Posts on Product Management

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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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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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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Am I a Product Manager or a Product Owner? Part 1

With the maturing of the software industry and with an overwhelming acceptance of agility, I am still surprised at the inconsistency and overall confusion between what product managers and product owners do.

On a panel I participated on this very topic, the presenters had different, sometimes contradictory perspectives. [1] Adding to the confusion, organizations struggling to make sense of the roles and job titles can’t rely on conflicting webinars, white papers, or blogs to clarify roles and responsibilities.

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Structured Conversations to Discover Your MVP

Many product development teams talk about the wisdom of producing great products by iteratively exposing potential customers to small, cohesive product increments. [1] The concept of focusing effort on minimum viable product (MVP) delivery has gained momentum particularly in the agile world. MVPs deliver customer value through successive delivery of small product slices and drives teams to make smarter choices about their product’s future development.

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The 7 Product Dimensions: A Guide to Asking the Right Questions

Upon embarking on my first stint as a product manager, I happened to run into an experienced product executive one day in passing. I asked him for advice and he obliged. He replied rather succinctly: “Ask questions, and then go add value.” He was never one to ramble on. Since then, I’ve taken his advice to heart, asking questions early and often. Now, a few years into my career in the product field, I find myself going a level deeper and asking a new question: Am I asking the right questions to all the right people?

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Factors for Making Value-Based Product Decisions

Value

Making value-based decisions on what to deliver and when it needs to be delivered is one of the most important responsibilities of product ownership. What exactly is value? Value is fair return in goods, services, money, or some other benefit in exchange for something.

Value is what you get in exchange for what you give. In software development, we tend to identify value in terms of features. They are related to be sure, but quite different. Features as cohesive bundles of functionality that align with business goals and objectives. Features can come in various formats and levels of granularity, including user stories, minimum marketable features, minimum viable product, epics, and so on.

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Value: The Lynchpin in Agile Product Management

Defining Value

You’d think the topic of value would be uncontroversial when it comes to agile product management and ownership. After all, early and continuous delivery of value is the first principle in the Agile Manifesto.

And yet, the idea is not always clear and consistent. Value is often not easily qualified or quantified, which makes the important task of conversing transparently about value difficult.

At the Agile Product Open last month, I proposed the topic “Value: The Whats, Whys, and Hows” in the morning marketplace of ideas.

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