The Lean B2B Pyramid, The Five Dysfunctions of a Product Team, Career Death Spirals and Books! Books! Books!
It seems like every 5 minutes I see some Tweet or Medium article about how things are or aren't agile, or are or aren't waterfalls. What if we're overthinking it?
New Podcast Episode - Let's get Lean
It's no secret that the vast majority of product management & startup books are relentlessly focused on best practices and success stories from B2C firms. It's all very well and good putting false doors on your website and trying to run 50 optimisation experiments a week, but this tends to work a little less well when you've got to get past procurement teams in risk-averse industries that just want everything to be the same.
I spoke to author Étienne Garbugli about this on the podcast. We had a great chat about his book "Lean B2B" and the approach that he recommends to people building B2B products. It was a great chat, and you can check it out right here.
Fill up your vanity bookshelf in style
A little while back I was asked if I'd ever put a thread of book recommendations up. I racked my brains and realised that I hadn't done a product management list, so I did one and it was relatively well received. Obviously there's a bunch of stuff in there that seasoned PMs will have read, but hopefully there is something new for everyone, and maybe the list is helpful to send to newbies. The list is available in the Tweet below but also unrolled into one document here.
I also found it quite telling that I had interviewed the vast majority of these people on the podcast. This basically proves one thing - if you write a good book, you can be sure that One Knight is coming for you!
Using the Challenger Sale principles as a PM
Speaking of books, I recently re-read The Challenger Sale† . This is a great book about B2B Sales and shook up traditional Sales thinking when it came out. The central tenet of the book is that it takes a very specific set of skills to be an effective B2B salesperson, and they're not the ones that you might expect. We're moving away from traditional "relationship building", where salespeople try to buddy up to their prospects, and towards a "Teach, Tailor, Take Control" mindset.
In any case, I always recommend that PMs read non-PM books to understand the motivations of their stakeholders. But, beyond that, I was actually very interested in one of the last chapters about using Challenger Sale techniques internally within an organisation, and wrote a few thoughts about how this applies to product managers in the thread below.
† And yes, I'll be interviewing both authors of The Challenger Sale for the podcast later this year.
The Five Dysfunctions of a (Product) Team
Speaking of books, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is a deserved classic and you should all read it now. My good friend Saaed Khan is also a fan of the book, and wrote a fine article enumerating some of the common dysfunctions of product teams. Saaed is a deep thinker about the craft of product management and I recommend this article. I also spoke to Saeed on the podcast on an early episode before I got properly good at it. Still a worthy chat!
The 5 Dysfunctions of Product Management Teams | by Saeed Khan | Jul, 2022 | Medium — swkhan.medium.com You’ve almost certainly heard of the book, the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It’s a fairly popular book in technology organizations and provides some great advice in identifying and…
Circling the drain - the perils of the Career Death Spiral
I'd like to finish off on a slightly more sombre note. Product Management can be a tough career, and obviously other jobs aren't easy either. Part of this is part and parcel of having a job and getting paid to do something difficult. But sometimes it can progress past comfortably difficult and you may find yourself in a genuinely bad situation.
In the past I've been in situations where my mental health suffered because of work, primarily due to self-reinforcing negative feedback loops that made me feel increasingly depressed whilst simultaneously removing any chance of improving my situation. If this sounds familiar, check out the thread below.
Ultimately, it's important to look after yourself. No job is worth jeopardising your mental health over. And, as with building products, it's generally easier to change course sooner rather than later. Good luck ❤️
I shall now disappear like an Elon Musk takeover bid
Oh Elon 😅
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