Valuable Insights from 5 Great Product Management Articles on Medium.com

Dana Solomon

Dana Solomon
Marketing at ProductPlan

“The secret every business leader is terrified you’ll discover!”

“25 things successful professionals do every day—and you don’t.”

“8 simple changes to your routine that will 10x your productivity. You won’t believe number 3!”

We hate article titles like these as much as you do. Over-promising, under-delivering clickbait like this almost always leaves you disappointed, right? You accept the implicit promise of the article’s title, take the time to read the piece, and…get nothing of value for your effort.

As a product manager, you’re also extremely busy. And you only have so much time in your day to take a chance on blogs calling to you with titles like “The 10 things every product manager needs to know to avoid humiliating product fails!”

So the team here at ProductPlan—always looking for ways to distill important product management insights and ideas for our PM community—decided to do some of the legwork for you. We’ve scoured Medium.com, found some of the best articles on product management—and summarized each article’s best takeaway for you right here.

Each of the articles that made our list below is loaded with great insights, advice, hacks, and tips. We encourage you to read the full posts on Medium.com—when you have time.

But for now, because we know you that you crave valuable insights but are probably too swamped to read the many thousands of combined words these articles represent, enjoy our key takeaways from these great product management articles.

1. What Product Teams Can Learn from Disney’s “Moana” (Brian Crofts)

Here’s a terrific post on the value of product teams undertaking “immersive experiences” to invite inspiration and innovation.

Brian Crofts, Chief Product Officer at Pendo.io, makes this an even more enjoyable read by sharing this insight not with a dry recitation of facts or a to-do list for creating an immersive experience—but by showing us how it can be done successfully through the story of the making of a hit Disney film.

In fact, what Brian has done here, perhaps even without meaning to, is share this insight with his readers by creating an immersive experience for us—walking us through several interesting examples of how the “Moana” production team immersed itself in the film’s Ancient Polynesian world, and how these added layers of experience led to great insights for a richer story.

2. 12 Bottom-Up Change Hints (John Cutler)

Great post here about advocating for change—how to do it, how not to do it, and why it’s often an uphill battle or even a fight you might not be able to win.

Of all the great insights here (the full article is definitely worth the 4-minute read), our favorite takeaway is John’s number 3: “Craft the change you want in terms accessible to the business.” In other words, when advocating for something for your product, you’ve got to focus your pitch on why it will be strategically advantageous to the company.

Or, as we at ProductPlan always argue, you’ve got to tie the product roadmap to your company’s larger business objectives.

3. Provide Insights, Not Data (Daniel Elizalde)

In this post, TechProductManagement founder and IoT product expert Daniel Elizalde offers critical insights to data-driven companies and product teams.

Essentially, Daniel’s lesson is: Data is not an end in itself; it is only a tool to help a user derive value.

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“Data is not an end in itself. It is only a tool to help a user derive value.”

Although this piece is oriented toward understanding how to better leverage the data your product collects and stores—in the case of Daniel’s company, probably an IoT device—this lesson also seems valid for a product team that, understandably, wants to gather as much data about its users/market/competition/etc. as they can.

Although gathering and analyzing data can be an extremely useful undertaking, as Daniel points out, it can also spin a product team around and around trying to figure out what it all means. Better to start with a data strategy—knowing what you want to learn, and how you’ll apply those learnings to your product—rather than simply casting a wide net.

4. One Door at a Time (Jason Fried)

In this post, Jason Fried (co-founder of 37signals, maker of the Basecamp project management software) makes the case for slower, steadier, and more measured growth and success. His message is directed at entrepreneurs getting their businesses off the ground, but the same principles can be applied to the development of your products.

You might be feeling some of this “go big or go home” pressure, as Jason describes it, in your organization. Perhaps your investors are becoming impatient with your development progress. Maybe your executive team is in a hurry for world domination. But like rushing a new business to ramp up too quickly, when you rush your products you’re more likely to make mistakes.

Jason’s “one door at a time” rule, as applied to a product, would be to start with your minimum viable product, interact with your early users to learn everything you can about what works and what doesn’t, then go back and make incremental improvements, and repeat as necessary. As the subtitle of Jason’s article nicely puts it, “Stop obsessing over scale, and perfect the basics.”

5. What is a Product Manager? A Different Perspective (Product Manager Club)

Interesting topic. We’ve discussed it ourselves. But as the title of Product Manager Club’s post promises, they do take a different approach to defining what a product manager is.

The post organizes its answer into several traits a product manager will typically have to possess—and some of these, like “divergent thinker” and “maker”—do indeed offer novel ways to think about the role of product managers.

As you read through this list of what the author describes as the most useful “analogies, anecdotes, adjectives, and adages” to describe what a product manager is, you’ll probably find at least one trait you should be working on to better succeed in your PM role. Definitely worth the 12-minute read.)


Do you have a great product management article or blog post to share? Please include it in the comments section.