Tip: if you want to change jobs, roles, careers, think about what you want in the grander picture (“vision”), and why your current situation is not fulfilling that vision. Don’t focus only on why you’re not “happy”.
There are a lot of folks who are curious of new jobs, new companies, etc. They usually have the same reasons for wanting to leave. At least, for many of the folks I meet with who want to join a startup from a large company. The last several folks I’ve met with work at large enterprises. Each shared almost the same reasons for wanting to leave – they didn’t feel valued, and they wanted to work in a smaller company where their work mattered.
Except, companies (big or small, established or startup) are all different. They differ in their cultures. True many big companies come with much structure – multiple layers. Then again, so, too, could small companies have layers. Small companies can be directed by very strong founders who have sole discretion of direction and product.
Meanwhile, adding members to the Board due to a funding event will change the expectations and execution for a young company. Many of these are outside of the control of an employee.
There should be more focus on the position today. There’s a lot to learn in every position even the role someone may be in for the last 5 years. Too often, folks focus on the bad while missing the good – what is learned and what can be learned in a current situation. By focusing on the bad, folks go searching for new roles with a short-term view to “alleviate” the bad of a current position. This can lead to consistent change and unsatisfied work. Go beyond short-term objectives and take a look at the long-term view of goals and objectives.
Steve Jobs famously said in a Stanford commencement speech, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” This also highlights an important point in that each decision leads to another decision which leads to many, many more. It gives freedom to take chances knowing that the dots connect but having that vision of where you want to go helps make the next dot fit closer to the trajectory you’re hoping for.
Before making that next jump, even before you ever feel “unhappy”, evaluate what your vision is for yourself. Then, evaluate how each position/ jump/ dot fits into the vision including where you stand today.

I’ve been diving into different product management – importance of roadmap and product prioritization and then a RICE framework for prioritization. Today, wanted to jump back in but look at story mapping. I haven’t done a story map before, but I’ll share what I’ve found reading up on several sites including Aha!, MANIFESTO, Agile Velocity, ThoughtWorks, and others.

The benefit of story mapping is its effectiveness as a visual tool to organize the development tasks and activities with goals – the stories a product/ service user traverses. It prioritizes for value and aligns the team on value and goals.
How to think of story mapping – my preferred route:
  • There are two axes – from left to right, the goals a user accomplishes to achieve a greater goal (e.g. make a purchase, stream a video, other). From top to bottom, the prioritization of stories (activities/ tasks) organized into a release schedule.
  • At the top level, you have the intermittent goals a user achieves. All tasks and activities that help accomplish this goal fall under. For streaming a movie on Netflix, for example, the top-level goals, these can be: “Find movie”, “Assess movie (details)”, “Select movie”. 

  • Under each goal would be the activities to accomplish the goal – the stories a user undergoes. For example, under “Assess Movie”: “View movie trailer”, “View movie description”, “View critics rating”, “View user rating”.
  • Take an iterative approach to the story map where developers, product managers, and customers review the stories for gaps… adding missing stories and removing redundant stories.
  • Evaluate which stories are critical for the first release – this may create the “MVP”. You could prioritize stories by “MUST”, “SHOULD”, and “COULD”. Assessing the stories, you could draw a line that demarcates the stories into the releases (or MUST, SHOULD, COULD).

  • Utilizing Post-It notes is a fantastic way to create these maps offering flexibility and color-coded stories, goals, etc.
  • Keep story maps focused on achieving specific outcomes and performing specific tasks for a target persona. Then, create other story maps as needed.

These are the highlights of utilizing story mapping in the realm of product management. It’s an effective route to hash out the activities to accomplish a user goal.


What are other methods for managing product development?

Back to talking about product! Last week, I talked about the importance of product prioritization and the product roadmap. I’ve also shared takeaways from Des Traynor of Intercom talk on product development. Specifically, how to drive adoption and engagement. Today, here’s a framework for product prioritization – RICE.
  • Reach – How many customers or prospects would a feature/ development engage?
  • Impact – What is the outcome/ results of a build? Would this drive engagement – feature/ user adoption? Drive revenue?
  • Confidence – How likely would development have the effect on reach and impact?
  • Effort – How many total man-hours/ weeks/ months would this development take? Remember to include hours for each resource across functions (i.e. product, front-end, back-end).

Intercom suggests teams add bands of scores to quantify each factor as best as possible. For example, to understand the factor of Impact, scoring can follow: “3 for ‘massive impact’, 2 for ‘high’, 1 for ‘medium’, 0.5 for ‘low’, and finally 0.25 for ‘minimal’”.

Combine each of the scores for:

The idea of RICE is to measure each potential development (feature, build) objectively to drive the most value – benefit vs. resources.

Building a business with a product is fun. It’s also a long, difficult journey. That journey of developing a product that includes the many twists and turns of building features, sunsetting features, and the like is called a product roadmap. However, like a traditional map, each road leads to a decision point. In the product world, this is where product prioritization comes into play.
Early on in a product’s lifecycle of a business just starting out is the vision of its founders. The term “MVP” may be tossed around meaning “minimum viable product” as coined by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup. At its core is the prioritization of the key features that will generate the most value and demand in the market as quickly as possible – read: as minimal resources as possible.
But once initial traction takes off (or perhaps doesn’t), there’s a myriad of choices a startup can take in its product journey. This is where the importance of product prioritization comes in. Why is product prioritization so important?
  • Most folks enjoy the creation of new ideas, not necessarily incremental improvements to existing features/ product(s).
  • Development can take on the personal interests rather than based on the impact and influence of another.
  • As a partof the shield to guard against the “Next Feature Fallacy” where the idea that “this” new feature will improve traction, sales, etc.
  • To align cross-functional teams on not only the impact, but the efforts required by all to produce XYZ changes.

Really, the key is being able to optimize for value based on limited resources. Product prioritization requires objective measuring to ensure the most valuable product, and thus company, is created.