Even though we can’t do it all ourselves, product managers are often the unsung heroes in the tech world. Here are 10 great ways to recognise the product managers in your team and show them some love this holiday season.
1. The Product Management Books of the Year
It’ll be hard to choose between the second edition of Marty Cagan’s seminal Inspired, Richard Banfield, Nate Walkingshaw, and my Product Leadership, and C Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors’ Product Roadmaps Relaunched – so why not get all three? 😉
2. Oblique Strategy / Question Cards
The oblique strategy cards come from musician Brian Eno and painter Peter Schmidt, who use them to jog the mind into more creative and productive ways of thinking. Similarly, MTP Engage Hamburg co-organiser Petra Wille has a great set of cards for product managers with 52 questions to jog your product thinking.
[Submitted by Chris Butler and Tim Herbig]
3. All the Sharpies
No product manager’s life is complete without a full set of Sharpies, whether it’s for sketching, wireframing, or just filling in post-its for the Kanban board. And of course you need the cyan colour…
[Submitted by Ash McCallum]
Product managers need to be masters of context switching and sometimes it helps to break down your day into chunks that let you focus on different jobs at a time. To do this effectively a good timer like the Time Timer MOD helps!
[Submitted by Tim Herbig]
5. Tablet & Pen
We all communicate better visually, and the best way to speed up our sketching, notetaking, and wireframing is to do it digitally. So pick up a tablet and pen for your product manager and watch them work faster on new ideas, feedback, and notes – whether you prefer Cupertino’s iPad Pro & Pencil or Redmond’s Surface & Pen.
6. Quality Notebooks
For those who are a little bit more old-school like me, good old-fashioned paper has its own charm and beats those fancy tablets any day. And you’re spoiled for choice – from Moleskine’s new dot-grid notebooks, to Muji’s minimalist aesthetic, to the unique stylings of Sloane Stationery.
7. Design Museum Membership
Every once in a while we all need to get out of the office and get a breath of fresh air – both physically and metaphorically by getting inspired by other designers and how they’ve tackled customer problems. So give a membership to your local design or art museum for that critical inspirational getaway! We recommend the Design Museum in London, SFMOMA in San Francisco, and Cooper Hewitt or MOMA in New York among many others.
8. Voice Recorder
For all those interviews you’re doing with customers and stakeholders, being able to record the session instead of focusing on taking good notes is critical. So pick up a great voice recorder and then use a service like rev.com for transcripts. Or you can get a voice recording and organising app for your smartphone like Cassette.
[Submitted by Thomas Leiterman]
9. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Whether you’re listening to those interviews, the latest podcast, or just shutting out the world with some music while you focus on getting some work done, noise-cancelling headphones are must in the product manager arsenal. There’s so much choice here we rely on The Wirecutter for advice – whether you want over-the-ear, earbuds, or bluetooth headphones.
10. A Coffee Kit
Product managers are fuelled by caffeine and I haven’t met one yet that doesn’t appreciate a really good cup of coffee. So give them a kit to make it themselves – on the road or at their desks! The Stumptown Rambler kit is a great all-in-one package with a grinder, aeropress, and two mugs.
11. Training and Conference Tickets
Of course here at Mind the Product we always turn things up to 11 so we also have to suggest one final idea – get your product manager tickets to our public product management workshops or Mind the Product conferences so they can stay awesome!