I like product management – and I’m not alone. Many of us got into PM roles through a passion for problem solving and a real desire to see a project succeed in the hands of customers. That’s the fun part, and modern methodologies like Agile are continuously evolving to better support customer-driven products.
What hasn’t evolved nearly as much is how we manage and lead product teams – with ten years of experience in this field, I’ve seen that the way we approach organizing product management is still holding us back.
This isn’t just a pet peeve of mine: recognizing this problem, Darrell Rigby, Jeff Sutherland, and Hirotaka Takeuchi published an article in the Harvard Business Review on the need for management organizations and non-technology functions to adopt agile methodologies.
I want to explore how we manage a collection of product teams operating at scale – because this is the critical topic for organizations that are growing from a single product effort into a diverse range of products, and because finding a better model will frankly restore some of the fun of product management! Continue reading “Six reasons your product team isn’t scaling (and how to fix it)”
Recently, a young, successful tech company asked me to come up with a product planning model for them. I started out by listing off what was already working for them :
- Internal entrepreneurialism
- Building projects around small teams of motivated individuals
- Dual-tracking : small teams for products and separate ones for shared, core components
Then I listed six key goals that are difficult to achieve when you’re newly successful and growing fast:
- Keeping leaders informed of everything that is going on
- Getting line-level product managers onto a consistent process
- Adjusting top-level strategy based on what is working
- Identifying what innovation to nurture among all the activity
- Discovering shared components that are in decline
- Investing mindfully across short, mid and long-term projects
If we want to add that second category of ideals to the mix, it will help to first take a step back and look at Product Management in general. Continue reading “Part I – Structuring the product team”
In Part I we looked at organization theory, determined that a classic hierarchy wasn’t what we wanted, and discussed what marketplace-style organization model could do for us. So what does this look like in practice? Let me introduce you to the Check-in Meeting.
The Check-in Meeting is a venue for reviewing and socializing relevant information about product development efforts. It takes the form of a recurring meeting on a fixed cadence with a queue of topics in three categories:
- Product Plan Review : Present a new project plan or new phase/initiative of an existing project, to propose alignment with an existing strategy and prioritization
- Progress to Plan : Measure a project against stated milestones and goals, in order to secure or retain allocated resources
- Strategy Review : Periodic review and debate of top-level product strategy among CPO and directors, informed by data from recent PPR and PTP topics.
Continue reading “Part II – Implementing a marketplace-style product lifecycle process”