Control Your Narrative

Giff Constable leadership, management

A former colleague of mine, Anil Podduturi, used to exhort everyone that worked for him to “control your narrative.” My interpretation of his saying is that we all need to get pro-active about how we are perceived. The hard truth is that people make judgements. They will make judgements about you as an individual or an entire group you lead. …

Getting Tactical: Iteration Planning Meetings

Giff Constable product management

There are many good ways to run an agile process, but an astounding number of teams do it badly. In particular, they do meetings badly. There are really only three reasons to have a group meeting: you want to collect inputs from a group of people in a collaborative way you want to create shared understanding you want to celebrate …

10 Rules for Startup Leaders

Giff Constable leadership, management

I’ve got a new group of managers reporting to me today, and it made me think explicitly through what I value and expect: lead by example push decisions down whenever possible be inside the team circle, not outside of it face the hard decisions, and don’t dither doing so lift the team with positive energy, but keep it real be …

Waiting for Perfection

Giff Constable product management, startups

When you spend enough time in pre-product-market-fit startups, you pick up certain rules. Some don’t stand up to new context or wisdom, but here are two related rules that have survived intact for me: 90% right is good enough Solve the problems coming up, but not the problems down the road You can usually get to 80–90% confidence (or 80–90% …

Product Designers, Focus on Copy Early

Giff Constable Uncategorized

Words are an essential part of software product design. They are a key ingredient for both usability and customer success. Yet, from what I have seen, far too many designers delay working on copy until late in the process. I’m all for sketching (rough draft culture!), but even a sketch should have thought and purpose. Don’t just think about the …

The difference between design and product management

Giff Constable design, product management

Yesterday I was asked how a designer differs from a product manager. I found the answer surprisingly hard to give. Everyone designs, but not everyone is a “designer,” which encompasses both a skill set and a mindset. I look for designers who bleed into product management and product managers who bleed into design. The venn diagram overlaps significantly in terms …

Cultivating a Leadership State of Mind

Giff Constable leadership

The product and design team at Axial is only 6 people (3 in each discipline, excluding me) so we run as a very flat group, working in cross-functional teams. But the flatness of an organization doesn’t mean that everyone in the team can’t try to improve their leadership game. Leadership isn’t bossing people around. It’s not writing reviews or determining …

The Most Important 60 Seconds for a Product Manager

Giff Constable design, product management

As an entrepreneur pitching VCs, I learned the hard way how important the first words out of my mouth could be. You couldn’t get those first few seconds back. The start of every conversation outside your inner team is no different for a product manager (or UX designer). How you set context impacts everything you do. It sets you up …

A Product Manager Checklist

Giff Constable design, product management, startups

We’re always thinking about “minimum viable process” — i.e. what’s the least process that gets the job done. The answer to that changes as your team size scales, but I think it’s always worthwhile to fight a running battle for no more prescriptive process than you need. This impacts everything from how you treat agile, how you approach research, how you interleave …

A Private “Medium” for Your Team

Giff Constable Jotto

There’s a lot to love about Medium. It’s a bubbling spring of human ideas and intellectual connectivity. It is living proof that the written word has not gone out of style. But there are a lot of things to say that are not really for the rest of the world. This is especially true when it comes to work. When …