• Five years in Product - The Team

    The third in a series on my years in product management. In this post I explore what it was like to help build a product team, and then work within it. #prodmgmt (b-ark.ca/Y6C044)

    This is part three in a series on my career shift from software development to product management. If you haven’t read the preceding posts and you’re interested, you can start with part one!

    When I first took on the role of Product Manager, it was basically a solo role. While I had plenty of support from our executive team, and a lot of help and direction from both my superiors and my colleagues, absent a dedicated staff, if things needed to be done, I either had to do them myself or trick others to do them for me!

    On its face this might seem a bit crazy (and it was!), but it’s important to realize that, at the time, the company had not yet made the shift to an Agile Scrum development model. As a result, back then, if you had asked me to describe the Product Manager role, I would have described it as high-level and directional, while the actual day-to-day execution was being handled by my colleagues in various other departments, particularly development. As a result, a lot of my time was spent on bigger picture stuff: building roadmaps (badly), scoping releases, collecting and managing customer requests, general process development and refinement, and so on.

    It’s also worth noting that, at the time, I don’t think any of us at the company had a clear picture of how to integrate a Product Management function into the company in a holistic way, not the least of which because, while this was only five years ago, the role was less defined than it is now. And as I mentioned in my first post, ultimately, layering Product Management as a function into an existing organization is an exercise in change management, and we were still figuring out what that meant.

    Fortunately, Agile Scrum came along and gave us a model for how to integrate Product Management into software development in a coherent way: The Product Owner role. And if we were going to have Product Owners, those POs needed to get their direction from somewhere, and that somewhere could be the Product Management group (i.e. me)!

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  • Five years in Product - The Pivot

    It's been over five years since I moved into software product management and it's been quite a ride. Given it's nearly the end of 2019, I thought it would be fun to do a little retrospective! This is part one: the pivot. #prodmgmt (b-ark.ca/kY2SUg)

    Anyone who knows me knows that I basically grew up around computers. I began my lifetime of coding very early on, beginning with a BASIC interpreter and a library book and rapidly progressing to HyperCard, Logo, and then eventually Turbo Pascal. By high school I was one of a few obsessives who spent all their time in the computer lab where, if I wasn’t playing games or messing around with the equipment, I was writing code.

    I was, in short, a computer nerd.

    And, while my professional life has moved in a different direction, this still true to this day. I honestly doubt there’ll ever be a time when I’m not tinkering away on one project or another. Heck, the relaunch of this blog was as much an excuse to mess around with Jekyll as anything else…

    But the idea that I would ever be anything but a “computer guy” never would’ve crossed my mind. I suspect my past self would be rather surprised by where I now find myself!

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