• Freedom and Autonomy

    In a digital world where innovation is key, where data is flowing freely both inside and outside the company, and where change is constant, work has become increasingly complex, changeable, and informal in nature.

    As a result, an organization needs to get rid of its traditional hierarchy—which mainly promotes people having interactions with others in their own department—in favor of a system which encourages input and collaboration from people with different skill sets across functions internally and externally with partners and customers.

    Therefore, leaders need to focus on bringing strong people together and giving them greater freedom to generate ideas and execute them through collaboration.

    A leader should articulate what needs to be done and why, and then let the team decide how to do it.

    She will set things in motion, guide her team, and clear the obstacles when the team is in trouble.

    This has similarities with the role of a product manager. She will have to work cross‐ functionally with teammates and stakeholders, lead, influence, motivate, and trust them—without ever ordering them to do anything.

    She will ensure they are motivated and know what their purpose is. She will coach them and help them develop in a safe environment. She will connect the dots internally and externally to empower her team with additional information, better tools, and efficiency.

    She will ensure that they have the data they need to experiment and iterate quickly, as well as the autonomy to make informed decisions based on their learning. She will clarify the chaos in a world where change is a constant.

    EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

  • The product vision is what drives and inspires the company and sustains the company through the ups and downs. This may sound straightforward, but it’s tricky. That’s because there are two very different types of product leaders needed for two very different situations:

    • Where there is a CEO or a founder who is the clear product visionary
    • Where there is no clear product visionary—usually in situations where the founder has moved on

    There are two very bad situations you may encounter related to product vision and strategy.

    The first is when you have a CEO who is very strong at product and vision, but she wants to hire a VP product (or, more often, the board pushes her to hire a VP product), and she thinks she should be hiring someone in her own image—or at least visionary like her. The result is typically an immediate clash and a short tenure for the VP product. If this position looks like a revolving door, it’s very possible that’s what’s going on.

    The second bad situation is when the CEO is not strong at vision, but she also hires someone in her own image. This doesn’t result in the clash (they often get along great), but it does leave a serious void in terms of vision, and this causes frustration among the product teams, poor morale across the company, and usually a lack of innovation.

    The key here is that the VP product needs to complement the CEO. If you have a strong, visionary CEO, there may be some very strong VP product candidates that won’t want the position because they know that, in this company, their job is primarily to execute the vision of the CEO.

    — INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

  • Replication as a mental model teaches us that we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Often a good starting point is what others are doing. Once you get a sense and a feel for the environment you can adapt to better suit your own needs.

    What we need to remember is that effective replication requires enough structure and space to produce a copy, but enough flexibility to adapt that copy to changes in the environment. Just because something has worked for a while doesn’t mean that it will continue to be effective in perpetuity. Maintaining a successful approach requires an ability to grow and modify that approach as required.

    — The Great Mental Models Volume 2: Physics, Chemistry and Biology by Shane Parrish, Rhiannon Beaubien

  • The story of a new product, from conception to widespread use and high market share, is usually one of ups and downs. There are so many facets of business to learn, from production to sales to marketing, that for novice businesspeople trying to turn their great idea into a successful sales story, there are usually a few mistakes along the way.

    In addition, we often have to manage traversing our own peaks and valleys while trying to ensure that our current capacities don’t limit our ability to climb a higher peak. Using the lens of global and local maxima shows that often in bringing a new product to market, there are many times the owners reach a peak of success only to have to go down to a local minimum as they take on the next challenging climb.

    — The Great Mental Models Volume 3: Systems and Mathematics by Rhiannon Beaubien, Rosie Leizrowice

  • Creativity is needed to come up with original ideas, which need to be critiqued, evaluated, and elaborated. Many different possibilities need to be explored before focusing on those that have the most potential value. And it is product teams that are able to combine these different behaviors—and switch between them in flexible ways—that are best suited to succeed in the world in which we now find ourselves.

    — EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

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