Video: Ryan Singer’s Product Development Tools

BY MARTIN ERIKSSON ON AUGUST 14, 2015

Ryan is the Product Manager for Basecamp, and joined us on stage at Mind the Product San Francisco to share some of his experiences and the tools he’s designed to stay sane in that job. The challenge for product managers is it’s not just about tackling your own to-do list but actually coming up with the to-dos for the whole team too.

Most products follow the same pattern – they start with an a-ha moment, where you’ve come up with a product idea and concept and sketch it out quickly. Seems simple right? But as we all know any product quickly becomes incredibly complex, and you’re tearing your hair out about bugs, different mobile experiences, and all the other details that come with a fully fledged product.

The key, Ryan says, is to identify the capabilities that the product needs to have that are orthogonal to each other. Because if you are able to identify something that is separate from something else and work on it – you get to this wonderful state called done. And because they’re orthogonal you can check them off one after the other.

He then breaks down these capabilities into each of the component pieces required to design, build and deliver that capability, which effectively becomes the to do list for that capability – giving you even more power to check off item by item as you progress through the project. This level of detail also gives you great visibility of the state of the whole project – instead of piecemeal work completed you get a very clear picture of what’s done and what’s not at any stage in the project.

Watch the talk to see him walk through an example of how he applies this method, as he draws out an example project using this tool live on stage.

Martin Eriksson

About MARTIN ERIKSSON

Martin Eriksson has 20 years experience building world-class online products in both corporate and start-up environments for global brands such as Monster, Financial Times, Huddle, and Covestor. He is the Founder of ProductTank, the Co-Founder and Curator of Mind the Product and currently a Product Manager at large, advising and mentoring startups while writing Product Leadership, How Top Product Leaders Launch Great Products and Build Successful Teams (O'Reilly, 2017).

  • Ivan Muccini

    Excellent synthesis of practices that I use every day in my job but without having a clear overview or method to organize them in my mind. Very useful to me! thanks Ryan

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