A public draft.

One of the harder things about digital product management is everything changes constantly.

To cope with this, a PM’s time is often split along lines like:

  • 40% on research and planning (what most people think of as the job)
  • 40% on relationships and communication (the actual job)
  • maybe 10% on retrospectives (because it is important to learn from past products and projects)
  • and 10% on relentless acquisition of interdisciplinary domain expertise (how you level up)

The single least useful instinct of a product manager is “but I told you” / “but you should have known” / “it…


On the difficulty of (pretending we wield) soft power, and bias in job listings

I have been thinking recently about “it would be good if” school of management.

I recognize the necessity of the “what if we tried” construction by managers who are still getting a feel for things or who come from underrepresented backgrounds. But too often, it’s a tactic that is wielded not intentionally, but thoughtlessly. It’s an approach that ignores power differentials — or, at worst, is cynical about their effects.

We might tell ourselves as managers that we are accessible and approachable and also that it’s…


And what does Ernest Shackleton have to do with anything?

I love lists. I re-read Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto at least once a year, and it’s one of those books I recommend to all and sundry. Some excellent folks and I even recently collaborated on a checklist for journalists.

So when I saw the McClatchy checklists doing the rounds of media twitter, I was intrigued. One list, with the heading “Vetting for audience and mission,” suggested reporters ask themselves the question, “who cares about this, or who should?” …


Rethinking hiring means more than rewriting job descriptions.

There are many stories reporters and editors like to tell ourselves about our competencies, and one of them goes something like this: “I ask questions for a living, so that must mean I’m good at interviewing people for jobs.”

Alas, no.

Most of us are terrible interviewers. And it’s not just because of all the usual blind spots and biases of which we are more or less aware. It’s also because the way we typically conduct job interviews is, at best, an ineffective means of assessing whether a potential candidate would adequately perform in a given role.

I’m talking here…


“We’re working on that.” “We’re actively lobbying to make that happen.” “That’s the next big thing we hope to do.” “That’s definitely something we want to improve.”

If you have been in digital media for more than a minute, you will know too well the pain of how long it can take to ship even a single new feature, to say nothing of new products or services. Sprints might be measured in months, and years-long delays are common.

These kinds of timelines do something strange to you as a person, as a product manager, as the reporter or editor who…


How managers can start making a real difference

One of the first mistakes managers tend to make is believing that caring about our teams and wanting the best for them means we’re doing a good job. One of the most important realizations we can make as a manager is that we are, at every moment including this one, making someone’s life miserable.

My “Ms. Management” column for Source is devoted to helping people in management and leadership positions in newsrooms make better decisions (and induce less misery). …


tl;dr:it’s time consuming, labour intensive, and a constant work in progress.

I’ve now had the privilege of directly hiring a lot of people in various countries and for different companies, and have contributed to the hiring of many more. Many of the people I’ve hired or helped get hired have come from backgrounds and demographics not traditionally represented in media and technology.

Finding those people took work, and lots of it. But most people don’t want to do that work. …


There’s a story that technology companies like to tell themselves, and it goes something like this: “We’re building software and services to make the world a better place. We’re totally objective about the steps we take to get there, and we hire the best people through a meritocratic process to make all this possible.”

And then there’s the stories these companies tell their users: “We’re showing you this search result because it’s the “best” one.” “We’re showing you this photo because we know you care about your friend’s new baby.” “We’re playing you this song because you told us you…


Some people’s phones are filled with photos of their families, of their friends, of beautiful landscapes, of adorable pets. My phone is a museum of rage-inducing mobile experiences.

I had the opportunity to channel that rage into an Ignite talk at a journalism conference. This post is an adapted version of that presentation.

POYMAAAS: Pissing Off Your Mobile Audiences As A Service

Almost everything I do on the internet, I do on my phone. Which means that every single day, I am provoked to John McEnroe-esque reactions by what Ye Average Media Organization forces audiences to endure.

Like the, “oh, you wanted to do that thing? …


On Friday, the President-elect of the United States of America agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations of defrauding thousands of students who took real-estate seminars at his eponymous “university”.

On Saturday, the President-elect of the United States of America used his favourite medium to lambast and demand an apology from the cast of “Hamilton” in New York for using their stage to ask that the incoming administration “defend us and uphold our inalienable rights”.

These are different stories, but they are related. They both offer insight into the values, principles, weaknesses, and behaviour when under scrutiny of a…

stacy-marie ishmael

Trinidadian-at-large. Galavanteur. Live at the intersection of media and technology.

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