2016 has been a year when the craft of product management grew, evolved, and matured at a staggering rate! While Martin highlighted the top product talks of 2016 yesterday, I’d like to take a few moments to look over the most popular guests posts on the Mind the Product blog – both to acknowledge the amazing insights being shared by our community, and to make sure you didn’t miss out on a great read. So without further ado…
Brant Cooper, #mtpcon speaker and Co-Founder of Moves the Needle, shared his insights into what behaviours and mindsets large, established companies can use to drive their internal innovation activities, as well as enable and empower their teams to develop new solutions that create value for customers. Brant touches on clear foundation such as focusing on customer problems rather than products, and also suggests some structures to help incentivise the kind of innovative behaviours you want.
As you consider how to develop your skills and build your career in 2017, read Becky Yelland’s thoughts on why core product management skills are industry agnostic, and consider her list of “essential mantras” – fundamental skills and mindsets that every product manager should develop and hone, and which will help make a huge impact in whichever team or company they join.
If you’ve ever had to manage an agile team, especially if you’ve had to do so remotely, Edward Upton has some sage advice that clearly resonated with a lot of our readers. This thoughtful piece considers both the differences between manage teams that are remote and teams that are co-located (communication and cultural differences are key considerations), and offers a few simple, key practices you should adopt to make sure your team is aligned, empowered, and doing fantastic work.
C. Todd Lombardo ran our (hugely popular) design sprint workshops in 2016 and, although they are a powerful tool, they’re not appropriate for all situations! We asked C. Todd to help our readers understand when design sprints might not be the best tool for the job at hand, and he shared a clear set of common product challenges and tasks that are actually “design sprint gotchas”. As design sprints become increasingly popular, its worth taking another look at this post to make sure you understand where they’re best deployed, and when they might not be the best tool for the job.
Everyone loves clear, actionable advice, and Sami Linnanvuo’s simple steps for improving your product design workflow helped a lot of our readers revisit the fundamentals of great product design processes. Sami offered his own hard-earned pro-tips, and his sage advice is worth reminding yourself on a few times a year to make sure your workflows stay tight and focused.
Defining the “biggest” challenge for product manager isn’t necessarily easy or clear-cut, but Christian Bonilla did the sensible thing and gathered data. Based on information from Mind the Product readers, Christian found clear indications that what product managers in 2016 found particularly difficult was knowing whether they were building the right products. Our readers were clearly keen to understand their craft better, and Christian shared his findings – and suggestions for how to overcome the challenges they indicated – in great detail.
As Jenny Wanger observes, this year the world was “buzzing about the success of Pokémon Go”, but what made the game so popular? Most of the commentary focused on the Pokémon brand, but Jenny focused on the game as a product, and dug into how it was designed to be a hugely effective game taking advantage of the mobile platform, social spaces, and the hugely-popular brand. If you’d like a glimpse into how to design products that take advantage of their platforms and affordances, Jenny’s post is a fascinating read.
Ramon Guiu’s post clearly chimed with many in the community as it was our fourth most read post in 2016. He looked at his journey from Waterfall to Agile, the pros and cons of each approach and how his role as his company’s first product manager changed as the company grew and his expertise developed.
Our top posts of 2016 came from ThoughtWorks Studios’ head of product – Suzie Prince. Suzie’s practical guide to CD and DevOps, aimed at opening up and demystifying these practices with definitions, examples, easy to understand diagrams, and suggestions for further reading. Suzie’s post both educates and entertains and is full of practical advice and, as Suzie says, its point is “to empower you and inform you about technical practices that are meant to be business-relevant”.
As a fantastic follow-up, Suzie looked at why product managers should really care about continuous delivery and devops. There’s a multitude of reasons. Continuous delivery is transformative to businesses, it will help you get feedback sooner, it reduces waste and risk and facilitates the creation of higher quality products. It also makes for better teams.
What Lessons Helped you Level-up Your Craft?
These are the most popular product management posts by the numbers, but everyone’s needs are different. If you read something that had a huge impact on how you practice product management, and we haven’t listed it, we’d love to hear about it! Tell us what lessons you learned in the comments, and let’s end 2016 with some shared wisdom.