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.


I think the real imposter syndrome epidemic is that confidence tends to be unevenly felt by those in majority groups.

Jim Shedlick, Engineering Leader

product discovery

Listening is a prerequisite. Hearing is the skill.

Lots of people can sit on a customer call, and they can listen to what people share. But a skilled productician will hear what isn’t being said, what assumptions are being made, what the root problem is, what the current paradigm might not support.

adjacent users

Product teams overvalue hitting home runs vs hitting 100 singles back to back. This leads them to take bigger swings by going after bigger markets of new users. They get bogged down by trying to establish product-market fit for a new set of users and never fulfill the potential of their current product-market fit.

Bangaly Kaba in “The Adjacent User Theory


A good product manager is in the selling business: surfacing enough data and insight to sell themselves on investing in a problem, navigating opportunity cost to sell their team on solving the problem, packaging the strategy to sell the company on the idea, and crafting strong positioning to sell people on using the product.

fragile teams

An important property of teams is that they abstract the complexities of the individuals that compose them. Teams with fewer than four individuals are a sufficiently leaky abstraction that they function indistinguishably from individuals. To reason about a small team’s delivery, you’ll have to know about each on-call shift, vacation, and interruption.

They are also fragile, with one departure easily moving them from innovation back into toiling to maintain technical debt.

Will Larson, from An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management