Product Managers: Collaborating towards great relationships and results

It seems intuitive that good collaboration requires collaborators to, as the popular adage goes, say what they mean and mean what they say. Unfortunately in a lot of collaborations this is exactly what doesn’t happen and these are what I call “bad collaborations.”
Think about the last time you had to deal with a complex topic at work that required collaboration (there are probably a lot of them). At any point during the collaboration did you feel like you could not say what was on your mind? Did you disagree with a direction or decision but kept it to yourself? Did you outwardly agree but internally disagree?
The likely answers are yes especially in the world of product management where collaboration is a critical part of the job. Here are a few examples of cases where bad collaboration may creep up. Determining a delivery dateDeciding on a user experienceAligning on a product strategyPrioritizing a backlog or roadmap While each example has a different audience and purpose there is on…

Product Managers: What is your product strategy?

Ask a Product Manager (PM) who has put together a product strategy and they will tell you that it's hard. In fact, even the best PMs sometimes struggle to create and articulate a clear product strategy, and almost no one gets it right the first time.
Why is strategy hard?  The answer may lie in an insight from Michael Porter’s Dec 1996 Harvard Business Review article What is Strategy? in which Porter asks why so many organizations struggle with defining, explaining and acting on their strategies. Porter argues that strategy is fundamentally about making trade — offs and organizations struggle with this because of conflicting imperatives related to operational effectiveness and growth.

Although the modern view on some of the examples Porter uses in his article has shifted the essence of his argument remains true: good strategy requires making tough choices and organizations struggle with making these choices.

PMs are extensions of their broader organizations and oftentimes stewards…

What does fulfillment mean to you? Here's my take on the subject.

I think about fulfillment a lot lately, specifically about what it takes for me to feel fulfilled, and how I can maintain that feeling through the ebbs and flows of my personal and professional life. 
I don’t have all the answers but my main purpose in writing this piece is to reassure you that you are not alone in the challenges you may face with personal and professional fulfillment. 
We all go through these challenges and the trick is to understand what maximizes your fulfillment levels and continue doing those things as long as you can. How I think about fulfillment. I tend to think about fulfillment in binary terms, which is to say that I am either fulfilled or I am not — there isn’t much of a middle ground for me on this. This may not be true for others but feeling fulfilled is nevertheless very important to my quality of life.
A higher level of fulfillment also has a lot of tangential benefits including improved health (i.e., I get sick less often), happier personal relationsh…

Carpe Technology: Why students should take advantage of the opportunities available to them today

I recently gave a keynote address at an event focused on inspiring middle school and high school students to pursue careers in technology.

In my talk, I focused on three things: 1) Getting the students excited about the number of technology — driven opportunities available to them today, 2) Encouraging them to vigorously pursue these opportunities and 3) Providing them with tangible examples and strategies to succeed in their pursuit.

I’m going to share some of these thoughts in this post.

The Opportunity Space There are two incontrovertible truths about technology: 1) It always progresses and 2) Today’s students generally have more access to technology than any generation before them.

As a result, the barrier to innovation is probably the lowest it has ever been and with sufficient will, most people can likely see their ideas and innovations through to fruition (although scale of success certainly varies)

Let's Get Off The Clock: Arbitrary Weekly Work Hour Requirements

An interesting article from Inc Magazine made the rounds on the Internet over the past few days with its showcasing of a "less than 40 hour week" startup perk. While at first glance the notion of a work week capped at some amount less than or equal to 40 hours sounds promising for employee retention, long - term morale and even worker productivity, it nevertheless highlights a problematic approach to thinking about work.

Specifically, by framing work weeks in terms of the amount of hours employees are expected to commit, employers are suggesting that the number of hours worked is the most apt measure of productivity. Unfortunately for those supporting 40 hour work weeks, this is the same logic that they problematize in their critique of "80 hours a week" thinking.

Mindfulness: 5 Proven Tactics to "De-stress"

Cold and flu season are in full swing, application deadlines are looming, and major life changes are on the horizon; in other words, stress is in the air and odds are you are suffering from it. Here are 5 tactics I use to deal with my stress, hopefully some of them will be useful to you.

1. Be Disciplined - This one may seem counter-intuitive at first, as we often hear about "letting loose" as a way of combating stress. I agree and therefore advocate being disciplined about when and how you "let loose." For some, letting loose may mean developing a craft while for others it may be having a nice meal with some friends. Whatever your "letting loose" lever, make sure you regularly set aside time to use it. Personally, I like watching movies, reading a book with a nice cup of black tea or meeting up with good friends. I make it point to do at least one of these things every weekend, most often on Saturdays.

Zain's Top 5 Moments Of 2012 - Moment #2

This is a multi-post series highlighting what I think were my top moments / events in 2012.

Moment #2 - "Disrupting Class"

We are now at Moment #2 of my Top 5 Moments of 2012 year review and things are getting a bit more serious.