Top 10 Product Management Posts Of 2009

Oh, it’s the end of the year? That can only mean one thing: A top 10 list of my favorite product management posts of the year!

Actually, let’s do a top 12 — one for each month — which, of course, will only scratch the surface of the PM wisdom percolating throughout the web, but should provide some great reading.

Top 12 Product Management Posts Of 2009

Product Mangers Can Learn From The Past: The Story Of The Vasa // January 27, 2009
The story of the King of Sweden and the good ship Vasa carries a not-too-subtle warning for Product Managers. Dr. Jim Anderson explains how one cannon too many can lead to #productFail.

Failure To Launch (Your Product) // February 19, 2009
You’ve just launched your next big product — and your application crashes due to “unexpected” demand. What could you have done to prevent this disaster? Scott Sehlhorst provides some tools, from backwards planning to problem triage to root cause analysis.

The 4 PM Confusion in Technology Companies // March 3, 2009
“Oh, you’re like a project manager, right?” With a combination of ProductCamp Boston tweets, Dilbert cartoons, and his own insights, Jon Gatrell of spatially relevant explores the differences and similarities among product managers, product marketers, project managers, and program managers.

Win Loss Analysis Resources // April 30, 2009
Stewart Rogers compiled a list of seven win/loss resources that could help you increase revenue in the coming year. Especially helpful is “The Eight Rules of Successful Win/Loss Analysis” by Roger Allison which includes metric-based and structured templates for conducting win/loss and evaluating results.

Email Management Tips // May 11, 2009
Product Managers receive 50 emails per day and send 25, according to surveys. Your individual results may vary. Still, that’s a lot of email to wade through. Tabita from Product Management Zen shares her habits for getting your life back from the clutches of email.

Saying No To Customer, Sales, And Exec Feature Requests (With Justification) // June 10, 2009
Cindy Alvarez offers advice on how to say “No!” and make it stick. Includes a framework that puts the focus on the product vision and highlights problems rather than proposed solutions — an important distinction.

Video from Jeff Bezos about Amazon and Zappos // July 22, 2009

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, talks about lessons he’s learned in the last decade, as well as the Zappos culture. Lessons learned include: obsessing over your customers, not your competitors; listening to your customers but inventing what they need, not necessarily what they ask for; the competitive advantage of thinking long-term; and understanding “it’s always Day One”.

Apple’s Mistaken Mystique // August 30, 2009
Tom Grant, senior analyst at Forrester Research, shares a presentation by Jared Spool from Agile 2009 which serves as a good reminder that “incomplete, simplistic stories can turn into pernicious myths”. In other words, hiring a world-class development team does not guarantee success.

8 Lessons We Can Learn From Infomercials // September 27, 2009
Saeed from On Product Management finds infomercials more than a guilty pleasure; they’re also informative. Helpful hints: Look for problems that a lot of people have; try to find at least one “Wow!” aspect for each product; be very particular about the words you choose for your pitch. (RIP, Billy Mays.)

How Do I Position A New Version Of An Existing Product And Avoid Cannibalization? // October 26, 2009
Mara Krieps of Pivotal Product Management offers advice: Focus on the true customer problem, think about the 5 Ps of marketing, then apply the strategies that make the most sense.

How Product Management Must Change To Enable The Agile Enterprise // November 30, 2009
When development teams adopt agile, product management is often caught off guard by the amount of work added to their already overflowing plate. Given that most product managers are overworked, how can they manage these new activities to derive more value? Catherine Connor offers advice on how to avoid an incredibly productive development team delivering software that is launched at the wrong time, with the wrong price, without a properly prepared sales and support team.

Energy-Efficient Traffic Lights Can’t Melt Snow // Dec 15, 2009
The dark side of energy efficiency, and the very real dangers of poor product requirements: New energy-efficient bulbs use 90% less energy; they’re longer-lasting; and save cities and towns money. However, the new bulbs don’t emit heat, which means they can’t belt snow. Dozens of car crashes, including at least one fatality, have been blamed on these snow-covered stoplights.

Bonus Posts!

Wowzers, that’s kind of a downer note to end 2009 on. So, let’s lighten things up with…

Product Management Is More Than Prioritizing Features // September 24, 2009
Jeff Lash explains how product managers can easily fall into feature-focused development mode; the dangers of falling into that trap; and ways to avoid or escape the feature prioritization spiral.

Marketing Lessons from Foursquare // Nov 5, 2009
April Dunford observes: FourSquare isn’t exactly fun — but winning is, and that’s an important tool for the product manager’s toolkit. Another critical observation: Don’t discourage unintended uses as those might become your future use cases.

What Were Your Favorites?

Narrowing this list down to 10… 12… 14… from the hundreds of articles I’ve read this year, clearly wasn’t easy. What were your favorite PM articles from 2009?

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