My software product management career began when a colleague (and now mentor) dropped copies of Steve Blank’s Four Steps to the Epiphany and Marty Cagan’s Inspired on my desk. This changed my career in an instant. After years of being a developer turned Agile zen master, I finally had a new ethos where I could bootstrap my past experience with a new set of frameworks and mindset.
Fast forward to the present, and I believe there’s a thirst for tooling to support Software Product Management. Take what Peter Thiel wrote in his book Zero to One, where he writes about an interview technique he often uses. It consists of asking a candidate to “Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.” Peter’s motivation for this question was multi-faceted. However, I immediately paused the book (yes, audiobook, don’t judge!) and forced myself to come up with a single truth I could defend. Here’s what I came up with:
Software product management is a perpetually emergent craft that is commonly misunderstood, but more importantly, is sorely lacking supporting toolsets.
Here are three justifications for my argument:
1) My peers want them.
Now, there are a myriad books and blog posts out there that speak to the craft. When I chat (and often vent) to fellow product folks, I almost always hit a nerve on a desire for better PM tools. Although there are some early entrants to address this, we see a huge untapped opportunity. Check out Productizer.io to learn more about how Modus Create is tackling the problem.
2) Our clients need them.
Since I joined Modus Create two years ago, the company has been growing our Product Management consulting practice. For many of our engagements, we typically begin with training, and ease into a coaching role as soon as possible to ensure we help catalyze good product processes.
3) I have Excel and PowerPoint, what else do I need?
As a practitioner of product management myself, I’m always craving better ways to manage, well, everything. Google Apps scale well to capture ideas, manage Product Marketing assets etc, but at a certain point, you need to scale. To keep your product development team happy, as well as your internal stakeholders, users, and buyers happy – you need a communication tool that keeps everyone aligned, and helps scale yourself while satisfying all fronts vying for your attention.
3a) Don’t forget training.
Ben Horowitz, in his book Hard Things, dedicates significant focus on the general lack of training for all disciplines in a software company. We couldn’t agree more. Training materials can serve as a great baseline of a toolset on which one can introduce more As a follow-up to our first Product Kickstart workbook, we’re focusing on providing even more valuable training material. It will also include activities and examples based on experiences with our customers.
A product for Product. Its so meta!
Queue the Inception jokes now.
It’s not lost on us that since the core user base for Productizer.io are Product people, that it sets an even higher bar of execution. We feel we’re up for the challenge.
How do you see the market for Product Management tools? Tell us in the comments below.