Tensions in Product Ops Tool Design

I think my core challenge with Product Ops, particularly standing it up from scratch, is the tension for modeling systems and processes as they are now vs how I want them to be. Paired with the tension between how much we need to change and how fast the organization is able to absorb change. Especially as the guardian and manager of the product tool stack. I know that if I set up the tools the way we work now, then everyone will continue the way we are now....

January 28, 2023 · 2 min · Andy Nortrup

Better Product Management through Bonsai

Two years ago my wife bought me a class to make a bonsai. I made a tiny tree in a small pot. It was generous to call it a Bonsai and most practitioners would look upon it with a sense of “that’s cute”. Since then, I’ve managed to keep that tree alive and now have a collection of trees that I’m slowly turning into Bonsai. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about horticulture and art, and maybe some things that make me a better product manager along the way....

December 27, 2022 · 6 min · Andy Nortrup

Product Operations First Take

I recently took on the role of Product Operations at Tanium. Which has been a wild ride and one of my most exciting things I’ve done in product in a long time. Here are some early notes by way of an experience report for others who might end up walking this path. Some context; when I started this role, I had been at Tanium for two and a half years which is a good amount of time to learn the ins and the outs of the organization....

December 18, 2022 · 6 min · Andy Nortrup

Being a Platform PM

I’ve spent a lot of time as a platform product manager. At Splunk I managed the app certification platform that Splunkbase and Cloud relied on. Later I helped build the platform services for Splunk Cloud Services from the ground up. At Tanium I managed the Tanium Data Service which served as a common data layer for all of our modules. Being the PM for a deeply technical platform team can be really hard....

October 31, 2022 · 3 min · Andy Nortrup

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