Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category

Yes, I finally came around reading it. But as you all product managers know, the backlog was full, it was on my roadmap, and it took some time to get it prioritized.

Steve Jobs a Biography

But it finally came to be.

This will be some reflections from a product managers point of view, the literary qualities of the book is written so much about anyway.

Steve Jobs was a visionary. He had ideas on new product, new behavior, what the public “needed” and he drove his team towards his goal. In short he was doing product management, among other things. He used to say about people that they were ok, as business persons, salesmen or other, but they were not a product person. You need to be that in order to be a successful product manager. So he may not have used the “standard vocabulary” but he used the same message.

So this man that often is referred to as a genius, how was he as a product manager?

  • Was he listening to his customers?
  • Was he building relationships with marketing and sales?
No not really. He was really convinced that he already knew what the customers needed, and in some cases he were right (Mac, IPhone and more) and some he was wrong (some Apple models, Next). He did not really need to build relationships within his company. He owned it, and he was ruthless enough to just kick out anyone that he did not like, as he lived after the motto that A people preferred to work with A people.

But he had visions, he had a hard view of what the goal was, and he made damn sure he got there. He did not just influence marketing, he drove them before him, kicking and screaming. He decided the price on the things, the delivery model, in short everything. He embodied the saying that a product manager should be the CEO of his product. If anyone had an idea worth stealing he stole in and claimed it as his own. It may be that your job is to make your boss look good, his subordinates surely learned to know that. He stole from them to.

I would have hated working for the man. He was a to big egomaniac to be around for it to be worth the ride (and I am far to fond of taking the praise, or blame, for my accomplishments myself).

Reading the book as a product manager you will get insights into the man. What was his driving force, how did he achieve his goals, and frightening enough how can you learn from him to handle your everyday life (and try not to learn to much, you don’t own everyone around you). But its interesting to see how he worked and what made him tick.

As a product manager, read the book. Not just for the story, but for the lessons in product management. While you read it, ask yourself

How would I have done that differently

and more importantly

Could I have reached the results without his dictatorial management style

If you have a good answer to the first one, and a yes to the second, you will be successful, even though you don’t own your company.


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Another Talent Management book that tries to define what it is and tell us how to work with it. The angle in this book is that you should keep it simple and not add anything to your processes unless the benefit really outweighs the cost.

One page talent management

One page talent management

Well. That sounds like an obvious statement. But if that is a fact why do so many organizations make it so complicated? One reason is probably that it is still far too common to see our TM processes as unique and we really need them as our own business is so different and unique. Well it’s not.

The book goes over the processes for

  • Performance management
  • 360 assessments
  • Talent reviews
  • Succession planning
  • Surveys
  • Competencies

The conclusion is that for each process you should look if you need it. What parts do you need and what data do you need to collect. Don’t collect any data that you don’t know what to do with. Do away with all the “it’s good to have for the future”

What I like with the book is that in every chapter they comment on the most obvious objections you might get from people around you. Off course that is also a way to get you over to the simplistic side of things.

It’s a really good read for a number of reasons. It gives a good overview of Talent management. It gives you tools to implement easy processes and it also might open up your eyes for the fact that you are not unique and you don’t have to be unique.

And the last part opens up the road for using standard software to support your processes without all this overcomplicating adaptations that we are so fond of.



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When I was raiding my bosses book shelf for the “Agile product management with Scrum” I accidentally picked the “Agile project management with Scrum” instead. Book cover

Just one word different. She came in and asked med if I had the right book, and then added that she had not read this one and would be glad if I did and told her if it was any good. So this review is for you Daniela.

Everyone working with SCRUM knows about Ken Schwaber. It’s hard to no to. And here he has released another book (well he did release it almost 7 years ago). It’s packed with case studies and his experience from working with scrum during the years. At the beginning it outlines what scrum is, but to be honest. If you don’t know Scrum, this is not the book for you. Please learn Scrum first, and then you can get this book.

In the book we follow some organizations in various situations and see how they dealt with the different obstacles they encountered. We get a glimpse into what Ken has done in various situations and how the solution worked out. It’s all rather interesting and you will probably smile knowingly more than once as you recognize yourself (unless you are the one person who does everything right at first attempt).

The book is well written and it does not become too detailed and at the same time is detailed enough to be of help.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to get inspiration on how they can better their SCRUM. You may not have a huge problem, but you may just get some inspiration on how to make your practice of Scrum just a bit better.

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This is a book for the product manager who now is faced with SCRUM and wants to get a smooth transition to the product owner role. It does not teach SCRUM and it does not define all aspects of SCRUM and that stuff. So better be familiar with that before you read this book.

That said, it is a good book that focus on the product owner role and how that role should carried out. What to look for, pitfalls and good advice.

It goes through how to work the backlog with the team as active participants. How to work with the Vision, backlog and prioritizing. It also has chapters on how to scale it for larger projects. Not all may be applicable to everyone but it is good to go through and at least make a conscious choice when you do something different.

At least you get a good view into what your organization is doping that differs from SCRUM and you get good advice in how to get nearer to the right path.

I especially liked the fact that the book is full of information about common mistakes and how to avoid them. The fact that we are not perfect human beings is seldom acknowledged so open and by doing that we can move forward to better ourselves.

For the new product owner it’s a must read. For the old product manager transitioning into the Product owner role it’s a must read. SO go out there and get yourself a copy.


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