Happy Birthday, ProductCraft!

ProductCraft, the largest community of product people online, just turned two years old. Since our launch in February of 2018, we’ve made it our mission to publish thought-provoking perspectives and practical advice on the craft of product management. And we think this year was even better than our first. In celebration of this milestone, we’re sharing some of our favorite articles, podcast episodes, and conference moments from Year Two of ProductCraft. Enjoy!

What inspired us

Product Love Podcast: Maggie Crowley, Director of Product Management at Drift

Maggie Crowley is not only a product leader at one of the hottest tech startups around — she’s also an Olympic speed skater. And she says that Olympic sports and product management have a lot in common. Olympic athletes get the stage every four years, but they train and make sacrifices for their sport year-round. Product managers ship a feature and get praise on release day. However, the real work goes on long before and after the ship, typically without any recognition. The behind-the-scenes work of PM is sometimes thankless, but it’s what makes the product shine.

Create Your Own Product Community by Hannah Sutor

One of the best parts about working in product is the community. But what if you can’t find one? You make your own, of course. That’s what author Hannah Sutor did when she realized that the large enterprise organization she’d just started working at didn’t have an internal PM community. Now, the company has a healthy product community of over 350 members.

Finding a Mentor at Every Stage of Your Product Career by Kim Blight

Building a productive relationship with a mentor can move your career forward, but finding the right one can be tricky. In this article, author Kim Blight says that the key is to approach the process like a true PM. Look for skill gaps, iterate and experiment, and be prepared to give as much as you take. And remember that your mentorship needs may change as your career evolves.

What made us think

Product Operations: Why Now? by Christine Itwaru

We’ve all heard of sales ops, marketing ops, revenue ops, and DevOps.  Now there’s a new ops role on the rise: product ops. Over the past few months, we’ve seen more and more attention directed at this “ops” arm of product management. Clearly, there’s a growing need for the product ops function. But why is this the case, and perhaps more importantly, why now?

Measuring Your Product’s Performance With Benchmarks by Blake Bartlett

Successful PMs constantly measure their product’s performance. But can they compare that performance with that of peer products? None — until now. To shed some light on this blind spot, Pendo analyzed over a thousand digital products and established benchmarks for five key product metrics, including stickiness, retention, and NPS. Blake Bartlett of OpenView Ventures shares why this is such a game-changer for product-led companies. 

The Ethics of Product and Software Experimentation by Eric Iwashita

What do clinical researchers and PMs have in common? They both experiment on people. So, what does that mean for the ethics of product management? Should we start framing our jobs like scientific studies and using the same terms to describe our work? Are there enough commonalities to justify the regulation of running “experiments” on human subject?, What if the purpose is to help them do their jobs faster and more efficiently? Do PMs need their own version of the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors?

Our favorite practical PM advice

How to Stay on Course During Product Discovery by Tim Herbig

Product discovery is a messy process that comes with a lot of challenges. One of the main ones is the tendency for people to jump right into coming up with feature ideas. Don’t do it! Instead, use impact mapping to stay on-track. In this post, product coach and consultant Tim Herbig takes you through the impact mapping process, going into the details of each step.

Seven Reasons Why MVPs Go Wrong and How to Address Failure by Anastasia Yaskevich

While there’s no foolproof way to ensure that your MVP succeeds, you can take steps to reduce the risk of failure. Keep an eye out for these seven red flags, including unmet user expectations, incorrect pricing, and poor technical implementation. And if you find yourself in a worst-case scenario, you have two options: persevere or pivot. Author Anastasia Yaskevich discusses the pros and cons of each.

Delivering Better Products Using a Design Thinking Framework/Digging Into a Design Thinking Framework by Leo Frishberg

It’s no secret that the relationship between product and UX can be a bit contentious. In Part One of this two-part series, Leo Frishberg explains his theory of why this might be and how it relates to the different frameworks both disciplines use in their work. In Part Two, he shares how his team created a UX playbook and a game board that streamlined the PM and UX collaboration process.

Our top conference moments

Guy Raz: Five Lessons PMs Can Take From Famous Entrepreneurs by Laura Baverman

Guy Raz, the host of the popular How I Built This podcast, spoke at last year’s ProductCraft Conference, and his opening address was definitely one of the highlights of the event. According to Guy, innovation happens when three things come together: a problem that needs to be solved, a work culture that encourages risk-taking, and a shared sense of mission. Sounds a lot like what it takes to build, launch, and run a successful product, too.

Fuel and Friction: Five Behavioral Economics Lessons for Product Managers by Hillá Watkins

Duke professor and best-selling author Dan Ariely delivered the keynote address at Pendomonium 2019, and it was funny, thought-provoking, and insightful. In his session, entitled “Free Beer!,” Ariely discussed the ideas of fuel and friction as the two driving forces in closing the gap between the behavior you see and the behavior you want to encourage. What does this mean for product managers? Reduce friction, pour on the fuel, and voilá — your KPIs are all shooting up.

The What and Why of Inclusive Design by Adrienne Gajownik

Another highlight of the inaugural ProductCraft conference was Benjamin Earl Evans’s session on inclusive design. Benjamin told the story of how he was discriminated against by an Airbnb host because of the color of his skin. He contacted Airbnb, described his experience, and explained how it went against the company’s core mission of fostering a sense of belonging. Fast forward to today — Benjamin now leads the anti-discrimination design team at Airbnb.

Here’s to another year of ProductCraft, and many more to come.