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Product Managers: Your peers say you should read these articles

Product Managers: Your peers say you should read these articles

The most successful people read. In fact, many influential entrepreneurs and those looking to better their craft have a habit of reading on a daily basis.

But reading that often is easier said than done. It’s not just the time it takes to read. Finding quality content takes time as well.

We wanted to help you out. So we’ve asked some successful product managers from the productboard community for the posts they send to all new PMs who join their team.

This is their list.

MVPM: Minimum Viable Product Manager

Product management! What a thrill to work in a role that spans design, tech, and business…

So thought Brandon Chu, product director of Shopify — but as he warns, don’t try to master everything at once. Within each discipline there are certain things you should master and others you should bypass as you work to excel in your role.

Read on for Brandon’s recommendations…

3 Types of Product Management: Which One is Right For Your Company?

Everyone with “product manager” on their business card may have the same job title on paper, but their day-to-day roles can vary greatly from company to company.

Here’s another experienced PM’s take on the amorphous role of the product manager. As Daniel Demetri explains, different PMs have different degrees of specialization in the fields of business, design, and technology, and that’s ok.

This article can help you determine where you land, or isolate the ideal blend of skills your company needs for your next PM hire.

I hate MVPs. So do your customers.

Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine, explains why his company does not use MVPs. Instead, they aim for an SLC, or Simple, Lovable, Complete product.

He argues that too often lean enthusiasts have shipped low quality, incomplete products that may help them validate their ideas, but not without frustrating end-users.

Read on for Jason’s tips for introducing new products and phasing in future enhancements (or deciding not to!).

Designing Your Product’s Continuous Feedback Loop

Every great product comes from capturing user feedback and surfacing it at the right time to make better prioritization and design decisions.

But as Sachin Rekhi points out, most companies fall short in this area by treating user feedback collection as a point-in-time activity rather than an ongoing activity. Read on for a description of the “feedback river” Rekhi established for pulling in user insights from 10+ channels.

Why Chefs and Soldiers Make the Best Product Managers

This is a fantastic article from First Round Review on the type of mindset that great product managers share. Whether you’re looking to hire a great product manager or become one yourself, you’ll find this article a helpful reminder of the traits you should aim to exhibit.

Like this article? Next check out Ken Norton’s How to Hire a Product Manager and Ben Horowitz’s inspiring essay Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager.

5 Tips For Writing A Job Story

Alan Klement is responsible for this little piece of product management gold. (And if you read his blog and his book you’ll see he knows what he’s talking about.)

Here he encourages product teams to adopt “job stories.” Unlike personas, with their arbitrary demographic attributes — e.g. Linda a 37-year-old school teacher from Florida– job stories focus on the situations, motivations, and goals of real people. And when done right, they combat the biggest failing of first-time PMs — conflating problem & solution.

Source: Alan Klement

This is a great read for new product managers tempted to go build whatever features users request without considering the underlying need first.

What Can You Remove From Your Product?

As the old adage goes, less is more. Tomasz Tunguz relates his experience shipping a feature for Google AdWords that went underutilized.

Ok, so maybe tens of thousands of users weren’t using it, but at least a few hundred found it helpful… right?

In walking us through the decision to keep or kill the feature, Tunguz explains the dangers of amassing “product debt”.

“Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” — Antoine de St. Exupery

The Power of the Elastic Product Team — Airbnb’s First PM on How to Build Your Own

How do you remain nimble, visionary, and outcome-driven as your organization scales? Jonathan Goldman, Airbnb’s first ever PM and current Director of Product, explains the company’s fluid approach to assembling (and disbanding) teams.

“A lot of people call me and ask how they should structure their product organizations. I always tell them to do it based on outcome. If you do it based on features, then you’re going to be perpetuating those features [and those teams] whether they’re useful or not.”

If you’re a product manager at a rapidly scaling organization, or a product leader in an enterprise company, this one’s for you.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

“One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they’re on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more.”

No number of management books will help you lead a team of individual contributors if you haven’t wrapped your mind around the type of focus most require to excel at their jobs.

Paul Graham makes the ultimate argument for supporting your engineers by helping them carve out (and defend) uninterrupted work blocks.

How to Work With Designers

“For all the PMs out there wondering how to crack the strange, retina-sharp, helvetica-typed world of design: this is for you.”

Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook, offers sage advice for communicating with designers, and understanding the different strengths designers with various backgrounds and seniority may bring to the team.

Above all, remember that the most direct path to a designer’s heart is to care about the details.

What do you recommend?

Whether you’ve worked your way through the entire list above or added the most intriguing to your Pocket, we hope you’ve walked away reinvigorated with some new tips and mindsets to succeed in your product role!

Have a great book, article, or podcast you’d recommend to other product managers? Leave a comment below our join the discussion in our #productleaders customer Slack community.

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productboard is a product management system that enables teams to get the right products to market faster. Built on top of the Product Excellence framework, productboard serves as the dedicated system of record for product managers and aligns everyone on the right features to build next. Access a free trial of productboard today.

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