Category management

My Answers to First Round Network Product Questions

First Round Capital has a wonderful online network, basically a white-labelled quora, for people at their portfolio companies. I answer questions now and then. Here are some of the Q’s I have answered over the last year or two: How do you best manage expectations/predictability when interfacing (roadmap, status updates, etc) with the company outside… Continue reading

Rebuilding Trust in a Product Organization

When I first joined Axial, the product and engineering side of things was pretty broken, and there was a serious absence of trust. The team didn’t trust leadership, and leadership didn’t trust the team. The rest of the business — actually, even worse, customers — didn’t trust product/engineering. The culprits may sound familiar to some of you: Features took… Continue reading

Control Your Narrative

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… Continue reading

10 Rules for Startup Leaders

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,… Continue reading

Trying the “User Manual to Me” to Good Effect

A few months ago, Brad Feld wrote about a cultural exercise that I just tried with my team to very good effect (Brad in turn had referenced this post from David Politis). Instead of taking pysch tests and then trying to make sense of the results, the team answers a few written questions as honestly… Continue reading

Reduce bias and resentment with a transparent salary and skills matrix

(Originally posted 0n Medium as I experiment with the platform) As employers and employees, we have a choice as to how we conduct ourselves. We can choose to “get away with what we can,” or we can set our values and live by them. I believe that most people want to work in fair, meritocratic,… Continue reading

How your team’s qualitative metrics act as the canary in the coal mine

There are three qualitative metrics I find interesting to use with a product team to help spot, and deal with, changes that could be opportunities or problems. 1. Retrospectives: scoring the “sprint” My former colleagues from Edgecase used to have every product team “score” how things felt since their last retro on a 1 to 10… Continue reading

Getting Tactical: Product Team Working Agreements

We talk a lot about how assumptions in business can kill you. But assumptions on a team can do the same. One of the best way to preserve a transparent, low-politics culture is to keep everything as visible and explicit as possible. This applies to strategy, vision, and values, but also to working methods. We… Continue reading

How engineering leads can work well with product management leads

This is the second part of a 3-part talk given to the CTO School. Part 1 covered good vs bad product management. Here I want to share ten ways an engineering leader can best partner with their product management counterpart. 1. Think strategically about the pressures on the business, not just the pressures on engineering… Continue reading