PMs will disappear / PM Snacks 74
Learn more about Airbnb's decision to change traditional product mgmt function, why it's better to be decisive as a product leader, and more (ps: I'm not proud of this title, or am I?)
✉️ Today’s email → Collapsing the Talent Stack… & Designing Organizations for the Future ∙ Product leaders & being decisive • Invisible Details of Interaction Design • The #NoEstimates Rebellion, A Technical PM POV
1️⃣ Collapsing the Talent Stack… & Designing Organizations for the Future
Jul 2023 • 7 min read • #productculture #leadership
Okay, by now, you must have heard that Airbnb is “getting rid of the PM function”. Or at least, that’s how many people seem to have interpreted it.
1/ You should watch this 5 min video by their CEO to better understand their reasoning (it’s worth the watch!).
2/ According to me, the main highlight was not what they are doing to PMs but that they chose to put designers back in charge (around 2:45). Airbnb, much like Apple, is and will be a Design-led company.
3/ I’ve a theory: for each business, you need to understand your edge and how to win the market. Some companies compete by shipping the best experience/story (Airbnb, Apple, Nike), others compete on the flawless execution/speed (Amazon, Google), etc. With that knowledge, you need to implement an organisation that empowers the right teams to have the most impact. At Airbnb, it means, designers should be in charge. At Amazon or Google, engineers should be. And as a result, the other functions should adapt, especially product mgmt.
4/ If we go by the assumption that Airbnb will win by delivering the best experience and story, it makes sense to elevate designers to be product people equals. Designers solve problems by eliminating parts of the system and creating the best experience, Product people start by crafting the story and marketing for these experiences to shine, aka. the reason why they are blending traditional PM functions with PPM ones.
5/ Getting back to today’s article and the unfair advantage of “collapsing the talent stack”. Basically, to deliver faster and increase clarity, it’s better to seek generalists, people with extreme talents that can do several things at once. Teams where the design leader is also the product leader, or the front-end developer is also the designer, will generally craft better products and win. Actually most startups begin this way because of their limited resources, only to then grow, and turn into a place full of specialists. I encourage you to read the rest of Scott Belsky’s ideas on why organisations should change, it’s enlightening.
2️⃣ Product leaders & being decisive
Jul 2023 • 3 min read • #manageyourself #leadership
I’m glad Melissa Perri took the time to write this short thread about the importance of being decisive as a product leader (= use available data & intuition to make bold decisions).
- Pre-PMF: we’ve no usage data available but plenty of intuition. The best use of our resources is then to deliver bold solutions as soon as possible, even though our confidence in the bet is very low. The more radical the idea, the better the chances of learning something useful from users.
- Post-PMF: with data becoming more available, we tend to fall in the trap of being data driven to the point where opinions and intuition don’t matter anymore. We become risk-averse and try to iterate our way to success, optimising & AB testing every bit of the solution. Sometimes it works, but often, it create a situation of slow progression. If we feel in our guts that there is a way to go, we better push for this bold solution and fail fast.
3️⃣ Invisible Details of Interaction Design
Jul 2023 • 12 min read • #design
There are very limited resources about what makes great interaction design. Fortunately, this essay is probably the best I’ve seen on this topic. Be sure to click it to learn a few tricks or at least to marvel at the wonders of great interactions.
⏳ The #NoEstimates Rebellion, A Technical PM POV
Jul 2022 • 4 min read • #execution #method
Most clicked link, shared one year ago in PM Snacks 62.
It’s been a few years since I dropped estimates completely. Depending on the team & product contexts, we’ve worked with Kanban (= no estimates, you manage the flow, it’s great for R&D) or ShapeUp inspired methodologies (= you define an appetite/investment, it’s been great to ship impact). What about you?
Building from his experience at Apple, the author shares some practical advice to enter a no estimates world. My favorites:
- Try to work in small chunks, starting with a deadline. Instead of asking your tech team for estimates, give them a deadline and ask if they can make it. If they can’t, keep the deadline and reduce the scope. It’s more or less the basic principle behind Shape Up.
- Incrementally make progress by releasing the work often. The best way: have a release train (= a release happens automatically everyday at the same time)… and most importantly, demo, demo and demo. It’s easier for the rest of the company to accept the lack of estimates if you show the work regularly. It also improves the quality very much (feedback loop becomes shorter).
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