Quick Hits on Product
Everything with your teams starts with competence & warmth. It critically matters if the people you work with don’t find you competent or don’t feel the warmth/safety to assume positive intent and/or have honest discussions.
“Bring the donuts” is great advice to any PM, but also to any leader. You can lead without forgetting that your responsibility is to serve them.
Product can be a catalyst. A good PM can make all of her engineers 10x better because she can steer them toward good solutions. This also goes the other way. Great power, great responsbility.
Product isn’t essential until it is - you can avoid it for years, but eventually, especially VC-backed companies, will regret quarters of their “most precious resource” (engineering) wasting time building the wrong thing.
Asking the dumb questions sometimes works. (Don’t actually ask this) Still, asking dumb questions like “Could we just not do this?” has cut many cumulative weeks off of projects.
Good PMs “own outcomes” vs. “shipping projects”. The best PMs get their teams to feel agency to “own outcomes” and them just nudge the rocketship along the way.
Too many PMs get caught up in Project Management instead of Product Management. This actually goes for all reports, but it is insidious given how vague Product can be. “In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner."
Project Managing is still a Hard skill worth respecting - the best talent, the best teams can all be devastated from losing management trust - and management trust relies on quality project management.
Portfolio approaches are hard but worth it. It is tempting to only focus on the “big things”. But only doing this, means plenty of low-cost, high benefit items never get shipped.
Narratives matter. Sometimes you don’t ship anything in a given week or even month. Did you waste that time or was it invested in learning?
Narratives matter. Near limitless counterfactuals exist in Product work. Over time, your decisions cascade and even positive outcomes (you increased revenue by 80%) can be replayed as (you missed a chance to increase revenue by 200%).
Narratives matter. Weekly updates and monthly/quarterly updates can be fundamentally different stories.
Motivated teams run circles around well-structured but unmotivated teams