PRODUCTHEAD: Rapid prototyping

PRODUCTHEAD: Rapid prototyping

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

how i made my products #


tl;dr #

Learning is more valuable than being successful and not knowing why

You can experiment with the content and layout of any web-based product with basic skills

The success rate of experimentation is higher if there is no penalty for failing

“If you have a good idea on a Monday and can design, test and learn by the Friday, then innovation explodes.”


a favour: please share this with other product people

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to

hello #

I’m certainly no designer, but when I’m struggling to get my head around something, I prefer to work visually. I rely on mindmaps a great deal because I rarely think about a topic in a linear fashion, and need to note things down as they occur to me. For the same reason, I find them an invaluable way to take notes at meetings.

Working visually and physically are often excellent ways to turn abstract ideas into something more concrete. In your mind’s eye, concepts and workflows can often seem a lot more coherent than they turn out to be when put into practice.

I’ve just been working on the design of a new training course. The desired result is to take people with a good knowledge of their own business, but little formal product management training, and teach them the basic set of skills they would need to create a meaningful product roadmap.

It sounds simple, but as you may have already realised if you’ve tried, there’s a bit more to it than sticking index cards into swimlanes. I started with a visual representation of the typical style of roadmap I teach, then looked at each element and asked, ‘how would someone know what to put here?’, and worked backwards from there.

If you have no previous product management experience, to create a meaningful product roadmap I think you need an appreciation of a variety of topics ranging from user needs and desirable team skill sets, all the way up to your company’s vision and long-term strategy. The real test will be putting a cohort through the training to see how they get on.

So this week I’ve been thinking about prototyping techniques and rapid experimentation before getting to the expensive business of building a finished product. I’ve pulled together some of the best content on the topic to get you thinking about this as well.

Speak to you soon,

Jock Busuttil

what to think about this week #

Rapid prototyping & product management

Tom Chi has practiced rapid prototyping for over 15 years, on everything from software to hardware, organisational design to entrepreneurship. And a lot of the lessons he has learned in rapid prototyping are directly applicable to the discipline of product management.

Work in your medium, not outside of it

[TOM CHI / MIND THE PRODUCT]

How to prototype in the browser

Small changes can have big effects. If you have an idea for a small change to an existing site or prototype, a quick way to try it out is by using the browser developer tools.

A quick and dirty guide

[JOE LANMAN / GOVERNMENT DIGITAL SERVICE]


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.


“Jock has been instrumental in my personal growth as a product leader but also as a person.”

Ludovic Lacay

Ludovic Lacay
Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Napo


A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.


The Super Mario effect – tricking your brain into learning more

When 50,000 of Mark Rober’s 3 million YouTube subscribers participated in a basic coding challenge, the data all pointed to what Rober has dubbed the Super Mario Effect. The YouTube star and former NASA engineer describes how this data-backed mindset for life gamification has stuck with him along his journey, and how it impacts the ways he helps (or tricks) his viewers into learning science, engineering, and design.

Take away the punishment for failure

[MARK ROBER / TEDxPENN]

Have a green flight!

“Dr Tony Dickens, who was designing Formula One cars at Red Bull, asked me how long it would take for a new technology to make it into a jet engine. I said between 6 and 10 years,” Miller recalls. “Then I asked him what he’d done that day. His team had tested 20 rear wings. They used the tests to predict the best, made it, tested it, proved it was the best, and emailed the geometry of the most promising to the racetrack. Red Bull had a manufacturing capability at the racetrack and made the component overnight to put on the car for practice the next day.”

What if we were to go faster?

[LUCY JOLIN / CAM MAGAZINE]

recent posts #

Three ways you’re DEFINITELY doing MVPs wrong

If one were to heft a half-brick down Old Street in London, there would be high probability of hitting someone currently engaged in building a minimum viable product (MVP) of some sort or another. There’s also almost as high a probability that they’re doing it wrong. Allow me to explain.

Save yourself from making an expensive mistake

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

How to show your team the benefits of experimentation

This is a little post about some ways to convince a reluctant development team that experimentation is A Good Thing.

It’s not about the “right” or “wrong” way to build something

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

The unifying principles of product management

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

Become one with everything

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

upcoming talks and events #

I’ve spoken at various product management and technology conferences around the world. I share ideas primarily on the topic of product management, and this tends to overlap with agile and ethical product development, digital transformation, and fostering healthy product cultures and communities.


“Day 2 saw an impressive presentation by Jock Busuttil on user testing. He asked the attendees to lend each other a smartphone and take a picture. What a turmoil that caused ;-) ”

Walter Schärer

Walter Schärer
Marketing & Business Development Director, BlueGlass Interactive


If you’d like to book me to speak at your event, please get in touch.

can we help you? #

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

Product People Limited logo

Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from swathes of mindmaps.

Jock is a freelance head of product, author and conference speaker. He has spent nearly two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. His clients include the BBC, University of Cambridge, and the UK's Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, a product management consultancy and training company. He is also the author of the popular book The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management and the blog I Manage Products.

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