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The Reality Of Product Management Isn't Like The Books And Blog Posts

Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers
Hello fellow punks! 
Welcome to the 7 of you who have signed up for this since the last issue. It’s great to have you on board. Hopefully you’ll stick with me while I figure out what this newsletter is all about.
Here’s this week’s issue ⬇️

Don't go chasing Waterfall...
Just because the reality of your product management experience is a million miles away from what Marty Cagan lays out in Inspired, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
Like Jason Knight says:
Jason Knight
"Inspired" & all the other product management books are like studying for your driving test. You need to internalise as much as possible but they're not going to help you park a car in a space the size of the car with screaming kids etc. The sooner we accept this is OK the better
Books and blog posts often paint an idealised view of product management which is far removed from the world of many product managers who find themselves forced to reconcile their outcome-driven ideals with the feature factory ways of working of their organisations. 
If you’re building products for a Waterfall-led company where driving organisational change is like trying to turn a supertanker, then you need to be realistic about the impact you can make on your culture. 
Working within the realms of Waterfall or LeSS (or even SAFe) doesn’t make you a bad product manager, though. 
Being successful as a PM is about delivering value for your customers and organisation. If you’re doing that, then the framework you’re using doesn’t really matter:
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
Unpopular opinion:

Waterfall done well is better than agile done badly.
Even Marty acknowledges that Inspired is a book to take inspiration from, not a manual you need to follow to the letter:
Anthony Marter
@tobiasrogers At the launch of Empowered I asked Marty whether he thought we were making progress towards the end state he envisaged (as surely stopping waste is common sense right?). His answer kinda aligned with my observations - he thinks we're regressing and one of the key culprits is SAFe
A lot of product management thought leadership is unrealistic, but if it’s helping you get a little bit closer to great then it’s worth it.
What I've been reading 📚
I’ve got a degree in Media Studies and used to be a freelance music journalist, so I think a lot about communication.
As a Product Manager, the way you communicate can be one of the most powerful levers of success. This article from Ancestry CEO Deb Liu has some great advice on how to get better at the art of getting your perspective across to others 🎙
Manage Your Communications Like You Manage Your Product
Continuing on the communication theme, I loved this thread from former CIA man Aaron Berman with tips on how to explain complex issues to busy people learned from his time editing the President’s Daily Brief 🗣
Aaron Berman
I'm recently reminded that the tips I learned editing the President's Daily Brief can help anyone writing on complex issues, like for busy executives, or for random people on Twitter.

So here are they are, with Star Wars examples. These are simple, but hard.🧵

1/n
When it comes to product managers you can learn from, Gibson Biddle is one of the best.
During his time as VP of Product at Netflix, he oversaw the company’s transition from mail-order DVD rental to one of the biggest players in tech.
Here’s the story of that transformation through personalisation 📀
A Brief History of Netflix Personalization (Part One, from 1998 to 2006)
What I've been writing ✍️
My first product management job was as the first-ever product manager at an edtech company. I had no idea, really, what it was all about.
From creating dependency-laden Gantt charts (a bad idea), to thinking all the decisions about what we were building sat with me, I’ve made a ton of mistakes getting to where I am now.
Here are the top ten so hopefully you don’t end up making them ❌
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
Product management is hard.

Here are the 10 biggest mistakes I've made as a product manager so you can avoid them 🧵 ⬇️
That’s it! 
See you next week (probably). 
Toby 
The Punk PM 
P.S. Feel free to share this with anyone else you think would find it interesting.
I’m still playing around with ideas for content and format for this newsletter, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead and shoot me an email with ways you think I can make it better.
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Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers @tobiasrogers

Product management musings from your favourite Punk PM

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