Resources for Product Leaders #1

A helpful product leadership framework, how to do team health checks, and understanding the culture map of your organization.

Hey everyone,

It’s getting embarrassing how many times I’ve started and stopped (and then once again started) this newsletter… But let’s not dwell on the past, shall we? I think I’ve finally found the topic I want to focus on going forward.

See, the internet is full of resources and training opportunities for product managers who want to learn the basics. What is less common is spaces for seasoned product managers and product leaders to learn and grow together. And that’s what I would like to write about going forward—both to keep myself accountable for my own journey, as well as to provide some value to you along the way by sharing what I’m reading and learning.

As someone who has been in this industry for quite a while, my hope is that we will learn together as we do our day-to-day work of enabling empowered teams to build great products. So let’s get going!


Resources to check out

Level up Your Product Function With the Product Leader Map →

This entire article by Dave Martin is good, but I especially found the definition and framework he provides for that all-elusive term Product Culture really useful. He talks about it in the context of principles, storytelling, and evidence. Here he is on storytelling:

How people behave in an organisation is influenced by many things, none as powerful as the stories leaders tell. The stories you choose to share—and the stories you choose not to share—have an enormous influence on your organisation’s culture. If you want to influence a customer-first evidence-based mindset, you need to tell stories about companies and individuals who do this. As a leader, you need to recognise the impact of your opinions and actions. Your teams and the broader organisation are always watching you.

Team Health Checks: the Person / Team / Product model →

This excellent article by Erin 'Folletto' Casali proposes an ongoing survey to assess how a team is feeling and doing.

The person questions are meant to check the wellbeing of the individual. They are based on some key principles, they check for psychological safety, and they assess good mental health. The team questions try to evaluate the inter-personal relations between people, mostly within the group. The product questions are more tied to the company as a whole, and the goal of the service we are working on.

My favorite product management templates →

Here’s one to bookmark for sure (and while you’re at it, subscribe to Lenny’s newsletter!) An extensive list of one-page templates, strategy and vision docs, and so much more. There’s a lot here for your team to experiment with.


A book to read

I’ve been making my way through The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, and it is really good so far. In the book Erin Meyer explains how different cultures across the world behave on 8 different scales:

  • Communicating: low-context vs. high-context

  • Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback

  • Persuading: principles-first vs. applications-first

  • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical

  • Deciding: consensual vs. top-down

  • Trusting: task-based vs. relationship-based

  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoids confrontation

  • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time

This is one of those books that is immediately applicable not only to the conversations you have at work, but in your personal life as well. Understanding low-context vs. high-context styles of communication have been especially useful for me so far.


Thank you for still sticking with this newsletter through all its ups and downs. I blame, you know, everything that’s going on for my lack of consistency and purpose up to now. But I am hoping to change that with this new focus on leading strong product teams. In upcoming editions I also plan to talk a little bit more about my own work, such as how we are scaling the product management function at Wildbit, and some of our recent experiments with Teresa Torres’s Opportunity Solution Tree framework.

Until next time, have a good week!

Rian

PS. If you’re looking for a some music to help you through the week, might I suggest a trip to Mali? Start with this album, and then this one.