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 …

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 …

Advice to junior product managers, part 2

Giff Constable product management

One of the most important things a product manager has to do is avoid giving surprises, in a context where surprises are coming at you all the time. What do I mean? Never let someone who cares about a particular product change be taken off guard. This applies to changing timing, changing design, changing messaging, changing pricing, changing rollout approach, …

Lessons for New Managers of Creative Teams

Giff Constable leadership, management, product management

I recently took on a new hobby: singing in our church choir. I’m a total noob at the singing part, but it is clear that a successful choir is greater than the sum of its parts. Great outcomes require great leadership, and not just about music but also about people. It got me thinking about teams and leadership. Exceptional individual …

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

Giff Constable management, product management

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 scale. They didn’t over-think it …

Getting Tactical: the experiment design studio

Giff Constable lean, product management

If you are trying to get your team to think more creatively in terms of experiments, this exercise might be useful. Why? When it comes to creating new products (or even features), experiments help you make more informed decisions. Ideally you make your experiment as small as possible to get believable insights, but they come in all shapes and sizes. My favorite …

Getting Tactical: Product Team Working Agreements

Giff Constable management, product management

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 were forced to deal with …

How to interview a product manager

Giff Constable product management, startups

This is part 3 of a talk given to the CTO School in New York, covering how to interview for a product manager (Parts 1 and 2). While I continually iterate my approach in the hunt to spot talent and minimize disappointments, this is my latest structure. I think of interviewing product managers as having 3 parts: 1. deciding what …