What risk?

As I was walking down a trail outside of Vancouver, I encountered this warning sign. It was one of several signs highlighting the risks some cliffs ahead posed to life and limb. Clearly, those who came before us failed to consider the risks, and they installed both a fence and numerous signs in the mild […]


Product teams launch mediocre products when we fail to learn as we build. We build for months, even years, never truly learning if we are building the right thing. “What differentiates the success stories from the failures is that the successful entrepreneurs had the foresight, the ability, and the tools to discover which parts of […]

Business and Technology

Was the iPod a successful product because it was the best MP3 player on the market in terms of specs and features? No, the iPod succeeded because it combined a great technology (iPod) with a great business model (iTunes). Being a great digital companies today means no longer treating software development as separate from the […]

Defining your MVP

What exactly is an MVP for your product? Some see it as a way to avoid feature creep. Others as a way to phase out development. Still others will argue it’s a prototype or a mini finished product. I’ll leave the definitive answer to someone else, but one thing must be true. You need to […]

Rework is Agile

Rework or change requests are the enemy to a project manager. But to the Agile Product Manager, they’re the result of learning. I don’t believe we are truly Agile if we only plan to build and release each feature once. To me that’s gambling. To be Agile, we must admit that we need to learn […]

Our Product Is Not For You!

I attended a talk several years ago by the CEO of a very successful software company, and afterward a current customer asked about a product enhancement. Most CEO’s would respond with something like, “It’s on our roadmap” or “That’s good feedback, we’ll take it under consideration.” Not this CEO! His response, “Our product is not […]

Ignore your customers?

Shouldn’t we always listen to our customers if we want to create great products? Yes and no. Blindly following the maxim that good managers should keep close to their customers can sometimes be a fatal mistake. Clayton Christensen – The Innovator’s Dilemma Clayton Christensen goes on to outline the dilemma we face as product managers. […]

Table stakes in product management?

I sometimes hear the phrase “table stakes” used to describe a feature. Basically a shorthand for a feature we can’t possibly leave out because the competitors have it, and the customer expects it. As a product manager, this assumption of “table stakes” is dangerous because it assumes knowledge of our customer’s needs and leads to […]


As we transition from a Waterfall to an Agile approach to planning and product management, there is fear that there will be no plan, no organization, and long term vision. In the book, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander captures well though how we can use patterns, starting small and growing bigger to create a town […]

Cannibalizing Your Product

What would it look like to cannibalize your own business, your own product? Clayton Christensen said it well when he wrote – “The fear of cannibalizing sales of existing products is often cited as a reason why established firms delay the introduction of new technologies.” If we fail to disrupt ourselves, then we will allow […]