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"Product Strategy: The Missing Link" by Inspired Author Marty Cagan of SVPG at Lean Product Meetup

Hi i'm dan olson. And we had another great speaker at lean product meet up. Tonight marty kagan. He's right back there product expert and author of inspired this is the second edition of his book you may have read the first edition or maybe read this one tonight he gave a new talk on product strategy and so we were very excited to hear about that he shared a lot of great insights and advice we also had a lot of great q&a with the audience. So i hope you enjoy it if you do please like the video subscribe to our channel and also sign up for notifications so you get notified when we publish other videos thanks and enjoy it's good to see everybody. And i am curious how many of you might have been it's like an annual tradition of dan and i come here each year. But i was about this time last year. And i gave a talk that i wanted to see how many of you might have been here for that just quick show of hands some of you the reason i ask is because i talked about it was actually a talk that was describing what i wanted to work on for the next several years just quickly in summary that you know my book inspired is really about how good product teams solve hard problems in ways customers love but work for the business and admittedly that's my favorite thing to do i love working with teams to do that's when most people get into product to do. But i shared last year that i've met many teams i realized that was in a bubble here in silicon valley and i met many teams not only outside of silicon valley in fairness but also any right in san francisco that they're not allowed to work that way they're literally not allowed to work the way a good team works and this of course is just insane to me. And i wanted to understand. Why. And i sort of went on a crusade i started a multi-year effort i gave a talk last year which was about empowered it was about the difference is an empowered product team versus a command-and-control also known as a feature team and i talked a lot of you know feature teams are given a road map and they just crank out features versus a real product team which is there to solve problems and i also said that i was planning for the next several years to write about what's necessary to actually change into one of these companies to move from the most kind of company to the best kind of company and i have for those that haven't been following you know my blog i have been writing many articles my initial focus was on the biggest area i felt was missing which was coaching that the managers were not doing their jobs to develop their people and it in for an empowered product team you really need that it's a hard job in fact i have been increasingly honest and frank with people about the difference between being a product manager on a feature team and a product manager on a true empowered product team on a feature team which is what most people sadly are it's really a project manager with a pretty name. Pretty title. It's really a project manager they are shep if you think about it what's really going on is there's a little bit of design. And maybe if you're lucky a little usability testing and then code qa ship that's what goes on so the quote product manager is really there to herd the cats get everything getting from design into engineering and out and of course that is not what good companies do and that is not how they solve problems and i had talked before about why. And you know how good companies work. But i didn't really shine a light on the difference and so i have been doing that my series on coaching has been going for months and i finished most of the topics i wanted to write about i've got a few more i should mention din and i do share a publisher and i agreed to another book so all of these articles are one day want to be chapters in a book depending on and how well they do out with the community so i share each one. And i get feedback. And i decide if i can improve it or if i should just scrap the idea or we think the idea. Whatever but the nice part about that is when i do actually get to the point of a book i have a lot of data that says this is actually answering real questions and so i like the process. So it's some work now though i told dan i have a few other talks and i wanted to use this group which honestly i consider my home group this is my you know this is where i'm spent 40 years so i love this area and i and of course a lot of you i've met before and know many of the companies and i said i wanted to try out a new topic i'm gonna admit i actually picked the hardest topic to talk about because this is one actually product strategy is what i usually reserve for when i advise a company. Because and that's pretty much what advisors do is strategy there's a little bit on technique and process and stuff. But mostly it's about strategy that's a lot easier to do one-on-one with a company than it is to talk in general terms. So alright. But i had to talk tackle that with the purpose of the book so i am trying out a big topic on you and i'l also warn you that this really is a big topic i'm not exaggerating we could talk all day on this. And so i kind of i'm gonna plan a lot of seeds with you i'm not trying to just tease you or anything it's just i want to get you to rethink some of the things that are going on and in probably your company in many companies for those that haven't heard me talk i'm kind of all about the difference between the best companies and the rest i will admit to especially in this book there's four companies that have very heavily influenced me i went back to these companies i was really looking at what's different those are amazon google netflix apple now of course there's other really good companies airbnb slack etsy we can keep going other really good companies but those four i'm just sort of confessing that they had a disproportionate impact on me and partly because they have consistently innovated they really have and sort of they've earned their place for me and the other reason was is because those four companies if you've been inside those four companies they have very different cultures and this is something that kind of makes this whole discussion tough because i'l admit i used to say good companies had a strong product culture bad company's it culture you've probably heard that and the truth is it's more nuanced than that. Yeah for example all you have to do is go visit an amazon go visit google and there are two completely different planets they have very different cultures yet you'l see they have very common philosophy when it comes to the topic of empowered product teams in fact they share that with them with google and with netflix and so i've been spending time untangling what i think is really essential about those four companies from what's just honestly a reflection of their founders so what i think is really important from what's just sort of incidental and admittedly that's driven a lot by my own judgment of this. But that's what i'm sharing with you. It's like those companies do strategy much different and much better than most companies as an example they also do coaching much better and so these are the things i'm talking about so dan did a good job giving you my background.

What Is Product Strategy?

About what i even mean by product strategy so empowered product teams are all about giving teams hard problems to solve and also giving them the space to solve them the netflix phrases that is give them freedom and give them space to do their thing and that's really what we're talking about now the real question though here how does a company decide which problems they should actually work on that's what we mean by strategy product strategy let's also admit there's market strategy business strategy sales strategy every kind of strategy we are talking product strategy which is really another way of phrasing it is how do you make the product vision a reality but this is this topic of product strategy is really a critical topic because it's the bridge between your vision and what product teams actually work on that's what's key now this is one of the most remarkable things to me but when we talk about most companies rather than the best companies many of.

Product Strategy In Most Companies

You probably seen this it'l just be a fun one i can watch this a hundred times this is the underpants gnomes if you don't know the underpants gnomes you're in for a treat this is the shorter version if you watch this at work turn down the volume but anyway let's show it and then i'l tell you why i relate to it so well i cut off some of the more egregious issues things they talked about in there. But honestly i know that's. I mean it's funny. But it's so true this is so true i cannot tell you how many companies i meet they have some big objective you know they're pretty much all the same to like double revenue and reduce our churn rate all this so they have all these big you know objectives. But then all of a sudden you got a road map of a hundred features it's like what. Yeah. You know what is missing from this picture strategy is missing from this picture now it's more insidious than that i really do believe i understand the reasons that's missing now fundamentally at one level the reason it's missing is because it's hard and companies hate hard things i mean i've learned that over the years for sure they hate hard things and you know there are if you go online in google like products strategy or make the mistake of saying product strategy framework you will get all kinds of garbage that comes back that tries to give you like a fill-in-the-blank thing and that you know. And that's course they're useless now one of the reasons. Well you'l see why but these things are useless and also a lot of people most companies honestly don't do anything i'm serious they're they don't do anything they go right to roadmaps but some companies like we should have a strategy i mean they talk about that in business school we should have a strategy. So what do they do they hire our mckinsey or they hire bain or somebody like that which they don't realize it. But they're actually giving them a business strategy not a product strategy so it's not even really useful to us. But still they feel like they have a nice powerpoint presentation now that they can show oh my. Gosh it's really it's really depressing. But if you look at what a real good strategy is there is some talented leader and honestly this is a theme i come back to all the time in the good companies they have good leaders it's really the key difference but they have a talented leader that identifies the few critical issues and they actually figure out how to get leverage out of what they work on. And then they focus the attention the action on things that actually matters that is so different than what most companies do now what i wanted to drill into is. Wow well why don't companies really do this the fundamental reason is because it's hard but the more specifically there are four things that have to be done well to do have a good product strategy and each of those four things as you'l see that you probably know are difficult things for companies to do if it was easy we wouldn't have this issue so what i wanted to do is sort of work through these four things both pointing out what i find in most companies and then trying to show you what i see in good companies of course where we really need more time would be and what a good companies do and that is why i'm working on a book. So all right let's talk about the four big things first of all they have to be able to focus that word most companies are allergic to that word they really don't understand what focus is most of them think it's prioritization is not prioritization but we'l talk about what it really is. But they have to focus on the critical problems it's one of the true things about businesses that not all problems are equal. Alright second they have to generate insights on how to attack those problems that's a hard one for most companies it's the heart it's the heart of good companies. But it's very hard for most companies third they actually have to coordinate the actions for each product team this is this is literally where a strategy turns into work turns into actions and then finally they have to actively manage i'm still looking for the right verb. There. But it's because i do not mean micromanage here of course i do not mean that. But i also don't mean passive management so many people think that agile teams and say and honestly even they think empowered teams mean back off managers and it is so not true it's exactly the opposite so we need to talk about i say this a lot now is just we don't need less management we need better management so these are the four things. And i want to drill into each of them let's start with focus so you guys know most companies this is not really a secret how many companies struggle with focus and being able to really choose. And i want to be clear what i mean by focus i was actually at a company just recently and i've seen this on many companies i wouldn't be surprised if you've seen it at yours so all along some wall somewhere or at least on some spreadsheet floating around is a list of the top priority initiatives or whatever you want to call them the big things not the little thing i'm not even talking about little roadmap i'm talking about the big things and this one company had over 60 of them literally and those were like we must do 60 things we must do. And you know what's funny is i had this conversation with their leaders i mean like did you can we talk about focus and they're like. Oh yeah. That's the prune down list. Right we wanted to do much more we know what it means to sacrifice. No. But honestly i'm gonna be real with you at this level if you've got more than a few it's too many. So we have to talk about how people do that i feel a little guilty about what i'm about to share with you here because i don't know these people. Personally. But i have been how many i don't know how many of you seen a few years ago an otherwise excellent resource for product people the first-round review some of you may know that one of my favorite bc's first round capital in philadelphia they pop they have a really good blog. But anyway they published this article talking about the pandora product prior to prioritization process some of you may have seen it for years i have been forwarding a link to this to people to say this is exactly what you don't do seriously it is exactly it is the poster child for bad strategy. Well honestly it's not even fair to call it a bad strategy it's no strategy because and for those that don't know. And i and it is true there's this kind of extreme. But it's really very similar in principle to what so many companies do so what they do is they basically imagine sort of the absence of product management or product strategy or product leadership all they do is they have a certain amount of engineering capacity which in fairness to them in their case was not very much what's sort of the root of the issue. But anyway we all have not as much as we want so they had some engineering capacity and of course they wanted to try to satisfy as many stakeholders as they could so the way they do it is they give fake money to each stakeholder proportionate you know to what the ceo says you get twenty dollars you get thirty dollars and they could buy whatever features they want that's their process and of course they were bragging about it because it's like the stakeholders you know get to get what they want this is exactly what i mean by difference between a product team is there to serve the customers and ways that work for the business versus a feature team is there to serve the business that's exactly what's going on i didn't know them. I still don't know them. But when i read it read the article i was thinking okay. Well this is what happens when you have zero product. And i was certain that first of all i knew they were gonna get a ton of features because that is a mission that is a recipe for a ton of features. But i also knew there's almost no chance there's going to be innovation almost no chance and that in a in our tech powered company to me that's just it's only a matter of time. So i didn't know when it would happen. But it's interesting right after this article was published if you had watched they went public. I think it's sixteen dollars a share just like this gradual wasn't overnight over years gradual at $8 a share they got sold to welter basically for salvage price to sirius xm which is their dead so that's exactly what you would predict would happen if this is you know at the absence of product strategy at the accents of product management so many companies then where these roadmaps are actually coming from is a negotiation with the different lines of business. So it's not really much different they're just sort of being very overt about it now i want to be a little fair i'l get. And i don't know them. But i want to be fair every time i've seen a system like that it's not the product people are saying we should do this they're forced to usually it's the ceo or the other leaders are forcing them and when i also learned in that article that they went public remember pandora went public with 40 engineers think about that 40 engineers now of course as investors first round is this is such an awesome company only 40 engineers look what they've done i'm thinking they had no business going public with 40 engineers and i think in hindsight it was clear they were because they were obviously these are people competing with spotify with apple with the serious players and 40 you know you're not so in fairness to them with only 40 engineers i don't know what they could have done and the truth is if i was the head of product i would have known that the stakeholders no matter well how much funny money we give them they are not going to be happy and so this was maybe a way to make as many of them you know at least include them in demise together. Yeah. But that is that is a good example of a company with no strategy now what they really were doing. And i don't know if they realize this or. Not. But they were they were confusing what they were confusing. Was focus and prioritization because what they were really doing was a prioritization process not a focused process. So i want to talk about focus a little bit because we need to talk about what that really means and why it's so essential it's just one of those words that's thrown around every single company but it's largely meaningless it's really means two things the first is that only a few things on that and 5 or 60 item list will actually have the chance of moving the needle realistically everybody learns this i think in their in a different way when they learn it. I remember still the time i learned it and it was because it made such an impression on me i learned this lesson about real impact and focus because well like dan said i started as an engineer actually very close to here in palo alto at hp labs and you know i was right out of university. And i had known you know which basically means i knew the theory of you know programming but not really much of the practice of it. So one of the nice things that at hp labs was they had what we would today call pair programming it's where we were paired with somebody and i was paired with a great guy actually who was fortunately for me answered all my questions and very tolerant. But so we were i was honestly not programming i was watching him that's he was very good. And but it was amazing education for me amazing education and one of we were working on system software development tools development environments and one of our objectives that we had was performance. And it's that kind of software it's still like if you adapt performance is still one of those things. But anyway so i'm every time we started working on something you know when i saw code that was obviously not that efficient i was his name was brian. And i said what about let's work on that we could definitely improve that and he would say well we could but we're not gonna and the next day the next area we could we're not gonna he just kept saying that and honestly i alright anyway about a month later. Or so he says now we're gonna work on performance finally and so first thing he does is these brings up the performance analysis tool which is on basically every operating system and we run it through some paces the software through some paces and sure enough there's a online report that comes out and there were three things where all the time was going. And he really wanted me to see this and he said here's why i kept saying no before we could have fixed every one of those issues that i pointed out. And he said the truth was even if we did every one of them the user would not have perceived any difference would have made no perceptible difference however if we focus on these three areas we're gonna make all the difference. And he said that's what goes on across the organizations all the time everybody's told to work on tech debt which means nobody really does the hard stuff with tech debt that really has to happen or everybody's supposed to work on growth and nobody really moves the needle on growth same with retention all these things they don't everybody does just a little bit nobody really puts the effort in to make it happen and it really made an impact on me that was obviously a software engineering application of this theory but it's i think it's really true there's only a few things that really make an impact the reason that product pandora process was so flawed is because it ignored that and it was trying to be politically correct and please as many stakeholders as they could not impact now there's another dimension to this is just also going on here that makes focus so essential because you could you could say well just prioritize the things and work on you know the top priority but the truth is especially in organizations if you try to work on too many things at once everything slows down now of course if your team is running kanban or something this is one of the fundamental concepts this idea of whip limits work in process the bottom print the bottom line is if you try to work on a few things at once you know you will bottleneck and things slow down you actually get more throughput if you limit the things and i absolutely see that play out every day with teams but the truth is it's even more true and much more dramatic at an organizational level because now you're talking about senior leadership's attention and decision-making and removing obstacles and that it now if you get an organization try to do even ten of these big things at once they are just it's just like the freeways here you know too much on there nobody goes anywhere it's the same principle so focus is so critical because you really have to make sure you've only got a few things at a time going through your own organization and they need to be the things that really can move the needle now i haven't told you how you pick those things that can move the needle but the honest answer for that is that's where the smart leader comes in where they really are studying the data studying the business the model of the company and understand those dynamics all right. But the big takeaway here is prioritization is not focus you really need your organization to pay and this is a primary responsibility of product leadership you know working with the cto see is usually not the problem here this is more on the head of product but to really understand that we are not talking about prioritization we're talking the top few things the things that really can move the needle in fact i find most organizations they spend way too much time worried about prioritization and honestly this is another talk but it's not only as a waste of time it's predicated on things that they don't know they are guessing about how much money would be made they're guessing about how hard it would be they have no clue though so it's all guesses. Anyway. So i try to get organizations to stop focusing on this prioritization concept and instead learn to focus all right. And you know part of that is getting very good and fast at trying out ideas we'l talk about that all right second point i brought up was insights are actually where you know as an advisor that's where i spend a lot of time with the teams now we'l talk about those. But it's in most companies actually this is sort of what i see. I'm staying with my gnome friends there but the they are literally not interested in the insights they are not interested in the insights because they are too busy basically trying to satisfy the stakeholders they're not looking at the insights they're not they're just not even when they're right in front of their face if you go in most companies again most companies are feature teams and they do a little let's say usability testing on some design and sometimes they actually learn something pretty interesting and you go try to tell they had a you know director a vp product about this insight that you just got about your customers. Okay. What are we gonna do with that it's not really something they're interested they already have a roadmap for the quarter not interested it's like where do insights fit in their model they don't.

Insights At Strong Companies

Talk about it strong companies insights are everything so we get insights then i want to be clear the truth is insights can come from anywhere i was actually what's one of the eye i'm a big advocate of ben thompson's blog strattera is it which is really a business strategy little product strategy with mostly business strategy blog. But i loved his thinking and it's one of the companies i was with thanks to they got a really good insight from another company in their industry but in a really good insight that led to some really good product work that really looks like it's moving the needle so insights can come from anywhere i'm not trailer but there are some major sources of insight qualitative insights i mean i put them first because in truth this is my favorite source qualitative insights is usually coming from chat conversations with our customers and our users and they can be prospective customers they can by the way be former customers they can even be competitors customers it is amazing what you can learn and it is i don't think there's a substitute for the face-to-face interactions we do its users and customers you just have to realize when you're doing that you're not trying to prove anything you're just trying to learn but it is amazing what you can learn and just off the wall great insights you know they're very unpredictable when you do qualitative. But i encourage product teams to do to gather qualitative insights every single week normally we do that by trying out our prototypes with customers to see how they respond. But that's really a teeing up of a very high quality conversation about why they wouldn't use this and what it would take to get them to use it. So i adore qualitative insights and if i had to sort of credit any one source for the best progress in product from my experience it's that. But there is no question there is a close second today and probably in five years i'l reorder these two because the quantitative insights are phenomenal we are talking about insights based on data with this might be data that we aggregate over time in our data warehouse trying to better understand our customers very often it's an a/b test that surprises us and that inspires us to go figure out what is going on which is often back to the qualitative testing but they are these quantitative insights are phenomena and phenomenal and so many companies today the thing about the quantitative side is you really need some pretty significant volume of data. But then it just gets better and better and better. So it's you know it's not something that's especially useful to most startups and most certainly most b2b but pretty soon you start to get serious traffic you start to get some real history here and you start to get some real insights on the data and i should also emphasize a lot of the biggest insights are really blends it's looking at both because quantitative might tell us what's actually happening but icky it generally can't tell us why so the qualitative can help explain what's going on and then you have that big aha moment. And then you direct the product organization to really fix that problem and now we've made a real difference so that's another great source of insights and you know in our industry this is what i think is great about our industry is the technology foundation is always changing which means you know from a product perspective the way we think about that is there are things we can do today that we could not do tomorrow yesterday tomorrow we couldn't do yesterday. And so that's what we are looking for right things that are just now possible and you know this is by definition a moving target we are always evaluating new technologies now of course products people and our technology counterparts have to use their judgment you know some things are fads some things are real trends you have to decide you have to separate the marketing hype from the reality so it was actually i've been charmed in my career so lucky. But when i went and studied computer science i actually studied artificial intelligence which if well if you knew the year i graduated that would be like do they even know what that was it was so is like. But back then that was like the next big thing and of course it was not even close to the next big thing. But the funny thing is there was like three more times where it became the next big thing. And it just sort of fizzled out it wasn't until the last couple years that it's like you know what this is not a fad this is a real thing because now there are real solutions that are based on this it's not just theory the theory honestly hasn't changed all that much. But now it's practical and you can use it for real and of course there's a big reason for that which is the volume of data that it's predicated on. But anyway i love that's what i if i had to pick one thing that makes me love this industry so much it's the enabling technology and that it is always getting better. I go to china every year and don't worry i was not just in china. I did have a trip i had to cancel but i was there well before anything was going on but they're amazing what they've been doing china is just. I i used to feel like silicon valley was pretty much ahead of the world not so much especially in china is just what they've done you know they have three times the market we do in the u.s. three times. And they also have some of the best teams in the world now. And of course this they're a good example of the nonlinear value provided by data when you get more and more data you start being able to do things that you could never do before it just becomes much more practical instead of a week for a test day for a test that kind of thing. So anyway technology's fabulous and the last is there are insights in our industry our market our competitors and that would be an example from things like strattera. But they're so always interesting things to learn in our in your industry and from other industries i love how the enterprise market is learning from the consumer market today and adopting a lot of the practices but at strong companies they live for this is that dynamic in strong companies it's not just a once in awhile thing that a designer comes to a you know our product manager says hey this week we learned something interesting this is like what they live for in fact a big responsibility of the managers and leaders is to collect this and disseminate these learnings they are literally there to connect the dots they are there to connect the dots so it's not you know a lot of people wonder well what do i do with this learning you know just putting it out on slack it's not it's not going to go anywhere useful they first of all it needs to be really curated people have to think about how it fits in with a bigger picture and then it has to be intentionally disseminated like if you're a leader. And you know this other team over here really should hear about this learning you're gonna go and share that learning or connect them with that team and if it's a general enough learning you're gonna have like it the weekly or the monthly one-on-one you're gonna say hey we had some big learnings this week that you need to know about those learnings could be any of these things right it could be any kind of learning. But they are they're sort of like a learning distribution machine these leaders and i find it so different than the not good companies it's like they're the not good companies are not even in this game they're not even trying. Alright. So. Yeah the core of strategy work is really always the same discovering the critical factors these are the insights here and designing a way of coordinating and focusing the action to deal with those problems those factors so that leads us to the next big topic which i would argue is where it really this is where the rubber meets the road hood if you will action we need to turn our insights into action now i have to admit because in truth i'm now all about the empowered product teams i'm not spending any time helping anybody to become a better feature team believe it or not i have been asked i'm like not interested first of all there's like a thousand other people that's all they seem to want to do so go to them i want to focus on empowered product teams but i will also admit that there are two ways of turning insights into action the command-and-control way which generally turns into a road map and the empowered team way now this is going to yield this is going to be a little bit of a complicated discussion here let me start by pointing out that it is not hard to generate activity we have no trouble doing that in fact that kind of is what makes it a big problem and you know i have to say agile only made this worse it really did and for the record i always advocate the team should be delivering with some agile process like scrum or kanban but this is it made it worse because it made it even easier to crank out features faster than ever it did it did so that was not the point of course but that is a consequence and the hard part is getting the right things done the things that matter you know the things that have an impact and can really move the needle i don't know if you've seen this little video dan monty python. I love this one have you seen this one. But oh thank you that's right. We're gonna break everybody's eardrums again this is this is literally what i see in my mind when i see companies doing the normal road from out process. We good. Oh i swear that's what's going on with your roadmaps to me. It's exactly what's going on it really is exactly what's going on they are just going in every different direction and you don't each one of those runners if you're going to call it that are like serving some stakeholder on some part of the business they're all i doing something but if you look holistically they're making no real impact that is what's going on so what we need to do is we need to focus the minds we need to focus the minds of the team right there energy into action and this is really what makes a difference and this is this is where it's so clear the difference. What i really want to talk about but i'l be honest i'm a little hesitant to talk about it is okay ours. So i'm gonna just jump in anyway we'l see what happens so well let me start by professing this i do not recommend okay ours. Anymore i used to recommend them all the time i was a very vocal advocate i do not recommend okay ours i'l unless they're already in the empowered product team model which most companies are the fundamental issue well most people know. And it's been plenty of years just give it a try most people know that okay ours and most company is our big waste of time just a big waste most of them have pushed it off to the side. And it's just. Okay. Our theatres there you know it's easy to tell because they're given objectives and they're given roadmaps it's like. So what do you think they're gonna do they're gonna do the roadmaps. And so the object that they'l key ours are really not now what's going on here is okay ours came from the empowered product team company model that's the company that it came from this was in tell this was google this day arrow around the model if you take a company with feature teams and try to just overlay ok ours you get the mess you see in companies it makes no sense i try to explain that you know people think and it's not hard to see why they all flock to ok ours they're like. Oh cool uses it amazon. They're all making tons of money it must be because they use ok ours that's really what they're thinking so they're thinking hey ok ours are actually pretty simple come on there are pretty simple. Right here's an objective here's some results go for it. But what's going on is that it's a true cultural mismatch they are not successful these good companies because they use ok ours they use ok ours because they go with the empowered team model that they've embraced so the real issue is moving to the empowered team model now if you've done that's what it's for. And i do advocate it for that situation. But i've really learned my lesson you know because i can talk about all these things you can do. And then they gravitate to ok ours because they're so easy conceptually super easy conceptually much harder than the kinds of changes i'm talking about like managers doing their jobs coaching investing in staffing i mean we could talk about all the things that good leaders are really supposed to be doing it's a lot easier just to do ok ours.

For OKR's To Be Helpful and Meaningful...

For ok ours to be helpful and meaningful there's three things that are really essential the first is you've got to have empowered product teams not feature teams and if you're not ready yet to make that transformation you know save yourself a bunch of time but that. And you know that is a big change hopefully people know what i mean by that if you haven't if you don't i would plead with you actually to read an article if you just google s vpg empowered team feature team something like that it'l take you to this article it is happily it was pretty popular i've actually been writing about this stuff for years but for whatever reason i think i hit a chord with that one and people like ok now i understand and unfortunately yes we're a feature team they understood that now so you really need to look at that it's a difficult transformation i mean this all the companies that are trying to do a digital transformation they don't realize this but what they really need to do and what they are if they want to succeed is convert from feature team to empowered product teams but that is not a minor change but for you the good news is it actually requires these people called product managers but of course i'm not talking about the project manager product manager i mean a real product manager in fact i used to help you know i have not been shy about using the term a good product manager is the ceo of the product. But i would get a lot of frustration and confusion with that and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. And then i realized it they're talking about feature team product managers a feature team product manager could not be further away from the concept of a ceo of a product that's so silly it's like literally pointing to the project manager and saying you're the ceo. No it's not even close the ceo the product concept comes from the empowered team model that's where it comes from because like a ceo if you think about a start-up ceo the designer is responsible for a usable solution and the engineers are responsible for a feasible solution but that founder is responsible for making sure it's valuable people will buy it and viable it works for a business you can market it you can sell it you can make money from it you can fund it that's exactly we lost one screen. But that's exactly what a real product manager is responsible for so you know that's a big difference right now because if you think about it on a feature team nobody is explicitly responsible for value or viability it's dispersed among the stakeholders it's basically if some executive asks for something on the roadmap they're taking responsibility for that they don't necessarily realize that but they are if they say add this feature there somehow believe that feature is valuable and that it's okay to do in an empowered product team they don't do that they give them problems to solve and the product manager is responsible to make sure that solution is valuable and viable. So it's this is the real product manager job. Well i should say this in the industry i grew up with. And i'm comfortable saying this the same true as ben horowitz and that we grew up in the same companies this is what we mean by product manager we do not mean project manager we do not mean feature teams most of us would never have gone into this industry if that's what we thought our job was going to be so good news is i think as companies move to this they realize you know they have designers and they have engineers but they really need to invest in true product managers. Okay second thing they need is another thing that mac messes up okay ours in companies is that each manager does their own set of ok ours so like the director of engineering does a set director design director of product and they what do you think happens they pass them down to their employees right and then on a product team the product person probably thinks we're working on some company thing but no the designer says no i'm supposed to work on this because this is what my boss told me to work on and the engineers are like no we have to work on this so of course the whole okr thing collapses under its own weight right there. And so i tell look the other thing you need to do is if you're going to embrace empowered product teams in okay ours to be meaningful stop doing that it's just product teams that get objectives just the product teams so and the other thing i say is until you get good at this stop doing individual okay ours those are just confusing the issue and they're not important focus on the team it's all about the product team just be clear that doesn't product team is not that the organization of product managers right this is a squad a cross-functional durable hopefully close co-located that's another topic i need to spend more time on. Yeah. You know the colocation it is i've been very vocal about the benefits of colocation but anybody who's followed anything knows it is not very politically correct to say that anymore. And i genuinely believe it's motivated by selfish silicon valley mostly venture capitalists that want to. They know they can't afford people here so they want to keep they want to stay here. And anyway i have i think its bs. And i totally subscribe and i'm gonna share more of amazon's philosophy on this netflix's philosophy on this because they've taken a very hard stand for colocation so you want to do that remote stuff. Fine. But we're actually here to innovate and i'm not kidding it is a big difference i'm not saying it's impossible what's remote people but boy your odds go way down. And you know everything i talk about is not it's not a guarantee of success. But it's about increasing your likelihood of true innovation and success and that is not helping you and i scored a lot of points in the room with that. I know. Alright. So i don't care it's true. It's just true. So somebody i think needs to say it alright. And the last one is active leaders not passive leaders so many people think you know that little monty python video that's what i see people do with okay ours they literally say they go to the teams and say pick your objectives tell us your objectives go out do your thing we'l look at what's going on at the end of the quarter and every team is going off on its own direction i'm like what are you doing that is not what okay ours are about the objectives actually need to come from the leaders now not the key results those come from the teams but the objectives come from the leaders that's how the strategy is turned into action if the strategy is look we need these your three teams we need your teams to focus on this onboarding problem we have got to fix that it is not scalable you guys need to focus on the onboarding problem and between the three teams there's enough brainpower there we think that's gonna we're gonna make a difference that's where objectives come from now those teams they use what empower autonomy really means is they're able to figure out the best way to solve those problems so we're not giving them a road map of features we're giving them problems to solve but they are not random problems they are not problems left two teams to choose now don't get me wrong one of the things we love is when the leaders share the strategy they literally say the strategy like we know. Onboarding is a problem we know 80% of it is manual whatever they these are the insights we would like the teams to think about how they could help on this we love it when teams go hey we would love to work on that problem because we think we have some really good ideas to pursue that we love it but even if everybody came back and said they want to work on the same problem we'd have to go to several of them say i'm sorry we have other problems we have to solve too. So it's a responsibility of the leaders and so again i referring to this as active leaders i don't want it to be confused with command and control leaders these are not there to micromanage in fact i'l talk about this. Next i think it's really more like servant leadership that we're talking about. So. But these are the three things that have to be in place for a product company to really get value out of okay ours and if you don't have these three things save yourself a bunch of time at the end of the quarter. All right so the fourth part if you remember first was focus then insights then actions and the fourth one is management now the truth is no strategy survives first contact with the actual reality so there will be a lot of learning and the question is what do you do now in most companies that's kind of the world right roadmaps.

Management At Most Companies

Because this is how teams and organizations manage their work this is nothing new it's just it could be one of a million roadmaps out there so there's nothing special about that other than it's terrible look at it's all output it's all output. Oh the first one i grabbed. But they're all the same their output a bunch of dates its commit this is not empowered product teams just to be clear this is what feature teams do.

Management At Strong Companies

Product companies the leaders have this servant leadership mindset they are really there what that really means is okay. They've given the team's servant leader does not mean passive or anything that means they are they've given the team the objectives. But they know that things will come up a team comes back and says hey we didn't realize we had a dependency on a platform team. And we really need some help to get their help this management is not just there to watch they need to engage go talk to the platform team they might find out that oh there's a piece of technology we didn't realize we need we need help with that we need to get that technology in place we need to expedite this we need to make something happen we have a stakeholder that's good that's that needs some real attention let's just say. And then there they need some help to kind of get with the program so you need to help there on these good companies the manager it is a very hands-on active role the difference is they're not micromanaging they're removing obstacles for the team they're letting the teams come up with the right solution they're just there to help facilitate. All right yes this is that same point please it's not about less management it's about better management. All right. Okay. So that went fast for me didn't have a lot of time so in terms of product strategy summarize this critical to focus on the key critical business problems just realistically two three the things that will really have a chance to move the needle you know this isn't really that hard most of the time i get i mean it's hard politically it's not hard to know what the right things are honestly it's usually what's being talked about at the board of directors lever level they know what the real levers are for the business it might be unhappy customers it might be growth that might be you know a very common one in sas is retention is if that number is not good everything falls apart. They know so it's not that hard to know the things that really matter the problem is in you know in most companies you've got a lot of different stakeholders and executives and they all have needs or. At least yeah they do have real needs i mean they perceive right. You know their perception of solutions and stuff. But they all have needs. And so it becomes more a process of trying to do a little bit for everybody back to the performance analysis problem all right second generating insights on how to attack that problem those problems now this is where that culture comes in where you really need a culture that is constantly learning from your customers constantly learning from the data constantly looking at new enabling technologies constantly following the industry so that you can prepare to identify the insights and then leverage them there is one other point i should make about that in every case i know that the leaders really are good and they are seeing these insights it doesn't happen it doesn't happen on its own they are always preparing so they study the business they study the dashboard they understand the economics of the company they understand the dynamics of the company like in a marketplace they understand what we call marketplace health they're looking at all dimensions of the marketplace you know at amazon it's not unusual for a typical leader to be tracking several hundred kpi's every day they are they we're not talking about just they have a deep big-picture view of the business which means when something really is spotted they can see how that might be a great opportunity they can see those they're doing their i the way i phrase it is they're doing their homework so that they're prepared to not miss that opportunity that comes in front of us they come the opportunities are always there all right you need to coordinate actions for each team i didn't say this explicitly some people this is another one of those weirdos i don't know where the route is but some people get really upset if the same if two different product teams are working on the same objective they think that's somehow like in i don't know inefficient or whatever it's like. Oh no that is really common in fact it's often really valuable now there's different kinds of ways of working together sometimes like you're the platform team i'm the common experience team and we're working you're gonna do some new service for me that's kind of obvious cooperation but another kind might be it's a really hard problem so we've each been asked to use our own technologies to solve that problem and the truth is and management is not hiding this none of us may succeed they're hoping at least one of us make moves the needle that's really called a risk management risk mitigation technique another one and this is actually one of my favorites is if it's a really hard problem it may totally be justified to take two or even three product teams and ask them to work together to solve it that's sometimes called a swarm if you've ever heard where they actually get together they put the brains together. And they're you know the hopefully of the combination of our experience and our skills it's like. Yeah we can see now we all sometimes swarm on discovery sometimes on delivery sometimes on both but that is. Yeah. That's actually can be a lot of fun you have to realize a lot of the problems we're asked to work on are really hard problems they are not trivial problems you're not being asked to add an edit button i say that i literally there was another article that came out on okay ours the other day and his first example of a supposedly good. Okay our objective at an edit button literally that was the first one i'm like what is going on there is so much nonsense out there totally somebody totally missed the point of this stuff. Yeah all right. And then finally it takes active engaged capable managers to manage this work and facilitate the interactions that need to happen especially this is this is more and more true the larger the organization management needs to connect the dots the head of design hopefully that's obvious they need to connect the dots it needs to be one experience the head of engineering needs to connect the dots you need an architecture that makes sense holistically a tech that strategy tech that by the way is a classic example of what we've been talking about you can't tackle tech debt effectively with every team doing a little bit it doesn't work that's the little refactor frequently that they will never do the magnitude changes that are needed to really address the issues all right so those are the four big things let me try to put all this into perspective just so that you hopefully have a frame of reference here the product vision is really describing the destination i didn't talk much about vision i've talked about that a lot i love product vision it's very inspiring it helps us recruit great people but that's not this that's sort of a given we it's sort of the input to strategy that's where we're trying to go product strategy helps us decide which problems we need to solve to make that happen that's absolutely i would argue that's the most important part product discovery is actually where we figure out the tactics and just to be clear roadmaps are tactics but that's what i said it just skips strategy they're going straight from double revenue to a bunch of tactics there is no strategy leads to a bunch of problems to solve each of those are solved by the team in discovery's just trying to find a solution that works at the end of the day they will probably build out some features but they're building the ones that they actually have verified solve the problem for those that don't know that means the solution is valuable it's usable it's feasible and it's viable all right. And finally delivery builds that solution that's the one most people understand but those are the full that's sort of how the four main concepts in product really relate. Okay. I referenced a couple but i've tried to you know. I've been a student actually a product strategy my whole career i admit i like discovery best because to me that's just fun literally solving our problems prototyping test that's just fun however i would say that the strategy skills are more valuable at least for me career-wise has been even more valuable because the strategy if the strategy's not good it's kind of the rest don't matter doesn't matter so even though i love discovery so much i would argue that this the investments in strategy really helped so. Anyway i've been a student in reading books forever there i found two that i think are good and useful most of them fit into that category of the paint-by-numbers thing you know do this and you'l come up with something i love the good strategy bad strategy and art of action to be honest this guy writes military history books but it turned you know the truth is military strategy is a lot of similarities with product strategy and he seemed to figure that out and he decided to write a book on that and it's a it's one of the best ones out there if you haven't heard of it he doesn't actually even reference ok ours. But he's really talking about ok ours. Yeah. I don't even know though that he knows they exist to be honest. And i checked the date it's not like it was he wrote it when ok hours were big. And i was sort of surprised about that bond length he's describing the way ok ours are supposed to be used and i literally did a got the kindle version search nothing. Okay. So there's for those that don't know the second edition of the book is a hundred percent rewrite from the first edition. So if even if you did read the first one i hope you do read the second one and if you like that topic discovery i definitely hope you read it like said i am in the middle of writing a new book which is called empowered ordinary people extraordinary products that's one point i didn't really get across. But i probably should share with you i told you the four companies that really impact you know and motivated me on this and impacted my thinking one of the things that one of the things i think most people when i the biggest argument i get against empowering teams from ceos is they think they can't hire the caliber people that google hires and i try to set them straight that google's people are much more like their people than they think and i tell them one way i know that for a fact is for the so many people that i have introduced into these companies and they tell me after six months that they have done more in those six months and they had done in their previous several years then these are the same brains same bodies same people the difference is they finally left landed in an environment that would let them do work. So i am absolutely you know convinced that what's special about the four companies i talked about is how they let their teams do their jobs not that it's some sort of dna you know filtering or something going on. All right. Okay. So do we have time for questions down we want to capture it. So it gets some the video so you have to have a mic down some questions raise your hand we have mic runners then we'l get a mic to you and just wait your turn - awesome. You mentioned the military command intent it's command intent i use that. Yeah not everybody well you don't have to repeat the question with the microphone so command intent i use the term strategic cocked context for that. And it's a really important point it's not in this particular talk. But it is a important point on the empowered team concept you know why if look imagine your eyes you know they call them squads in the military memory imagine you're a seal squad if you were if it was command and control and you are trying to do something like capture something and you literally had to follow some recipe you're dead literally the way they are true examples of empowered team they are given an objective and they're given skills and by the way these squads are by design cross-functional they have different skill sets in their medical long distance shooting demolitions all these different skills and they have to be able to make decisions themselves and figure out the best way to do it now that works if you do two things you give them a mission the objective by the way in the okay are you give them an objective and two you've got to give them the big picture they need to know how their work relates to all the other squads that are out there and what the overall objective is that's called command intent i use the term strategic context the product strategy is part of the strategic context as is the product vision as is the business objectives and also the other big one is the product principles. So. Yeah it's a really important concept that applies in our world - i considered using some of the military terminology but it's got some baggage. Yeah sure thank you so much for this presentation i had a question about her of a product team. And i think something i really struggle with us we have we own a really large product. And it's really hard to help people focus when you're getting inundated by so many questions about really large historical old products i was wondering tactics or advice you have for how do you filter out some of that noise from the team but also we have to adequately own the product i mean only today. So i don't know just ideas on how we could better manage that what you're saying though is you've got a product a big product and you're getting a lot of questions about that product and you're the product manager i'm a manager. Oh okay. So okay. Well of course everybody else in the room is probably thinking that's normal. Right they we all get tons of questions and tons of feedback we have customer service we have sales we have customers we've got questions coming from finance we've got a lot of that and of course if it's bugs and you know your start to the point where you the team's are telling you that just the cost - it's often referred to as keep the lights on is over is basically consuming their team's you might be saying that definitely happens in companies and they're like we can't make any forward progress we are just treading water barely. And it's not very motivating if that's what's going on then you know the company has so you're in a serious and it may even be tech debt on to even be causing that or a big part of that so this is not something that's easy to change but the company is gonna have to make some hard choices i would argue the focus probably hasn't been happening. And now it's non-negotiable it has to happen and boy it's high stakes to do that. So i don't want to be - you know there's a lot of potential things that could be causing these symptoms so it's without sort of going into a whole back-and-forth of how many engineers do you have and how many designers and where are all the inputs coming from and stuff like that. But as a principle though i don't to say with just one other thing which is you do want the product managers that work for you to be getting the feedback directly we do not like filters so one reaction to that would might be shut things down you know so that they don't have so much noise coming in. But it's really essential that the product manager here all feedback. Yeah sure victor can you talk about the breath strategy for at least hd is like if you must three people what he wanted the first time vp and how do you see strategy there when the sources are law and you still try to get the first version. Okay. Well the first thing i would say is that strategy is not like a luxury for when you have big organizations strategy is about making much better use of the limited resources you have most startups you know there is this i don't know it's truth is i meet a lot of startups some of them. It's like how did they get any funding they don't like i don't know so i don't want to say so some startups third grade and some of them are not you know that. But but i would argue a strategy is all about smart use of resources in fact we can take this back to that pandora example. I mean i already said i think it was insane for them to try to go public in that space with only 40 engineers. And i would have if i was on the board i would have raised hell about that's just crazy. And i think they ultimately paid the price of that for sure. But if there was just 40 engineers then they literally had the worst possible process because you could argue that with only 40 if you don't have a super smart strategy and you don't pick really. Well you're toast. So strategy is a weight it's a force. Multiplier right it's not a luxury so suggest i can pull off you mean strategy as a process not as it oughta outcome butter humans are something documented which you really present your name. Oh maybe we should talk privately. Yeah. Because i there's a lot there we need to unpack. Yeah. But it's strategy is not a process to be clear it's not a process it's insights that turn into action and you can document it if you want who cares but what really matters is you've got to make sure your team understands it but let me just say if in the scenario you described start up working early stages trying to get to product market fit you better be good at the stuff we're talking about. Yeah. Hi. So how do you keep everyone happy and still be focused and the same time. No i love that question how do you keep everybody happy. Well that's the super easy to answer you don't know. I don't think it's possible i mean you can keep them happy at least until you know the stock drops through the floor. But. No. Yeah. This is not i think this idea of keeping everyone happy is fundamental look that's why the ceo doesn't want to focus. And you know it's not just like they're trying to please people it's fear of missing out they're like. Oh all these things could be important so let's we let's do them all i mean it sounds safer. But no it's really not. And it's. Yeah we product people have to make these trade-offs every single day is really important now i do believe in not being a jerk about it because some product people are they're like because i said so you know it's that kind of thing. No i believe in full transparency being very open with the stakeholders really showing them the strategy showing them the insights showing them the reasoning in fact i'm a huge fan of the written narrative to really spelt like for stakeholders to see why you decided to do something is like all out here take a look you know the ceos read it make sure you understand i'm not trying to be arbitrary here to preach this is. So but the goal of keeping everybody happy is not i think a realistic goal how about keeping everybody employed so there was yeah go ahead what would you recommend somebody buy shoes what do you think i should be mindful of can you say i just there was just a some say that middle part again i'm sorry. I'l say that i'm considering making it all from sales to product management. Ok. So what do you recommend somebody like me these shoes considering that both and what should i be oh right moving from sales to product i definitely know some people that have moved from sales to product cuz you know in sales you've got that frontline experience with customers the truth is every single person that moves from product to product has some gaps and some strengths there's a tool that i published as part of this coaching series and i would strongly encourage you to self assess just self assess. I mean i with your background there's some things i'm pretty sure you're gonna do pretty well in. But there's gonna be a lot of areas that the at least from just your sales experience you haven't said anything about education or other jobs you would not have been exposed to so you will probably have a pretty substantial set of things to develop and you can get to work on those things in my experience most people they really want to get the product can but they have to do the work there's a and there can be a lot of work it is definitely not an easy job unless you go to a feature team. And it's pretty easy. Hey buddy i'm a product manager at springboard. And i think we're in the middle of this transition from being a feature team to hopefully ana's power project team but building on the question of how do you keepsake holders happy how do you say no to them when they come to you and when they've been trained to come to you with feature requests every quarter for planning and especially when you're asked to defend and compare and contrast their requests against like everything you have planned i understand. All too well i mean you're describing feature teams exactly just to be clear so you're not alone for sure but the question you're really asking is how do you transform your organization to a modern tech powered product organization and that is not a three-minute question that is a major topic. But i guess i could say i'm writing a book about it fear of people telling up you know this is wrong or this can be proved and fear of the people off to make me to change things. Yeah. Well i mean this is you're not just talking about like the like you said different swing feature teams and empower teams you're talking about a cultural change in a company i mean the kind of company you're describing you know. It's not the kind of place most people want to work the fear is not a good thing you know that. Yeah. And i will say there's a great the people have heard me talk before now i'm just a huge fan of bill campbell coach bill campbell he died a couple years ago. But he's considered the best coach ever he actually was ceo here at m to it for a few years i just remembered that but just an awesome guy. And anyway he's i have all these great quotes from him and one of my favorites was there is nothing more powerful than an empowered engineer. And i really believe that's true because if you i do get to work with a lot of cool product teams and inevitably the real innovations come from the engineers and i always encourage good engineers to work at a place that can use their skills so i mean if you hopefully you can convince your management that they should use your skills but if not you should definitely there are lots of companies in this valley that love to use engineers and let them do like steve jobs used to say we don't hire all these people to tell them what to do we hire them to show us what's possible. So. Yeah sorry. And then you know the company level or the level you have increase revenue i think that is well first of all good part of what you said is their goals right you didn't sort of rattle off a bunch of features on a road map you talked about goals that's good you talked about some high level company goals you talked about some team specific goals the only part that was missing was product strategy and so i would argue your good example now there might be one. But you don't didn't share that in there because that's the missing part that was the underpants. No mew. No you have the big goals you have the profit at the end. But it's that middle part so that's what i would encourage you to work on is that clear articulation of a strategy which will then of course cause you to revise your team goals and again they don't all have to be the single it's normal in a larger organization to be pursuing each team pursuing different problems sometimes the same problems but lots ly different problems. But they all need to be aligned one of the virtues of okay ours is it's a lot easier to align our organization make sure we're going in the same direction but that doesn't mean like we're only working on what's one you said onboarding were you know check out well that's kind of the presentation i am. But i understand where you're coming from in fact one of the parts of the book i'm writing on right now is a very detailed case study because i want people to not just think it's theory but also see how it all plays out so it's got the actual team topology. It's got their actual strategy their actual objectives and so hopefully to be able to answer that question. But i'm also writing a bunch of articles about to publish more that i think will give you more to work with but it's a big topic there was yes over here. Hi. And so that thank you so much for good. So what about somebody here you so partly it's a similar answer to the person who's coming from sales obviously finance and sales are not the same but you will have very different you know you'l have similar a profile of things that you need to work on there is one other thing that i'd like to mention that applies to the salesperson as well don't worry so much about what company you go work for because even if you go to amazon which is i mean they are really good at what we're talking about they also have a demanding culture which isn't for everybody so you kind of have to know that. But they're really good about while we're talking about that said i know teams there that are featured teams so even in great companies some teams are you know usually because they haven't earned the trust yet of the leaders but the point is what matters more than the company you go work for is the person you're gonna work for literally the person especially if it's your first job in product you want to find somebody there's really two things i tell people to look for look at their look on linkedin see where they've worked before if they've worked at a good product company that where they know how to do this. Well that's number one number two during the interview you want to say look i'm coming here to learn from you and i am willing to work very hard i want to know if you're willing to coach me to become great some people. Well most people will be flattered they'l love to hear that some people will say i have no time i need people ready to hit the ground running but what really matters this for you to find someone who's willing to invest in you and it's to be honest it's usually a year to of work of developing in this situation if you're brand new to product before you really at that level you really want to be and can go on so it much more important and the company is the manager you've probably all heard that line too it's so true but people join a company but they leave their manager that's really true so don't get me wrong if you go work for netflix awesome. But if you can't getting somebody who used to work at netflix like a product director and netflix and now is willing to they're at another company a smaller start-up and they're looking for somebody like you that's great. Yeah. Always and always like is it okay to like. No there's probably the little story behind your question there too. I'm thinking but to be clear you know we all know those product manager types that feel like they just have to know everything or they have to sort of appear like they know everything i've never seen this work i think it backfires so you know making decisions is one of the most important thing we do however they should you know if the decision has to be proportional to the consequence there's a lot of minor things which frankly don't even need to be decisions you probably could defer to your designer defer to your engineer. It's just like fine on the big things if you try to make like a right away to sit you're doing a disservice to everybody starting with you. So i did write about how a big topic of coaching for me with coaching product people is coaching them on how to make good decisions i already shared some parts about like being transparent. But you know you also have to bring along the rest of the company you have to bring along your stay calder's your teammates. So there's a it is not a minor topic the most important thing though is my boss marc andreessen used to drill this in know what you can't know admit what you don't know just really important don't pretend and people i think respect that now of course if i don't know something i see it. But i make a point to go find it out you know. So i'l go back and say okay i looked into that or we ran a test or whatever we did but here because the they deserve an answer but they won't you know they deserve a good answer it should take time and all the only other thing i'd say is don't make a decision if you don't need to if you can just defer to your colleagues that are the experts in it that is much better we hate those product managers that are always trying to play you know boss. They're not really the boss of anybody right the product manager was there a quest. Yeah. So i'm actually a designer and now it's a super good question by the way everybody heard it. But it's also really common a lot of times product managers will ask me that question about how can they get their engineers to really respond you know understand the pain our users are really in. And i actually big fan. I think it's the same answer for both you need to bring them out to users and customers face to face no messing around with intermediaries face to face. And it is i think it's magical actually it is very motivating especially for the engineers and that you know it's hard not to be empathetic when you really know someone it's really easy unfortunately especially for consumer products this is a bigger problem in the consumer space than the b2b interestingly in consumer you know any of millions of users like the millions of users it's abstract it's like whatever i'm never gonna make them all happy. So. But you know you really have to get that once you've got names and faces and you really know them. But it also makes it makes all of product more satisfying more meaningful one of the you didn't ask this variant of the question but one of the challenges is you know we're not all working on something like google maps which is like everybody is like i can relate to google maps it's awesome or google photos something like we're not all working on a lot of this stuff is like i'm doing payroll. Hey i picked that on purpose come on i know where i am but we're doing payroll it's like it's not like twitter. Right it's not like i'm telling grandma about it that way. So. But i have found that when you take your product manager when you take your engineers to the payroll departments of these customers and literally sit down with them or even better like we invite them to dinner with you that night when you visit that it's a whole different thing i mean honestly i have seen this so many times it's happened to me so many times they actually tell you for example what happens under stress on payroll runs and what happens when there's a problem or what happens when you know you've got somebody yelling at you for getting this done by a certain time or there aren't funds in the bank to cover this and you've got to now talk to finance and it's just it's they realize that. Oh my gosh these people have super hard jobs. And you know what i think we could make it better for them so i found that works and i want to go further especially with developers are i mean obviously i'm biased on this. But i they really want to help people they really do. And i think that one of the biggest crimes in our industry is when we shelter developers a lot of developers the only way they feel like they can help people is by helping their colleagues by writing their tools so they love doing tools and some people think that's all the developers want to do is innovate by doing tools. No it's just that they know their developers that they work with if you introduce them to these payroll clerks and managers they are gonna care about them too. I mean i guarantee it. Yeah. I even sit and thank you again because i started my part of my entire thanks to your book as well but then a wise but i did start with that as a question about focus there's flipside to focus right because focus also means that you're putting your eggs in one basket well or a small number. Yes one of them. No that's okay for google right because they have a lot of engineers they can do a lot of things but for a smaller company you know hundreds of other people maybe five others people you can put you can have maybe two three packs that's all clear you're making my argument you are google it doesn't matter they have more money than god from adwords they do so they can and they do spend it you know they nobody could even count how many things they're working on but if it's they do most of them they do. And that's fine because they have adwords i'd add some. But you're making i'm just trying to point out you're making my point in a smaller company you can't mess around like that in a smaller company you have not nearly you don't have a thousandth of the resources they do. So you know what you better make good use of the people you have that's the point of strategy is you have to make sure you are doing good use and what i was trying to say is if you just say well we're not sure we're gonna make 20 bets and we have 30 engineers so we'l just do a little this is the fear of missing out you know we're just gonna all i'm saying is that's a guaranteed you're gonna fail you argue that maybe pandora made like one bit and that bet was the music zero right that was dead and they said this is what we're going for we have 40 engineers who cares i have like people working on this music thing and that's my partner i'm gonna go off with this right that could be an argument i would argue they didn't i mean they really didn't make any conscious bets right they abdicated that responsibility by just giving it to the stakeholders that's what i meant by absence of product i would have argued you know. And i was all i wasn't there. But. Yeah. And it's all hindsight. But i would have argued to them i hope i would have known to say this that they are a tech powered music company you know at the time it was all about their deals with the studios and there were dominated by expensive costs that's why they said they couldn't have more than 40 developers because all their money went to pay for rights and i would have argued look you are in a tech powered business you have to have a machine for continuous innovation and if you don't it's only a matter of time they did have a head start and they lost it. Yeah. But i would argue that even no guarantee with only 40 engineers even with the best strategy in the world that's not clear but my it would have been a much better shot than just random let's see what everybody a little bit for everybody mariana actually i'm a product manager on google maps. Oh we actually do so many users as frequently as possible because it's just so enlightening but my question is more about i love your framework and the point in that framework that are most interested in unpacking is the management part and you know the tuning for certain leaders have been better management not less meaning that. But i love to hear to mystify what management means and what does product management people management really if you have like a framework for what good management is i know there's trillion-dollar coach that i love to hear marty's. Oh i would like to think that anything i say is consistent with trillion-dollar coach. But this is more yeah. And i wouldn't frame what i have you know what i argue is a framework cuz i don't know if it deserves that level it's more there are responsibilities of managers that are absolutely critical i think because we are now talking about just to be clear first level managers of product managers ok good this is what i consider the most important role for really making all this stuff happen so this is the one i like to talk about so number one is staffing. And you know all of these things are on our talk in their own right. So i don't want to do too much of a disservice but staffing is huge the main thing i'd say is good managers of product managers do not depend on hr is a sourcing model but good managers are using the recruiting model what that means is you are going to events like this and you are getting to know people and you are building a network of a pipeline of people that you think are right for your team that's really important and then man i've worked for years to get the right people you know where you build trust and you build and you know waiting for the right point in their career. And but the point is you go recruit them you do not just look at resumes that are coming through hr second is coaching the biggest responsibility i would argue you have as a manager of product managers is to coach and develop your product managers and of course actually google has a good history with that. And i hope and many of the people i have sent over there have told me how it's real it's like they benefited but active coaching helping people reach their potential. And then the third is this point with the team objectives to really cuz you as that first level manager you're really the one can hurting the strategy into objectives so you're in the best position to see what each team should really is best position to do. And you know you're right in the middle of that negotiation between what you need them to do what they think they could do what is necessary to be done so we're looking at that's those are the three fundamental responsibilities of managers it's also true that some managers are leaders of the organization and those people have even more responsibilities now we're talking product vision we're actually talking this product strategy we're talking product principles and a big evangelism responsibility which is really back to tom was asking about with the strategic and context. Yes and if you're interested i did write an article called empowered product teams that talks about the responsibilities of managers and that's really been a big focus of mine i want us.

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