New perspectives from the bleeding edge of product management with Ryan Singer and Chris Spiek.
Metrics aren't projects
What's the relationship between shaping projects and targeting specific metrics for the business? Chris offers a way of thinking of metric goals (like number of signups or usage of a particular feature) as a filter for potential bets. This leads to a discussion about the betting table, who makes the trade-offs about what to do next, and how research into the demand side plays into the shaping and betting process.
The slapdash meeting
You've probably been in a "slapdash" planning meeting — too many people, shallow preparation, not enough time, with too many unanswered questions spiraling out. You have to make a decision but nobody feels good about it.
We contrast that with having separate shaping, de-risking, and betting meetings. Shaping sessions are small, private, and intensely collaborative. In the de-risking rooms, technical people give input to the concept so you have better answers to the hard questions later. Chris tells before/after stories that show how different it is to bet on a project after doing the right kind of pre-work.
Turn big unknowns into focused projects
We get a bad feeling whenever we’re tasked with working on a feature with a lot of unknowns.
The project starts when someone says, “we’ve all been talking about making _that_ better for a long time.” But when we start to discuss and detail the project, a concrete definition of “better” is nowhere to be found.
Better to who? Better in which situations? The upside of the project is unclear.
The same lack of clarity exposes us to downside risk. We are free to include anything in the feature that can be justified as making it better. We don’t have the ability to say no to any idea, and because shipping is a one-way street, we’re committing to maintaining, improving, and expanding these new aspects of the product far into the future.
In this episode you’ll learn how to think about these projects by going into a mode of risk management. Ryan and Chris also introduce a tool that they use to diagram a demand-side struggle and work towards a solution.
Feature requests aren't demand
In any product role, deciding what to build, what to prioritize, and what to avoid can be stomach-turning work. The closer we get to identifying demand (what people want from our product), the better we feel. The trap is that in many cases, when we think we’ve identified demand, what we have really identified is just supply-side thinking (features to be built). In this episode you’ll learn how misinterpreting an idea as demand can lead to building an expensive feature that nobody wants. Ryan and Chris also give a preview of what's to come on the series.
Thanks, this is great.
Very nice, very cool
The last episode gives Shaping Up some real-world context.