One of the ongoing challenges that we face as Product Managers is that we’re primarily charged with predicting customer and user behavior. We’re constantly asked to come up with new ideas, new features, and new designs that we “know” will delight our users, or at the very least satisfy them. But the fact is, predicting human behavior is incredibly difficult — there are many thousands of people who have spent hundreds of years trying to figure out why people do what they do (they’re called psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists), and we’re still making educated guesses at best. So, what are some of the challenges that we face?
A couple years ago, shortly after I launched the blog, I posted my first New Year’s Resolutions for Product Managers, which was a big hit. Somehow it slipped my mind to update it for 2016, but here I am with an update as we roll into the new year…one as full of uncertainties as it is full of opportunities! Without further ado, here are five new resolutions for Product Managers moving into 2017…
Here we are at the end of another year — I honestly can’t believe that 2017 is just around the corner!! Over the past year I’ve had the pleasure of engaging with all sorts of new folks, provided some mentoring to new and experienced Product Managers, taught a couple classes at General Assembly, and even started work on a book I hope to launch next year! I hope the past year’s been just as varied and interesting for all of you regular readers out there, and to close out 2016, I’ve put together the following list of the “Best of” for the past year. So, without further ado, here’s the top 10 Clever PM posts for the year!!
I’ve touched on User Stories on several occasions, my favorite being Why Your User Stories Suck! Today I’m here to share with you a very common, yet very commonly overlooked, way to check each and every User Story on your backlog to see whether or not it’s really “ready” for your Dev teams. One of the most frequent causes of delays and slowdowns in most Agile implementations that I’ve seen comes from a lack of balance in the User Stories that the team is being given to deliver — stories that are too big, or which are dictates, or which just exist on the backlog because “someone asked for it”. What we need to do as Product Managers is to occasionally take a close look at each of our backlog items and make sure that they meet the INVEST criteria — Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small, and Testable. If we do this simple gut-check on a regular basis, we’re far more likely to see our teams succeed and to reduce the amount of time wasted in long, drawn-out planning sessions.
While Product Management might be my career of choice, my primary hobby of choice has to be gaming. I’ve been playing games in one form or another for as long as I can remember — tabletop games, video games, role-playing games…you name it, I’ve played some permutation of it in my life. As I’ve grown older and more experienced, though, I’ve begun to see the benefits that come to people who play such games on a regular basis. The best games, after all, are based in some fundamental way on reality — and the lessons that we learn from gaming can easily translate into skills, knowledge, and talents that you can use in your everyday life as a Product Manager…
Note: The links below go to Steam where the game is available online or Amazon for the board games mentioned; The Clever PM makes no commission on any purchases through these links.
At some point in every interview that you have, the people on the other side of the table will inevitably pose the ultimate question to you: “So, do you have any questions for us?” There are hundreds of guides out there that list out the kinds of questions that you should ask in general, but due to the nature and uncertainty that comes with Product Management positions, I think there are several very specific questions that a savvy candidate should pose to their potential employer. Far too often, we fail to take full advantage of this opportunity, and though it’s certain that there will be some amount of spin put into the answers that you receive, no Product Manager should leave an interview without asking these five questions:
I was working with a future mentee last week and we noticed a recurring theme to some of our discussions — that a large part of good Product Management results from limiting the number of choices that our teams and our executives have to choose from, so that they make decisions that reflect the actual priorities that should be driving our next moves. In most organizations, there is an almost unlimited number of ideas, concepts, directions, and motivations from which to choose — and trying to manage all of them at once is certain to drive any Product Manager insane in very short order. Rather, in order to ensure that we’re doing the right things at the right times, we need to be constantly limiting the possible permutations upon which we drive decisions so that we can be sure that we’re moving in the right direction while being open to new ideas and concepts!