We’ve written a lot about product management and leadership in 2017 and even published two books (Product Leadership and Product Roadmaps: Relaunched) along the way! But a few specific topics stand out based on their popularity according to our readers. Product roadmaps, prioritization, and collecting customer feedback continue to challenge product pros at every level and in every industry. Following is a list of our top 10 product posts of 2017.
According to product leaders, the biggest threat to getting things done: is knowing what to get done. Prioritization keeps you awake at night. Product creators are given a lot of responsibility, without all the authority to get things done. As you may have heard, you are not the CEO of anything. But merely accepting this fact doesn’t fix your prioritization problem. Our most popular post describes a simple method for filtering out what items are critical and what items can wait.
Did we mention that prioritization keeps product pros up at night? Are you sensing a theme? What gets done first? How do you decide what features or experiences stay and what gets cut or postponed? Should I listen to customers or my boss? How does the product team get consensus on which direction to follow? Should they even need to get consensus? If the product manager doesn’t always have the final say or authority to make that decision, then what?
These are some of the most frequently discussed questions in product teams today. This article attempts to answer these questions and provide a process for decision making and prioritization.
Setting and managing the product roadmap is one of the most common and important responsibilities of a product manager. It can also be one of the most difficult and frustrating. But why is this the case? We kicked off one of our quarterly product roadmapping workshops by asking attendees to write a “Dear John” letter to their roadmap process. This post described all of the points of friction identified along with tips on how to start working toward overcoming them.
Most companies don’t have a vision. Subsequently most products don’t have a vision. Sure they have goals and some even have BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), but they don’t have a vision. This might seem surprising considering how much has been written about the importance of having a clear company or product vision. So why is this happening? The most obvious reason is because it’s hard. Creating a simple and clear vision is one of the most challenging things your company can do.
Behind every great product is a great team doing work in a way that guarantees results. The trick is in getting the guiding framework right and allowing for flexibility inside that framework. In product creation circles this is often referred to as a roadmap. It’s not a replacement for a rigorous process or a smart team. It focuses the people and process on what’s the best outcome for the customer. So how does a roadmap help you deliver on the product work?
In this post, we announced the upcoming (at the time) launch of the book Product Leadership. With information gathered from interviews with over 75 product leaders, one could argue it was a book written FOR product leaders BY product leaders. A product leader is responsible for product strategy, but they can’t build anything by themselves – they are part of something much larger. They have to lead engineering, marketing, design, etc towards realizing and delivering on a company strategy, all without the executive authority common to other senior leadership roles. This post includes excerpts from the book that was published in June.
Building a product is hard. Building the company around that product is way harder. Fresh Tilled Soil CEO Richard Banfield has been a co-founder, partner, advisor, board member and mentor to dozens of product companies. In this post, he shares a few things that he wished someone had told him before he had to learn the hard way.
The biggest challenge facing product managers right now is prioritization (Sound familiar? See above). This post attempts to provide a path to sustainable prioritization based on what we know from hundreds of interviews with successful product leaders: 1) prioritization is impossible without a clear vision, and 2) feature roadmaps aren’t enough, you need to prioritize & roadmap across marketing, product, engineering, and sales.
After 40+ years of market dominance, a popular indoor cycling trainer was gone in an instant. Or was it? What precipitated the formal end to a product actually took much longer and offers product leaders some important lessons regarding user experience and design, innovation, and managing a product roadmap – like the importance of listening to your customers, the value of competition, and the value of getting your product in front of real users early and often.
It’s unlikely these topics or challenges will disappear in 2018, but we are excited to see how the product community comes together to learn from one another in the coming year!