career growth

when you create pathways for growth as an individual contributor – allowing for seniority without requiring people management – naturally, you also create an environment where managers may be less skilled or experienced than their direct reports. the age old adage for management is always to hire people better than yourself, but this paradigm institutionalizes that practice. this requires humility from IC stars and it necessitates very real management support to make sure that talented ICs have clear paths for continued growth under the stewardship of less senior managers.

platforms

Ironically enough, Wave was a great platform, may they rest in peace. But making something a platform is not going to make you an instant success. A platform needs a killer app. Facebook — that is, the stock service they offer with walls and friends and such — is the killer app for the Facebook Platform. And it is a very serious mistake to conclude that the Facebook App could have been anywhere near as successful without the Facebook Platform.

Stevey’s Google Platform Rant

process

The heavy-handed process is anathema to innovative companies. Smart people like to work on challenging problems, with other bright people and a minimum of process. For me, strategy, and articulation of that ‘one key metric’ and how you are going to move it, coupled with high cadence testing and learning, is the key to delivering both consumer and shareholder value.

– Gibson Biddle, in “How to Run a Quarterly Product Strategy Meeting

efficacy

It’s more important to be effective than efficient

Christina Wodtke discussing Ken Norton’s approach to initiative duplication at Google in Radical Focus

virtual team meetups

I hereby move to rename “onsites” and “offsites” to the more appropriate term for the COVID age, where everyone meets digitally – introducing the “nonsite.”

executiving

Some time ago, I articulated what I had distilled about my role as an executive leader. It was a list of things that seemed to be the common denominators among leadership.

I think they hold true, but with more experience, I would say that the bulk of the job, at almost every turn, is considering, deciding on, and communicating trade offs.

orgitecture

The vision informs the architecture. The vision and the architecture inform the team topology.

Marty Cagan, Empowered workshop

It’s amazing what comes out of the woodwork when you start isolating a problem and investing in solving it. As our Product Org scales at Swiftly, I’ve felt the organic need to more concretely firm up our teams – in both composition and goals. Working with my co-conspirator, our Head of Engineering, we drew natural lines among teams, our product vision, and our architecture. We referenced domains-based ownership, Conway’s law, and a litany of team and product focused articles and books. We drew on our unique experiences to understand the trade-offs at every turn. And no matter what way we cut it, it was evident that we had to tackle team topology, architecture, and product vision simultaneously to get it right.

My pal and Product leader extraordinaire, Kelton Lynn, and I were talking about shaping an org structure and architecture that best supports the customer vision. He nonchalantly threw out the term “orgitecture,” which was simply perfect. (It’s also strangely trademarked by a digital marketing company.)

teams

teams are more than the sum of their parts. when “team” is the primitive, over “product manager + product designer + engineers,” these groups of people can do extraordinary things for customers and the business.