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stories of products and strategies

Part 3 of 6x6 series, where we share perspectives from six PMs on six questions about product management. New article every other week. See Part 1, Part 2.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Product managers, especially early in their careers, enable product execution. This includes ensuring the team is aligned on what we’re building and why, has all the information it needs to make choices, has all dependencies sorted out (aka herding cats), is unblocked when the unexpected comes up, builds high-quality products, and launches smoothly. Phew!

A roadmap is a great tool for tracking what we’re building and why. It’s how the team broadcasts…

Part 4 of 6x6 series, where we share perspectives from six PMs on six questions about product management. New article every other week. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Photo by The Lucky Neko on Unsplash

Product managers have been called orchestra conductors, kitchen expediters, cat herders, and more. Whichever metaphor you prefer, it’s true that most PMs work with many stakeholders to ensure that we build the right things and build them well.

Here, we explore how the relationships between PMs and other functions (XFNs) work across companies and products.

Who do PMs work with?

  • Engineering manager: We consider ourselves two halves of a bigger unit. My EM should understand…

Part 2 of 6x6 series, where we share perspectives from six PMs on six questions about product management. New article every other week. See Part 1.

ok hand sign in a field of wheat
ok hand sign in a field of wheat
Photo by Àlex Rodriguez on Unsplash

As product managers, we think about how to make better products all the time. We develop strategies to turn ideas into tools.

But what makes a product any good? What makes a good product strategy? And how do these relate? We’ve brought together answers from six points of view to create a fuller picture.

A good product…

  • Solves real needs in a compelling way. Universally, PMs know this is the most important part of a product’s success…
Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Prioritisation is perhaps the single biggest determiner of whether your product is successful. PMs ensure the team has a clearly prioritised roadmap.

Yet it’s not a predefined formula — else every competitor would build exactly the same thing at the same time. Prioritisation may not use a formula at all. And, despite its strategic importance, companies often don’t even have clear methods of prioritisation.

But your team must master this skill to be successful in the long run. …

Part 1 of 6x6 series, where we share perspectives from six PMs on six questions about product management. Stay tuned for a new article every other week.

Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

It seems like every PM I’ve met has had wildly different career paths, and yet we all found ourselves drawn to the role. Ahead of discussions on PM best practices, I spoke with 6 talented PM friends on their origin stories.

Chaitanya S., the intern

People forget that the process of elimination is progress — if you try something out and it doesn’t work, you’re still learning and progressing towards a goal. I was fortunate to have…

I’m Julia, and I’m a product manager in tech. Demand for the role has grown, and yet it’s still fuzzily-defined and constantly evolving. So, I seek to understand, learn, and document PM best practices and thinking.

Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

First, a quick note on this channel:

I’ve been pretty dormant the last few years, so I’m here to say that I’m hitting unpause. I believe that professional knowledge should be free, so the work on this platform will never be behind a paywall. Product management is my full-time career.

I write for the aspiring product managers and the existing ones. I write for anyone who thinks about how to build…

How to make effective decisions as a team

A team is a complex thing, with hundreds of decisions being made daily, in all variety of ways. As our team has rapidly grown, we’ve been talking about how to stay nimble while empowering everyone to contribute.

Transparency and trust exist on a spectrum — they can be traded off for one another depending on what is needed. To move fast AND ship value, you’ll need to agree on which decisions require transparency and which ones require trust.

Pros and cons of transparency

  • Transparency enables diverse perspectives. It ensures that the widest range of information and opinions have been accounted for, which generally leads to…

The system is rigged.

Many corporate giants today began as startups who disrupted industries and pushed aside existing giants to become dominant players in the market.

As they got bigger, these companies had more resources to experiment and more expertise which could help them avoid mistakes and get creative. Yet corporate giants — even the ones who started out as innovative startups— are notoriously terrible at innovation. But why?

Even if your company continues to experiment and embrace failure, even if it manages to maintain ‘small company’ culture, even if it stays flat and nimble, even if it’s not afraid to cannibalise its own…

The competitive advantage that lets startups topple giants

Jeff Bezos says, it’s always day one at Amazon. What exactly does that mean? Bezos knows that, to stay alive, a company must always be evolving. Always experimenting, always moving on to the next thing — because customers are always changing, markets are always reshaping, and fresh competitors are always coming in.

To beat your competitors in modern industries, a company must meet its customer’s needs better than competitors do. Because we customers have access to information like never before, can be reached and targeted with incredible efficiency, and share our voices and opinions without hesitation. We dream of innovation…

A quick look at what split the roles that shape our world.

Find related earlier post, The Product Manager vs. The Strategist, here. Stay tuned for part III: how product managers and strategists should collaborate to create even more awesome.

Before we explore the future, let’s understand the past.

If product and strategy have the same goal — to fulfil a company’s why — why are they often separate? How did they get to be different roles?

The role of the strategist is only about 50 years old, and the product manager only 20. Yet the ideas and practices of product and business strategy have come to — formally or informally — permeate virtually every industry, market, and modern company.


Julia Mitelman

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