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When you’re a product manager working with agile teams to release a product to market, you typically serve more stakeholders than just your market. Most product owners are also responsible for reporting progress on investment and return to a committee, a boss, a leadership team, a board, shareholders… the list of people you answer to may be short or long, but it almost certainly exists.

Reporting to those stakeholders is not an easy task, because agile thinking tends to encourage change; value is maximized by empirically shifting scope as releases happen and data is gathered. Frameworks like Scrum and Kanban…

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I lead an agile marketing team, one where we all contribute to a goal every two weeks, but we each serve that goal through our own specialty. One person publishes the social posts, another does the copywriting, a few people create visuals, another creates video, and somebody else pulls the numbers. We cross lines frequently, but each person has his or her specialty.

Despite the shared goal, at times it can be easy to feel a little lonesome in an area of specialty. I know (from experience) that spending an afternoon scheduling social posts for the weekend can feel uninspiring…

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I’ve worked in software consulting for ten years, and I’m still shocked when I hear other consultants air frustration with client behavior. Not that I haven’t been guilty myself; we all lose perspective at times. However, my tolerance has gone down for complaints from consultants, especially from client-facing roles. The absurdity of their remarks is clear when you think of it through this parable I told a coworker this week:

Let’s imagine that a waiter comes in to work at 4pm for a Saturday night dinner shift at a classy restaurant. The first thing they say is, “Oh my god…

Outsourced help might seem like the last thing that could motivate your team, but the benefits and results may surprise you.

It may sound counterintuitive, but outsourcing development projects in the right way can actually be a huge investment in the people you already have on staff.

Outsourcing is often seen as a stopgap, a way to maintain momentum until you can hire enough people with the right skill sets internally. It can also easily morph into a long-term bandage, a supposedly low-cost way to quickly staff up or down that incurs a great deal of hidden cost over time. Whether due to issues of quality, communication, or perception, many companies have an understandable stigma around outsourcing software development work.


I want to be a better manager…

…and I am increasingly convinced that I can’t be a better manager unless I lead with my lack of qualifications. My experience in a changing industry with changing markets and an evolving workforce demands it. A desire for my team to quickly admit the gaps in their own current knowledge or capability demands that I lead by example and do the same. The rest of this post, and likely more to follow, will explore my ongoing journey as a learning manager and unpack why I feel leading with your lack is the best way to start.

First a little history…

A few weeks ago, the company where I work (Aptera) decided to redefine our mission statement. This wasn’t an endeavor to shift the purpose of the company or make it more accurate; it just wasn’t working. It needed clarification, or simplification, or… something.

The purpose of the founders has not changed in the 16 years they’ve been in business, but our quick growth in terms of revenue and team size has occasionally meant that we’re playing catch-up in terms of formal organization. …

Person indicates a small amount with thumb and forefinger.

“Just enough” is not an answer I get very often, regardless of the question. When asked “how much?” you’re probably more likely to get a question in response: “how much can I get?”

This seems to be true in most people’s personal as well as professional life. More is just generally accepted as better. Isn’t that how most of us shop? We want to stretch our budget as far as it will go, right? It shouldn’t be surprising that this blind pursuit of more follows us into professional environments, especially in product development.

In sales, marketing, project management, and product…

Trust that I found plenty of photos to go in this spot, but after considering the potential for offense through attribution, I opted to post my notes instead.

I *Cringe* at Authenticity

It’s difficult for me to hear the word “authenticity” without cringing. It’s not because I don’t think that, by definition, authenticity is positive or valuable. Its power in my mind has simply been diminished through dilution and overuse. Also, I’m a cynic, and I look for inauthentic behavior, often finding it in places where the term “authentic” is thrown around most (I’m looking at you, every social media platform).

Despite the distaste that its use provokes, I can’t really escape the term “authentic” when I’m referring to a specific quality.

I’m rather self-scrutinizing. I have to test my own presentation…

All the best tools, velocity, process, and code in the world can’t save you from a lack of product ownership.

That’s not really a quote. It’s just a statement, from me, and I don’t think this statement is a “hot take” in a world where agile methodology and related practices are discussed ad nauseam. However, I do think strong product ownership often gets treated like an afterthought rather than the lifeblood of delivering value through development.

If you’re familiar with agile development or Scrum as a way to guide your agile practices, you’re probably familiar with the product owner role…

C. Ray Harvey

Director of Strategic Services at Aptera, an Enterprise Level Development Firm ( / Novice Music Producer and Songwriter

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