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What is good product management

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From talk to CTO School in NYC
- what is good product management
- how engineering can be a good partner to product (and how to structure product leadership)
- how to hire

Published in: Software
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What is good product management

  1. 1. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGEMENT For CTO School Meetup Nov 10 2014 Giff Constable www.neo.com
  2. 2. WHO AM I? 6 startups over the years currently CEO of Neo Innovation co-organizer of Lean Lessons Learned meetup author of Talking to Humans
  3. 3. I went looking for stories on PM-Engineering collaboration, and got horror stories
  4. 4. I also discovered some jokes
  5. 5. Q. what’s the best way to pay a product manager? A. American Express. They love taking credit for things. Source: The Cooper Review
  6. 6. We know what good engineering looks like. We’ve got a more advanced understanding now as to what good design looks like. But what about product management?
  7. 7. What is a good product manager? How to be a great partner to them? Appendix: How to hire for them?
  8. 8. 1. WHAT MAKES A GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER
  9. 9. Product managers are not “one size fits all”
  10. 10. Process Creative Vision Engineering Skills Communication & Empathy Business Design Skills Skills Domain Expertise
  11. 11. “You need to hire PMs for attitude over aptitude” - Satya Patel http://venturegeneratedcontent.com/2014/10/30/what-makes-a-great-product-manager/
  12. 12. 12 attitude traits of a good product manager
  13. 13. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Leads and serves at the same time
  14. 14. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Thinks managing people means telling them what to do and how to do it (aka “requirements”)
  15. 15. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Has great product ideas, but spends as much time fostering the creativity of the team
  16. 16. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Thinks their ideas (or their boss’ ideas) are God’s gift
  17. 17. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Can balance a healthy obsession with data and experiment-driven development, along with a healthy respect for vision, risk and intuition
  18. 18. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Pegs either end of the spectrum, with total worship or total rejection of metrics
  19. 19. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Deeply understands the customer’s needs and behavior through direct contact, not indirect research
  20. 20. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Hides behind the sales team, the customer support team, the Gartner Group reports
  21. 21. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Understands the power of focus and simplicity
  22. 22. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Thinks more features are always better
  23. 23. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Is a master at managing everyone’s expectations while making people feel listened to and respected
  24. 24. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Forgets that their constituency is people above, below, across and even outside the company
  25. 25. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Understands tech debt − they might ask for it, but they will fight to pay it down later
  26. 26. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Thinks the engineers just need to work harder because customer-facing features are all that matter
  27. 27. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Knows when an outcome is necessary, and efficiently iterates until it is accomplished Knows when a deadline is necessary, and ruthlessly manages scope Knows when a feature output is necessary, and effectively manages timing
  28. 28. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Can’t even think about outcomes − can only think about the next feature to ship Promises fixed scope against fixed deadlines Is not pragmatic enough to do what needs being done, or even understand it
  29. 29. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Feels responsible for how the product is bought, sold, and marketed
  30. 30. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Thinks their job stops once the feature is shipped
  31. 31. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Takes the time to deeply understand the production process across all functions
  32. 32. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Thinks everything takes a weekend, because they don’t have a clue
  33. 33. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER Can come from any discipline, but knows their job is to balance across all disciplines now
  34. 34. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER Can’t stop meddling in the area they know best, and favors it when compromise is needed
  35. 35. GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER SHIPS
  36. 36. BAD PRODUCT MANAGER BLAMES
  37. 37. I view these traits as non-negotiable Hire for it and fire for it
  38. 38. see a detailed skills matrix at careers.neo.com
  39. 39. 2. HOW TO BE A GREAT PARTNER TO PRODUCT MANAGEMENT?
  40. 40. Think strategically about the pressures on the business, not just the pressures on engineering
  41. 41. Be a creative partner fascinated by customer needs and willing to gather direct research on those needs
  42. 42. Inspire your engineers to be creative partners, not just in engineering problems, but product problems
  43. 43. Don’t sandbag
  44. 44. Be willing to accept tech debt, but don’t hesitate to challenge it
  45. 45. On tech debt: include infrastructure-related KPIs in your heartbeat report on key metrics Early stage: refactor as you can, plan for periodic infrastructure-focused iterations, and don’t be afraid to call an audible Later stage: refactor as you can, and create a rotating team that is dedicated to infrastructure
  46. 46. Engineering, product and design all need to report into the CEO − create a trio of equal partners
  47. 47. Create a team working agreement for leadership, not just the cross-functional teams
  48. 48. PM owns the outcomes and priorities Design owns the user experience, voice and visual identity Engineering owns how something is built But everyone is a creative partner and gets a say
  49. 49. A product business requires constant compromise because quality is a relative thing Sometimes you will deeply disagree with a decision Build appeals to the CEO, who makes the final call, into your team agreement so that you have a transparent process not politics
  50. 50. Do retros together to spot problems early
  51. 51. If you are in the same location, the heads of all three groups should sit together, just as your cross-functional teams should sit together
  52. 52. Be generous − depending on priorities, product, design and engineering will have different times in the driver’s seat
  53. 53. If there isn’t mutual respect and trust, someone has to go. Period.
  54. 54. THANK YOU @giffco giff@neo.com www.neo.com www.giffconstable.com
  55. 55. APPENDIX: HOW CAN YOU INTERVIEW FOR A GOOD PM?
  56. 56. 1. Know what you are looking for 2. Do a traditional interview on experiences, goals, values, failures, favorite new product, current reading list, etc 3. PAIR
  57. 57. Give them a gnarly product problem you are currently working on and see if they can solve it
  58. 58. Ask them to sketch out a single-screen application and then write every single user story behind that application Example: a single-screen loyalty-program app for an airline
  59. 59. Give them a startup idea and ask how one could validate if it was a good idea before building it
  60. 60. Give them an interesting product idea, and ask how one would go about best acquiring customers?
  61. 61. Give them a problem that has been bugging you, and ask how one could solve it with a new startup?
  62. 62. Give them a true, complex prioritization debate your team is having and ask them whether outcome, deadline, or output is most important Note: their answer here is less important than their questions
  63. 63. You know how non-technical friends ask you to interview their CTO candidate? Get a great PM to interview your VP of Product candidate

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