PRODUCTHEAD: What do you worry about on a Sunday night?

PRODUCTHEAD: What do you worry about on a Sunday night?

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

product in the aisle #


To reduce coordination cost, partition the work by time or space

Behavioural design considers customers’ levels of mental energy, cognitive biases, and their existing patterns

Successful organisations reinforce psychological safety in different ways

Adding more people to a team makes communication a more significant overhead

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


I’ll admit that on Sunday night I was a bit apprehensive about doing so many user interviews this week. In my mind I had built up their importance. My co-author Helen and I see them as crucial groundwork to writing a good book that people want to read, so I was worrying about how they would go. What if people didn’t want to speak with us? What if the interviews went badly? What if our hunch about the relevance of our subject matter for the book was way off the mark?

I needn’t have worried. First of all, everyone we’ve spoken with has been tremendously generous with their time. Each of them has provided many thoughtful insights into their ways of working as a product manager. And it’s beginning to look like we’re tapping into a topic that will be interesting and useful for product managers.

Secondly, if the interviews had shown us that we were on the wrong track, then that would have been useful feedback also. At least then we could have made a decision at this early stage. We could write about the other topics of interest emerging from our chats. Or we could stop and save ourselves the time and effort of writing a book that no-one would find helpful.

One question we ask is what they feel apprehensive about on a Sunday night when they’re thinking about the next working week. Everyone so far has given a different answer. Some have told us that they look forward to the working week without any worries, even if they know some aspects will be challenging.

I know I am prone to procrastination. For me at least, some of that comes from feeling worried and uncomfortable about doing something to the extent that it puts me off starting. This is why the showers in my house have remained out of action for the last nine months. I simply can’t summon the energy to deal with the upheaval of having a plumber come round and dig around our pipework. And yet, when I dive in and do the thing, it usually turns out to be nowhere near as painful as I thought it was going to be. Then I find myself wondering why on earth I was so het up about it in the first place.

I’ve written before about the particular tactics I use to trick myself out of my procrastination. One in particular is to promise something to someone. Because my fear of letting people down overrides my apprehension of starting an uncomfortable task, I know I’ll get the job done. (That’s how this newsletter gets written each week.) It’s also partly why I am being open that I’m working on a new book. It keeps me to task.

What I’ve only recently learned is that some people are the opposite. When they feel like they’re on the hook to do something, they can lose all motivation to do it. (I’m also sure there are plenty of others who can get things done without overthinking it either way.)

It’s a small reminder that my perspective is but one data point. My experience of product management is limited. Only by talking to lots and lots of other people can I start to gain a view of the range of perspectives, behaviours and habits of people in our profession. I’m now no longer apprehensive about doing more user research interviews.

Over the last few weeks I’ve built up a mixed bag of good content to share with you. There’s no particular topic that unites them, and I hope you’ll find the articles stimulating and valuable.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

On coordination costs: moving a couch, and painting a room

What we have observed is that across every activity across every industry vertical, high performers have figured out how to vastly reduce the cost of coordination.  

To better understand coordination costs, consider doing something as basic as moving a couch with a friend.

Partition the work by time and space

[Gene Kim / IT Revolution]

How behavioral engineering helps to build better products

Imagine an ideal situation where your customers are emotionally connected to your business. They come to your site without any external prompting and have a strong internal trigger to use your product. Companies that form such subconscious connections with their product are going far beyond traditional well-known market metrics about conversion rates, retention, and viral growth. What are they doing so well that you are not doing?

Understand your target customers’ internal triggers

[Dmitry Oreshko / Mind The Product]

Here are 5 proven practices to boost psychological safety

There’s certainly been a ton of talk about the concept of psychological safety over the last few years. However, most of that talk seems to revolve primarily around the definition of the concept rather than about how to bring the concept into practice. Fortunately, we’re here to help! Here are five practices you can experiment with to foster a safe working environment.

5 examples from 5 organisations

[Joost Minnaar / Corporate Rebels]

The Team Onion

The Team Onion is a three-layer model that helps to visualise the wider team as core, collaborators and supporters. Understanding these layers helps to break down silos, surface assumptions, build empathy and have meaningful conversations about the team.

Create shared responsibility across team boundaries

[Emily Webber / Tacit London]

recent posts

What games taught me about customer onboarding

Video games aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but some of the most successful games and products share a common attribute: they help the user become more skilled throughout their journey.

Onboarding is really a continual process

[I Manage Products]

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?

Demonstrate good practice AND deliver good product

[I Manage Products]

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.

How to regain control

[I Manage Products]

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!

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

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from 2 kilos of gold and gemstones.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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