Product and Engineering Wisdom - Issue #21
Tips, advice and guides on building the machine that builds the product.
You have probably noticed that I have been writing and publishing my own content these last few weeks. I intend to write a lot more in 2022 about SEO Product Management and working with developers.
This means that the wisdom and tips newsletter will now be a monthly email. This will give me time to focus on writing my own newsletters rather than just doing roundups.
In this issue, the topic is building the machine that builds the product.
Successful product and engineering teams work together to learn and use experiments to grow a business. This helps them continuously learn as quickly as possible. The important thing to focus on is investing in growing people who are the machine that builds the product.
Stay safe and enjoy.
⚡Wisdom of the Sprint
by Karishma Irani
Time: 36 mins ⏲️
Karishma Irani, Group Product Manager at LaunchDarkly, talks about how to use the Triad team structure to increase the effectiveness of product development.
Adam’s Insight: Planning and scoping ideas is a team sport.
In this webinar, Karishma discusses how LaunchDarkly increased the efficiency of their product and engineering by moving to a Triad team structure.
At LaunchDarkly a Triad is made up of an Engineering Manager, Product Manager and Design Lead who act as a leadership unit within the project team. The benefit of creating a Triad is effective communication between different team members.
Karishma highlights that in the past most companies who practice agile are just "doing waterfall" (handing off work in sprints) but Triad team structure allows project squads to "be agile". It helps specialists discuss good or bad ideas, make the team responsible for a project and reduce blockers for releasing products or features.
I'd recommend watching this webinar if you're an SEO Manager or Technical SEO Lead who wants to understand how to structure a unit of specialists and build a machine that builds the product or service.
by Ken Norton
Time: 10 mins ☕
A reflection from Ken Norton on the lessons he's learned in his career in Product Management.
Adam’s Insight: There is a lot of cross-over between product and SEO practices.
The lessons in this blog post (and a video) are also things that SEOs should also listen to including:
Art vs Science - There is an art (soft skills) and science (hard skills) to product management but it is usually a lack of investment in the art that can cause projects to fail (very true of SEO as well).
Learn to fall in love with problems - In SEO we all get fixated on solutions just like Product teams but it's important to fall in love with problems. They help us connect with people and empathise with their situation so we can find a way to solve their pain point.
PM in your role - Just like SEO being a Product Manager can only really be learned on the job but it is hard to get into as companies don't want to take a chance on you. Instead you should look at how you can PM in your current role (speaking to customers, solving problems, etc.).
Form bridges - Don't silo yourself from customers or the teams that build the product or service. Learn to build bridges between these two groups.
People matter most - It's people who make the product, company and culture. A bad team can tank a good product and a good team can get a product released through sheer will. Learn to watch out for the people not the brand.
Diverse teams build better products - it is important to hold the door open for those who are not as privileged as others. So we can build products that help everyone around the world.
I'd recommend reading this if you want to understand some of the lessons from a product leader.
by Marty Cagan
Time: 5 mins ☕
In this article, Marty Cagan from Silicon Valley Product Group discusses a new group of process people developing with agile and product teams.
Adam’s Insight: This article highlights there are three types of people in an organisation:
Any agile or product organisation is a careful balance of these types of people, with makers being important in discovering and delivering features, services or products. While managers are important in supporting and providing the necessary resources for makers to grow.
Marty raises some interesting points around "process people". Those who are hired to own and look after a process in a large organisation. These owners can focus too heavily on these processes and not on building products that solve problems.
Hiring these "process people" can take away from hiring managers or makers. Which can impact the overall business.
An interesting read for any SEO Leader or Product leader in a team.
by Philip Malashenko
Time: 10 mins ☕
Philip Malashenko a Growth Engineer at Atlassian takes you through an example of a growth experiment and what the team learned.
Adam’s Insight: I've talked about a culture of experiments and learning in "What is Agile?". This blog post by Philip is a great discovery experint example at Atlassian.
I won't spoil the ending of the experiment but it just goes to show that it is important to test ideas as it allows teams to develop products that help users.
If you are a SEO PM or Technical SEO who wants to better understand how a experiment is run then this is a must.
by Ilya Grigorik
Time: 6 mins ☕
Ilya Grigorik basically just solves site speed for commerce stores using Shopify's Hydrogen framework.
Adam’s Insight: Understanding technology is very important as a product manager and technical SEO.
Ilya provides a great overview of the Hydrogen framework and some of the ways it will be solving web performance for personalised, dynamic and server-side rendered e-commerce stores.
I would highly recommend reading this if you are interested in custom Shopify ecommerce builds (I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more sites use Hydrogen in the future).