Category product 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

How we externalize product progress to the company, and defuse politics along the way

It’s depressing how many companies accuse their product and engineering teams of being a black box. The accusations aren’t always fair, but they usually stem from two root problems: 1. not enough collaboration, and 2. not enough externalization. Here’s how we are tackling those two things at our company. Collaboration: We run a bi-weeky “qualitative… 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

Defining our product & engineering team values at Axial

The product and engineering team at Axial has undergone a lot of change in the last year or so. We survived a major (and fraught) re-architecture effort, we rebuilt the core recommendation/matching engine at the heart of the product, we’ve gone from shipping code every few months to shipping almost everyday, we’ve upped our qualitative… Continue reading

Getting Tactical: Iteration Planning Meetings

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… Continue reading

Waiting for Perfection

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… Continue reading

The difference between design and 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… Continue reading

The Most Important 60 Seconds for a Product Manager

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… Continue reading

A Product Manager Checklist

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… Continue reading