An Unprecedented Situation

The COVID-19 outbreak and associated response have staggering immediate ramifications for many technology companies. Nearly everyone has closed their offices and plenty of thought leaders have shared best practices for delivering software in a 100% remote work environment. However, the far more important product leadership challenge today is the need to quickly switch gears based on new business priorities and to become more dynamic at the senior-most levels given unpredictable and rapidly evolving market conditions.

Business and school closures, remote work environments, mandated quarantines, etc. have likely shifted the situation for your customers (and potentially for their customers in a…

Since I started my product career more than 20 years ago, I’ve been blessed to have great product mentors each step along the way. When I joined eBay in 2001, I was hired by Marty Cagan — now widely recognized as one of the founders of modern product management — and worked alongside Sr. PMs who have gone on to be highly successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, VCs, and thought leaders in the field. At Opower, I was advised by Gokul Rajaram and behavioral science experts like Robert Cialdini. …

Like many readers, I was appalled and disheartened by Fowler’s account of sexism at Uber. The tech world, including satellite regions outside of the Bay Area, such as Washington, DC, suffer from sexism in the workplace. It is of course disappointing, but also paradoxical given that tech companies so often boast about being the most forward-thinking, the most progressive, the most welcoming and inclusive. If half the “dog-friendly” companies took as many steps toward being woman-friendly, we’d have serious progress.

In my career, I’ve personally served in an operational role at 7 tech startups, and as a hands-on advisor over…

The next time you grab lunch with a software engineer, ask her what the role of Product Management is. Chances are she can’t tell you what a Product Manager does. It’s not her fault. It’s the fault of the Product Managers she’s worked with to-date because, unfortunately, most of them probably suck.

Product Management is often one of the most important functions in an entire company. Yet, it’s also one of the most commonly misunderstood, sometimes even by the Product Managers themselves. How is that possible?

One reason is that Product Management is multi-faceted and highly cross-functional. The responsibilities are…

Product Management and Product Marketing are different, yet somewhat overlapping functions. Some companies roll up both disciplines into the same role and others separate them. Either could be fine depending on the circumstances. However, some companies, or individuals within organizations, fail to disambiguate the two. But Product Management does not equate to Product Marketing.

The role of Product Management is to create the right product that will be successful in the marketplace. This includes prioritizing requirements and executing development with Engineering.

The role of Product Marketing is to define a strategy to optimize business results given the product capabilities and…

Ben Foster

Chief Product Officer at GoCanvas & Founder of Prodify, product advisory practice (

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