Making Yourself Disposable

One of the best leaders I ever worked with was my first XO at 1-14th Cavalry David Polizzotti. One day while we were deployed to Afghanistan I was stressing about something and he very calmly looked at me and told me that I needed to do a better job at accepting that I as an individual was a wholly replaceable cog in the machine. At the time that felt like a hard thing to swallow....

May 16, 2022 · 3 min · Andy Nortrup

Manipulating the Sorted Backlog

I’ve written recent guides to creating a backlog from scratch and sorting your backlog by value and effort. As part of building and sorting the ideas and initiatives on your roadmap you will start to show that roadmap to other people. When you do people will have opinions about the order that you have sorted things in. In most cases their opinion will either be agreement, or more commonly, they would like the thing that is important to them to be higher on the list....

April 18, 2022 · 3 min · Andy Nortrup

Quick prioritization of a backlog

There is a lot of complexity in Product Management, but at the very heart of it what we look to do is order all of the things we could be doing to produce the most value possible. To do that we have to carefully weight the balance of value to effort in order to properly sequence the infinite set of work that we could be doing. Estimating is a tricky and messy business, and I’m frequently skeptical of....

April 18, 2022 · 4 min · Andy Nortrup

Roadmaps From Scratch

Very rarely will you build a roadmap from absolute scratch. But the technique is helpful because you can apply the process to help rationalize or refit an existing roadmap. I’m a strong believer that you should be able to connect all the work you are doing from top to bottom of the company. A developer should be able to look at any task and put it into the context of the larger solution they are building, the problem it solves for the customer, and the business objective that it supports....

April 2, 2022 · 4 min · Andy Nortrup

Product Management Scale Up

In several PM Communities I frequent I see people who constantly ask, should I take a job a this series A or B startup, or a job at some extreme scale public cloud or tech company. Every time I see it I’m confused by it because I think of those companies being so far apart in experience that you should spend your time clarifying what you want in a job before trying to pick one or the other. In a hyperscale company there is tremendous specialization for products with billions of users. At a small start up it’s all generalists. ...

March 7, 2022 · 2 min · Andy Nortrup

What I look for in Flow Metrics

I’ve been pulling and analyzing Mik Kirsten’s Flow Framework metrics for several months at work. I do this with an incredibly ugly Clojure script that I wrote to learn Clojure. But I do think the metrics themselves have been a helpful lens to look at what is happening. Here are some of the questions I ask myself when I sit down to analyze the metrics. ...

October 31, 2021 · 3 min · Andy Nortrup

Experimenting with your process

I spoke recently with someone who was new to Product Management and was trying to learn how to do the job by reading blogs and books that talk about everyone’s ideal nirvana of product management. As he compared that with his organization (a large, well-respected company), he was distressed at the difference between what they saw and what they understood to be best practice. He was even debating if he should leave his current gig to work somewhere he could learn and practice this best-in-class PM craft. ...

August 27, 2021 · 2 min · Andy Nortrup

Against Global Priorities

I’ve been working with some stakeholders on how we do prioritization as a Product Management team. I started by trying to build a matrix that would serve as an easy key for keeping product managers mostly on the same page for setting the priority field in JIRA. I think there is value in having common standards. But the more I thought about the problem, I got more uncomfortable, because we can’t prioritize globally and take into account local context. ...

December 14, 2020 · 3 min · Andy Nortrup

Outcome First Roadmaps

I’m sure if you’ve talked to me recently you’ve heard my song and dance on outcomes based road mapping. As I’ve been talking about it over the past few weeks something really clicked for me on why it’s so important to identify the outcomes early in the definition of an idea. When you are trying to get work prioritized and on the road map, it’s straightforward to start with a name for the solution that conveys meaning and then find supporters who also like the sound of the idea. An easy default is to talk about the solution you are proposing to fix a problem. They go together to help form a narrative story that works well in a meeting. We have this problem, and here is the solution! While this is really appealing, it also leaves us some challenges on the backend. If we prioritize problems with a measurement of what we are going to achieve better alignment on why we are trying to solve this problem, and allow ourselves more freedom to discover the right solution. ...

November 16, 2020 · 6 min · Andy Nortrup

Enterprise Product Integrations Journey

If you start building an enterprise product eventually you are going to get asked to start building integrations with other enterprise products. This is ultimately an essential evil. Your customers already have a host of enterprise products handling the rest of their workflow. Your product is looking to do something with data coming from or going to another part of the business workflow. No one wants to reenter all of their data into a new system by hand, you need to be part of the ecosystem....

September 28, 2020 · 7 min · Andy Nortrup