Plenty of things happened in 2021. Many of which some us would probably rather not revisit. But, when it comes to product content, there’s a lot we need reminding of. In this post we’re doing just that as we showcase the top pieces of content published on Mind the Product throughout 2021.
These popular picks come from hundreds of articles and videos published this year during a time shrouded with uncertainty. It therefore might not come as a surprise that the top themes across popular content this year include metrics, discovery, and making decisions.
Here’s the countdown of our top posts, pods, toolkits, and videos that really struck a chord with the product community in 2021.
10. Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
‘How do you know that you’re making a product or service that your customers want? How do you ensure that you are improving it over time? How do you guarantee that your team is creating value for your customers in a way that creates value for your business?’. In her book, Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value, Teresa Torres answers all of these questions and, to give us a taste, she offered up an excerpt. In it, she covers how to recruit participants while they’re still using your product, the benefit of asking your customer-facing colleague to help you recruit participants, and how to utilise your customer advisory board in the process.
9. Essential KPIs for data-driven product managers
In July, John Allen, Director of Global SEO at RingCentral, reached out to us with a few ideas for a post. However, there was one we thought the community would like best and we were right (we love it when that happens). In Essential KPIs for data-driven product managers, John explores the importance of KPIs in tracking product success and explains the various options to help you choose the ones that are right for your product.
8. Managing Expectations — Product Management at Startups
“One of our universal truths in product is that the nature of the job varies greatly between organizations. Yet there’s a specific role — the Startup Product Manager — the uniqueness of which calls for a deeper dive to fully equip and prepare professionals to manage themselves, and their employers, in a budding product group.” This, from Ken Preedom, kicks off a hugely popular post — Managing Expectations — Product Management at Startups — outlining key things people need to know about being a startup product manager. Mind the Product Editor Louron Pratt says it’s been great to see Ken’s guest-authored post resonate with so many people. “It definitely seems to have been beneficial for readers to learn more about product management in early-stage startups. This topic struck close to home for Ken. As someone who has spent many years working in young organisations as a product manager, it’s something he’s really passionate about.”
7. The Habits of Successful Product Managers
In the top 10 for a second time, Dave Martin, topped our pod chart with his appearance on The Product Experience episode: The Habits of Successful Product Managers. He joined our hosts Lily and Randy to discuss building great habits for product people, and how to make sure they stick.
“I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how people form habits and how you keep them,” he tells us in the episode. “If you look across at like coaching for athletes, and people trying to lose weight, and this area of people trying to quit booze, there’s a bunch of good research on habit-forming on how to do it. And it’s not as complicated as it might sound.” In fact, he tells us, “It’s ridiculously simple.” Unfortunately, he adds, it does require some discipline and Dave shares his advice on how to to do it. If you’re keen to know how to form the habits that will make you the most successful product person you can be, make sure you tune in to this episode. In fact, this episode came out in January and it’s a great one to have in mind as you go into a New Year — if you’ve not yet listened, now’s the time.
6. The Product Decision Stack
In January, Mind the Product Co-Founder Martin Eriksson spoke at ProductTank Lagos on a topic that struck a chord with many. In The product decision stack he revealed how he so often gets asked, “How do we know if we’re building the right thing?”. He explained how his “Decision Stack” can help to answer that question as a way of connecting vision to action.
𝙉𝙊 ᴺᴼ ɴᴏ ❝The decision stack is made of decisions so each one that you make eliminates other choices and that’s one of the things that actually helps you make better decisions❞#prodmgmt pic.twitter.com/gYzTt7ZLL2
— Jordan Lamborn (@JordanLamborn) October 1, 2020
5. My journey from Software Engineer to Product Manager
What does it take to transition from software engineer to product manager? “You’ve got some good skills, you’ve been patiently working as an engineer, and it feels like the right time to make the switch — but how?”. This is the question posed by Ben Golden, Director of Product Management at Stream, in his post My journey from Software Engineer to Product Manager. Ben shares his experience of this career move and the advice he collected along the way, including some tips on how to prepare to make the move, including how to; demonstrate your mastery of the pragmatic, be first in line to disprove your own hypothesis, and keep your hands on the day-to-day, and keep your head in the clouds.
4. Level up Your Product Function With the Product Leader Map
“I’m drowning in a never-ending to-do list“, “I can’t be everywhere at once“, “I’m not good enough”. These are all things, Dave Martin, Founder and Product Scale Coach at Right To Left, hears regularly from product leaders. So, when a discussion on the topic got traction on LinkedIn he wondered if perhaps a blog post was in order. He was correct.
In Level up your product function with the product leader map, Dave shared his Product Leader Map, a way to set product leaders up for success. It was so well received that we also ran an interactive AMA session for MTP Leaders, on which Dave joined Mind the Product’s Emily Tate, to discuss how product leaders can use The Product Leader Map to achieve success (watch Achieve success with the Product Leader Map in full). “Throughout 2021 people have reached out to discuss the product leader map,” says Dave. “it has been used to evaluate and track progress by leaders elevating their organizations to be product led.”
3. The importance of metrics maturity for evidence-driven teams
In March, Mind the Product’s Managing Director, Emily Tate put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keys) and published The importance of metrics maturity for evidence-driven teams.
“Everyone wants to be in an evidence-driven team, using research and data to drive their product decisions,” she began, revealing that despite us knowing this is the best way to work, we perhaps don’t really know what it means in practice. Emily sought to help us better understand if our teams truly are evidence-driven and, if their not, shared ideas on how to change things for the better.
2. Product Skills toolkit
In a Twitter poll we asked you: ‘As a product manager, do you think you have gaps in your skillset that are holding you back from building better products?’. When 92% of you said ‘Heck yes!’ we took action and launched in February, our Product Skills Toolkit. This gives anyone who signs up access to an exclusive email series packed with tools and frameworks to help you assess where your product skills are right now — it seems you liked the sound of it!
After assessing my existing product skills using the free toolkit from @MindtheProduct, I discovered obviously that there is a whole lot I have to learn to help me build my skills as a product person.🤗
I identified gaps in my knowledge. I just had to be honest with myself. https://t.co/KznqtY84ba
— shebuel.🦅 (@shebuel_) November 16, 2021
More than 1000 of you signed up to get your hands on our downloadable Skills Assessment Framework, video tutorials, actionable tips and tricks, and activities.
1. Overengineering can kill your product
In the top spot, clocking up more than 31,000 views in the final two months of 2021 alone, Overengineering can kill your product by Simón Muñoz, got the whole engineering community talking both on Mind the Product and Hackernews. In it, Simón suggests that “overengineering has the potential to destroy your startup” in a variety of ways including; adding unnecessary complexity, increasing development and maintenance costs, reducing your iteration speed, and even preventing you from getting market-fit.
What caught your eye this year?
If there’s product content that inspired you this year, we’d love to know about it (it doesn’t have to have been featured on mind the Product either). Share your favourite content in the comments section below so that other people in the community can enjoy it too!