What I Learned from Interviewing 85 Product Manager Candidates in 18 Months

This post was originally published on Inside Q4, stories and lessons learned from the Q4 Inc. R&D team. The requirement was extreme: hire 15 Product Managers (and one Director of Product) in the next year and a half. When I arrived at Q4 in October of 2021, we were entering a period of hyper-growth in ProductContinue reading “What I Learned from Interviewing 85 Product Manager Candidates in 18 Months”

How not to respond to negative product feedback in the press

In yesterday’s journal there was an interview with the CEO of The Weather Channel, talking about the future of Weather content. Weather might seem trivial, but it’s one of the most important kinds of content to get right on any platform. Companies like Yahoo, Apple, Samsung, and others agonize over how to present weather contentContinue reading “How not to respond to negative product feedback in the press”

The Law of Conservation of Complexity

When I was a wee pup working on My Yahoo, this was a crime I committed more than once. We’d argue about how a particular feature should work, narrow things down to two contradictory options, and end up implementing both as a “configurable setting.” Users would then never find or use the setting, and we’dContinue reading “The Law of Conservation of Complexity”

Don’t be a slave to the backlog.

I’ve been spending a lot of time helping one client with their 2011 Product Roadmap. Although we’re not “doing Agile,” I’ve introduced them to the product backlog. So far it’s been a powerful planning tool. So Scott Sehlhorst’s post on how to prioritize resonated with me. When creating a backlog, or managing features, you needContinue reading “Don’t be a slave to the backlog.”

Getting a New Team to do Cool Stuff

When I took on my current job I was given an established product team and a mostly-new engineering team. We also had a brand new engineering manager, QA manager, and program manager working with us. Our job was to launch an all-new version of Toolbar while we maintained our existing versions and continued to supportContinue reading “Getting a New Team to do Cool Stuff”

Design by Objective

I’m a big fan of managing by objective. Wherever possible, I believe that PMs, engineers, testers and designers should begin their work by first agreeing to (or at least accepting) a list of user and business objectives that a feature or product should fulfill. This will be useful in framing the many discussions that willContinue reading “Design by Objective”

Rule 2: Don’t be a victim.

As a product manager it is tempting to blame failures on the action – or inaction – of others. This is dangerous because it allows one to avoid responsibility for the commtiments they make. To be a great product manager you have to be a good leader. That means holding yourself accountable. The best definitionContinue reading “Rule 2: Don’t be a victim.”

Rule 1: “No, you are not the user.”

For all my time at Yahoo I’ve had the good fortune of working under Tapan Bhat. I worked for him directly for the first year as we tried to sort out My Yahoo!. “My” was and is a pretty geeky product, with a lot of power user features. Our job was to figure out howContinue reading “Rule 1: “No, you are not the user.””