Lean Product Management – (not so) live blog

- 2 mins

Melissa Perri is a product manager and lean consultant based in New York City. You can catch up with her at her website or on twitter. The video is available on YouTube, with the slides hosted on SlideShare.


The talk is about optimising great things to make release faster.

The role of a product manager is traditionally the voice of the customer, but over time this focus has been lost. PM should own the define stage of the development cycle with customer feedback. This feedback is less so as the project moves through its cycle until the deployment phase, when the client often says…..

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This means the project has to return to the early phases of the lifecycle. This is often because development is done under a series of assumptions.

Lean product management uses the ‘build > measure > learn’ cycle to allow continuous feedback from the client. This, however, requires a change in mindset.

Employees are rewarded for producing lots of material, with little focus on quality. Instead there should be more focus on learning about clients, technologies and solutions.

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A Google advert for a product manager has no mention of its customers.

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A lean product manager:

User stories are sometimes evil when there is not evidence to back up the solution. Melissa shows the difference between a user story and a job story. Job Stories encourages exploring the problem which in turn suggests more solutions that actually tackles the problem.

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Product road maps are based on solutions which can sometimes inhibit experimentation and exploration. One of the issues is roadmap estimates without truly speccing the solution, with little time allocated to user research.

The problem roadmap  is Melissa’s suggested solution, allowing for lots of exploration of customer problems instead of customer proposed solutions. You build small MVP chunks of a product with rapid deployment to get continuous customer feedback. It’s only a test of ideas and has been successful for aligning teams and goals.

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When a product manager works as a PM island they do not benefit from everyones ideas. Instead they should be more like Vanilla Ice:

A PM should ensure the right solutions come forward at the right time through collaboration of all stakeholders.

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By using a lean methodology, 1600 hours were saved by not building a single feature that customer did not work.

How should success be measured?

When customers use your things

A rewritten job advert for a lean product manager might look like this.

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Tony Edwards

Tony Edwards

Education Outreach, Software Cornwall

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