15 lessons from 15 exceptional people.

Neil Hamilton-Ritchie

I love to write lists. I make lists for about everything that I can. Lists create a sense of order in my chaotic world. A list goes straight to the point of communicating. It’s effective in making me feel productive and it is explicative.

This list will grow and change over the time: I’ll meet new exceptional people and write their lessons.

Introduction:

I’m a product guy, I help tech teams to build better software. It’s hard, it’s crazy and I love it. My job is all about people and this is why I do the best job in the world.

We take care of the people, the products and the profits…in that order. Jim Barksdale

My job is about understanding, interacting, bringing out the best in others. My job is also about building products for people, to challenge their behaviours, to help accomplishing their goals.

Everyday, I see people organising themselves together and achieve much more than we could ever alone. I’m astonished about the social nature of our species.

In the last year I’ve worked with incredible people, here I summarise my lessons from them. This list contains 15 learnings that can be somehow useful to anyone leading tech teams, there is not a particular order and it is far away to be exhaustive: help me growing this list. I’d love to hear your suggestions .

  1. Honesty is the keys to any good relationship. Ceire
    After all, who is going to commit to us and invest their time and effort into us if they can’t even trust us? The most important aspects of building a new relationship are honesty and vulnerability.
  2. Multitasking increases stress and drop IQ. Chris 
    Reduce cognitive overload, protect people from the multitasking mental massacre.
  3. Learning to fall is how we learn to walk. Cleo 
    Failing is useful. Trying something remarkable requires failure, and failure is learning. A good product manager mitigate failure in latest cycle of the product and speed up early learning in the discovery phase.
  4. Building systems that last. Dylan
    The ultimate goal of a company is to get the stage of long-run survival. A good product manager is resilient and keep strong focus. Resilience is key, entrepreneurship is a long run… no matter on how difficult is the challenge if you don’t give up you will succeed at one point.
  5. Nothing is ever ‘done’. Elena
    In agile development, iteration is key. It’s great to deploy a new feature, but it’s even better to see the product adapting and improving continuously.
  6. The best leaders gain power by giving it away. Greg
    When people feel powerful or feel powerless, it influences their perception of others. Power change people in worst, delegating decisions to teams and committee to remove power from leaders.
  7. Ruthlessly prioritise. Frances
    Is everything really important? Whenever you start anything in your life, you are rejecting everything else you could have done with that time. Take consistent inventory and make sure you’re focusing on the most important things, things are not in battle with each other but in order.
  8. Managing by rituals and ceremony. Marina
    What makes a group of people more than just a group of people? Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much. Celebrations create strong sense of emotional connection and confidence. Rituals build common bond with cadence.
  9. Default to transparency. Max
    Put in place practices that bring information out into the open wherever possible. When transparency is the default attitude you will be safe from corporate politics. Every conflict, error or disaster started as a tiny seed of miscommunication.
  10. You must like serving people to be a great leader. Kate
    Helping people to succeed doesn’t need budget. It’s a mindset and simple actions can increase retention and productivity. Do the job that needs to be done. A good product manager is fearless in taking full ownership. It is persuasive and endlessly positive.
  11. Having all the answers is not the goal. Lee
    Motivating the team to find the answers is the goal. To test the strength of a manager, look at the strength of their team. There are not bad team but only bad managers.
  12. Hiring people smarter than you. John
    Hire people for their mental and emotional ability to adapt to the stress of a steep learning curve and come out on top. Training for new skill is effective but you can not change attitude.
  13. Keeping an expanded perspective. Josh
    Product management by orders of magnitude. Focus on design systems not destinations.
  14. Doing your best to get out of the way. Rafa
    Give ownership. Nobody want to be told what to do, especially smart people. Look for humility, confidence and stability when you are searching for a good manager.
  15. Culture is a shared way of doing something with passion. Toby
    The stronger the product, the less corporate process a company needs. Good process keep things fluid and don’t produce friction.