Posts written by Ellen Gottesdiener

How to Make Product Decisions With Transparency and Trust

Product managers can make better decisions if they’ve built transparency and trust with their team. How these decisions are made is also important, and it requires a clear and collaborative process. Here’s a straightforward framework for collaborative decision making that is founded in transparency and trust.

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Women in Agile Podcast Highlights

In the podcast, I discuss infusing product management with agile principles and practices. Lesley Morse, the podcast interviewer, summarized the highlights of our conversation as follows:

“Ellen speculates a future where there will be a “blending of disciplines where you don’t necessarily have a business area and a technology area”, just one product team with interdisciplinary team members. Her piece of advice to product people: Have strategic awareness of your product in the marketplace or “Big-View”, and get rid of junk in the backlog.

Gottesdiener also takes us down the memory lane to the beginnings of the Agile Conference – she has attended every one of them since Salt Lake City. She reminds us of the women who have had a large impact on the Agile community from the very beginning.”

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What Is Your Product?

“So, what is your product?” That was the key question I posed in my Agile Cincinnati keynote recently.

In my product coaching work, I have come to realize that many organizations don’t have a clear and consistent answer to this fundamental question. This has serious consequences. A poorly defined product impacts your ability to respond to changing customer and market needs. It results in less than satisfying product outcomes. It causes organizational and communication woes. It thwarts organizations efforts to scale agile product development.

Everyone in your product development ecosystem should have a shared, consistent, and coherent answer to the fundamental question, “What is your product?”

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Retrospectives Make Better Product Outcomes

Frustrated with the outcomes of your products? Are you, as a product manager, struggling with your development team? In my work as a product coach, achieving less than stellar product outcomes is all too common.

Surprisingly, the solution to better outcomes may be right under your nose. The answer is in retrospectives. To create and sustain a culture for creating better product outcomes, product leaders encourage and participate in product retrospectives. Retrospectives tap into the wisdom of the product community to continually learn and improve the product as well as the product development process.

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Using the Product Canvas to Define Your Product’s Core Requirements

The Product Canvas can help address a number of challenges as you transition to a product-centric organization. You may want to take a step back to rethink your product strategy. Perhaps you realize you’re not organized for optimal product development and need to redesign your organization so its structure follows product. Or maybe you need to improve your product management practices.

For all these scenarios, defining your product is your starting point.

The Product Canvas has two parts. In my last blog, “Using the Product Canvas to Define Your Product: Getting Started”, you learned about the strategic and positioning benefits of the Product Canvas Part 1. Product Canvas Part 2, the subject of this blog, helps you define the essence of your product by defining its compositional requirements.

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Using the Product Canvas to Define Your Product: Getting Started

I usually find a diversity of opinion when I ask anyone within an organization what their products are. This is true for product companies whose primary source of revenue is their product and for companies who use products internally to run their business.

This comes from a lack of shared understanding.

Not having agreement on “what is our product” is particularly problematic in large enterprises that have built complex organizational structures. It also surfaces in organizations attempting to modernize their product development practices. Many organizations recognize the need to take an outside-in approach to their business in order to focus on their customers. Even when organizations shift from project thinking and embrace product thinking, the problem remains the same. We don’t agree on what our products are and what our products are not.

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Doing the Right Things, Not Everything:
Product Management and Ownership

In my product coaching work, I often find product people (Product Managers and Product Owners) struggling to do too much. It can be exhausting to attempt to do everything rather than focus on doing only the right things.

There needs to be a way to show how a product development team supports product folks and how they can lean on their development team while providing them with appropriate product leadership.

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Using the MatchUp Canvas to Improve Team Interdependency

Have you experienced working with a great product development team? Key characteristics of a great team I’ve witnessed include clear product outcomes understood by everyone, outstanding product leadership, regular customer engagement, and continuous product discovery and delivery cycles. While achieving outcomes with joy and purpose, a great team also enhances its own skills and knowledge.

Agile product teams rely on each other’s skills and knowledge to achieve shared outcomes. Together, a great team continually adjusts what and how they are working together.

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Product Discovery Frameworks for the Virtual and Scaled Enterprise

For a number of years, I’ve heard: “I really like the frameworks for product discovery that you shared in Discover to Deliver. How can we facilitate collaborative discovery with distributed teams or for large-scale products?”

My answer—until now—is to suggest things that colleagues, EBG readers, and I have done over the years to leverage existing technologies available to hack a way to collaborate. For example, have concurrent teams working on their Discovery Boards with live video cameras in different locations. Or use Google docs, slides, Trello or real-time boards for shared space ‘wall work’. Even resort to asynchronous iterations of photos of wall work.

Until now.

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Am I a Product Manager or a Product Owner? Part 2

In part 1 of this blog, I outlined the confusion between what a Product Manager does and what a Product Owner does. The difference and overlaps between product management and product ownership work illustrated how activities span both strategic and tactical product management.

With confusion of roles and titles, a team can suffer with mixed product outcomes. I find this confusion to be widespread and I propose five ways to untangle the roles and responsibilities mess to move from confusion to clarity.

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