Product Management and Product Ownership are incredibly difficult roles. The easy part is handling the jargon and strange terms that Product Managers and Product Owners face. The hard part is helping the team navigate an ocean of options, in a fast-changing complex environment.[
Rather than trying to control the waves, our training is designed to give Product Managers and Product Owners the understanding and skills you need to learn how to surf. We’ve done this in lots of different organisations from Fortune 500 companies and public sector organisations to early stage startups. We don’t just talk about this stuff, we do it for real and we are always learning better ways of doing it as we go. We want to help others do it too – to ride the waves of change.
Four Key Things Product Managers Need to Nail:
1. Managing Demand
To succeed as a Product Manager you have to help the team focus. In an ocean seemingly full of urgent and important options, there will be some very high Cost of Delay opportunities. It’s all too easy to get distracted and confused – and miss the opportunity.
You’ll have to handle demanding customers, under-pressure senior executives, impatient sales & marketing people, nervous investors and many others who want it all – and yesterday, thanks!
What should we work on that will give the best return for the scarce capacity we have?
This is all about supply and demand. Given the scarcity, there’s some difficult decisions to make.
How can you get the most value from some of the most scarce capacity in organisations today.
- The basics of supply and demand.
- Visualising demand upstream of development
- Triaging incoming demand
- Creating a safe waiting place for new demand (Dynamic Priority List)
- Limit refine in progress
- Create a Pull system to manage flow downstream.
- Prioritisation for Pros— (Triaging incoming demand)
- Qualitative Cost of Delay (Can we agree about priority based on a qualitative assessment of value and urgency?)
- Quantitative Cost of Delay (If have other trade-off decisions to make, can we estimate the Cost of Delay in $/week?)
- Communicating the vision
- Creating alignment and buy in.
- How do we best engage stakeholders, users and customers?
2. Breaking Work Down
Even when we know which outcomes we’re shooting for, there are hundreds of different paths we could take. And all of those potential journeys start with a first step. Even if you could, it would be foolish to do it in one giant leap. That way lies wasted time, money and talent.
You don’t just want to choose any path, or any first step, you want to get to market quickly and maximise the amount of learning along the way. Breaking down work to small enough pieces to improve flow and visibility is one of the key ways we can tilt the playing field. For this, you’re gonna need some sharp tools for slicing problems and solutions.
Which path should we take and where should we start??
This module breaks down into three key areas:
- Understanding the problem and the customer.
- The Job to be Done
- Lean Canvas
- Empathy Maps
- Deciding what to build and where to start (slicing the elephant).
- Assumptions Mapping
- Designing Effective Experiments
- Rule of Three – 3+ divergent options for how to solve (and 3+ options for how it can go wrong)
- MVP Minimum Viable Product
- Refining ideas of what to build
- Epics and User Stories
- Writing Acceptance Criteria
- Given, When, Then
- Specification by Example
3. Forecasting & Roadmaps
Often, before the starting gun has even fired there are a bunch of people asking: “So, how much do you think this is going to cost? And, when do you think it will be done?”
Some will say this is unknowable; that any response is a guess at best, and a lie at worst. But when you’re trying to make investment decisions, or if you have other dependencies to plan for, these are perfectly reasonable questions that a good Product Manager will be able to handle. But unless your teams have a crystal ball, they’re poorly equipped to answer this question, (no matter how much you whip them).
How do we answer these questions and not make promises we can’t keep?
- Understanding uncertainty & complexity
- Actionable delivery metrics that matter
- Tracking Throughput and Cycletime/Time in process
- Rough forecasting (without bothering the team with estimates)
- Monte Carlo forecasting
- Hypothesis driven product roadmaps without dates or features
4. Building Quality Products
Product Management today is less about planning and execution, it is much more about how quickly you can learn what works and what doesn’t. Ignore this at your peril. Product Managers and Product Owners in particular need to understand that quality is primarily a function of how fast your feedback loops are. The most important of these is fast and clear feedback from the market. But it goes much deeper too.
This isn’t a nice to have, it’s crucial to building products that people love with teams that love building it.
How quickly are you learning??
Don’t fall into the trap of cutting corners where it really matters. In product development you have to learn quickly to survive.
This module looks at speed of learning from three different angles: what you build, how you build and who builds it.
Key Learning Outcomes:
- Why fast feedback is so crucial
- Building the right thing
- How will you know whether you’re building the right things?
- Customer insights – How to cheaply test with customers?
- A/B testing alternatives
- Building it right
- How will you know if you’re building it right under the covers?
- Testing Pyramid and Signal to Noise Ratio
- Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery
- Managing Technical Debt
- Building the team
- Stable teams that learn and grow together
- Retrospectives – taking the time to improve how you work.
(We’re currently super busy, but if you send us a message here we’ll ping you when we run the next course…)