Product Management Is Not Optional (EL-SIG/SVForum)

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Intended primarily for an audience of engineering leaders and development managers, with this agenda:
- Product management is about doing the right things. Engineering is about doing things right.
- Prioritization is political and strategic as well as algorithmic
- Symptoms of weak product management and how Engineering can help

This was a talk for SVForm's Engineering Leadership SIG on 21 Aug 2014.

Published in: Business

Product Management Is Not Optional (EL-SIG/SVForum)

  1. 1. CLICK TO EDIT MASTER TITLE STYLE PRODUCT MANAGEMENT IS NOT OPTIONAL Rich Mironov EL-SIG 21Aug2014 1
  2. 2. •  Veteran  product  manager/exec/strategist   •  Business  models,  pricing,  agile   •  Organizing  product  organiza8ons   •  HP,  Tandem,  Sybase,  6  startups     as  “product  guy”  or  CEO   •  The  Art  of  Product  Management     •  First  Product  Camp,  first  agile     product  manager/owner  tracks   ABOUT RICH MIRONOV 2w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  3. 3. •  Product management is about doing the right things. Engineering is about doing things right. •  Prioritization is political and strategic as well as algorithmic •  Symptoms of weak product management •  How Engineering can help AGENDA 3 Product Mgmt ♥︎ Engineering w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  4. 4. •  Delivers market-relevant whole products •  Targets segments, not individual customers •  Protects the plan but listens for surprises •  “Combines technical AND market decisions to drive product revenue and competitive advantage” WHAT DOES A PRODUCT MANAGER DO? 4w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  5. 5. CLICK TO EDIT MASTER TITLE STYLE market information, priorities, requirements, roadmaps, epics, user stories, backlogs, personas, MRDs… product bits strategy, forecasts, commitments, roadmaps, competitive intelligence budgets, staff, targets Field input, Market feedback Segmentation, messages, benefits/features, pricing, qualification, demos… Markets & CustomersDevelopment Marketing & Sales Executives Product Management WHAT DOES A PRODUCT MANAGER DO? 5w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  6. 6. •  Drive* whole product strategy and revenue •  Make* hard trade-offs among complex choices •  Communicate and align around (current) plan * Get the smartest people/ideas into the room * We collaborate but it’s not a democracy * Take personal responsibility for market outcomes HOW PRODUCT MANAGERS ADD VALUE 6 STARTS w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  7. 7. Can fill out paperwork (user stories) all day long… •  But decisions require strategy and market analysis •  Bottom-up story ranking never creates strategy •  Need whole thoughts, coherent/cohesive products, economic justification DELIVERABLES ARE INSUFFICIENT 7w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  8. 8. •  Building the wrong product •  Unnecessary features •  Excessive paperwork or documentation •  Partially done work (WIP) •  Task switching •  Waiting for information •  Defects          -­‐  aIer  Mary  and  Tom  Poppendieck   *My  SWAG   SEVEN WASTES OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT 8 •  Building the wrong product (100% waste*) •  Unnecessary features (20-50% waste*) •  Excessive paperwork or documentation •  Partially done work (WIP) •  Task switching •  Waiting for information •  Defects          -­‐  aIer  Mary  and  Tom  Poppendieck   *My  SWAG  w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. Product manager or product owner? Titles don’t matter. “Person who makes hard trade-offs about what we should BUILD and MARKET/SELL given LIMITED RESOURCES in order to deliver REVENUE” In practice, most product owners work at the scrum/story/ feature level, not the product/portfolio/revenue level RICH’S AGILE BIAS 10w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  11. 11. •  Deep product usage experience •  Huge premium on technical chops, story writing •  No requirement for market-side experience •  No demand for organizational “blocking” skills •  Well aligned with “Internal IT” decision-making style HOW DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS TYPICALLY PICK PRODUCT OWNERS 11
  12. 12. “As  a  programmer  who  knows   nothing  about  being  a  technical   product  manager,  what  should  I   learn  before  interviewing  for  /   transi<oning  into  a  technical   product  manager  role?”    -­‐  Real  Quora  ques8on  to  Rich   12
  13. 13. "As  a  professional  race  car   driver  who  knows  nothing  about   so@ware,  what  should  I  know   before  interviewing  for  an   enterprise  so@ware  architect   role?"   13w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  14. 14. •  Customer/field demands always far outstrip resources •  Discard 90%+ of requests •  Decisions are semi-quantitative •  Huge error bars on revenue impact, market reactions, development work, support costs •  We must constantly defend product architecture •  People and organizations matters WHY IS PRIORITIZATION HARD? 14w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  15. 15. •  Logic and facts are not enough •  Sales teams get paid for closing individual deals •  HIPPO •  Responsibility without authority •  Keep the process moving PRODUCT MANAGEMENT: INHERENTLY POLITICAL 15w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  16. 16. •  Pulls into product station every day •  From customers, sales, execs, engineers, analysts… •  Delivers hundreds of “good ideas” each day •  One or two might be new and earthshaking •  Always >> engineering capacity GOOD IDEA TRAIN 16
  17. 17. CLICK TO EDIT MASTER TITLE STYLE EVAL  /   RESEARCH  /   RANK   FEATURE REQUEST CYCLE 17 SHIP   INPUT   PM   QUICK   SORT   BUILD   Customers   Sales/Prospects   Support   Execs   LeanUX   Analysts   Compe8tors   …   ~95%   ~5%   Size,  impact,   biz  case,     goals,  tech     debt…   “DEEP”   BACKLOG     WIP   TOP  OF   STACK   w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  18. 18. •  Japanese alternatives to “NO” •  Product koan: "Thank you! That's a really interesting idea. Let me put it into the product backlog so we can address it when appropriate." HUMBLY ACCEPTING INPUT 18w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  19. 19. 1.  High interrupt rates 2.  Lack of problem context 3.  Unstable backlog/roadmap 4.  Missing/understaffed product management PRODUCT MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS THAT LOOK LIKE ENG’G PROBLEMS 19w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  20. 20. “Is it done yet? “Who can handle this urgent fix?” “Where in the backlog is my item?” “We need to size another hot-deal feature.” “This one is really easy, probably < 10 lines of code, so can fit into the current sprint.” “Competitor A is going to announce teleportation. That can’t be hard to do, so I promised it to a customer.” 1. DEVELOPMENT INTERRUPTS 20w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  21. 21. RANDOM INTERRUPTS DRAIN PRODUCTIVITY AND MORALE 21 Your product manager should buffer everything •  Except P0/system down How you can help: •  All developers point all interrupts to product manager •  Even (especially) executives •  Allocate time for collaborative rough-sizing w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  22. 22. •  “What problem are we trying to solve? Who’s the user?” •  “I’m working on a story, but don’t know where it fits” •  “This feels like a HOW instead of a WHAT” 2. LACK OF PRODUCT CONTEXT w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 22
  23. 23. Your product manager provides why, not just what •  Problem statements, personas, strategy, context… You collaborate on solutions and trade-offs How you can help: •  Work one issue at a time •  Trust and working agreements, not legalism •  Accept reasonable answers (there are no certainties) WE SOLVE PROBLEMS, NOT JUST WORK ON TASKS 23w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  24. 24. Typically symptom of bigger issues •  Sales or execs overdriving product management •  Bottom-up prioritization instead of strategy •  Weak business justification/market analysis •  Excessive technical debt 3. UNSTABLE BACKLOG/ROADMAP 24
  25. 25. Product managers “own” roadmap/backlog… … but need lots of support How you can help: •  Don’t make it personal •  Identify what specific work/feature will be delayed. What will we push? •  Jointly plan for likely interrupts ROADMAPPING IS AN ONGOING (POLITICAL) PROCESS 25w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  26. 26. Usually outside Eng direct control But huge impact on product/company Eng:PM of 10:1 or 12:1, but not 25:1 What you can do to help: •  Recognize the symptoms •  De-personalize the problem •  Escalate, escalate, escalate: demand more (or better) product management 4. PRODUCT MANAGEMENT IS MISSING OR UNDERSTAFFED 26w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  27. 27. IMHO:     Development  teams  should  be   rio<ng  in  the  hallways  about   underpowered  product   management/ownership     27w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  28. 28. •  We’re part of the same team •  Good product management boosts development productivity, morale and revenue •  Development pays a huge price for missing/ understaffed product management •  Your product manager doesn’t expect a thank-you (but would love one) TAKEAWAYS 28w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  29. 29. CONTACT Rich Mironov, CEO Mironov Consulting 233 Franklin St, Suite #308 San Francisco, CA 94102 RichMironov   @RichMironov Rich@Mironov.com   29

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