Article archives

Here you can find links to all the articles published on this website.

You can also view the PRODUCTHEAD newsletter archive.

  • How do I make my product roadmap a better communication tool?

    How do I make my product roadmap a better communication tool?

    “My product roadmap is not getting the right information across to other people in my company. How can I improve it?”

  • How can I keep track of all these product metrics?

    How can I keep track of all these product metrics?

    “Juggling all our metric tracking has become increasingly overwhelming. “How do other teams effectively prioritize and process this information?”

  • Getting your first job as a product manager

    Getting your first job as a product manager

    Getting your first job as a product manager can seem impossible. Thankfully it’s not! I share my advice on how to break into a career in product management.

  • Force multipliers

    Force multipliers

    I seek out “force multipliers” to extract multiple benefits from the same work, like my very own workplace fusion reaction. Can you find your own?

  • 91: How to sharpen up your vision and strategy

    91: How to sharpen up your vision and strategy

    You can help your company to sharpen up its vision and strategy with these straightforward questions and worked examples.

  • 90: Always have a plan B

    90: Always have a plan B

    Have you ever wondered why product managers say “it depends” quite so often? The best product managers always have a plan B.

  • 89: What games taught me about customer onboarding

    89: What games taught me about customer onboarding

    The most successful games and products share a common attribute: they help the user become more skilled throughout their journey. Customer onboarding is a continual process.

  • Should I take a product manager job in a sales-led company?

    Should I take a product manager job in a sales-led company?

    “Hi Jock, I’m currently applying for loads of product manager jobs. I’ve received an offer from a sales-led company where the Product team reports in to Sales. Should I take the job?”

  • 88: Control your narrative

    88: Control your narrative

    Years ago, someone once told me that “perception is reality” when it comes to reputation at work. Of all the lessons I’ve learned in my career, this has been by far one of the hardest.

  • Why can’t I rely on user research from other departments?

    Why can’t I rely on user research from other departments?

    “Hi Jock, You talk about doing user research directly with users – does it matter that the Operations and Process tracks are telling me what their users want instead?”

  • As head of product, should I be a player-manager, or hire and delegate?

    As head of product, should I be a player-manager, or hire and delegate?

    “Hi Jock, There’s plenty that needs doing. As head of product I could focus on the hiring process and delegate, or I could get stuck in with the products as a player-manager. What’s the right balance?”

  • Thank you for 10 years of support

    Thank you for 10 years of support

    Just a quick post to say that Product People Limited is 10 years old today. And I’m proud of it :-)

  • Billion-dollar platforms — how they did it

    Billion-dollar platforms — how they did it

    I was asked recently whether platforms will conquer the world. My view? They already have. In this article I share how they’ve done it, and how you can successfully bring your own platform to market.

  • 87: An exercise in stakeholder alignment

    87: An exercise in stakeholder alignment

    When your stakeholders each have their own interpretations of the product strategy, this lack of stakeholder alignment will cause you no end of problems. Here’s what you can do about it.

  • 86: The 4 unintended side-effects of risk aversion and what to do about them

    86: The 4 unintended side-effects of risk aversion and what to do about them

    When we become more worried about risk, four unintended things also tend to happen: bottlenecking, erosion of trust, ossification of process, and a risk appetite that tends towards zero. Here’s what you can do about them.

  • What’s the difference between ‘measures of success’ and ‘definition of done’?

    What’s the difference between ‘measures of success’ and ‘definition of done’?

    Hi Jock, How would you describe ‘measures of success’ versus the ‘definition of done’? I’m trying to explain the difference simply to my team.

  • 85: The agency trap

    85: The agency trap

    How can product management fit into an agency business model? Spoiler alert: _not easily_

  • Whatever this is, this web3 product manager role is not a product manager

    Whatever this is, this web3 product manager role is not a product manager

    Jason Shah says that joining a web3 company can be “an opaque process and a risky decision”. I’d add “ethically challenging and morally grey” to that description.

  • Sorting the signal from the noise — a guide to fact-checking

    Sorting the signal from the noise — a guide to fact-checking

    One of the most important, and arguably hardest jobs we have as product managers is to work with our team to sift through information, read between the lines, and verify what is fact and what is merely opinion.

  • What’s the difference between a growth hacker and a growth product manager?

    What’s the difference between a growth hacker and a growth product manager?

    Hi Jock, I was reading your article about growth product managers. What is the difference between ‘growth hacker’ and ‘growth product manager’?

  • 84: Start building a community of practice with the 3 minute challenge

    84: Start building a community of practice with the 3 minute challenge

    When you start out as a head of product, you’ll probably need to create a community of product people. In this article I share my advice to help you get the ball rolling with your own community of practice.

  • Should a growth product manager even be a thing?

    Should a growth product manager even be a thing?

    There’s an ongoing debate about generalist product managers versus emerging product manager specialisms (such as ‘growth product manager’). I think there is room in our profession for both. Let me explain.

  • 6: 6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck

    6: 6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck

    All product managers will need to stand up and present to others at some point. You won’t be helping yourself (or your audience) if your slide deck is atrocious. So here are my 6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck.

  • My boss wants to set me an OKR on revenue growth. Is this right?

    My boss wants to set me an OKR on revenue growth. Is this right?

    Revenue growth is the ultimate vanity metric. It’s lagging and measures an output, not an outcome. That’s why it’s a terrible choice of OKR.

  • 83: 5 tips to ace your first impression at a new job

    83: 5 tips to ace your first impression at a new job

    Because so much of product management is about working with people, it’s important to take time to reflect on the kind of first impression you make to those people. In this latest entry for my series of 100 things I’ve learned about product management, I pass on my coaching advice to help you make the…

  • 82: Replatforming the cash cow

    82: Replatforming the cash cow

    Engineering teams are choosing to work on projects that make them look busy, but which don’t actually move things forward. What they’re usually working on is a convoluted — and arguably doomed — attempt to replatform a legacy ‘cash cow’ product.

  • 81: The unifying principles of product management

    81: The unifying principles of product management

    A recent tweet by John Cutler provoked some interesting reactions. It got me thinking about whether there are underlying principles of product management that apply in all contexts.

  • What to do when service transformation goes wrong

    What to do when service transformation goes wrong

    When companies set out to redesign a product or service, the results can sometimes be underwhelming. Instead of delivering service transformation, the team recommends only minor efficiency tweaks. If this has been happening to you, there can be many underlying causes. I’ve identified a few common problems and what you can you do about them.

  • I’m overwhelmed — can you help?

    I’m overwhelmed — can you help?

    “I’m 4 weeks into a new [product manager] job, having moved states for it, and I’ve recently become a parent for the first time. Currently, I am feeling overwhelmed.”

  • How do you find the balance between autonomy and focus for PMs you’re managing?

    How do you find the balance between autonomy and focus for PMs you’re managing?

    “I have a PM in my team who I regularly find digging into areas of the business that are unrelated to the initiatives they’re responsible for. [As a result,] they also have a track record of being extremely slow to bring anything to market.”

  • 80: The neverending quest for product-market fit

    80: The neverending quest for product-market fit

    Even if your product’s achieved product-market fit, you’re wrong if you think you never need to worry about it again.

  • Mission to Mars

    Mission to Mars

    Imagine you’ve just been told that you’ll be a member of the team responsible for the first manned mission to Mars. Now imagine someone asks you how much the mission’s going to cost. The whole thing. There and back. By close of business on Thursday.

  • 79: The product leader’s guide to interviewing product managers

    79: The product leader’s guide to interviewing product managers

    I’m often involved in the interviewing and hiring process, so I’d like to share with you my product leader’s guide to interviewing product managers.

  • Should a product manager have responsibility for profitability?

    Should a product manager have responsibility for profitability?

    “Should the product manager have some level or perhaps a great deal of responsibility for the profitability of the product? Should they understand things like the unit economics, that sort of thing?”

  • 78: How to start a new product manager job

    78: How to start a new product manager job

    Starting a new product manager job can be daunting, particularly if you don’t change jobs very often. I work freelance, so I find myself in a new organisation roughly every 3-6 months. Let me share with you my tips for your first few months in a new role.

  • What technical skills do I need to be a product manager?

    What technical skills do I need to be a product manager?

    “I was looking for inspiration and guidance as I am searching for a career change and Product Management/ Project Management are my areas of interest. I was looking to understand if in such roles technical skills are required.”

  • 77: The only article you’ll ever need on prioritization

    77: The only article you’ll ever need on prioritization

    When faced with all the things you could and should be doing, it can be tremendously hard to decide which to do, let alone which to do first.

  • What lessons from antiquity would you apply to product management?

    What lessons from antiquity would you apply to product management?

    “So this this might seem a bit odd, but are there any lessons from antiquity given your background in Classics that one might apply to product management in the year 2020?”

  • 76: Manage the whole product

    76: Manage the whole product

    A whole product is often a complex combination of several products and services. Some you create yourself, some are created by others. You’re responsible for the whole lot, even if they’re not all directly in your control.

  • What’s the difference between a product manager and a business analyst?

    What’s the difference between a product manager and a business analyst?

    “Hi Jock, What’s the difference between a product manager and a business analyst?”

  • 75: The dirty little secrets of decision making

    75: The dirty little secrets of decision making

    I’ve been thinking about decision making. What makes one decision better than another?

  • Misunderstood metaphors: Product manager as conductor

    Misunderstood metaphors: Product manager as conductor

    Product managers are sometimes referred to as the conductor of the orchestra. Some people think that the conductor’s job is to direct the players, to lead them through the music. That would be to misunderstand the relationship. Instead, here’s a different take.

  • Podcast: Voxgig Fireside for professional speakers

    Podcast: Voxgig Fireside for professional speakers

    In Voxgig’s Fireside podcast for professional speakers, I reveal how I turned my flair for product management into a speaking career, and how I set up a home studio for live streaming using an old television.

  • 74: The black art of content design

    74: The black art of content design

    This week I learnt the phrase ‘black art’ comes from the world of printing presses. So I delved deeper into the world of content design. Eventually I found a product management angle.

  • 73: You wouldn’t drive blindfolded – why you need user research

    73: You wouldn’t drive blindfolded – why you need user research

    At best, organisations do a bit of user research up front and no more, then set off on their journey to create the product – they might as well have a blindfold on.

  • How do I make my product manager CV stand out?

    How do I make my product manager CV stand out?

    “I am currently looking for a new PM role but there is so much competition because of the pandemic. Do you have any suggestions on how to stand out as a PM in these turbulent times?”

  • 72: All the world’s a stage – how to launch a product

    72: All the world’s a stage – how to launch a product

    The other day, I was asked how to launch a product successfully. Two competing responses sprang to mind: the way I would have answered a couple of decades ago and the way I actually suggested.

  • What’s the best way to focus teams on outcomes not outputs?

    What’s the best way to focus teams on outcomes not outputs?

    What’s the best way to help agile teams move away from feature delivery to focus on outcome over output?

  • What’s the name for ‘continuing to find product-market fit’?

    What’s the name for ‘continuing to find product-market fit’?

    Do you have a name for continuing to find/refine product-market fit? Or is product-market fit something you find once and then ignore after you found it?

  • Reading aloud

    Reading aloud

    I’m trying to make my blog and other websites as accessible as possible. This has led me to all sorts of questions that I need your help to answer.

  • 71: The PMO strikes back

    71: The PMO strikes back

    Okay, okay, so maybe likening the Project Management Office (PMO) to the Empire hunting down the Rebel Alliance is perhaps a teensy bit combative. But it’s how I feel sometimes. Just don’t let my desire for a weak pun give you the wrong impression. Let me explain.