Oh, all the things PMs must do!

Giff Constable product management

Every once in a while, I see a wave of tweets discussing the sheer number of jobs a product manager is asked to do. The inevitable question arises, “is this an impossible job / how can we expect this of a single person?” Note that I’m not trying to throw shade on John, who I love, but I have noticed …

PM Tactic: Running a Remote Pre-Mortem Meeting

Giff Constable product management

Whenever a team is heading into a high-stakes project of any kind, I recommend they run a 1-hour pre-mortem. This brainstorming exercise stretches the team to identify possible failure points. Once you’ve spotted items, you can then decide which ones deserve mitigating strategies. It creates a safe space to talk about concerns without fear of appearing overly negative or critical …

Q&A: How do you set metrics for a new initiative?

Giff Constable product management, startups

A young product leader I’m mentoring asked me a common question: “How do you set metrics for a new initiative when you don’t have a baseline, nor any idea what good looks like?” First off, it’s ok to begin with guesses. You just want to make sure that everyone knows that it’s a guess. Product managers can fall prey to …

Chasing Simplicity

Giff Constable product management

In product, we swim in complexity, which is why it’s essential to seek simplicity wherever we can. If we accept or even indulge in complexity, I’m convinced it will show up in your product in unintended ways (not unlike Conway’s Law). Here are some questions you can ask yourself to chase simplicity: Your strategy: have you boiled your company (and/or …

The Kind of HR I Want

Giff Constable management

I was listening to a really interesting CultureLab podcast on culture with Patty McCord, the former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix. She spoke for over an hour with no puffery, zero buzzwords, and total common sense. It made me ask myself a question: what do I want out of a people-ops/HR organization? My answer is three things. The first two …

Clayton Christensen’s Last Interview

Giff Constable business models

MIT Sloan Management Review published an interview of Clayton Christensen — one of the last if not the last before he passed away. He was a huge influence on how I (and many) think. Here are a few interesting quotes (in italics) from the piece, with color commentary below each one: “Disruptive innovations are not breakthrough innovations or “ambitious upstarts” …

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Interviewing Designers and PMs: The Design Challenge

Giff Constable design, management, product management

It’s really hard to interview product designers and product managers. The most effective step I added to my cycles several years ago is a design challenge. The challenges themselves are a 2-hour take-home challenge, and then a 1-hour presentation with cross-functional members of the team. Because of the time commitment, it is best saved for late in the interview cycle. …

Dual Thinking and the Limitations of Hypotheses

Giff Constable product management

Alex Danco publishes an excellent newsletter Two Truths and a Take and today’s thought provoking essay is all about the limitations of having hypotheses: they can close our minds off to creativity and discovery. Danco writes, “when we analyze the results of an experiment, our mental focus on a specific hypothesis can prevent us from exploring other aspects of the …

Public versus Private Roadmaps, Lessons from Trello

Giff Constable product management

Should you make some or all of your roadmap public? If yes, then what are some of the considerations? I had to answer this question recently. To hone my thinking, I reached out to Justin Gallagher, who’s been the head of product management for Trello since their earliest days.  As a general rule, enterprise software companies have typically maintained a …

Team Comms for Product Management

Giff Constable management, product management

Like many of you, I’m constantly playing with how to run and scale effective communication across multiple product managers, cross-functional teams, and a broader organization. Here’s a quick take on some of my current approaches. Across PMs I typically run a weekly hour-long meeting for all PMs. The agenda typically looks like this: 20 min on goals/OKRs, 30 minutes on …