About John Cutler
John Cutler, an experienced product manager with several years of product experience. John is a Sr Product Manager with Pendo.io and is also an avid writer on everything around product and a very prolific one at that.
Questions for John
- Does writing help you become a better product person?
- Do you advice product people to write more often even though they are ever so busy?
- One of your best and very popular post was on The Evolving Product Manager role. What do you mean by Gatekeeper to amplifier and conduit?
- What do you mean by driving out uncertainty vs embracing ambiguity. How much of documentation is necessary to develop shared understanding. Is it possible to avoid documentation?
- The other thought provoking post you wrote was titled “Do we need product managers?” and it was thought provoking because may be because that was very existential question for product managers And that post has became hugely popular and gone viral. And you listed out some self-probing questions. Now before we talk about some of the probing questions, do you want to tell what made you write that post.
- Do your PMs own outcomes or the delivery of features? If the delivery of features, why not just hire skilled project managers?
- Why do you need separate Product org and Engineering orgs? How does the customer benefit?
- Are your most skilled product managers/owners working on the front lines?
- Can you bring the silos of your organization closer together? Such that the overhead of coordination would drop and benefit your customers? And what would that do to your product team?
- You also wrote a recent post titled “16 quick product management tips”. . One tip was : “Batch your planning and approach it “just in time”. The floors of companies are littered with planning in progress. You can plan 6 months of work in 60 minutes, so why do it ahead of time?” Could you elaborate this a bit? What is the harm in planning ahead?
- Here’s another one worth reading out for teh audience: “If the “best ideas win” then make sure that everyone has a fair shot at offering ideas. The reality is that your ideas aren’t always the best ideas. More importantly, cultivate a deep understanding of the problem, or commit to learn more about the problem. The good ideas will flow.”
- “It’s tempting to force convergence (“we need the mockups now!”). The best ideas emerge after an almost uncomfortable level of divergence. Protect this, even if it feels messy” What do you mean by convergence and divergence?
- “It’s important to differentiate between linear and non-linear impacts in product development. You can’t scale certain things 2x and expect other things to scale 2x (e.g. # of personas and size of team required to serve those personas)” What did you mean by that?
- On Continuous delivery: There are some organization that are transitioning or experimenting towards continuous delivery or more frequent delivery. What are some of the best practices to deliver features frequently? How is roadmap planned in such an environment) How do you handle the regular alphas and betas that is there in perpetual releases? How do you groom backlog? You mentioned that traditional Po roles with scrum doesn’t work? How do you make a roadmap public in this environment?
- What is your process of building a feature? Do you identify assumption? How do you estimate effort? How would you know if what you are pursuing a feature is risky or possible?
- How do you fight feature fatigue? At what point of time in your product lifecycle you decide not to cram more features? How do you justify the existence of a large team then?
- What are your opinions on the relationship between product management and project management. How should they work together?
Last three template questions:
- WAR STORY: What has been the biggest product challenge in your product career? What were the biggest learnings from that challenge?
- You mentioned in a blog post that you read over 100 books. How on earth do you get time to read so many books when PMs are otherwise so busy? And then you also write prolifically? How do you manage all of that? What are some of the books that may have shaped your product career?
- What are the few vital few skills a Product Manager cannot do without ?