Bike Mechanics: Upgrading the difficult… then the “impossible”

Note: This post is off-topic for this blog. But it needed a place to be posted. If you’re into bike mechanics, have fun. Otherwise, I advise clicking on another link. So, I’ve been on a quest to tweak some bike gear lately and discovered a lot of problematic advice. “That’s not possible”. “Lots of complications” […]

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How to share bad news

If you’re running a cloud-based app, there’s a decent chance that sooner or later, you’ll end up with a service failure or security issue that impacts your users. Most companies seem to break into one of two camps A) If you don’t tell them, they can’t complain Sadly, this is the first impulse of far […]

When “What vs How” is not enough

If you hang around product managers or developers long enough you are bound to hear the old saw about “what” vs “how” in requirements. It actually forms a pretty good basis for division of responsibilities and teamwork. But sometimes people get bogged down in the esoteric argument and miss the fact that some answers are […]

Your employment portal IS your front door. Treat it that way.

Or: UX Design Tip: Don’t ask for things you don’t actually need I was recently filling out an online job application for a senior level job. It continues to amaze me how many companies treat their applicant portals more like the back alley entrance to the firm rather than the front door. They should really […]

What’s in a code name?

Many tech companies create code names for their various products or release projects. They can be totally random (SwampMonkey, Weeping Angel (thanks CIA)), or variations on a theme (rivers, mountains, obscure islands). Their purpose is to give a name to something that shall not be named. Sometimes because the official branding isn’t determined. Sometimes merely […]

No, I do not want you to restart my machine NOW

As our lives become more and more intertwined with bits of technology, the way that such technological tidbits are managed and upgraded starts to matter more and more. It becomes a part of the user experience just as much as the day to day UI. In my professional role with my SaaS products, we no […]

The Myth of the MVP

Since you are here, I’m assuming you aren’t thinking “Most Valuable Player.” But, just in case, let me clarify: Minimum Viable Product. It is a compelling concept for any product team: Work fast, get something out that works, see how people like it, then adapt. It is particularly appealing for new businesses or simply new products […]

Product Roadmaps – How much to share, with whom and by whom?

Roadmaps seem like such a simple concept. Simply share what you intend to build so that customers and prospects are happy. Hah! There are political, relationship, accounting and legal issues to deal with. In the ideal world, the product manager would have a clear vision of where the product is going strategically, a good handle […]

How do you really spot a good manager?

I recently read a great article on what makes for a good manager. I found myself in complete agreement and probably can’t do better myself, so I’ll let you read it directly: Eight traits of good hiring managers The biggest thing I can emphasize are three of his points regarding how to make sure you are […]

Do you need to be an engineer to be a technology PM?

Of course not! But you do have to grok technological issues. Many non PM hiring managers get wrapped up in this one. Particularly challenged is the engineer wo has evolved to a management role and who is tasked with hiring his/her first product manager. But it applies to many others as well. To some extent, […]

The formula: “design for the novice, configure for the pro”

Mark Suster has a line in his recent blog that I think perfectly captures the ideal design goal for software: “Design for the novice, configure for the pro” I think that with this simple statement he captures the direction we all need to be heading to produce successful software design. Particularly in enterprise software, we are always […]

“Sucks Less” Features

We all have them. Those things that need to be done to improve the product but they just aren’t exactly exciting to the customer. They might make a huge difference in the performance or quality of the product. They might resolve that thing that customers have been annoyed about for ages. They might even be […]

Where should Product Management live?

In my experience, this is one of those things that is bound to never be resolved. Not in the industry and not even within a single company. However, it makes great fodder for theoretical management discussions and reorgs. Frankly, in a small organization I don’t think that the reporting structure matters nearly as much as […]

Don’t rely on technical features to market your product

As part of marketing their Chrome browser, Google recently did some research into whether people actually understand what a browser even is. As you can see from the video, the answer was “no” for 92% of the people they interviewed in ‘man on the street’ interviews. Above: “Man on the street” interviews by Google about […]

Prioritizing features is the last thing you should do

Jeff Lash has a good post (Product Management is More Than Prioritizing Features) that focuses on probably one of the key deficiencies of poor product managers. I actually agree with most of his post, but don’t think he takes it quite far enough. He describes the trap of PMs who think that their job is […]

Clever Promotions Work

In a previous post, I commented on Hyundai’s timely “Hyundai Assurance” program. Well, the early results are coming in: It worked. Hyundai initially reported sales up 20% in January and closed the month up 14%. And this in an environment of car sales collapse. Today, both GM and Ford offered programs with similar intent. It is said that imitation is the […]

Customization leads to failure

What is the leading cause of product failure with startups?  Well, I don’t have the quantitative research to prove it, but I would guess that somewhere near the top is over-customization to suit the needs of ‘important’ customers. You probably know the drill: Create vision and product plan Try to sell product Meet great prospect […]

The other death spiral

I think many of us know about the financial “death spiral” (the most popular version in the Valley these days is attributed to Sequoia Capital – see slide 49 in particular). While this is scary and real, I am referring to a more internal problem to people and organizations. One that anybody involved with the company’s strategy […]

Choice is good – Make the right ones

I just read another great take on the importance of having a clear strategy and prioritization. (click here to read in a new window). The author is focusing on the success that Apple has had with focusing on a relatively limited product line. He uses the ‘insanely’ complex product portfolio at Garmin for comparison. Where Apple […]

Clever promotions

This one is a little off topic but since most of us have at least partially marketing based jobs, figured it’s fair game. Hyundai Motors has announced a promotion that is targeted at these times. Given that many people who are capable of purchasing a new car are sitting on the sidelines due to uncertainty, […]