Product Talk

Product Managers and Product Owners: What’s the Difference?

Product Talk

For this month’s Product Talk post, I recorded a video where I consider the difference between product managers and product owners. You can watch the video or read an edited version of the transcript below. I want to talk about product managers and product owners.

Why There’s No Single “Right” Way to Do Discovery: Part 1

Product Talk

A few months ago, fellow Product Talk coach Hope Gurion and I sat down to discuss why there’s no single right way to do discovery.

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A Look at the Year Ahead: The Product Talk Roadmap (With a Book Update)

Product Talk

Happy New Year! I am excited to kick off 2021. For the past couple of years, I’ve used my January blog post to give an update on my plans for the year ahead and this year will be no different. You can find previous years’ posts here: 2019 and 2020.

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Opportunity Mapping: An Essential Skill for Driving Product Outcomes

Product Talk

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Continuous Discovery Habits. It’s the opening to my chapter on Opportunity Mapping. Read to the end for an exciting new announcement. “To To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry—these are the essentials of thinking.” John Dewey , How We Think. Structure is complicated. It gets done, undone, and redone.” – Barbara Tversky , Mind in Motion.

PROJECT TO PRODUCT: Building the Right Thing in the Right Way

Old and out-of-date project management principles are still very much in place in countless organizations. However, organizations are finding the solution to their problems, and the solution is Product Agility. Download this whitepaper to learn more!

Empower Product Teams with Product Outcomes, Not Business Outcomes

Product Talk

I’m excited to add Hope Gurion as an official author on Product Talk. She has guest posted here before and has worked with me for years. She coaches teams using my Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum and is helping me bring the Continuous Discovery Habits workshop to more companies. Help me in welcoming Hope as an official author. You’ll see she’s starting with a great contribution below and I’m excited to read more from her in the coming months.

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Product in Practice: When Travel Ground to a Halt, Seera Group Used Opportunity Mapping to Discover a New Market

Product Talk

Hi there, Product Talk readers! We can’t wait to share our latest Product in Practice with you. For this story, we spoke with a product team leading the Digital Hotels vertical at Seera Group , a travel and tourism company based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

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Inspiring Strong Product Leaders: A Conversation with Petra Wille

Product Talk

I first met Petra Wille, a fellow product coach, at Mind the Product and was immediately impressed with her work. While I tend to focus on helping teams, Petra’s work centers around helping product leaders—the people who manage product managers.

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Everyone Thinks They’re Managing by Outcomes. Here’s How to Actually Do it.

Product Talk

Last month, I spoke at the Business of Software (BoS) conference in Boston. BoS has been on my short list for a very long time and it did not disappoint. Mark Littlewood , the organizer of the event, does a fantastic job and it shows up in every little detail of the event. The audience is made up of entrepreneurs. Most seemed early in their entrepreneurial journey, but there were plenty of experienced folks as well. What stood out to me was how friendly and eager to learn all the attendees were.

Product in Practice: Iterating to an Actionable Outcome at tails.com

Product Talk

Hello Product Talk readers, we’re excited to share the latest Product in Practice with you! For this story, we caught up with Sonja Martin , Product Manager at tails.com. Sonja shares how her cross-functional team has changed their approach to defining their desired outcome over time.

What is Contextual Analytics? The Next Evolution of Embedded Analytics

Download this white paper to learn what contextual analytics is, how BI platforms like Yellowfin revolutionize the way users discover insights from their data with native contextual analytics, and how it adds value to your software solution by elevating the user experience.

Working Remotely? 5 Ways to Help Your Product Team Thrive

Product Talk

Product teams should be co-located. This is an often-repeated “truth” in our industry. Today, in response to COVID-19 , many companies are instituting mandatory work-from-home policies. This is making co-location impossible for many teams. Thankfully, this “truth” was already on its way to being retired. In fact, it was never true for many companies. We have dozens of examples of successful 100% remote companies— Automattic , InVision , and Zapier are a few that come to mind.

Doing Discovery Well: How to Measure and Guide Your Team

Product Talk

How do you know that you are doing discovery well? If you want to improve your discovery process, what outcomes help you track your progress? I get asked these questions often. I like that teams are trying to take an outcome-focused mindset to their discovery practice. The good news is setting discovery outcomes is no different from setting any other outcome. Start by asking, what does success look like? How will we know when we are doing discovery well?

The Ladder of Evidence: Get More Value From Your Customer Interviews and Product Experiments

Product Talk

One of the best signs of an effective product team is a regular cadence of customer interviews and product experiments. But it’s not enough to simply check the box on these activities; we need to make sure that we do them effectively. Without a strong background in research methods, it’s hard to know how you are doing. I’ve developed a simple framework to help teams evaluate the effectiveness of their methods. It’s called the Ladder of Evidence and I explain it in the video below.

Product in Practice: How 2-Way Door Decisions Helped Simply Business Learn Fast

Product Talk

Welcome to the latest installment of Product in Practice! For this post, we spoke with a product team from Simply Business about some of the major lessons they’ve learned since adopting continuous discovery habits like interviewing their customers, questioning their assumptions , and using the opportunity solution tree to guide their work. Want to check out the other posts in this series? You can find them here.

How to Measure DevSecOps Progress and Ensure Success

Speaker: Shannon Lietz, Director of DevSecOps Team, Intuit

The new DevSecOps team is up and running, and you feel ready to take on rising security threats while delivering quality software updates. But that leaves just one question: how do you monitor your new program as effectively and efficiently as possible? Join Shannon Lietz, Director of DevsecOps at Intuit, and award-winning innovator, to learn the answers to these questions so you can lead your DevSecOps team to the top!

Prioritize Opportunities, Not Solutions

Product Talk

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Engaging Stakeholders with Opportunity Solution Trees: 3 Tactics to Try

Product Talk

Two and a half years ago, I introduced the opportunity solution tree. It’s been a blast seeing product people put it into practice. Today, I’m excited to share Hope Gurion’s thoughts on using opportunity solution trees. Like a true Agilist, she hasn’t just adopted the tool, but has iterated on it to better suit her needs. I first met Hope in 2014 when she asked me to coach her product teams at CareerBuilder. When she moved on to BeachBody , she brought me in to work with her teams there as well.

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Why Engineers Should Participate in Discovery

Product Talk

Are you inviting your engineers to participate in discovery with you? If yes, do you get pushback from them? Does your organization prefer that your engineers only write code? Marty Cagan , in Inspired , argues, “If you’re just using your engineers to code, you’re only getting about half their value.” I couldn’t agree more. But too often we equate the value of an engineer with the code that she writes. This is a huge mistake. And, sadly, many engineers make this mistake themselves.

Show Your Work: How to Justify Your Decisions & Get Stakeholder Buy-In

Product Talk

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Are Your Embedded Analytics DevOps-Friendly?

Does your analytics solution work with your current tech stack and DevOps practices? If not, any update to the analytics could increase deployment complexity and become difficult to maintain. Learn the 5 elements of a DevOps-friendly embedded analytics solution.

2020 Product Conferences

Product Talk

We are starting to pull together our 2020 conference list. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you know of a product conference that is not on the list and you think it should be, please feel free to recommend it in the comments or send an email to conferences@producttalk.org. We’ll also keep updating this list as we hear about more events. For 2020, I haven’t decided which conferences I’ll be attending or presenting at, but I’ll update this post once that changes.

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Product in Practice: How One Product Manager Innovates in Big Companies

Product Talk

One of my goals at Product Talk is to showcase what good product management looks like. Today, I’m excited to introduce a new series, Product in Practice, where I’ll profile product managers doing great work. To kick off the series, we interviewed Rachel Allen , Director of Product at Omnitracs. I met Rachel when she was a product manager at Arity (an Allstate company). At Arity, Rachel built out a shared mobility business line from scratch.

The Best Continuous Discovery Teams Cultivate These Mindsets

Product Talk

Last week, I was in Cleveland for the Industry Product Conference. I spoke about the three mindsets that help a team find success as a continuous discovery team. My slides and script are below. Enjoy! Becoming a successful discovery team. Product management is changing. We are evolving from managing our teams by outputs to managing them by outcomes. Product managers are evolving from focusing on outputs to outcomes.

6 Guiding Principles for Effective Product Discovery

Product Talk

I’m co-teaching a design course at Northwestern with my friend Jeff Merrell. We are teaching business leaders and change agents how to prototype their way to viable solutions. In this context, solutions aren’t product solutions, but rather internal programs and processes that effect change within the organization. Our students work on challenges like improving employee engagement, encouraging knowledge sharing between teams, making meetings more effective, and so on.

Digital Trends Report 2020

As part of our goal to continue helping our community during these times, we wanted to share with you this critical data on the state of digital products across industries and provide context on how businesses are responding to the changing winds.

Adopting a Continuous Discovery Mindset Across the Organization

Product Talk

I teach two courses at Northwestern University. I want to share a little bit more about the work that I am doing there as I think it’s relevant for people working at companies who are starting to adopt continuous discovery practices (in other words, many of you). The first course focuses on teaching practitioners how to use design methods to solve business challenges related to learning and organizational change. Students learn the same design process I teach to the product teams that I coach.

Product in Practice: Tackling Big Hairy Product Challenges with Continuous Discovery

Product Talk

Hello, Product Talk readers! It’s time for another installment of Product in Practice. In this series, we highlight the impressive work that forward-thinking product teams are doing. Want to check out the other people and companies we’ve featured? Find our other Product in Practice posts here. Ask 100 product managers how they ended up in their roles and you’re unlikely to hear the same career trajectory repeated twice.

Stop Validating & Start Co-Creating

Product Talk

Meet Sally and Pam. Sally is a product manager, Pam a user experience designer, and they are working on a new mobile app. They’ve conducted customer interviews , defined their MVP , and are now working through the initial designs. Even though their MVP will only include a fraction of their near-term vision, Pam wants two weeks to work through the design of the near-term vision, as she’s worried if they build piece by piece, they’ll end up with a Frankenstein user experience.

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How to Improve Your Experiment Design (And Build Trust in Your Product Experiments)

Product Talk

I’ve got a pet peeve to share with you. If you’ve been following along with the growth of the Lean Startup and other experimental methods, you’ve probably come across this hypothesis format: We believe [this capability]. Will result in [this outcome]. We will have confidence to proceed when [we see these measurable signals]. If you aren’t familiar with this format, you can learn more about it here.

Testing at Every Stage of Development

Up to 80% of new products fail. The reality is harsh and the reasons why are endless. Perhaps the new product couldn’t oust a customer favorite. Maybe it looked great but was too hard to use. Or, despite being a superior product, the go-to-market strategy failed. There’s always a risk when building a new product, but you can hedge your bets by understanding exactly what your customers' expectations truly are at every step of the development process.

How Compare and Contrast Decisions Lead to Better Product Outcomes

Product Talk

This past week I was in London speaking at Mind the Product. As usual, the Mind the Product team hosted a phenomenal event. The following is the script of my talk with slides. When Mind the Product releases the video, I’ll add it to this post. Teresa Torres presented ‘Critical Thinking for Product Teams’ at Mind the Product London on September 8, 2017. Hi everyone. I’m excited to be here. I’ve been developing a visual critical thinking tool that I want to share with you today.

3 Best Practices for Adopting Continuous Product Discovery

Product Talk

It’s easy to think you already do continuous product discovery. Most of the teams that I work with come into coaching thinking that they don’t need help. They’ve read the industry books, they attend the popular product conferences , and they follow all the leading blogs. They’ve got this. And they aren’t wrong. Most product teams are starting to integrate discovery practices into their product development process. They interview customers , run usability tests, and conduct A/B tests.

Continuous Product Discovery is for Everyone [Case Study]

Product Talk

When I write or speak about continuous discovery , I worry that people are enamored with this way of working, but aren’t doing the work to put it into practice. It’s easy to read about a continuous discovery habit and think, “That could never work for my team. Our industry is too old. Our company is too set in its ways.”. It’s easy to read about a continuous discovery habit and think, ‘That could never work for my team. Our industry is too old. Our company is too set in its ways.’

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Managing Product Teams for Success

Product Talk

I’ve been thinking about the challenges of managing product teams by outcomes. Most leaders want their teams to have the autonomy to go after an outcome, but they struggle with trusting that their teams will do the right things. Most teams want that autonomy, but they struggle with communicating their progress toward an uncertain outcome. These shortcomings create a vicious cycle.

6 Ways to Secure (More Of) a Budget for Your Customer Education Program

Whether you’re looking to kickstart or expand your customer education program, you need access to a budget. Learn how you can demonstrate the positive ROI of customer training and make the case for securing a larger budget in our latest eBook!

The Evolution of Modern Product Discovery

Product Talk

Product management is evolving quickly. The days of gathering requirements from business stakeholders and documenting them in long product requirements documents are vanishing. We no longer take months or years to release value to our customers. Instead, product teams are experimenting their way to viable solutions. We are putting our customers first, taking the time to discover unmet needs, and developing solutions that address those needs.

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How Much Time Should You Spend in Product Discovery?

Product Talk

I get asked all the time, “How much time should we spend in discovery ?”. I have two problems with this question. First, it assumes you do discovery first and then delivery second, which is not true. You should be discovering and delivering all the time. Second, it implies that there is an answer that is true in all situations. There isn’t. You need to do enough discovery to mitigate unacceptable risk. That’s it. That sounds simple. It’s not. So let’s break it down.

2019 Product Conferences

Product Talk

We are starting to pull together our 2019 conference list. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you know of a product conference that is not on the list and you think it should be, please feel free to recommend it in the comments or send an email to conferences@producttalk.org. I haven’t decided what events I’ll be attending in 2019 yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll update this post. We’ll also keep updating this list as we hear about more events.

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Taking Continuous Discovery to the Next Level at SEEK [Case Study]

Product Talk

As a discovery coach , I work with all kinds of companies and teams. Some are brand new to discovery , others are already far along in their journey. To start, I always work with the leaders to identify one or two teams who we think will become champions for continuous discovery within the organization. Our goal is to create a bright spot to highlight what good looks like within that organization. We want to take away the “that will never work here” excuse for the rest of the teams.

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The Connected Journey: Developing your Empathy to Strengthen Strategies for Customer Relations

Speaker: Esther Kieft, Delivery Manager (Group Technology) at Domino's Pizza Enterprises

It is well known that empathy is a key ingredient in creating lovable products, yet not all products offer the best customer experience. From meeting stringent deadlines to insufficient resources being available to carry out customer research, there is a range of reasons why customer empathy could be missing in product development. Join Esther Kieft, as she breaks down using empathy at a distance to evaluate the problems that customers are experiencing during this global health crisis.