Category Archives: PM

Thinking more about the PM and self-managed teams

I know I need to follow up on this :: http://www.nokpis.com/2014/08/20/how-i-try-to-product-manage-part-1/

BTW – still loving Desk…

There are so many discussions to have about how to PM – this was a good spot on it as well :: http://www.nokpis.com/2014/11/10/evolution-of-the-product-manager/

I try to encapsulate more about how I do things at Spuul and then I read this article today :: http://www.inc.com/chuck-blakeman/why-self-managed-teams-are-the-future-of-business.html

There is some good stuff in there and it slightly hints at how I try to do things at Spuul but we do try to task manage things some but many times we just have large goals, people to organize around them and dates to try and make. Roll all of them together and it feels like a hybrid of product management with self management. I can see from reading this article it could go a lot further but sometimes the startup mode makes it difficult.

This list is good and I want to try to dig into it more and see how I might put it into play:

1) Form a team around an objective (i.e. 4-12 people)

2) have them FIRST clearly define the desired result,

3) then the process(es) needed to get that result.

4) Then THEY set metrics for steps in the process and

5) for pay based on the result desired (quality, quantity, speed, etc.,)

6) finally THEY decide what happens if the metrics aren’t met and how to move team members along if they are not contributing appropriately.

7) Leadership approves.

8) Run it.

I love the small team thing, the result driven approach and the metrics – something to aspire to. Seems one could apply this to running the entire product team and then see how one could push it across the company.

 

Gotta crunch on this some more…

 

Evolution of the Product Manager

I am late to posting this but the article about the full stack developer got me thinking about the subject again.

From time to time I get questions and even have coffee with folks wanting to be a PM and asking how.

This article has some good info about the thesis behind it, the education some folks acquire and the experience that helps in becoming a PM :: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=2683579 .

There are so many angles to the role of the PM and of course the startup PM differs highly from the established company PM. Take Spuul for example – we don’t have an eng manager nor do we have a proper PM. We are just too small for this kind of headcount. Other places will have a head of PM to manage other mini PM’s – given this the definition of the PM is quite fluid in my opinion.

That being said, picture in your mind – the PM role in startup land to be a simple Venn diagram – the startup PM is that small spot in the intersection of customers, management and engineers. That is usually where I find myself on most days given the day to day duties I normally encounter.

I am sure there are many other ways to portray this but this is the one that keeps me focused on delighting users, trying to make money and keep a team of product people moving forward.

It’s a delicate but useful dance.

More on the full stack conversations later.

How I try to Product Manage… (part 1)

I am usually brutally honest. I am the first to answer I don’t know when I don’t and when I think I know I tell it like I see it. I probably need to take my own advice here more often and getter better at the soft middle of knowing and not knowing. Hell – we all can get better at what we do right?

That being said the role of product management is like a craft one hones over time. I don’t think it is easily taught and I don’t think it is easily learned. It comes with time, experience and lots of mistakes. I excel in the lots of mistakes category so I guess in some sense I am still learning and trying to improve.

I try to listen to lots of podcasts, still haven’t found a good PM podcast, and I read a lot. Plus – I try lots of products. I use my own as well. Personally I am always baffled when you hear people give product advice and you find out they don’t use a lot of products apart from the main ones everyone uses. There is no right or wrong when it comes to product taste since it is a taste and I think taste improves with experience. So I like the school of hard knocks when it comes to acquiring taste – you have to have built some things and you have to have used a lot of things. Of course this is not relevant to the folks who have an idea and build their own stuff – I think that is a different form of PM. I wish I was talented enough to have the coding skills to build my own stuff but alas I don’t. Probably never will.

All that being said I am always looking for tools and techniques to get better at what I do.

Over time I keep settling on the same stuff:

– email
– dispatch
– evernote
– asana
– slack
– spreadsheets
– keynote

I use lots of little things for idea tracking or idea generation or I guess note taking, but still don’t have something I love:

– paper with the paper stylus
– vesper
– IA writer
– probably other things I can’t remember and also just a normal notebook

So I use the tools to manage the team and other tools to convey ideas to the people in the company. I guess then the rest of it is the things I use to manage myself, my ideas and my communication. Communication is so huge and this is why slack is just taking off like a rocketship. Communication is key. Really interested to see how slack will tackle email. Asana is partially tackling email but I will admit that a lot of my interaction with Asana is actually via normal email.

Looking for any comments or ideas on this stack of ideas or products.

I will follow this up with a post for how I manage the team so to speak. Or shall I say unmanage them…