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

Product Designers, Focus on Copy Early

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…. 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

Cultivating a Leadership State of Mind

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… 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

A Private “Medium” for Your Team

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… Continue reading

Advice to junior product managers, part 2

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,… 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