Karmona Pragmatic Blog

Don't get overconfident… Tiny minds also think alike

Karmona Pragmatic Blog

Five Elements a Product Manager should Master

December 28th, 2014 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

Five Elements a Product Manager should Master

Leadership*; Ship Amazing Products!; Customers 1st; Storytelling; Passionate (II**);

Kung-Fu-Pandas

 

Leadership*

They are the most important Leaders in a product driven organization – Product is where the magic happens and almost everything else connect. They should master the first 6 Leadership Super Powers (#7 Leadership Superpowers*) … Passionate; Inconceivable Tenacity; Hyper Strategist; Inspiring; Craftsmanship;

 

Ship Amazing Products!

They ship Products! They do whatever-it-takes to make the product successful!

They create value by combining wisdom, science and art, they are highly analytical (data driven) with attention to both the big picture (market, target user segment, positioning, company strategy and goals, competitive positioning) and the tiniest details of their domain (day-to-day constraints, compromises, content plan, edge cases, design trade-offs, engineering dependencies etc.). They can zoom out and drill down unlike others. They are Polymath. They have a strong background in many fields. Design, UX, Technical Architecture, Marketing, Engineering, Business Analysis, Project Management, Statistics, Sociology, Psychology, History and many others. Always curious and eager to understand and learn more.

“Good product managers know the market, the product, the product line and the competition extremely well and operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence. A good product manager is the CEO of the product.
A good product manager takes full responsibility and measures themselves in terms of the success of the product. They are responsible for right product/right time and all that entails. A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).
Bad product managers have lots of excuses. Not enough funding, the engineering manager is an idiot, Microsoft has 10 times as many engineers working on it, I’m overworked, I don’t get enough direction”

~Ben Horowitz | Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager | http://a16z.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/good-product-manager.pdf

 

Customers 1st

They must understand their Customers better than anyone else.

“Empathy – We will truly understand their needs better than any other company…” ~Mike Markkula | January 3, 1977 | “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” … a.k.a. Empathy; Focus; Impute

 

Storytelling

They must have supreme communication skills. They connect the Strategy and Vision to the Tactics and Details. They are “The Context Providers”

“Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.” ~Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last

 

Passionate (II**)

They must be fanatical about building amazing products. They are passionate about the Product Vision. They are passionate about their Customers. They are passionate about *every* aspect of the product experience.

(**Disclaimer: This was also hiding in the Leadership* element above but Passion has it own set of rules… ;)

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” ~Steve Jobs.

 

***************************************************************************
RELATED READING LIST

 

 

→ No CommentsTags: Leadership · Management · Product

#7 Leadership Superpowers

November 28th, 2014 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

Seven leadership superpower traits I value most in leaders

Passionate; Inconceivable Tenacity; Hyper Strategist; Inspiring; Craftsmanship; Authentic; Scale Masters

Avengers

 

Passionate

Leadership is a passionate (almost fanatical), inquisitive pursuit of a vision, of excellence, of perfection, of truth, of the impossible, of what’s next, of change, of value, of results, of knowledge, of experience, of learning, and of something bigger than yourself.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” ~Steve Jobs.

 

Inconceivable Tenacity

Leadership is about tenacity, focus, resilience, determination, persistence, disciplined consistency of action, values, standards, methods and results over time with inconceivable internal-locus-of-control.

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm” ~Sir Winston Churchill

 

Hyper Strategist

Leaders are hyper-vigilant (almost paranoid) in understanding, mapping and confronting their reality constantly. They have almost mystical ability to adapt, plan and pivot to seize opportunities, avoid obstacles and win the end-game.

“Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards… Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain” ~ Sun Tzu

 

Inspiring | X Factor

Leaders inspire others to move mountains when by all rights they shouldn’t believe they can and then do so… faster.

“High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.” ~George Orwell

 

Craftsmanship

Leaders are craftsmen, they create value by combining wisdom, science and art. They are highly analytical with attention to both the big picture and the tiniest details of their domain, and strive for excellence (“get the things done and then better”). They are super creative in hacking and reinventing solutions, experiences, and systems rejecting conventional wisdom, hype, and the madness of crowds.

“Faulkner is a writer who has had much to do with my soul, but Hemingway is the one who had the most to do with my craft – not simply for his books, but for his astounding knowledge of the aspect of craftsmanship in the science of writing” ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

Authentic

Leaders are authentic, genuine, transparent, straightforward, trusted. They “walk the talk”. They don’t play games. What you see is *exactly* what you get.

“When you have to shoot, shoot; don’t talk… But if you miss, you had better miss very well. Whoever double-crosses me and leaves me alive, he understands nothing about Tuco. Nothing!” ~Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (The Ugly :)

 

Scale Masters

Leaders with very rare recursion skill to lead, empower, delegate, grow, and mentor other leaders superheroes toward the same vision.

“I’ve been trying to control you since the day we met, and look where that’s got us. I have faith in you.” ~Charles Xavier

 

***************************************************************************
Related Reading List

 

Few more traits to consider

Visionary, Passionate , Authentic, Confident, Pragmatic, Straightforward, Professional, Caring, Proactive, Result oriented, Honest, Intelligent, Cooperative, Inspiring, Determined, Imaginative, Ambitious, Courageous, Mature, Loyal, Independent, Responsible, Confident, Enthusiastic, Decisiveness, Humility, Agile, Character, Initiative, Intuition, Positive Attitude, Persistent , Empathetic, Mentor, Goal oriented, Focused, Consisteness, Dedicated, Conscientiousness, Commitment, Trusting, Organized

→ No CommentsTags: Leadership · Management · People

The Pointy-Haired Boss Alter Ego

September 28th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 1 Comment

Robert (Bob) Sutton wrote insightful post about “Good Bosses” which I feel it worth more than just a tweet

With an evidence-based (experience studying and consulting to managers in many settings) approach he have identified a list of key beliefs that are held by the best bosses — and rejected, or more often simply never even thought about, by the worst bosses.

Here are the half dozen I liked most, you can read the rest (+ dedicated post on each one) on his HBR blog post.

  • I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
  • My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe — and to avoid imposing my own idiocy on them as well.
  • I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong — and to teach my people to do the same thing.
  • Innovation is crucial to every team and organization. So my job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas. But it is also my job to help them kill off all the bad ideas we generate, and most of the good ideas, too.
  • How I do things is as important as what I do.
  • Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk — and not realizing it.

@Bob, very insightful – Thanks!

By the way, just added his new book “Good Boss Bad Boss” to my Delver Wish-List… please feel more than free to surprise me ;)

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Random Quote“my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand” | Ada Lovelace (a.k.a. the *first* programmer)

→ 1 CommentTags: Leadership · Management · People

Underestimation is Underestimated

April 19th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 8 Comments

Underestimation is Underestimated (a.k.a. Overestimation is Overestimated)

Sometimes it seems like we have an underestimation gene embedded really deep in our cognition but for some “obvious” reason (e.g. underestimation! :) most manager will rather “fight” overestimation and *not* underestimation.

Disclaimer: I have originally estimated this post will take ~33 min but it took me ~240% more time… (this is why I prefer to tweet lately ;)

Six annoying facts about our (/homo sapiens) planning or estimation “skills”:

  • We are basically optimistic and have strong desire to please
  • We tend to have incomplete recall of previous experience
  • We tend to have focus bias when estimating e.g. estimating only the coding phase estimations which is only ~14-37% of the required work
  • We tend to postpone what we can a.k.a. “The Student Syndrome”  (Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Critical Chain)
  • “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law (Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid)
  • We tend to underestimate task completion times – a.k.a. The planning fallacy

Overestimation is Overestimated

“The developers say that this project will take 6 months… I think there’s some padding in their estimates and some fat that can be squeezed out of them…we also need to instill a sense of urgency in the development team… so I’m going to insist on a 3-month schedule. I don’t really believe the project can be completed in 3 months, but that’s what I’m going to present to the developers. If I’m right, the developers might deliver in 4 or 5 months. Worst case, the developers will deliver in the 6 months they originally estimated” (Does this ring *any* bell???)

Four reasons on managers tendency to “fight” overestimations:

  • Underestimation (see above :) | “The feature estimation seems bloated” | “Isn’t it 20 min work?” | “Just add another index to the %$^&ing table?” | “It is only one more button…”
  • Unreasonable time constraint | “We need this feature yesterday” | “Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself” (A. H. Weiler)
  • True belief that Parkinson’s “Law” is really a law – “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
  • “The Student Syndrome”  (see above)

So… if feature estimation seems bloated, managers and other project stakeholders fear that Parkinson’s Law and the Student Syndrome would kick in and therefore consciously squeeze the estimates to try to control it (a.k.a. “The Parkinson’s Squeeze”) and when we squeeze where it isn’t needed or was squeezed already, it immediately lead to… UNDERESTIMATION (!!!)

Underestimation is Underestimated

Underestimation creates numerous problems – some obvious, some not so obvious.

  • Reduced effectiveness of project plans – Low estimates undermine effective planning by feeding bad assumptions into plans for specific activities. They can cause planning errors in the team size, such as planning to use a team that’s smaller than it should be. They can undermine the ability to coordinate among groups – if the groups aren’t ready when they said they would be, other groups won’t be able to integrate with their work. If the estimation errors caused the plans to be off by only 5% or 10%, those errors wouldn’t cause any significant problems but numerous studies have found that software estimates are often inaccurate by 100% or more (see above). When the planning assumptions are wrong by this magnitude, the average project’s plans are based on assumptions that are so far off that the plans are virtually useless.
  • Statistically reduced chance of on-time completion – Developers typically estimate 20% to 30% lower than their actual effort. Merely using their normal estimates makes the project plans optimistic. Reducing their estimates even further simply reduces the chances of on-time completion even more.
  • Poor technical foundation leads to worse-than-nominal results. A low estimate can cause you to spend too little time on upstream activities such as requirements and design. If you don’t put enough focus on requirements and design, you’ll get to redo your requirements and redo your design later in the project – at greater cost than if you’d done those activities well in the first place. This ultimately makes your project take much longer than it would have taken with an accurate estimate.
  • Destructive late-project dynamics make the project worse than nominal Once a project gets into “late” status, project teams engage in numerous activities that they don’t need to engage in during an “on-time” project… below are some examples when the important characteristic of each of these activities is that they don’t need to occur at all when a project is meeting its goals, these extra activities drain time away from productive work on the project and make it take longer than it would if it were estimated and planned accurately
    • More status meetings with upper management to discuss how to get the project back on track
    • Frequent re-estimation, late in the project, to determine just when the project will be completed.
    • Apologizing to key customers for missing delivery dates (including attending meetings with those customers).
    • Preparing interim releases to support customer demos, trade shows, and so on. If the software were ready on time, the software itself could be used, and no interim release would be necessary.
    • More discussions about which requirements absolutely must be added because the project has been underway so long.
    • Fixing problems arising from quick and dirty workarounds that were implemented earlier in response to the schedule pressure.

Tip of the day
Never intentionally underestimate. The penalty for underestimation is more severe than the penalty for overestimation. Address concerns about overestimation through control, tracking and *mentoring* but not by bias.

****************************************

More related posts (a.k.a. people who read this post also read these posts)

→ 8 CommentsTags: Management · Planning · Project Management · Psychology · Software Management

The Cone of Uncertainty in Pastel

April 18th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

“The further a project progressed, the more accurate the estimates for the remaining effort and time became”
(Barry Boehm, “Software Engineering Economics“, 1981)
 
NASA also came to the same conclusion that in the beginning of the project life cycle (i.e. before gathering of requirements) estimations have in general an uncertainty of factor 4. This means that the actual duration can be 4 times or 1/4th of the first estimations…
 
I felt very free to add my own interpretation of the different point-of-views with cool pastel colors as a sneak-peak cool-beta-preview of my next post.

Make sense?
 

 

→ No CommentsTags: Development · Management · Planning · Project Management · Software Management