Self Help

Product Management in Practice - Matt LeMay

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Matheus Puppe

· 33 min read



Here is a summary of the praise for the book “Product Management in Practice” by Matt LeMay:

  • Ellen Chisa praises it as an outstanding practical primer that breaks down the day-to-day responsibilities of a product manager and provides actionable steps for new PMs.

  • Blair Reeves calls it a first-stop resource for any new product manager that goes beyond jargon to address practical challenges.

  • Pradeep GanapathyRaj notes how it focuses on actionable tips rather than jargon and says it’s highly recommended for all PMs.

  • Ken Norton says LeMay’s actionable advice should be required reading for both experienced and aspiring PMs.

  • Craig Villamor says above all, the book reminds readers that building great products is about building great relationships. He calls it a must-read for practicing and aspiring PMs.

  • Cecelia Shao notes the book emphasizes core PM values like empathy, curiosity, and collaboration through communication which are important for both new and experienced PMs.

In summary, the praise highlights how the book provides practical, actionable guidance for navigating the day-to-day responsibilities of product management beyond just theory and frameworks. It’s seen as a valuable resource for both new and experienced PMs.

Here is a summary of key points from the introduction:

  • The chapter discusses the real-world practice of product management, rather than just the role and responsibilities on paper.

  • When asked what new PMs most need to understand, Pradeep GanapathyRaj emphasized bringing out the best in one’s team, working with people outside the team, and dealing with ambiguity.

  • The skill of figuring out what information is needed may be as important as what is done with that information.

  • While many are drawn to PM by the promise of building products, the day-to-day work involves more supporting, facilitating, and communicating than actual building.

  • Expectations of the role don’t always match the reality, and some PMs fall into traps when this disconnect occurs.

  • The responsibilities of a PM vary significantly depending on factors like company size - from conducting informal interviews and mockups at startups, to running planning meetings, negotiating roadmaps, and understanding users at larger companies.

In summary, it provides context that the chapter will discuss the practical realities of being a PM, not just theoretical responsibilities, and emphasizes skills like managing people, ambiguity, and information gathering over hands-on product building.

  • A product manager’s day-to-day responsibilities can involve rewriting feature requests as user stories, requesting specific data from analytics/insights colleagues, and attending many meetings. The work varies and priorities can change quickly.

  • Product managers have a lot of responsibility for their product’s success or failure but little direct authority over their team. They must lead through influence rather than orders.

  • As a product manager, you are expected to do whatever needs to get done to ensure the team and product succeed, even if tasks fall outside your official role. This can mean doing non-PM work like community management.

  • A key part of the job is communicating between and synthesizing the needs of stakeholders, users, designers, engineers and others. The product manager sits in the middle and must navigate relationships and resolve conflicts.

  • Being a product manager is not the same as being the boss or building the product yourself. It involves facilitation, collaboration, and not micromanaging technical/design work. Product managers also cannot wait around for instructions but must proactively identify needed work.

  • While some companies seek candidates with certain profiles, truly great product managers can come from any background as the role requires a diverse set of skills and experience solving problems through different challenges and teams.

  • The passage describes some common archetypes of bad product managers that seem to show up frequently, including:

    • The Jargon Jockey, who excessively uses industry jargon to sound important or cover up disagreements.
    • The Steve Jobs Acolyte, who thinks they are a visionary like Steve Jobs but often suggests unrealistic ideas.
    • The Hero Product Manager, who takes too much credit and promises big ideas without proper vetting.
    • The Product Martyr, who acts like their job consumes their entire life and they are overly burdened.
    • The Nostalgic Engineer, who would prefer writing code to meetings and product work.
  • These archetypes are often driven by insecurity about quantifying the value a product manager brings. It can be hard to show concrete outcomes like developer code or designer work.

  • Insecurity can cause product managers to fall into defensive behaviors like these archetypes as a way to prove their worth.

  • The best product managers make their team feel supported and excited about their work, instead of showing off themselves. Clear goals also help address insecurity by providing a shared definition of success.

  • Overcoming these archetypes requires focusing on enabling the team, not seeking personal glory or validation. It’s important to avoid letting insecurity negatively impact one’s work.

  • The product manager role is often portrayed as at the intersection of business, technology, and user experience (UX)/design. This highlights the need to connect and align these different areas.

  • However, the specifics of the PM role vary greatly between companies. At some places they own profits/losses, at others they focus more on collaboration.

  • The core skills that tend to be most important for PMs across organizations are:

  1. Communication - Ability to communicate clearly between stakeholders, teams, and users. Prioritizing clarity over comfort.

  2. Organization - Ensuring the team knows what to work on without constant PM involvement. Willing to change processes/rules if needed.

  3. Research - Seeking multiple perspectives and challenging assumptions through ongoing critical thinking and information gathering.

  4. Execution - Carrying out the day-to-day tasks required for their specific role and team.

  • For communication, the guiding principle is “clarity over comfort”. For organization, it is “change the rules, don’t break the rules”. For research, the principle is “live in your user’s reality” by truly understanding their perspective.

  • Product managers are asked to take an open and holistic view of competitors’ products by considering “What might this product mean to our users?” rather than just focusing on feature parity.

  • This allows them to identify previously unexplored solutions that meet fast-changing user needs.

  • Chapter 7 will discuss how product managers can talk to users directly to understand their needs and perspectives.

  • Taking an open view of competitors and directly talking to users helps product managers develop solutions that are truly user-centered rather than just focusing on copying features.

Here is a summary of the latter part of the provided text:

The text discusses the importance of having a growth mindset as a product manager, especially when moving to a large enterprise organization from a smaller startup. It notes that many high-achieving product managers have a “fixed mindset” where they avoid areas they are not immediately excellent at. This can make it difficult to approach new skills and knowledge required at a large company as opportunities to grow. The text advocates cultivating a growth mindset where failures and challenges are seen as learning opportunities rather than reflections of ability. It encourages product managers to embrace areas they find difficult as places where their knowledge and skills can expand. Having a growth mindset is important for success when taking on new roles or domains that require continuous learning.

Here are the key points summarized from the passage:

  • As a product manager, you need to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset in order to succeed. There are constantly new things to learn and your knowledge will be limited.

  • Two examples are given of product managers facing a rejected product - one with a fixed mindset blames others, while one with a growth mindset learns from the situation.

  • As a PM, you must be willing to engage with and learn from people with more expertise than you. Your job depends on understanding goals and motivations beyond your immediate team.

  • It’s important to assume people have good intentions rather than seeing them as “jerks”. Other parts of the business may have different goals and customers to optimize for.

  • Learning to accept being wrong is important for a growth mindset. It shows you prioritize the overall goals over your own specific plan.

  • Great PMs spread curiosity as a core value by modelling it themselves, encouraging knowledge sharing among teams, and organizing activities to cross-pollinate skills.

  • Presenting product work to colleagues is a valuable way to spread curiosity in an organization. It motivates teams to work harder, collaborate more, and think critically about their work.

  • Teams learn to communicate their technical work to non-technical colleagues in an engaging way. This breaks down assumptions that different groups cannot understand each other.

  • Regular presentations, like weekly, keep the focus on clear communication and learning from others rather than just completing tasks. It transforms how teams operate.

  • Spreading knowledge and curiosity across an organization through regular meaningful interactions between groups improves collaboration and outcomes.

  • A product manager at a new company was eager to implement best practices they had used successfully at their previous job in order to improve processes and collaboration at the new team.

  • However, they did not take the time to understand the unique culture and needs of the new organization before suggesting changes. They tried to dramatically overhaul processes all at once through a “fast and furious deluge” of best practices.

  • This approach understandably met resistance and skepticism from the team, who felt the changes were not tailored to their situation. It risks losing trust by not respecting the current team dynamics.

  • The product manager realized they should have started small, learning the current pain points before suggesting incremental improvements. It’s important to adapt practices to each organization rather than trying to force-fit an external framework.

  • The lesson is that the best product managers approach change gradually by understanding organizational context first, not assuming a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Implementing abstract practices above people risks repeating failures between jobs. Goals and people should come before prescribed practices.

  • Failing to openly communicate things seen as politically dangerous or inconsequential can lead to big mistakes as a product manager. Something small may seem a problem later.

  • It’s uncomfortable but important to address possible misalignments directly in meetings, even if minor, rather than hope issues don’t become major problems later.

  • Companies should clearly define day-to-day responsibilities and behaviors for product managers to follow and avoid issues. Good product managers overexplain things others see as obvious.

  • Meetings are important for teams if done well. Product managers should get buy-in for necessary meetings rather than apologize for them as a waste of time.

  • Using “disagree and commit” in meetings encourages sharing dissenting views to avoid agreement without true consensus. The goal is commitment, not just consensus, so issues are surfaced before decisions are made. Open disagreement leads to better decisions than silent compromise.

  • Disagree and commit is a best practice where participants are expected to openly share disagreements but then commit to a clear decision, creating shared accountability.

  • It allows teams to quickly commit to low-stakes decisions to avoid prolonged disagreement and allows participants to “pick their battles”.

  • When using it, clearly introduce it as a procedural experiment upfront to avoid seeming passive-aggressive.

  • Interpret silence as disagreement rather than implicit agreement to surface more opinions.

  • Ask each participant for an affirmative commitment rather than assuming agreement.

  • For important decisions, commit to testing the approach, setting goals to evaluate success, and adjusting the decision later if needed based on results.

  • The goal is open sharing of perspectives, not pressuring dissent into submission. Forcing commitment without consideration of opinions undermines the goals.

  • It can help uncover better solutions by bringing out perspectives that may have otherwise remained hidden due to tensions.

When working with distributed teams, it can be challenging to make space for informal communication that naturally occurs when colleagues are co-located. Some strategies that can help include:

  • Keep meetings brief and focused since remote participation makes long rambling meetings less engaging.

  • Thoroughly document decisions and discussions so remote colleagues are well-informed.

  • Consider picking up the phone occasionally for a more personal call compared to video chat.

  • Try creating an “always on” video link between offices so colleagues can see each other and chat informally when they have a quick question. This helps foster connections.

  • Be direct in requests rather than ambiguous, so it’s clear to remote colleagues whether something needs to be done urgently or is more of a “nice to have.” Deflecting responsibility makes communication less clear.

The key idea is that distributed work is different than co-located work, so don’t try to replicate being together remotely. Instead, focus on the strengths of remote collaboration while also finding innovative ways to allow for some informal chatting that normally happens organically when colleagues share the same physical space.

Can you explain the goals or intent behind each design? I want to make sure I understand the tradeoffs before deciding. Let’s have a conversation to make sure we’re optimizing for the same outcomes. I’m happy to provide feedback on your top choice as well.

The designer likely has insight you don’t. Rather than making a choice without context, have a collaborative discussion to uncover the tradeoffs and goals behind each design. This helps ensure you’re evaluating options through the same lens, not just aesthetics. It also gives the designer a chance to advocate for their leading choice.

Patterns and traps to avoid

I like design A the best.

Without understanding the merits, you risk choosing an option that doesn’t optimally address user needs. Stay outcome-focused in your evaluation.

They all look fine to me. You pick.

Don’t punt the responsibility back without input. As a leader, you need to understand tradeoffs and provide thoughtful guidance to shape decisions.

I have no preference - whatever you think is best.

This is dangerously noncommittal. As a PM, you own outcomes - have a viewpoint to steer discussions productively.

Scenario Three

Stakeholder: Our users say they want feature X, so we need to prioritize building it.

You: Okay, let me validate that understanding of the user need before committing resources. Can you point me to the original user research/feedback that led to this conclusion?

Stakeholder: Well, I don’t actually have any user research. One or two customers mentioned they thought it would be nice.

You: Got it. In that case, let’s do some proper user research before prioritizing significant development work. We may find feature X isn’t as high value as other opportunities. What’s the best way to get meaningful feedback from real users on their priorities?

Stakeholder: Ugh fine, just add it to the backlog for now I guess.

You: Appreciate the feedback. How about we do a small survey or contextual interviews to validate before prioritizing development work? Happy to help design the study if that would be useful.

Stakeholder: waves hand dismissively Yeah yeah, just put it on the list.

You: I understand the desire to move quickly based on anecdotal requests. However, prioritizing major features without proper user research risks wasting resources. Let’s circle back after validating the need to discuss priorities. In the meantime, here are some smaller tasks we could explore.

Stakeholder: sighs loudly FINE. Do your user research thing.

You: Great, I’ll put a plan together and loop you in on the findings. Thanks for understanding - properly understanding users is key to our success.

Patterns and traps to avoid:

  • Don’t get dismissive or argumentative
  • Stay solution-focused on validating needs
  • Suggest alternatives like small tests vs committing to big work
  • Thank stakeholders for their perspective

The goal is to establish research-backed priorities, not “win” an argument. With calm persuasion, you can guide stakeholders towards a collaborative, evidence-based process.

  • When working with senior stakeholders, “winning” does not always mean the same thing as asserting your own priorities or preferences. The best approach is often to help the senior stakeholders “win” as well by aligning on shared goals.

  • Senior stakeholders have more power and authority within the organization, so they can override product decisions or shift goals mid-project. The challenge is to ensure your business and users still benefit even when senior stakeholder priorities change.

  • Managing up involves real-world strategies for product managers to successfully navigate working with senior leaders who have more influence. This includes maintaining clarity on shared goals and objectives even as high-level priorities evolve.

  • Without clarity among senior leaders about goals, priorities, and roles, it is very difficult for a product manager to succeed long-term. Maintaining clarity is key through open communication with stakeholders.

  • The chapter will discuss practical techniques for product managers to “throw the poker game” by meeting senior stakeholder needs and helping them achieve their desired outcomes as well, instead of directly competing or asserting one’s own agenda against them. The goal is alignment over confrontation.

  • As a product manager, it is important to have clarity on the company’s overall strategy and vision. This provides direction and goals for the product team to work towards.

  • A lack of clarity can arise if there are competing views among senior leaders, or if there is no clear vision articulated. This leads to ambiguity and inefficiency.

  • It is the product manager’s job to push upward for clarity. They should have challenging conversations with executives to understand strategic decisions and tradeoffs. Presenting options and ownership helps facilitate better decisions.

  • Trying to “protect” the team from senior leadership by dismissing their decisions breeds disconnect. It undermines the team’s ability to work towards organizational goals.

  • Instead, product managers should manage up for clarity, explain tradeoffs, and own decisions when communicating them to the team. This aligns the team’s work with the company’s strategy for long term success.

In summary, a product manager’s role includes ensuring clarity on company vision and strategy to effectively guide the product work. Pushing for understanding versus dismissing leadership is key.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • The author was tasked with overseeing a major website redesign for a nonprofit organization. They knew it would be challenging due to strong opinions from senior stakeholders.

  • The author took steps to avoid surprises and get incremental buy-in. They put together a steering committee and showed incremental work weekly to maintain momentum.

  • While stakeholders did argue for their departments at times, the author was able to find compromises the group agreed on. They launched on time and on budget.

  • However, a few weeks later the author discovered a critical change - the removal of the search bar - that no one had approved or notified them about.

  • This highlighted the importance of not just getting sign off at the end, but maintaining engagement throughout to prevent unauthorized last minute changes that undermine the work.

The key lessons are around the importance of incremental buy-in, avoiding surprises, maintaining engagement throughout a project rather than just at the end, and how even a perceived successful launch can be undermined by unexpected last minute changes behind the scenes.

  • The user experienced the company website as confusing and difficult to navigate, while internally it was seen as successfully mapped to organizational departments.

  • The poster realized they had prioritized pleasing senior stakeholders over considering the user perspective.

  • Going forward, they make a point to start discussions with user needs before trying to reach conclusions, to ensure decisions are best for users rather than stakeholder egos.

  • When working with senior stakeholders, it’s best to avoid emotional arguments like overemphasizing personal sacrifices.

  • Instead, have discussions focused on tactical trade-offs to priorities work based on organizational goals.

  • Common scenarios involve senior stakeholders criticizing or requesting changes to work in progress. It’s important to acknowledge communication issues, understand perspectives, and ensure priorities align with organizational goals rather than escape criticism.

  • Advocating for user needs and clarity on organizational goals from senior stakeholders is an important part of the product manager’s role, not something to be avoided.

  • When talking to senior stakeholders, focus on empowering them to make great decisions by providing thoughtful support and input, not trying to “win”. Push for clarity on company strategy and vision.

  • Don’t criticize senior stakeholders to your team; bring concerns directly to them to help make tradeoffs.

  • Socialize big ideas slowly with one-on-one meetings, don’t surprise stakeholders.

  • Let user needs guide decisions and ensure business goals align with users, not conflict.

  • take stakeholders’ questions at face value rather than rushing to make excuses.

  • When stakeholders seem uninformed, find the underlying issues to address rather than litigate past conversations.

  • If priorities change, find out why as there may have been important high-level discussions you were unaware of.

The key points are to work cooperatively and supportively with senior stakeholders, prioritize clarity on strategy and vision, directly address any concerns with stakeholders rather than complaining about them, socialize ideas carefully, and make sure user needs are prioritized and aligned with business goals rather than seen as conflicting. The advice is aimed at product managers navigating relationships and conversations with senior stakeholders.

  • User personas, while not perfect, are a useful tool for product managers to understand users and make better decisions. Reflexively dismissing tools does not help understand their limitations.

  • As a product manager, informal user research happens regularly through interactions. Have some quick research techniques ready like asking about specific experiences instead of generalizations.

  • Don’t get too excited if a user mentions something you wanted to hear - understand their full perspective.

  • Don’t ask users to do your job by listing features - understand their underlying needs yourself through observation.

  • Beware the “siren song” of power users who are excited about a product. Make sure to also talk to regular target users, as their needs may differ from power users.

  • When asking “why” questions, consider if you want to “level up” to overall goals or “zoom in” on specifics. Phrasing can be adjusted to ask why questions without directly using the word “why”.

  • Avoid getting bogged down in nitty gritty specifics too early - understand the overall experience or motivation first before drilling down. User research requires balancing different levels of discussion.

Here are the key points about using data in a product management role:

  • Be cautious about using the term “data-driven” - it can imply an overreliance on data without judgment. Data informs decisions, but humans still need to make the decisions.

  • Avoid jargon like “data” when possible. Describe specific metrics, surveys, etc. rather than vague references to “data.”

  • All data analysis involves assumptions. Document your assumptions clearly rather than hiding them. Present data that contradicts your views as well as supports them.

  • Transparency about limitations and assumptions leads to better discussions and decisions than a false sense of certainty. Clarity is more important than appearing perfectly confident.

  • Data should come from understanding user needs and experiences, not driving them. Focus on gathering insights into the user’s reality rather than getting lost in spreadsheets.

  • Combine data analysis with qualitative research, testing assumptions directly with users. Don’t rely solely on indirect or incomplete data sources.

The goal is to use data to supplement insights from users and business objectives, not replace human judgment. Data informs but does not drive - the product manager still needs to navigate tradeoffs and make the final call.

  • The product manager proposed focusing on improving the product’s dashboard UI, which seemed intuitive but lacked clear data to back it up. This made senior leaders hesitant to prioritize it.

  • After releasing the improved dashboard, user feedback showed it had a significant positive impact - surprising the senior leaders who had doubted the proposal.

  • This taught the product manager that it’s valid to start with a hypothesis based on intuition, then establish metrics to test it, rather than only proposing changes supported by pre-existing data. Following intuition with feedback loops is an effective data-driven approach.

  • Simply seeing metrics go “up and to the right” isn’t a strategy - you need to understand why to build on successes or remedy failures. Qualitative data from users is important to supplement quantitative data and understand the reasons behind metric movements.

The key lessons are: 1) It’s valid to start with intuition-based hypotheses and establish ways to test them, rather than only proposing changes backed by existing data. 2) Understanding the “why” behind metric movements, through qualitative data, is as important as the movements themselves for informing strategy.

  • The author argues that holding product managers accountable for specific success metrics can backfire if the metrics are outside of their control. If a number is trending in the wrong direction for external reasons, the PM may feel disengaged.

  • Instead of accountability for a single metric, the author proposes accountability for understanding which metrics matter, having targets and plans for those metrics, knowing what’s currently happening with the metrics and why, and having an action plan to address issues that can be influenced. This focuses the PM on what they can control.

  • The author is also skeptical of “obfuscating quantitative proxies” (OQPs) - metrics that try to summarize complex behaviors with a single number. OQPs often lack transparency about how the data was collected and analyzed.

  • To evaluate an OQP, the author provides a template to understand what the proxy represents and its limitations, and how it could still be useful given specific goals and needs.

  • The example of Net Promoter Score is used to show how an OQP may be useful for high-level trends but obscure important details that impact how it can or can’t be compared across contexts.

  • Roadmaps and prioritization are tools to align a team, not compete or fragment them.

  • A roadmap is not necessarily an execution plan - it is important to explicitly define what the roadmap represents and how it will be used.

  • Unless the team has a shared understanding of the roadmap’s purpose, it can be useless or even harmful.

  • Key questions to discuss include how far the roadmap extends into the future, how often it is reviewed/updated, who has access, what criteria is used for adding items, and what expectations can reasonably be set based on seeing something on the roadmap.

  • Prioritization should balance multiple factors like business goals, customer needs, engineering feasibility. It is an ongoing process, not a one-time decision.

  • Both roadmaps and prioritization require open communication and input from all stakeholders to successfully align a team on strategic direction and resource allocation.

  • A product manager may reasonably expect that a feature shown on a roadmap two years from now is still in the very early planning stages and subject to change. It does not represent a firm commitment.

  • When first introducing a roadmap, it is important to clearly communicate that it is a work in progress and not a set of promises, to manage expectations. Using versioning to label draft roadmaps can help convey this.

  • Roadmaps require regular review and retrospection not just on the content but how it is being used and received, to continually improve the process over time as understanding evolves.

  • While a product manager may nominally “own” the roadmap, in reality the roadmap needs input from various stakeholders and is usually the subject of debate and negotiation. Seeing it as something to be defended rather than an open collaborative process can cause problems.

  • The goal of a roadmap should be to encourage shared discussion of goals and priorities, not to concentrate control over it in one person or team. Willingness to openly share and get input from others is important.

  • Complex and highly detailed product specifications can actually hurt product development rather than help it. While specifying plans in detail may feel like productive work, it often distances the product manager from actually building the product.

  • Overly long product specs run the risk of developers just following the spec rather than collaborating on the best solution. They can also lead teams to put too much focus on form rather than functions.

  • Detailed specs risk perpetuating assumptions rather than continued learning from customers. The example project spent 4 months on specs without customer input, resulting in a flawed product.

  • Prioritizing work is even more important than long-term roadmapping. Goals must be clear and actionable to guide prioritization effectively. Prioritization shows how well goals translate to decisions and resource allocation in practice.

  • The most important prioritization work may be clarifying organizational goals, not sorting ideas. Product managers should ensure goals are clear before formal prioritization meetings to facilitate the process.

So in summary, the key risks of complex product specs are distancing from customers, developers just following specs rather than collaborating creatively, and false assumptions. Clear and actionable goals are more important for effective prioritization than detailed long-term plans or specs.

  • The passage describes two different scenarios for an upcoming engineering/design planning meeting - one where the goals are not clear, and one where the goals have been clearly defined.

  • As an engineer or designer, attending the meeting where the goals are clearly defined would be preferable, as it provides more clarity on what work should be prioritized.

  • As a senior leader, having the meeting where the goals determine priorities would be better, as it ensures employees’ time is spent on work that is strategically important for the organization.

  • Setting clear goals upfront helps guide prioritization discussions and ensure work aligns with overall strategic objectives. Leaving goals undefined can lead to assumptions and misaligned work.

  • Clear goals provide engineers/designers more clarity on what to focus on and give senior leaders confidence that key work is being done. It’s a better use of valuable employee time.

  • When prioritizing options, don’t outright dismiss shiny new ideas, but understand why the team finds them exciting in order to potentially redirect that enthusiasm toward more useful goals.

  • Consider if a new idea could solve problems for some users, even if existing products could help more users with some refinements. Harness developer motivation productively.

  • Protect time for learning, research and experimentation through “spikes” rather than just focusing on building definable features. This supports innovation.

  • Prototyping a new idea, like the geolocation feature, can help validate or invalidate whether it truly meets user needs before significant development work. This saved building an unnecessary feature.

  • Establish a process for “emergency” requests to systematically determine their actual priority and impact before dropping other work. Templates can help assess factors like affected users and revenue impact.

  • The same features may be prioritized differently depending on an organization’s goals. Consider both business and user motivation when deciding what to build.

Here are the key points about Agile project management from the passage:

  • Agile is not a rigid or prescriptive methodology. It started as a movement where people compared values across different frameworks and methodologies.

  • Just because a team follows Scrum or another Agile framework does not mean they are automatically Agile. True Agility comes from embracing the values behind the framework.

  • Processes alone do not guarantee success. Good communication, collaboration, and leadership are still needed to implement Agile values effectively.

  • Agile is not a silver bullet and does not solve all problems. It’s about continuously improving processes and adapting to change based on lessons learned.

  • Scaling Agile to large organizations is challenging. Frameworks like SAFe aim to help but maintaining Agile values remains important.

  • The goals of Agile are to satisfy customers, respond to change, collaborate closely, continuously improve processes and deliver working software frequently. Simply following processes isn’t enough.

In summary, Agile is not prescriptive and solely following a framework does guarantee results. True Agility comes from embracing core values like collaboration, adaptability and continuous improvement through reflection and changes to processes over time.

  • Practices that are implemented under the guise of “doing Agile” but that run counter to Agile’s core values will not achieve the intended benefits of being Agile.

  • Some common misconceptions are that Agile is just about working faster or that it is only applicable to software development teams. In reality, Agile is about working differently by valuing people and collaboration over processes.

  • The Agile Manifesto lays out the core values of Individuals and interactions, Working software, Customer collaboration, and Responding to change. These embody Agile’s emphasis on embracing human complexity.

  • Over time, Agile has become associated with many frameworks, practices and certifications, risking becoming disconnected from its original values. Alistair Cockburn’s “Heart of Agile” distills Agile down to its essence of Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect, Improve.

  • To future-proof Agile implementation, organizations should begin with a clear North Star vision like the Manifesto or “Heart of Agile”, choose an off-the-shelf methodology, focus on outcomes over practices, and regularly reflect and improve. This helps Agile practices stay aligned with their values over time.

  • The author recommends starting with an established Agile methodology like Scrum or XP to provide an initial structure and defined processes to follow. This gives the team a framework to rely on to avoid confusion and disagreements early on.

  • Key is to regularly evaluate how the specific practices from the chosen methodology are working against the team’s overall goals or “North Star”. Retrospectives are important for continuous improvement but are often overlooked.

  • If certain practices aren’t working, the team should commit to changing them while still keeping the core Agile values. document any changes clearly with the goal, expected impact, and how success will be measured.

  • Over time, the team may need to customize practices more to suit their unique needs beyond what the methodology prescribes. Accountability and transparent documentation of changes is important.

  • Some caveats are that Agile does not inherently address why certain work is being done, rituals can replace actual user interaction, and the processes may need to extend beyond just the product team for organizational alignment.

The overall message is to start with an established Agile approach but be willing to evaluate and adapt practices over time through a goals-focused, learning-oriented approach tailored to the specific team and situation.

  • Whether or not you implement an Agile methodology, as a product manager there is still work to be done to ensure the team remains communicative, well-organized, user-centric, and focused on achieving goals.

  • Even without a formal process, there is an informal process that teams follow. Mapping out the current process provides clarity and makes it easier to eventually introduce changes.

  • Introducing Agile requires setting proper expectations with stakeholders used to more rigid processes. Answering questions about costs and timelines becomes harder initially but clarity improves over time.

  • The core values and principles of Agile should be understood before implementing specific practices. Processes should be evaluated against achieving the vision, not just following rituals.

  • “No process” is still a process, so the current way of working needs to be understood before introducing changes. Communication is important to help others understand new processes and rhythms.

  • Ambiguity remains even with Agile. The focus should be on higher goals like delivering value, not just operational execution. Users still need to be talked to directly rather than relying only on Agile practices.

  • Product managers are in a unique position to positively or negatively impact an organization, as they connect different teams and stakeholder.

  • During good times, actively look for challenges to improve the product/organization. Explore competitors, question assumptions, and run iterative prototypes.

  • Avoid autopilot mode and always seek open feedback and room for growth.

  • In tough times, conflicts will happen but should be addressed openly without personal attacks.

  • Ensure everyone feels invested in their work and sees new people/ideas as opportunities, not threats.

  • Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like the sole savior - make a list of things out of your control.

  • Look for ways to delegate important responsibilities to involve others.

  • Protect team routines and rituals to maintain connections even during challenges.

  • As the connective role, product managers can set a positive tone through their own actions around communication, respect and support even in difficult periods. It’s hard work but pays off for the organization.

In summary, the article discusses how product managers should actively seek challenges to drive improvement, address conflicts constructively, engage their team, share responsibility, and model positive behaviors - especially during difficult organizational times when their impact can be most significant.

Here is a summary of the key points from the conclusion chapter:

  • As a product manager, your title alone gives you no formal authority or control. You must earn influence and trust through your actions every day.

  • The role is ambiguous and complex, so you will inevitably make mistakes that have real consequences. Over time, you’ll become more forgiving of yourself through humility and experience.

  • Product management requires learning how to be wrong, back up your words with actions, and respect your peers. It’s about becoming a better communicator, colleague and person.

  • The day-to-day responsibilities are undefined and constantly changing. You have to be flexible and do “whatever it takes” to drive your product and team forward.

  • An expanded base of knowledge from other fields like leadership, communication and organizational behavior can help you excel in this cross-functional role.

  • Specific book recommendations are provided as resources that have helped the author build their practice beyond just “product management” textbooks. Focus is on developing influence, trust, mindset, health and difficult conversations.

The key takeaway is that product management is an ambiguous leadership role requiring continual learning and adapting to constantly evolve as an effective communicator and colleague above all else.

Here is a summary of key points about what is actually going on with a product and business:

  • Details on the product itself - features, functionality, status of development, roadmap, etc. This provides context on the technical side of what is being built.

  • Customer/user data - metrics like engagement, retention, Net Promoter Score, usage patterns, etc. This shows how real people are interacting with the product.

  • Business model and metrics - how the company makes money, revenue streams, growth rates, costs, profitability, funding status. This covers the financial side.

  • Goals and strategy - the company’s mission/vision, priorities, objectives/KPIs for the next 6-12 months. This provides the strategic direction.

  • Market analysis - competitive landscape, size of potential market, trends in the industry, barriers to entry. This assesses opportunities and threats externally.

  • Organizational updates - team structure, hiring plans, processes/procedures, cultural changes. This covers internal operations.

  • Challenges and risks - technical debt, resource constraints, reliance on key customers/partners, regulatory issues. This addresses obstacles and risks.

The key is to paint a holistic picture that covers product development, business dynamics, strategy, market forces, and organizational context. This provides full transparency on what’s happening and informs priorities and decisions.

Here is a summary of the key points about product management from the provided information:

  • Product management involves defining product strategy and roadmaps, gathering user feedback, prioritizing features, tracking metrics, and communicating with stakeholders like engineers, designers, executives.

  • It is a “hybrid” role that requires both business/strategy skills and an understanding of technical implications. Hard technical skills are not as important as domain expertise, communication, and influencing without direct authority.

  • Setting clear goals upfront using frameworks like SMART, OKRs helps prioritize work and measure success. Goals should be aligned to user needs and business objectives.

  • Prioritizing work involves understanding impact vs effort of features based on goals. Emergency features may disrupt roadmaps.

  • Gathering and communicating data is important but metrics should focus on what matters most to goals, not just vanity metrics. Assumptions about data should be documented.

  • Cultivating a growth mindset, curiosity, and openness to feedback helps product managers learn and improve. Fixed beliefs can hurt progress.

  • Strong communication and facilitating alignment between stakeholders is key for distributed or cross-functional teams. Disagreeing respectfully in meetings helps decision making.

  • Staying user-centric amid company politics involves understanding users deeply and connecting their needs to goals/strategy. Stakeholders and users have different perspectives.

  • Continuous learning from experiences, networking, and expanding technical/business domain knowledge helps product managers level up over time.

Here are the key points from the given text related to the specified terms:

health of - The Good Times Aren’t (Always) the Easy Times:

  • Organizational health and strength during good times help enable success during challenging times. Healthy orgs can better handle stress and adversity.

levels of - What Is Product Management?-What Is Not Product Management?:

  • There are different organizational levels that product management can operate at, from individual contributor to director/VP levels.

senior stakeholders in (see senior stakeholders)

senior stakeholders - Managing up for clarity at all costs, tactical trade-offs:

  • Examples of managing relationships and communicating with senior stakeholders/leadership to provide clarity and avoid surprises while balancing trade-offs.
  • Scenarios described for how to handle senior stakeholder meetings and priorities.

Organization skills - Organization-Research:

  • Organization is one of the four core skills of product management along with communication, research, and execution. Effective organization skills are important.

Here is a summary of some key points from the article:

  • A bad product manager tends to focus on tasks rather than outcomes, lacks strategic vision, and lacks communication skills. They don’t understand users or priorities.

  • The impact-versus-effort matrix can help prioritize work based on how much impact it will have versus the effort required.

  • Getting feedback from power users can provide valuable insights for improvements.

  • Product specifications shouldn’t be conflated with the actual product - they need room for discovery and unexpected insights.

  • Prototyping new features allows learning before large investments are made.

  • A product manager’s responsibilities include strategy, roadmap, communcations, and ensuring the product delivers value for users.

  • Merging multiple roadmaps can help align goals across teams and stakeholders.

  • Roadmaps should facilitate discussion rather than dictate outcomes.

  • Managing up involves challenging senior stakeholders while gaining buy-in for users. Compromising users to appease stakeholders can be problematic.

  • Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile requires changes in process but not necessarily giving up Waterfall practices that still provide value.

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About Matheus Puppe