Thinking Without a Box

On the topic of problem solving, “My own thinking on this subject has been deeply influenced by Lin Wells, who teaches strategy at the National Defense University. According to Wells, it is fanciful to suppose that you can opine about or explain this world by clinging to the inside or outside of any one rigid explanatory box or any single disciplinary silo. Wells describes three ways of thinking about a problem: “inside the box,” “outside the box,” and “where there is no box.” The only sustainable approach to thinking today about problems, he argues, “is thinking without a box.” From … Continue reading Thinking Without a Box

Ensure the Business Outcome

Wonderful article from Marty Cagan illustrating how good product teams and cultures deliver great products. One of my favorite quotes from the article: The Product Manager needs to ensure a business outcome, not just ensure a product gets defined. This requires a good understanding of the many inter-related parts and constraints of the business – financial, marketing, sales, legal, partnership, service, the customer environment, the technical capabilities, the user’s experience, and figure out a solution that works for the customers as well as the business. Also great to get hear the back story of some great products like Word, Netflix, and iTunes. … Continue reading Ensure the Business Outcome

Read This –> Shoe Dog

You should read this book. Phil Knight’s memoir will not disappoint. The book was engaging, full of suspense, and very inspiring. And all based on his life creating the company Nike. It is part business book, part adventure tale, and full of entrepreneurial spirit. You should read this book. Here are a few quotes worth sharing from the book that will hopefully peak your interest: I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, and I’d despised it to boot. I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling. … Continue reading Read This –> Shoe Dog

Recommended Reading – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

A quick note on book recommendations: I’ve been working on reading a book a week this year (see more here) and thinking how best to share the really good ones. Usually by the time I find the book, there are plenty of reviews out there so I don’t think that another one offers much value. That being said, I think a short recommendation could be useful and serve as a good reminder to myself of some the ideas captured in the book. My plan is to focus on a few concepts/quotes that I found inspirational and that would hopefully serve as a proxy of … Continue reading Recommended Reading – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

Product Management Resources Worth Paying For

The start of the new year is a great time to reassess what’s working and what’s not. I’m reviewing all my monthly subscriptions that I pay for, for the purpose of helping to improve my business and product skill set. I’m cutting the ones that are not consistently delivering value and am looking for new ones to add. Here’s what I have on my keep list. Have something else to add that’s worth paying for? Let me know! Harvard Business Review – this is the last physical magazine that I subscribe to. I have been a subscriber off and on for … Continue reading Product Management Resources Worth Paying For

Why Product Austin

If you are in a marketing, product, or tech position, there is a meetup just about every night in Austin. There are so many great (and usually free) talks that it can be hard to keep up with them all. The key ingredient you are looking for is a high quality to noise ratio. I am biased as one of the co-organizers of the group, but I think in its first year, Product Austin is off to an amazing start. From Jared Spool, to Nir Eyal, to Andrew Allison, Product Austin has been able to bring some very knowledgable speakers to share their wisdom and best practices. The topics … Continue reading Why Product Austin

The Curious Leader

Continuing on the topic of curiosity, HBR has a recent post worth sharing, “Why Curious People Are Destined for the C-Suite”. The article brings up a great point about the challenge of being a leader and remaining curious. When you are in a leadership position, it can become dangerous if you believe you are suppose to have all the answers. It can lead you to make false assumptions and avoid exploring potential issues. From the HBR article, In many cases, managers and top executives have risen through the ranks by providing fixes and solutions, not by asking questions. And once they’ve attained a position … Continue reading The Curious Leader

Curiosity and Product

Last week, I attended a conference hoping to connect with as many business managers as possible to discuss a new product. One of the gentlemen I spoke with was just a few years out of college and was more of project implementer than a project executive. I politely asked him a couple of questions about his job as I scouted for someone else to speak with. What happened next completely surprised me. He had a fresh set of eyes on some of the challenges in our market and his perspective  unique compared to the feedback we usually hear. He provided a context … Continue reading Curiosity and Product

Don’t Worry About Failing Fast, Worry About Learning Fast

Failing fast really isn’t useful unless you have way to internalize the failure and determine what to do next to improve. In his book, Smartcuts, Shane Snow, writes on the topic and uses the example of the famous Second City improvisation club to help illustrate. Shane writes: When releasing a new product, a company will spend months, sometimes years, fine-tuning, building up to one critical moment: the launch. Then on launch day the product either is a success or a failure. People buy it and the company makes a profit, or they don’t and the product fails. The Second City, on the other hand, puts … Continue reading Don’t Worry About Failing Fast, Worry About Learning Fast

You are Blind to Change

In his book, Only the Paranoid Survive, Andrew Grove writes, “The lesson is, we all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change”. What he was referring to how easy it is to get comfortable. How easy it is to get complacent. How easy it is to miss that someone is eating your lunch. Max Bazerman researched this topic in his the book, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See. Max explains, Research on change blindness documents the striking degree to which we fail to notice information in our environment. Unfortunately some of the information we miss is important, even … Continue reading You are Blind to Change