a drawing of an upwards trending graph with ruler and pencil
a drawing of an upwards trending graph with ruler and pencil

Most product teams nowadays have some level of autonomy, typically with guidelines for how to use that autonomy. Maybe those guidelines are in the form of KPIs, OKRs, or some other acronym, but overall, the organizational leadership team sets some goals, and that is what the teams should be moving toward. The goals or problems the teams are tasked with can almost exclusively tell the true story of what a company is moving towards, and give hints to whether the company is moving toward some shared vision, or looking to meet some financial or investment goals.

Metrics and Mission

Many of us are familiar with heavily growth or revenue specific OKRs, and we likely have seen performance goals set in metrics or quantitative results that look something like…


hands holding three sprouting plants
hands holding three sprouting plants

Product people tend to be intent on driving growth in their product, business, etc. Most often, this means optimizing an existing product, finding ways to adapt an existing product to a larger market, improving funnel, etc. We constantly see examples of this in our day to day work. Just by simple nature of building products, if we find something that resonates with users, we try to expand on that success.

What we see fewer examples of in our day to day are the expansions from one product into new markets in novel ways. There are numerous high-profile examples of this across industries, but we see less of what goes into them and the messaging is all colored by marketing materials etc. …


Close up of audio input knobs and a wire.
Close up of audio input knobs and a wire.

Product management has seen many shifts in approach — personas vs JTBD, LEAN, Scrum, etc. — but among the most transformative has been the shift from celebrating output (release feature X) to celebrating outcome (move metric Y). Allowing teams to focus not just on moving fast, but also own business outcomes shifted the way both individuals and organizations operate. What goes into how well we succeed? We know speed matters, and measure it as throughput, we know individual releases matter, and we can measure by A/B testing. How do we know if the problems we choose to solve are the right ones? …


Professional women sitting across from one another at a table, conversing intently.
Professional women sitting across from one another at a table, conversing intently.

Interviewing for Product roles can be a challenge. Since it is a role that sits at the center of the organization, you should be curious about various aspects of the company. You want to know how strategic decisions are made, how progress is measured.

There are too many questions you’ll need/want to ask, most of which you won’t have time for. You’ll need to ask questions about the role specifically, the team makeup, well-informed questions tailored to their market and strategy, etc.

There are a few things that will present an outsized opportunity to understand what your life might be like in the role in question. View interview questions as an opportunity to learn more about what the company is like and how you’ll fit. Here are a few fast ways to understand what problems you’ll work on, and how strategy and priority is set within the organization. …


using eyeglasses to focus on far away objects
using eyeglasses to focus on far away objects

Shiny object syndrome is a common issue in today’s fast-paced organizations. People want to make sure they focus on growing the business, but the proactive involvement of executives and senior stakeholders can erode the efficacy of outcome-focused roadmaps. The best way to defend against shiny object syndrome is to maintain a defensible product strategy.

  1. Good product strategy aligns directly with company strategy. If you have the good fortune to be at a truly product-centric organization, these two work hand-in-hand.
  2. Good product strategy ties to a clear north star metric. …

Image for post
Image for post

A few times in my career as a product person, I’ve had this question raised, with different wording.

How many sprints of shovel-ready work should we have in the backlog at any given time?

I had one engineering leader specifically attempt to put in a system of product performance that included “number of refined sprints ready for work” as a metric. …


Kidney Disease: Where the U.S. stacks up

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Image for post

Let’s start with the Problem… The United States dramatically underperforms most developed nations in treatment of advanced kidney disease in terms of both cost and outcomes.

Outcomes

UCSF’s Kidney project sheds into the situation in the states versus other nations. In terms of outcomes, UCSF found that “U.S. mortality risk was 15% higher than in Europe and 33% higher than in Japan on comparable treatment modalities.

Cost

In 2015 […] Medicare expenditures on chronic and end-stage kidney disease were more than 64 billion and 34 billion […] dollars, respectively.¹

In Percentage terms, Medicare statistics paint a clear picture — kidney disease patients make up 1% of the Medicare population and account for 7% of Medicare costs. In Belgium, whose kidney disease prevalence is the highest in Europe, cost 2.45% …

About

Daniel McGuinness

Senior Product Manager in Consumer Healthcare. Based in Denver CO.

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