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All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority

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Interview With Hubert Palan, CEO of ProductBoard, Part 2 – Podcast Season 2, Episode 2

This second part of our interview with Hubert Palan is the third episode of our new podcast season of All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority, crossposted from alltheresponsibility.com. I will be crossposting the new episodes from the new site to this feed as they are published (I’m a little behind now but will catch up!). This is part two of our interview with Hubert Palan, found and CEO of ProductBoard, and long time product management leader and executive. Part 1 of the interview is here. Three things you can start doing today As always, we like to give you actionable takeaways from our podcast episodes. The three ideas below come directly from our interview with Hubert. Create a central repository, not just about the features you’re building, but about the market inputs you gather to help you find and validate the business problems you are solving. You can use a tool like Hubert’s ProductBoard, or you can try to roll your own (Nils had a podcast about this last year). This information comes from Support, Design, Product, Sales, Marketing, and your own conversations with customers and prospects. A central store of this input, and the relationships between this information and the product decisions it supports, helps mitigate some of the cognitive biases Hubert mentioned. And by gathering all this information together, you are better able to detect market signals in all the noise, and make better holistic decisions about the product. As Hubert pointed out many times in the interview, Context is King. Make sure your team, and your whole organization, knows not just what features you’re delivering, but what problems those features solve, and for whom. This not only simplifies many of the issues of prioritization, it also serves as a basis for communicating across segments of your organization. Clarity and communication are the heart of the Product Leader’s role. The better we get at clearly communicating about prioritization, context, and decisions made in the product team across the organization, the better the organization can execute on creating and selling solutions to customers. Thanks to Hubert! Rob and I want to reiterate our thanks to Hubert for participating in our new podcast as our first interview! If you want to learn more about ProductBoard, you can visit productboard.com. You can follow Hubert on Twitter at @hpalan, and ProductBoard tweets at @productboard. As always, we’d love to ask two small favors from you: First, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can access the podcast directly on this feed. Second, please rate the podcast on iTunes or “recommend” it on your podcast app. Finally, we really appreciate getting your opinion, so we’d love to hear from you in the comments, or via Twitter (@atrnota) and our Medium publication, All The Responsibility.

21mins

15 Dec 2015

Rank #1

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Interview With Hubert Palan, CEO of ProductBoard – Podcast Season 2, Episode 2

Here is the second episode of our new podcast season of All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority, crossposted from alltheresponsibility.com. I will be crossposting the new episodes from the new site to this feed as they are published (I’m a little behind now but will catch up!). Introducing Hubert Palan Nils first met Hubert Palan in November 2014 at the Product Management Summit in San Francisco. Nils was presenting some ideas on a “roll your own product management system of record,” while Hubert was there to talk about the product he was building – a real product management system of record. This product, ProductBoard, is now available, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Hubert is a serial entrepreneur, with innovative and incisive ideas about how product management as a discipline can be improved. In this wide-ranging interview, we discuss Hubert’s background, how he moved into product management, his career at Good Data, where he was the VP of Product, and his decision to leave Good and start ProductBoard. This post is Part 1 of our interview, Part 2 is here. Three things you can do today As always, we like to give you actionable takeaways from our podcast episodes. The three ideas below come directly from the first part of our interview with Hubert. Get in the problem space, not the solution space. Immerse yourself and your team in the problem that needs to be solved. Then, don’t devote so much of your time to the design and the solution – that’s a job for designers and engineers. Your advice and review is valuable, but your focus should be articulating the problem, then giving the rest of your team space to solve it. Turn your company or tribal knowledge into a system. It’s valuable even before it’s perfect. Think about team knowledge, the captured information you have, as something that deserves a system of record. Hubert described how difficult it is to simply use your memory for this, especially when it’s more than just you on the team. Of course, you can take a look at Product Board, but as Hubert pointed out: the system matters less than simply getting something in place. Finding the problem is orders of magnitude more important than how efficiently you can create a solution. Although it’s hard and not very well-defined, the process and results of focusing on the problem first will save time and frustration for many cycles to come, and often result in better product performance. So spend time distilling the problem from every angle, and share that with the entire product team. It will act as a beacon of light to follow. Thanks to Hubert! Rob and I want to reiterate our thanks to Hubert for participating in our new podcast as our first interview! If you want to learn more about ProductBoard, you can visit productboard.com. You can follow Hubert on Twitter at @hpalan, and ProductBoard tweets at @productboard. As always, we’d love to ask two small favors from you: First, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find the podcast directly on this feed. Second, please rate the podcast on iTunes or “recommend” it on your podcast app. Finally, we really appreciate getting your opinion, so we’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or via Twitter (@atrnota) and our Medium publication, All The Responsibility.

24mins

15 Dec 2015

Rank #2

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All The Responsibility None Of The Authority Podcast – Season 2 Is Here!

My ATR-2100 Mic and Mac laptop – where the magic happens!It’s been just over a year since I started All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority, the podcast for product managers, product marketers, innovators, and entrepreneurs who want to be more effective and more successful creating and selling products. I published a total of eight podcast episodes – not terrible, considering that most podcasts end on or before their seventh episode. So I beat the point spread! And those were pretty meaty episodes – about product management systems of record, about the business value of product management, about a new way to think about product “requirements.” But for the second year of the podcast we’ll be a little more ambitious and get a lot more content out than the first year. Of course, still with the meatiness, the immediate applicability, and the powerful new ideas. So we’ve relaunched the podcast for Season 2. I say “we” because I’m joined by a new host! Rob McGrorty, product guy at Webgility in San Francisco, and an all around cool dude. The other big change is a new website to host the podcast, along with a new podcast feed. The first three episodes are now up on our new site, http://alltheresponsibility.com. You’re reading this because I will crosspost new episodes to this site – and this feed which you’re listening to – as well. If you’re an existing subscriber you don’t need to do anything to get the new season with me and Rob. So you can keep your subscription here, or if you like, get the new feed from alltheresponsibility.com. As always, we have our “three things you can start doing today to put these ideas into practice.” We want to give you concrete actions you can take from each of our episodes, which is a great savings in your cognitive capacity. (We’ll be doing a podcast on cognitive capacity and its implications for product managers later in the season.) Let’s get on with the new season! This is the short introductory episode, introducing Rob. And there are two more episodes following that, a very interesting two-part interview with someone I think is solving a very big problem for us product managers, as you’ll hear. And since today’s episode is “introduce the new season,” and this podcast help you become a better, more effective product person, the three things are focused on making sure you get every episode, and that every episode is as full of actionable content as possible. Sign up for our mailing list on http://alltheresponsibility.com. You can also easily subscribe to the podcast at alltheresponsibility.com/itunes, which definitely will give you insights on how to be a better product manager Write us a note in the comments, a tweet (@atrnota), an email, or leave us a voice message on the website with your ideas for what we should cover and whose insights you want to hear (that is, people we can interview). Let us know, good or bad, what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. Give us a rating on iTunes, tweet about the podcast, or otherwise share your thoughts and – hopefully – recommendation on this podcast with your tribe. The better everyone gets as product managers, the better off we all are.

14mins

11 Dec 2015

Rank #3

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Driving Sales Engagement With Emotionally Compelling Stories – Podcast Episode 8

Blog post/show notes Links to books mentioned Alan Cooper’s The Inmates Are Running The Asylum – one of the canonical texts on interaction design, the source (for me, anyway) of the concept “personal goals,” and a fun read. Dan Pink’s Drive, about how motivation really works, and To Sell Is Human, a fresh look at how people really buy things, and how to sell to them. Other blog posts This podcast is based on article an I posted a while ago, Don’t Just Use Social Proof, Make Sure It’s Personal. Other related articles from my site: Five surprising ideas that will help make customers love your product – a lot of these are about emotional engagement How much better a product has to be in concrete (that is, rational) terms before that itself is emotionally compelling, in The Order of Magnitude Rule of Thumb. Doug Hall’s Three Laws of Marketing Physics One thing that’s very compelling to your prospects is being kickass at their job – I wrote about this, and related ideas from Kathy Sierra – in The Best Way To Engage Your Audience Is To Help Them Kick Ass. Lines of questions These are the question prompters for eliciting personal goal-related stories I mentioned in the podcast: Did they have low expectations from having used other products, and your product exceeded those greatly? Was there a problem before they implemented your product that had personal impact that your product eliminated? Example: they couldn’t get to their kids’ baseball and soccer games because they had to work late every day, until your product made them much more efficient. Now they catch every game. Did they have a bad experience with a competitive product that your product didn’t have? “After tearing my hair out every month when we closed the books with our old product, I just have to click a button with Acme Financials. I’m not losing my hair anymore.” Do they talk about their success with your product in personal terms – “now I sleep better at night,” or “my stress level is much lower now?” Did their reputation or standing in the company change after they implemented your product? Eliminating annoying and tedious work is a great result as well, because everyone has the personal goal of “not having to do stupid stuff.” “Your product saved our department a lot of time and headaches by eliminating most of the tedious, manual tasks associated with our old process.” Three things you can do Here’s what you can do now to put these ideas into practice. Whenever you talk to a customer, try to elicit some thoughts about how your product has helped them satisfy personal goals, from being less annoyed by their work, to being more praised by their peers. You can use the list of points above as a guideline for your questions. I also recommend searching through your existing customer success stories, and the interviews that back them up, to see if you can find the quotes that represent personal successes for the speaker, and not just the achievement of business goals. Work with your marketing department to start using these personal goal quotes on your website as social proof for your product. Use A/B testing to confirm they create more engagement than what you might have there already. Transcript/script Here’s the script I used when recording the podcast. The script and the podcast diverge at points, due to, you know, improv!

14mins

14 Sep 2015

Rank #4

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What’s the Business Value of PM? Podcast Episode 7

In this podcast I go into a bit more detail about a topic I covered a few weeks ago in The Astonishing Financial Benefits of Improving PM Effectiveness, namely, the “business value” of product management. (By the way, I was happy to see this concept mentioned in Janna Bastow’s post on ProdPad this week – How Much is a Product Manager Worth? Setting Product Management KPIs.) There’s a very big number involved – $41,000 per day. Or $10 million per year. In the podcast I talk about the implications of that number. If you can improve your performance against this number, the results go almost straight to the bottom line. ([tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#prodmgmt”]When u improve your performance as a #prodmgr the results go straight to the bottom line -[/tweetthis]) And I set out some guidance on how to use the number to assess your product management organization and analyze your performance. I describe an action plan to hit that giant number, some of the key steps of which are: Find big market problems by doing constant discovery. Dozens or hundreds of conversations yield a handful of insights. You need a “market problem” pipeline – just like the sales pipeline. (By the way, you’re not going to have time to write a lot of user stories.) Once you’ve found and validated important market problems to solve, and selected the best one or few to focus on, then you need to guide the creation of excellent solutions to those problems. And you need to prepare sales and marketing to go out and find and close the people who have those problems. Summary Product managers have a number. You can use the number for assessment, analysis, and guidance. Becoming more effective goes straight to the bottom line. Being more effective is mostly about the problem, not the solution. Better problem leads to more revenue. A PM’s stock in trade is important market problems that people will pay to solve. If that’s not what we’re working on, we’re probably not going to hit that big number. And to whet your appetite for some upcoming topics, here’s a chart I created recently. Not all market problems are the same. The ones you come up with on your own are worth, generally, a lot less than the ones you discover. But discovering real big market problems requires a lot of listening for very “weak signals” – that will be a topic for an upcoming podcast. If you like this podcast, please subscribe via iTunes (search for “responsibility authority” to find the listing) or your favorite subscription method via this feed. And please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. The feedback is very helpful for me.

19mins

19 Jun 2015

Rank #5

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The Characteristics, Skills, and Mindset Of An Effective Product Manager – Podcast Episode #6

It’s a question that comes up all the time – how do I get into product management if I am trained to do something else? I answer the question obliquely, by listing out the characteristics, skills, and mindset you need to be a successful product manager. The characteristics, skills, and mindset you need to be a successful product managerClick To Tweet Links Bob Sutton on strong opinions, weakly held. “I’ve been pretty obsessed about the difference between smart people and wise people for years. I tried to write a book called ‘The Attitude of Wisdom’ a couple times. And the virtues of wise people – those who have the courage to act on their knowledge, but the humility to doubt what they know – is one of the main themes in Hard Facts [one of Bob’s excellent books].” My earlier article about optimization. Thanks for listening I’d like to hear your feedback on this episode, and on the podcast in general. Comment here, or tweet me at @nilsie on Twitter. If you like this podcast, please subscribe via iTunes (search for “responsibility authority” to find the listing) or your favorite subscription method. And please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. I love your feedback!

12mins

12 May 2015

Rank #6

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A VALUABLE Rubric For Product Requirements – Podcast Episode #5

In this podcast I talk about a problem that afflicts many product companies – poor communication between product management and developers. And I describe an approach that can help improve the communication, and improve everyone’s motivation – a new rubric for writing good requirements which I call VALUABLE. That’s an acronym for: Valuable, Aligned, Loved, Understood, Acceptance tests, Bounded, Leverages, and Expected Usage. It will all become clear when you listen to the podcast – or download the infographic. The infographic I mention in the podcast is here – please feel free to download it and print it out and put it up on your wall. Or whatever you want to do with it. In the podcast I mentioned a number of earlier posts, a book, and some useful posts on other peoples’ blogs. Links You can find Scott Selhorst’s Big 10 Rules For Writing Good Requirements on his excellent blog Tyner-Blain. Dan Pink’s Drive book is terrific. Kathy Sierra says “It’s the best summary of self-determination theory,” by which she means “It explains a ton of how and why we act the way we do, including what really motivates us to do stuff.” (By the way, you cannot go wrong watching this Kathy Sierra talk from the 2012 Business Of Software Conference – I recommend it constantly.) I wrote recently about the product management lexicon and why it’s time to rethink a lot of the words we’re using, often because we’ve just inherited them from “IT” – Information Technology – and while they sound like they apply to product management, they really don’t. One of my favorite techniques for quality requirements is the “Impact Areas” concept, which should be part of the table of contents of your requirements. Templates and other guides are covered in the extract from the first chapter of my (in-progress, not-yet-finished) book. My thinking about how interesting things – that is, new product capabilities that provide significant value to customers – are usually not estimatable, even if we are confident that they are “attainable,” to use Scott Selhorst’s phrase. If you like this podcast, please subscribe via iTunes (search for “responsibility authority” to find the listing) or your favorite subscription method via this feed. And please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. The feedback is very helpful for me.

14mins

22 Jan 2015

Rank #7

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Reversing Cognitive Decline – Podcast Episode #4

As a product manager, one of your most precious resources is your “cognitive storage tank.” It’s like a real fuel tank – when it’s exhausted, your cognitive abilities stop working well. And when that happens, it means you can’t be as innovative, you can’t be as creative, and your decisions get worse. To improve our effectiveness as product managers, one key step is managing the cognitive storage tank. In this podcast I describe some techniques and tools for eliminating wasteful leaks from your storage tank – I hope the ideas will be helpful for you as you improve your effectiveness as a product manager. Let me know in the comments on the show notes if you have additional thoughts or questions. Show Notes “Your App Is Making Me Fat,” by a guru of helping people be more effective so they can kick ass, Kathy Sierra (btw, you should also watch this Kathy Sierra video if you want to really help your customers be successful). Earlier podcast on “Baling Wire and Chewing Gum Product Management System of Record“ Prioritizing features analytically – here are a few techniques: Jason Brett’s 60-Second Business Case, how the Aha! tool implements scorecards, and an approach I like to use. If you like this podcast, please subscribe via iTunes (you can search for “responsibility authority” to find the listing) or your favorite subscription method via this feed. And please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. The feedback is very helpful for me.

11mins

8 Dec 2014

Rank #8

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Why “CEO of the Product” Is So Last Year – Podcast Episode #3

How do you describe product management? Do you find yourself saying “I’m the CEO of the product?” Do you think anyone understands what you mean when you say that? This week’s podcast talks about a better way to answer that question, one that puts the fundamental job of product management – solving problems for people who will pay for the solutions – front and center. Missing from the podcast is this image (for obvious reasons): The Product Management FrameworkAt the end of the podcast I mention three things you can do immediately to start putting this information to use: Clearly articulate the problem your product is solving for your customer, and write that down so it becomes a corporate asset Make sure you validate that this really is a problem that customers in the market will pay for a solution for Start explaining how your product is better than its competitors at solving that problem – which is why customers should buy yours rather than theirs I hope this framework will be helpful for you in thinking about what you do as a product manager. Let me know in the comments if you have additional thoughts or questions. You can subscribe the podcast via this feed, or via iTunes.

6mins

24 Nov 2014

Rank #9

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All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority Podcast – A Roll-Your-Own Product Management System of Record

I’ve posted the latest episode from the All The Responsibility, None Of The Authority podcast on how to be an effective product manager. The topic for this episode is something I’ve written about a few times – the product management system of record. We do a lot of stuff in the course of being product managers, but most of our output – customer interview notes, value propositions, sales support materials – has no defined place to live. This means it’s difficult to collaborate around the information, and it’s difficult to get evergreen value out of it. In this episode I outline a system of record for all this product management output that your product management organization can create out of existing tools, like a wiki. (At least until someone builds a commercial system for us.) Episode Topics Why we need a system of record What to put in it How doing a little extra manual work will pay off in making us much more effective How to start creating a system of record for customer interactions using a wiki Potential risks and disadvantages of my proposed wiki-based, “baling wire and chewing gum” system of record Please let me know what you think in the comments on this post. Show Notes There are no special notes or links for this episode, but when I get videos and further instructions up, I’ll update this article to link to them. The feed for the podcast is https://alltheresponsibility.com/feed/podcast. It should be available on iTunes in a few days, and I will update this article when that happens. I hope you enjoy this episode! Please let me know what you think, and if you’d like me to cover any particular topics. Feedback is really motivating!

16mins

17 Nov 2014

Rank #10