Product Management Watch List

I recently read a product management reading list via a post on LinkedIn and was struck by the sheer number of titles on the post. I stopped counting after 30! With a full time job and a family there is no way I’m going to read even 10% of that list. Assuming I’m not alone in this so here is my alternative: a watching list (many of these you can watch with other people too)

You need a strong vision: “The Pride and the Passion”

The importance of a simple vision and the necessity to personally advocate for this nearly all the time is really important. It is the later bit that trips people up, a great vision is not enough on its own, people need to know about it and be reminded about it all the time.

Vision summary: Avila!

If you have not seen it: Frank Sinatra persuades a group of Spanish partisans from Galicia to drag a massive cannon halfway across Spain to blow a hole in the walls of the city called Avila (captured by Napoleon). Along the way there is plenty of danger from french troops and physical obstacles to overcome. The key piece is the that more and more people join the ‘army’ moving the gun, all inspired by the one simple mission that the leader (Frank Sinatra) repeats at every opportunity.

It is going to be hard work: “The greatest show on earth”

Another long one, but at its core it’s about delivery. It does not matter how good your idea is if it’s not in front of customers it is not making a difference. And under no circumstances underestimate the challenges that might get in your way.

If you have not seen it: It’s long movie with a massive ensemble cast. But is short it is a traveling circus full of egos. But they all work together to make sure that despite trains blowing up, tents burning down and the discovery of a criminal in their midst the show goes on.

There will be some crazy along the way: “Apocalypse Now”

Building a great product (or anything) is a journey and there can be a lot of crazy on the way. Apocalypse Now has crazy by the bucket load, but if things are tough at work have a read, or better watch a documentary about how this film got made and reflect on the obstacles you face.

If you have not seen it: … who has not seen this film!

Focus on detail: “Pacific Rim”

A surprise for me, assumed it was the usual action junk but it stands out because of it’s about attention to detail. Turns out he film is by Guillermo del Toro, regardless of what you think about his films he is all about detail!

If you have not seen it: It is about robots fighting massive aliens and a lead character who believes in the vision (of giant robots as the defenders of the planet) even when the man upstairs is trying to shut him down.

Be careful, not everyone is on your side: “Cassandra crossing”

You can’t always trust people so you need make your own mind up.

If you haven’t seen it: There is robbery at a chemical weapons lab in Switzerland, the robbers escape on a trans european express train and infect all the passengers. On board the train is a doctor struggling to save the infected passengers. Back at base there is an evil general who just needs the train to disappear with all its passengers so no one knows what happened. Luckily the doctor goes does not trust the orders and manages to save most of the passengers just before the train plunges to oblivion at the Cassandra crossing.

Work as a team: “BMX bandits”

Work as a team to beat the boss. Sometimes it is very useful to create an enemy: A competitor to win against, a bad habit we want our customers to beat.

If you have not seen it: It’s a BMX bike can who defeat a defeat a landlord trying to build over the BMX park.

Get to a good place morally: “Beyond the valley of the dolls”

Not sure about this one as definitely on the edge. But if you stick with it you’ll see it’s actually about having a good moral compass, being on the side of good against evil. But at the same time there is always complexity along the way.

If you have not seen it: Its quite decadent so, be careful when you google at work! There is a girl band that move to San Francisco and become enthralled by a svengali producer who tries to shape them into something their not and corrupt them. There are also sub plots around a missing inheritance and various amorous twists and trysts. But in amongst the extravagance and debauchery it is a story of revenge and the triumph of good over ego. And the realisation, amongst the lead characters, of the folly of their ways and correction.

…Obviously there are many these are also some of my favourite films so I certainly have ‘faked’ some of them in but I think that is another key product skill knowing when a bit of fakery is alright if it gets the main point across and makes you smile!

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