwidth). How can I get priority for my features so that my PRD will see the light of day?
— Generating Reams of Unfunded MRDs and PRDs
Dear GRUMPy…

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Product Management Skills For Non-Revenue Product Owners (#2 of 3)

compass and map

Basic product owner descriptions assume a best-case situation: clear sponsor/user alignment, obvious project value, willing subject experts, budget authority and rational expectations. What skills do product owners need for real world projects?

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Lies, Boundary Cases and Checking Our Work

I’ve been doing some research into marketing automation solutions over the last month, both for myself and for a client. That included running several against my own website. My weekly email report from HubSpot included this surprising subject line: “Visits up 93,200%, Leads up 300%.” Maybe I can cut down to consulting only one day a month…

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A Product Management Skills Map For Product Owners (#1 of 3)

How do we reconcile the broad, market-focused scope of a technology product manager with the sprint-level attention to excellence of a product owner? In the first of three posts, I propose a customer diversity scale to identify how much “product-manager-ness” a product owner needs.

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