08
Dec 14

Reversing Cognitive Decline – Podcast Episode #4

As a product manager, one of your most precious resources is your “cognitive storage tank.” It’s like a real fuel tank – when it’s exhausted, your cognitive abilities stop working well. And when that happens, it means you can’t be as innovative, you can’t be as creative, and your decisions get worse. To improve our effectiveness as product managers, one key step is managing the cognitive storage tank.

In this podcast I describe some techniques and tools for eliminating wasteful leaks from your storage tank – I hope the ideas will be helpful for you as you improve your effectiveness as a product manager.

Let me know in the comments on the show notes if you have additional thoughts or questions.

Show Notes

If you like this podcast, please subscribe via iTunes (you can search for “responsibility authority” to find the listing) or your favorite subscription method via this feed. And please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. The feedback is very helpful for me.


17
Nov 14

All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority Podcast – A Roll-Your-Own Product Management System of Record

I’ve posted the latest episode from the All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority podcast on how to be an effective product manager. The topic for this episode is something I’ve written about a few times – the product management system of record.

We do a lot of stuff in the course of being product managers, but most of our output – customer interview notes, value propositions, sales support materials – has no defined place to live. This means it’s difficult to collaborate around the information, and it’s difficult to get evergreen value out of it. In this episode I outline a system of record for all this product management output that your product management organization can create out of existing tools, like a wiki. (At least until someone builds a commercial system for us.)

Episode Topics

  • Why we need a system of record
  • What to put in it
  • How doing a little extra manual work will pay off in making us much more effective
  • How to start creating a system of record for customer interactions using a wiki
  • Potential risks and disadvantages of my proposed wiki-based, “baling wire and chewing gum” system of record

Please let me know what you think in the comments on this post.

Show Notes

  • There are no special notes or links for this episode, but when I get videos and further instructions up, I’ll update this article to link to them.

The feed for the podcast is http://nilsdavis.com/feed/podcast. It should be available on iTunes in a few days, and I will update this article when that happens.

I hope you enjoy this episode! Please let me know what you think, and if you’d like me to cover any particular topics. Feedback is really motivating!


29
Sep 14

Is Your Lack of A System Of Record Leaving You In the Stone Age?

I have done a bit of guest posting lately, and this week’s entry is about a new essay on Mike Smart’s Product Management 2.0 site. As long-time readers know, I’m a proponent of getting product management into the “big leagues” with better tools, and particularly, with a good system of record for the full lifecycle of product management. “System of Record: Why You’re in the PM Stone Age Without One” puts a stake in the ground about what product management needs to insist on to become a modern business process.

Almost no company has a legitimate system for product ideas and input, or front-end customer interactions (i.e., interviews, ethnology, market discovery and research). Likewise, typically there is no system of record for product marketing (i.e., value proposition, benefit statement, go-to-market plan). Instead, all of these are stored in various spreadsheets and documents, but not tracked or managed.

The benefits of tracking all the information related to product management – from customer interviews, to market analysis, to competitive positioning, to roadmaps, to the value proposition, to the go-to-market plan – are immense. They range from the obvious, like transparency and collaboration, to the subtle, like the fact that product managers have more time and attention to spend innovating and learning about market problems to solve.

I’ll be following this essay up with a post on this site about how to build a real system of record, even if you don’t have all the tools you’d like.

In the meantime, take a look at System of Record: Why You’re in the PM Stone Age Without One.


16
Oct 13

Use A List Of Major Impact Areas To Think Through New Features

I often use a list of product “Impact Areas” to assess the impact of a new feature on the rest of the product.

As I’m developing a requirement, I go through the list of impact areas and note down whether this feature requires a change in that area. If not, I mark it as “N/A.” If there is an impact, I note it down. When I was managing Accept360, some of the impact areas were:

  • Table views and filters. (We had user-definable filters for finding entities, so if there was a new property, you’d have to make sure the filters supported it and the result list could display it in a useful way)
  • The release or sprint backlog. The feature might need a new column, or a new business rule for calculating a column value
  • History log entries
  • Default values or settings
  • Notifications required for this feature
  • The terminology and lexicon for the feature
  • Are there best practices for using the new feature? What are they?
  • Import or export 
  • Does this feature make other features obsolete?

In Accept360, I created a page in the requirement template with the Impact Area list. It was easy to go through the list and enter the notes. Today, using Confluence, I typically use a child page to capture the impact areas.

It’s sometimes difficult to make yourself go through this list, but particularly for bigger features, it’s a valuable exercise.