Example of the filled-in prioritization 'tray'

Running a Cross-Team Initiatives Prioritization Brainstorm

Late in 2022, I was looking to get alignment on cross-team initiatives we’d work on in 2023 across multiple teams. I wanted input from a certain group of engineering managers and product managers on:

  • Which initiatives we wanted to go after
  • What our order of priority was

Whenever possible, getting input from everyone involved leads to far better results from both a buy-in perspective and from a two (or more) heads-are-better-than-one perspective than just making the decision yourself in a vacuum. You can’t always make decisions by committee, but you can get input that way. In this case, I was able to both get consensus and the input ended up changing my mind so that I was aligned with the group on the priorities.

This post is about how I set up the brainstorm.

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Creating Team-Driven Product Management Principles

Inspired by Martin Eriksson’s Product Decision Stack video, I set up a brainstorm for my team. What were our PM principles that could act as “shortcuts” in helping us make difficult decisions that would also ladder up to our strategy and vision?

The product managers watched a few key minutes of Eriksson’s video, and then we brainstormed.

The board was set up  like this, in Miro:

[sticky note] even over [sticky note]
[sticky note] even over [sticky note]
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Learning Tech Basics for Non-Technical PMs

As a product manager without a technical background, I’ve faced challenges in getting a deep enough understanding of the tech used at my company to be able to effectively understand the conversations that I’m a part of.

In my past career as a UX director, I worked a great deal with various eCommerce systems (Websphere and Hybris) as well as CMSes (mostly Adobe Experience Manager). But now that I work at a B2B SaaS company, the technologies are considerably different. And since we’re 100% remote, it’s not possible to overhear developer chatter and pick up on context.

While obviously I can (and do!) ask the developers directly to explain key concepts, I’ve found some great resources online that have helped a great deal.

Every time that I hear a new technical term that I’m not familiar with during a meeting, I write it in a doc. When I have a free moment, I look it up and add a definition to the doc, creating a great resource for myself that grows over time.

In this article, I’ve listed out a variety of free and paid resources that might be helpful for others in a similar position.

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How vision, strategy, objectives, epics, and principles relate to one another

Book Review: Strong Product People

Strong Product People: A Complete Guide to Developing Great Product Managers by Petra Wille

When I was offered the opportunity to become Head of Product Management at my current job, I looked for resources to help inform my approach.

I couldn’t have dreamed up a better or more practical resource than Petra Wille’s Strong Product People. The book is simply packed full of useful, tactical, real-world advice.

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Showing PM at the intersection of technology, data, business, and UX

From UX Director to Product Manager

I recently gave a talk for UX Akron on the similarities and differences between being a UX director at an agency vs a client-side product manager. I made that switch mid-year 2020, after more than 6 years as a UX director.

I covered:

  • A brief definition of what a digital product manager is
  • The differences in terms of where I spend my time as a UX director vs a product manager within a given project
  • The skills needed for a product manager vs a UX director
  • Resources to learn more about becoming a product manager

You can watch a video of the presentation, look at the presentation itself, or check out my summary below.

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