PRODUCTHEAD

PRODUCTHEAD is my free curated newsletter of the best articles, videos and podcasts from product leaders and commentators all over the world. All neatly packaged up in a weekly email delivery for your reading, viewing and listening pleasure.



Recent editions

PRODUCTHEAD: Bad communication — how to annoy and alienate your users

» Celsys are going to start charging for software updates to their popular Clip Studio Paint product

» The way Celsys communicated this to their users caused outrage — some of which was justified

» Fog Creek found themselves trying to monetise their viral product Trello, which it had promised would be free forever

» Fog Creek had first mover advantage on an easily copied product, which it exploited by a timely sale to Atlassian

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Bad communication — how to annoy and alienate your users

PRODUCTHEAD: Will platforms conquer the world?

» In solving their own internal scaling problem, Amazon inadvertently created the building blocks for the AWS platform

» Stripe’s founders didn’t shy away from tackling an unattractively difficult problem

» Platforms connect different sides of a market, even if they have dramatically different needs and capabilities

» Twilio’s founder prioritised the developers who’d implement his API, not the managers who’d pay for it

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Will platforms conquer the world?

PRODUCTHEAD: Back to school

» Every other team is allowed to be uncertain about the future — so should product

» There are different types of question for strategy, opportunities and interventions

» Avoid investments that are neither defense nor offense

» What people say and how they really feel can often vary

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Back to school

PRODUCTHEAD: Strongly-held beliefs

» People more easily accept they’re not seeing the whole picture than being told they’re wrong

» Don’t make people feel bad about their beliefs — be kind and connect with them

» Research shows that we interpret words like “we believe” with differing confidence levels

» There is often a lack of discipline when it comes to talking about uncertainty

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Strongly-held beliefs

PRODUCTHEAD: Presenting to inform, educate and entertain (communication toolkit #5)

» Story structure and the right content give your presenting more impact

» Try to create presentations that captivate, not subdue

» A perception audit helps narrow the gap between how you perceive yourself and how others see you

» Good breathing technique when speaking both calms you and produces a better sound

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Presenting to inform, educate and entertain (communication toolkit #5)

PRODUCTHEAD: How to read more effectively (communication toolkit #2)

» Read a format that suits you best, whether physical or digital

» As you read, ask yourself questions of the content to keep yourself engaged with it

» Analytical reading allows you to understand, then accept or reject the key idea being presented

» F-shaped reading occurs on web content because people are short on time or engagement

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: How to read more effectively (communication toolkit #2)

PRODUCTHEAD: Defining services

A service:

» is defined from an external end user’s point of view

» describes something someone would want to do, in their language

» has an outcome that relates to the organisation’s goals

» includes all the steps between the user and provider

» includes all the parts involved in delivering it

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Defining services

PRODUCTHEAD: Service mapping for product managers

» Service maps help teams and stakeholders to understand interactions with a service across touchpoints over time

» They provide a visual representation of an abstract and often wide-reaching process

» Think of your service like a theatre: front stage, backstage and behind the scenes

» Service mapping helps your team to tell their story to the wider organisation

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Service mapping for product managers

PRODUCTHEAD: More product coach, less line manager

» A product coach should measure their own job performance by the successes of their team members

» Strive to develop a capacity for learning in the people you supervise

» Coaching taps into an individual’s own wisdom and keeps them accountable for achieving their goals

» People who are genuinely committed to change but nonetheless dig in their heels may be unwittingly self-sabotaging

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: More product coach, less line manager

PRODUCTHEAD: Async working and communication

» Async working lets you set aside time for deep thinking

» Forced remote working led naturally to more async work

» Async relies on three main tenets: multiplexing, communication and action

» Find the right balance between flexibility and cohesion, independence and togetherness

» In-person time is important to sustain the human relationships that enable you to get work done

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Async working and communication

PRODUCTHEAD: The ethics of information (data ethics)

» Data ethics studies and evaluates moral problems related to data, algorithms and corresponding practices, in order to formulate and support morally good solutions

» Product managers have ethical responsibilities that transcend career, company and profit

» Organisations need to assess and build their trust and trustworthiness

» Mitigate biases in your product that may have unintended discriminatory effects on individuals and social groups

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: The ethics of information (data ethics)

PRODUCTHEAD: Product ops — cynical rebrand or division of labour?

» 3 tenets of product ops: insights, research, and processes & practices

» Product ops is about enablement and coaching, not a rebrand of the product owner or product marketer roles

» Product ops is the ‘glue’ that binds different business functions and product focus areas together

» Product ops enables product teams to achieve better outcomes

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Product ops — cynical rebrand or division of labour?

PRODUCTHEAD: Dealing with discomfort

» Firing someone is a task you will always perform with some anxiety, but you still need to be able to do it well

» At Netflix, it’s not enough to be a hard worker achieving only B-grade results

» Founder of AngelList Naval Ravikant seeks happiness by trying to live in the here-and-now, neither obsessing about the past nor fantasising about the future

» If your team’s cultural norms cause you to feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why you think it’s not ok

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Dealing with discomfort

PRODUCTHEAD: Managing mature products

» Ways to extend a product’s life cycle: frequent usage; varied usage; new users; new uses

» Sometimes removing features is more effective than adding them

» You can’t change the customer, but you can change your company’s process, strategy and culture

» Give your team time and permission to check you’re moving the right metrics

» Data is not a silver bullet and won’t solve your company’s trust issues

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Managing mature products

PRODUCTHEAD: New year’s resolutions

» Make small changes and embrace experimentation

» People may have a sincere commitment to change, while also unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden competing commitment.

» Extreme situations can build extreme understanding and can also push people apart

» Does our current worldview limit the way we think about organisations?

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: New year’s resolutions

PRODUCTHEAD: Your favourite articles of 2021

» Good candidates have initiative and passion to pursue their opinions

» The transition from product manager to leader requires many new skill sets

» Discovery is about understanding the problem space experienced by people

» Becoming a product leader means letting go of the day-to-day product management

» Netflix on HR: “Be honest, and treat people like adults”

» Your North Star metric best captures the core value that your product delivers to customers

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Your favourite articles of 2021

PRODUCTHEAD: Rapid prototyping

» 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.”

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Rapid prototyping

PRODUCTHEAD: Working well with user researchers

» More specific questions yield better user research findings

» User research works well when the team collaborates with a specialist user researcher

» Increased team user exposure hours correlates with more successful product improvements by the team

» The sooner you start user research, the greater impact it will have on your product

» A Kanban board helps the team to collate and track the questions to be researched

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Working well with user researchers

PRODUCTHEAD: Becoming a product leader

» To build trust, mutual respect and transparency are critical

» Becoming a product leader means letting go of the day-to-day product management

» Being good at your job means training others to be good at theirs

» Equip your team to make good choices without needing your input

» Developing people is the single most important part of your job

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Becoming a product leader

PRODUCTHEAD: Should we be saying no or not?

» Saying no to a good idea requires confidence in your product strategy

» Even if saying no to an opportunity, take the time to understand its value and context

» Keep ideas and suggestions separate from your product backlog

» Clear company goals and strategy make it easier to say no to unaligned requests

» Saying yes habitually to one-off custom features will usually kill your product business

Read more › PRODUCTHEAD: Should we be saying no or not?

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