Here’s How to Make One

Modern communication is overwhelming. A simple comms manual can transform the way your team works together. (Illustration by Joan LeMay)

The simple question above has served as a starting point for some of the most important conversations I’ve had over the last year. And unless you are 100% sure that everybody on your team would answer it the exact same way, then you need to have this conversation as well.

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be complicated or contentious— a simple, one-page comms manual can help your team navigate the intricacies of modern communication in a way that obliterates harmful assumptions and minimizes miscommunications.

Perhaps this sounds familiar: your team is struggling with a particular communication tool or channel (say…

Is your team struggling to stay focused during hours-long status meetings and presentation read-outs?

Are you inundated by hundred-message “quick question” email threads that could have been resolved with a five-minute conversation?

When it comes to making the most of remote work, many of us are getting things completely backwards. And it’s making our lives both stressful and boring.

The anatomy of a synchronous sandwich

Over the last five years of working remotely, I’ve been finding that many of the most successful team discussions I’ve facilitated fall into a similar pattern: an asynchronous pre-read to set expectations and encourage participation, a synchronous conversation to make decisions…

How a Simple Pros and Cons List Can Become a Powerful Integrated Decision Plan

Break out of all-or-nothing thinking by planning for the cons of the options you *did* choose, and the pros of the option(s) you *didn’t* choose.

As teams, organizations, individuals, and families, we often find ourselves staring down big, daunting decisions. “Should we continue to build our B2B business, or make a strong pivot to B2C?” “Should we keep renting an apartment, or take out a mortgage and buy a house?” “Is our primary success metric for the next quarter going to be incremental revenue, or new user acquisition?”

In our desire to make the “right” decision, we often run the risk of seeing two complex and intersecting paths as all-or-nothing, right or wrong, good or bad. The false dilemma fallacy often leads us to believe…

The Answer Will Surely Disappoint You!

A partial taxonomy of ADPRs (Ambiguously Descriptive Product Roles)

Nearly every time I teach a session about product management, the first question I get asked is some version of “What’s the difference between a product manager and a [program manager/product owner/solution manager/project manager]?”

It’s not hard to understand why this question is top-of-mind for so many people. As the constellation of similar-sounding product and product-related titles continues to grow, clarity around role and purpose can be harder and harder to find. If you’re a product manager on a team that’s suddenly hiring a program manager — what does that mean for you? Is your job being rendered obsolete? Is…

Two signs that hang over my work from home setup. Art by Joan LeMay.

Below is an edited version of a note I sent to one of the product teams that I regularly coach. I hope that some of you find it helpful. ❤️

First and foremost — this is not a normal “work from home” situation. We are in a pandemic and people are sorting out critical questions of childcare, eldercare, adjusting to entirely new routines, fearing for the safety of themselves and their loved ones, etc. What follows is all based on — and shaped by — my own personal experience. …

Revisiting the creative tension that came to define the 2010s

Note: The following is a reprinting of an article I wrote in October of 2010 for the now-defunct MBVMusic site called “Living in the Age of Art vs Content.” As the 2010s draw to a close, it’s interesting to reflect on how the position held by “blogs” has been expanded, consolidated, and transformed by streaming services. What will it mean for music and musicians that, as we stare down the 2020s, curation and distribution are largely controlled by the same entities?

Some of what follows feels badly dated, but the “contentification” of all things still feels like something worth discussing…

A pledge to reduce busywork, increase collaboration, and drive better outcomes

Update: You can now sign up for the One Page / One Hour pledge directly at!

How much time do we spend presenting decks and deliverables to our colleagues? How often does the feedback we receive about these decks and deliverables concern their format and style, not their content and goals? How many designers who could be creating more valuable experiences for their customers are busy finishing and polishing presentations for their colleagues?

The problem isn’t PowerPoint decks — it’s how we use them.

Whether the deliverable format is a PowerPoint presentation, a Google Slides doc, or a “narrative…

Even the best customer service can’t fix the damage done by company-centric decision-making.

Illustration by Joan LeMay.

Last week, I flew on Southwest Airlines for the first time in nearly a decade. Or, at least, I tried to. After numerous delays and hours spent stalled at the gate due to mechanical problems, I walked off my scheduled flight and booked myself a new ticket on a different airline.

For all my frustrations, I could not have had more pleasant interactions with Southwest’s customer-facing employees. They helped me find my wallet when it fell out of my pocket at the gate. They completely understood my decision to leave the plane, and wished me safe and happy travels. They…

Only 4% of Respondents to a Popular Survey Say that Agile Practices are Making Their Organizations More Adaptable. How Can We Implement Agile in a Way that Lives Up to Its Name?

Illustration by Joan LeMay

A few months ago, I read a glowing case study about an organization that achieved Agile adoption at scale. Using a popular scaled Agile framework, they were able to reorganize their entire product function into small, cross-functional teams led by newly minted product owners. These teams were kept in close alignment through transparent and well-understood company goals. It was a well-told story with a happy ending: a legacy organization fully transitioned to an exciting new way of working.

The funny thing is, I actually did some work with this very organization a couple of years ago. And while their Agile…

The asynchronous communication tools preferred by most organizations are exacting an enormous and largely unseen toll.

Does your inbox look like this? Illustration by Joan LeMay

It’s a typical Monday morning at CompanyCo. The smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the air, folks are cordially recapping their weekends, and you’re *finally* digging in to that big presentation you’re supposed to give on Friday. As you scan through the slides you started putting together last week, it occurs to you — you’re presenting to some pretty important people. It probably couldn’t hurt to get some quick feedback from the design team. You look around the office —everybody seems pretty busy. …

Matt LeMay

Author of Agile for Everybody and Product Management in Practice (O’Reilly). Product coach & consultant. Partner at Sudden Compass.

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