How do you Identify a Product-centric Company: Patterns and Anti-patterns

Outside View

  • Pattern: The head of product is on the executive team
    Anti-pattern: The head of product is buried in the organization — reporting to CTO, COO or other exec.
  • P: Head of product has a strong track record and career path as a product manager (Good advice from Marty Cagan on this)
    A: Head of product has not been a product manager before
  • P: Their product marketing messaging uses language focused on customer outcomes
    A: Product marketing is merely a list of features
  • P: News articles and press releases mention customer impact metrics
    A: Focus only on tech jargon and buzzwords (e.g. AI, IoT etc.)

With Inside Information

Customer Insights

  • P: The PM and team have access to users for product discovery
    A: Sales or Customer Success are gatekeepers and limit access to users
  • P: The PM engages with users frequently for product discovery — at least weekly
    A: The PM only engages on a project basis — e.g. usability tests for a specific feature
  • P: The PM uses qualitative and quantitative data to gain user insights
    A: The PM cherry-picks or data-snacks to support confirmation biases

Defining and Measuring Success

  • P: The PM has agency in defining the product roadmap
    A: Internal stakeholders have a strong say in defining the roadmap
  • P: Goals for the product team are defined as outcomes
    A: Goals are defined as outputs; focus on delivering features
  • P: The product team goals are aligned with company business goals
    A: No clear connection between what the product team works on and impact on company’s success

Product Development Team Structure

  • P: The product has a stable and dedicated team of engineers
    A: Teams are shared between PMs; frequent reassignment of engineering team members
  • P: The PM works with “triad” team members: tech lead and UX designer
    A: Share a UX designer with other teams; tech lead not engaged in product decisions
  • P: The product team can deliver with limited dependencies
    A: High dependencies on other engineering teams, designers or other key stakeholders

Product Development Team Culture

  • P: The team creates a safe environment for growth; failure is an opportunity to learn
    A: There is fear of retribution; lack of interest in learning and growth
  • P: The team is committed to self improvement
    A: Limited or no retrospectives; blame culture; mired in team dysfunction
  • P: The team is committed to prioritizing and paying down technical debt
    A: High debt that has accumulated; conflict between prioritizing debt and new features
  • P: The team celebrates its wins
    A: Continue to grind out features

Product Manager Career Growth

  • P: Commitment to learning and growth of PM skills
    A: Very little time for self-improvement; do it on your own time
  • P: Manager/leader plays a role as a coach or provides access to a coach
    A: Manager/leader only focused on managing

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I am passionate about building products and building community. PM by day and community builder at Austin Voice of Product: https://austinvop.com.

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Reza Shirazi

Reza Shirazi

I am passionate about building products and building community. PM by day and community builder at Austin Voice of Product: https://austinvop.com.

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