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The Tools Don't Matter

coaching leadership Mar 01, 2021

Ken Norton just sent a great newsletter, titled 'The Tools Don't Matter'.

Here's an excerpt:

"if I give you advice, you just might follow it. More to the point, if I engage you in this conversation, I’m lending credence to the misguided belief that PM tools matter MORE than other fuzzier things that truly are important." 

I recall when I started creating a PM training program, I signed up to various PM Slack communities to learn from my customers. 

I found what Ken highlights: Many questions about tools, details, methodologies. Few questions about what really mattered. 

But these downstream decisions emerge from fuzzy things upstream. Things like awareness, clarity, intuition, connection, courage, communication, creativity. 

Fuzziness makes people uncomfortable. 

In my coaching work with leaders, we rarely talk about tools and details. 

We talk about how they work, how they think, what they believe, how they see the world, what is driving their...

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Forget Goals — This Is What You Really Need To Be Successful

Uncategorized Feb 01, 2021

You might miss the big opportunities if you over-focus on what you think you know.

If you had been born in 17th-century London, you could only have expected to live for 35 years.

Doctors didn’t know what caused diseases, but there were lots of theories. And the main suspect? Bad smells.

So when the Great Plague of 1665 swept in, the authorities advised people to fumigate their homes and keep the windows closed.

They ordered fires in the streets to purify the air.

Doctors tried to protect themselves with full bodysuits and flowers and herbs stuffed into beak-like masks.

Still, these tactics didn’t stop the disease from spreading. Over 100,000 people died — almost a quarter of the city’s population.

What were they missing?

Click below to read the full article:

Forget Goals - This Is What You Really Need To Be Successful

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How To Evolve Into An Exponential Product Manager (Part 1)

Uncategorized Feb 21, 2020

Highly effective Product Managers develop themselves in 5 key areas.

In this (long!) article, we’re going to start with the big picture, chop it up, then look at 2 approaches to grow rapidly in each area.

Let’s tuck in…

What makes for a highly effective Product Manager?

We’ll start, as many philosophical discussions do, with a burger. At a high level, let’s formulate a PM’s effectiveness as:

Effectiveness = Hard Skills x Soft Skills

I like to translate Hard Skills to Competence, and Soft Skills to Connection, so we have:

Effectiveness = Competence x Connection

Competence means you have the skills and knowledge to figure out what to do, and Connection is the energy source that enables you to do it.

In some jobs, you can get by with just Competence, but in the unkempt, fuzzy, team-oriented domain of Product Management, you need both.

Now, let’s have a closer look to see what these buns...

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Principle #4 - Live In Your User's Reality (21 Days Of Principles Used By Successful Product Leaders)

Uncategorized Oct 15, 2018

Let's continue highlighting 21 product principles that help us to make better decisions and build better products.

Today it's...

PRINCIPLE #4

Live In Your User's Reality

Some people just have loads of natural empathy. Others... less so. But even for each person, it's not always the same. It changes from situation to situation, and relationship to relationship.

It's easier to have lots of empathy for people you love. It's harder to have empathy for someone who's nothing like you.

The good news is that just like a muscle, empathy can be developed.

To create great products, we need to strengthen that empathy for our user.

It's one thing to understand intellectually what someone is going through.

But hearing them talk about it deepens that understanding.

Watching them go through it deepens it even more.

And nothing compares to going through it yourself.

The closer you can get to actually living in their reality, the more empathy and insight you'll have. And then you'll create better...

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Principle #3 - Make Your User Awesome (21 Days Of Principles Used By Successful Product Leaders)

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2018

Let's continue highlighting 21 product principles that help us to make better decisions and build better products.

Today it's...

PRINCIPLE #3

Make Your User Awesome

Now you know who your target user is. But it's time to go deeper.

What is her current situation, and where does she want to get to?

Kathy Sierra talks about making users awesome, and that's a great way to think about it. Your outcome is a user who feels better in some way.

The core driver is always emotion. People will tell you that they make decisions based on logic. Don't believe them :) Logic only backs up the emotion.

Your user wants to be able to create a great looking presentation. Why?

So she can feel good about her contribution.

So she can feel recognised.

So she can feel successful.

Now often your user is thinking in terms of surface level wants or needs, and is unaware of what's deeper. That's why you can't just ask her directly.

You need to keep talking, observing, probing, and learning about the chain of...

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Principle #2 - Focus On What Matters Most (21 Days Of Principles Used By Successful Product Leaders)

Uncategorized Oct 04, 2018

Let's continue highlighting 21 product principles that help us to make better decisions and build better products.

Today it's...

PRINCIPLE #2

Focus On What Matters Most

Everything seems important. And urgent.

You need to get this done. They've got to release asap. This must be fixed today. We have to close this sale.

Often we don't dare to stop doing, and the thought of slowing down seems crazy.

But actually, that's a lazy way to feel productive, because it takes less mental effort to say yes to everything.

Funnily enough if we are faced with a real threat to survival, lots of those same things become unimportant.

Then it's much easier to get everyone aligned and focused on what really matters.

But do you want to wait for an existential threat before you assess what you're doing and why?

A better way to get that focus is to get clear on what you want to achieve.

You don't need to implement every good idea to be successful.

Not even every great idea.

You don't need to build as fast...

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Principle #1 - Know Who Your User Is (21 Days Of Principles Used By Successful Product Leaders)

Uncategorized Oct 02, 2018

If you're like me, you love cool products, you love creating products, and you love thinking about creating products.

It's fun, and also ambiguous, complex, and really, really tough.

We need ways to simplify that complexity, because if we try to work directly with all the possibilities and permutations we'd just end up paralysed.

I've found it really helpful to use principles as guideposts to navigate through that complexity.

So for the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting 21 product principles that help us to make better decisions and build better products.

Let's start with...

PRINCIPLE #1

Know Who Your User Is

This is a big one. You need to be clear who your user is, to be able to understand her, to be able to help her, to be able to do anything really valuable.

Imagine you want to "Design a product to help school kids learn better".

How good can the product be if you don't go deeper?

How old are the kids? Where do they live? What is their experience at school? What are they...

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