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Product Leadership, 1st Edition

Book Description

In today’s lightning-fast technology world, good product management is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage. Yet, managing human beings and navigating complex product roadmaps is no easy task, and it’s rare to find a product leader who can steward a digital product from concept to launch without a couple of major hiccups. Why do some product leaders succeed while others don’t?

This insightful book presents interviews with nearly 100 leading product managers from all over the world. Authors Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, and Nate Walkingshaw draw on decades of experience in product design and development to capture the approaches, styles, insights, and techniques of successful product managers. If you want to understand what drives good product leaders, this book is an irreplaceable resource.

In three parts, Product Leadership helps you explore:

  • Themes and patterns of successful teams and their leaders, and ways to attain those characteristics
  • Best approaches for guiding your product team through the startup, emerging, and enterprise stages of a company’s evolution
  • Strategies and tactics for working with customers, agencies, partners, and external stakeholders

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Introduction
    1. Who Needs This Book and Why
      1. All the Responsibility with None of the Authority?
      2. What Makes Product Leadership Unique?
      3. The Ideal Product Leadership Style for Your Product Stage
    2. How This Book Is Organized
      1. Leading Through Growing Pains
      2. Learn How to Build and Train a Team
      3. Implementing Process and Purpose-Driven Direction
      4. Understand How to Evaluate the Success of Your Work
  3. Acknowledgments
    1. From Richard
    2. From Martin
    3. From Nate
    4. From All of Us
  4. I. The Product Leader
  5. 1. What Is Product Management?
    1. The Product Management Role
    2. How Product Management Evolved
      1. Product Management Is Born
      2. Product Management Comes to Technology
      3. Product Management Goes Agile
      4. Product Management Takes a Seat in the C-Suite
    3. What’s Next for Product Management?
  6. 2. Why Is Product Leadership So Relevant?
    1. The Product Leader’s Impact
      1. The Evolving Organization
      2. The Team
      3. The Makers
    2. Challenges Specific to Product Leadership: More Than Just a Seat at the Table
    3. What Product Leadership Is Not
    4. What Makes Product Leadership Strategic
    5. What Keeps Product Leaders Awake at Night
      1. Prioritizing Ideas, Features, and Projects
      2. Collaborating Effectively and Productively
      3. Training and Developing the Product Team
      4. Managing Upward and Outward
      5. Aligning and Focusing the Organization
  7. 3. Being a Great Product Leader
    1. Setting Product Principles
    2. Setting a Product Vision
    3. Moving from Vision to Strategy
    4. Moving from Strategy to Roadmap
      1. Focusing Themes on Customer Problems
      2. Prioritizing Goals and Strategic Activities
      3. Managing the Unknown
      4. Mapping Ambiguity to Time
    5. Product Is a Team Sport
      1. Designing a Product Team
      2. Cross-Functionality
      3. Developing Product Team Talent and Designing Careers
    6. Balancing Discovery and Delivery
      1. Pushing Pixels Versus Pushing the Envelope
      2. Making Discovery Part of Your Process
    7. Just Enough Process
    8. Communication and Constraints
    9. Clarifying the Question of Authority
    10. Managing Politics
  8. 4. Is There a Formula for Success?
    1. What Does Product Leadership Success Look Like?
    2. Measuring Success
    3. Measuring Success as a Problem-Solving Ability
    4. Common Characteristics of Successful Product Teams
    5. How to Identify Product Leaders
  9. 5. Hiring Product Leadership
    1. Hiring and Onboarding Product Leader Talent
      1. Timing for Hiring
      2. Timing for Founder-Led Organizations
      3. Timing for Emerging or High-Growth Company Hiring
      4. Timing for Hiring at Enterprises
      5. Apprentices: Creating Your Own Product Leaders
      6. A Case for Long-Term Commitment to People and Teams
    2. Becoming a Product Leader
  10. II. The Right Leader for the Right Time
  11. 6. The Startup Organization
    1. Startup Product Leaders
      1. The Biggest Challenges
      2. Startup Product Leadership Style
      3. Aligning Product Vision with Strategy and Tactics
      4. Playing the Customer to Discover Core Value
      5. Research, Data, and Testing
    2. Product Founder Versus First Product Hire
    3. Startup Product Teams
      1. Wearing Lots of Hats in Small Teams
      2. Developing Talent
  12. 7. The Emerging Organization
    1. The Biggest Challenges for Emerging Product Leaders
      1. Maintaining a User Focus
      2. Checking the Ego
      3. The Journey from Technical Master to People Leader
      4. Connecting the Dots
      5. Supporting Transitioning Leaders
      6. Preventing Communication Breakdown
    2. Practical Advice for Transitioning Leaders
      1. Execution Informs Vision
    3. Building Teams
      1. Getting the Right People on the Team
  13. 8. The Enterprise Organization
    1. The Biggest Challenges for Enterprise Product Leaders
      1. Avoiding Complacency After Success
      2. Staying Disciplined After Success
      3. Maintaining Focus as You Scale
      4. Delivering a Customer-Centered Go-to-Market Strategy
      5. Communicating and Collaborating Effectively
      6. Avoiding Sanitized Data
      7. Measuring the Right Thing
      8. Working Within the Company Culture
    2. Enterprise Leadership
      1. Communicating with Internal and External Customers
      2. Promoting Collaboration
      3. Changing the Corporate Culture
      4. Showing, Not Telling
      5. Maintaining Vision Clarity
      6. Taking a Product Portfolio Approach
      7. Thinking Small to Think Big
      8. Making It Before You Make It
  14. III. Working with Customers, Agencies, Partners, and External Stakeholders
  15. 9. Mapping the Partner Ecology
    1. Making It Work
    2. Finding Common Value
    3. Trust Is the Glue
    4. The Value of Customer Input
    5. When and Why to Use Consultants
      1. Filling Experience and Tactical Gaps
      2. Managing Change
      3. Embedding Outside Help in Your Team
      4. Managing Pitfalls
    6. Agencies, Design Firms, and Development Shops
      1. Example Scenarios
    7. Freelancers or Contractors
    8. Strategic Partners
      1. Multidimensional People and Partner Solutions
      2. Multiple Hiring Strategies for the Win
    9. Final Thoughts on Partnering
  16. Final Words
    1. Make It Valuable, Feasible, and Usable
    2. Maintain a Learner’s Mindset
    3. Think Outside the Box
    4. Embrace Change
    5. Stay Humble
  17. Index