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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Originally published on www.RetroRabbit.io

If you’re on an agile software development team, you should be having regular retrospectives. Having retrospectives is like eating your veggies for your scrum team; without them you can’t grow big and strong.

So we are going to assume that you do participate in retrospective meetings. Almost everyone I know who does is constantly complaining about the same recurring problem. They sit down in the retro meeting, go to write out their sticky notes or retro items to talk about, and cant. Think. Of. Anything.

The timer is ticking away, and nothing is coming to mind. Your mind might start to wander. Well, we had stand-up earlier today, what did people talk about then? AH! Suddenly three things come to mind and you jot them down. By the end of your retro writing period, you’ve got almost no retro topics to talk about and almost all of them happened in the last few days. Everyone on the team shares their items and the same thing happened, everyone is talking about things that already occurred in the past, but next to nothing comes up from the beginning of the sprint. …


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Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff book cover art

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com

**I hope you get as much of a benefit as I did from this book. As a heads up, if you do end up buying Pitch Anything from a link in this article, I may collect a small percentage compensation.

One of my favorite hobbies is reading “Product Management adjacent books” (a book not traditionally seen as something that applies to Product), and then teasing out things that can apply to Product Management. Why? …


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Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com

If we ignore the big flaming dumpster fire that is COVID for a moment driving almost all technology companies to go 100% remote, in the digital age more and more software development is being done by geographically distributed teams. For example, I work as a Product Manager for Nordstrom based out of Chicago IL. I currently have the honor of working with 10 total software engineers. 7 of them are based in Seattle, and 3 of them are based all the way in the Ukraine.

Working with a geographically diverse group of engineers is awesome. It brings new perspectives, and new team dynamics that on the whole build towards a stronger product. Geographically diverse teams result in individuals bringing different ways of thinking about problems and solutions to the table. Of course it is not all rainbows and butterflies. There can be challenges, especially for teams as they are forming. For example, you need to adjust meeting cadence to if possible so the time works for all team members. …


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Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com

The Engineer to Product Manager relationship is probably the most important relationship a good Product Manager can have. Sure, there are many important stakeholders to keep an eye on; leadership, marketing, other tech teams with high dependencies or who own services that are upstream from yours, and more. However engineering should be your top focus when investing in relationships as a Product Manager.

Above and beyond just being a good fun human to work with, significant effort must be invested in getting to know your engineering partners to understand their preferences, as well as strengths and weaknesses. …


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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com.

For people stepping into an agile organization or team for the first time, a lot will seem new and unfamiliar. People will throw buzzwords around like throughput, standup, and WIP. As you get more familiar you’ll need to start educating yourself on some fundamental decisions agile engineering teams face so you can craft an educated opinion.

Looking for background on what agile even is? Read more on the difference between agile and non agile methodologies.

I’ve worked as a Product Manager on agile teams using both Scrum and Kanban workflow methodologies. …


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Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com

Every Product Manager out there knows about the struggle that is tech debt. Some teams call it component ownership, other times it will come up as a code refactor, but one of the most challenging parts of the job as a Product Manager is building trust with your engineering partners, and prioritizing what tech debt needs prioritizing.

What is tech debt?

ProductPlan defines tech debt as “what results when development teams take action to expedite the delivery of a piece of functionality or a project which later needs to be refactored. …


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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com.

Agile software development relies on delivering small increments of work that individually deliver value to the customer. By keeping things small, you ensure the team delivers quickly, provides value to the customer quickly, and most importantly receive feedback from the customer on what is working and what is not.

If you are being agile with your feature delivery, you should be moving fast and learning quickly! That is why the feature string is so important.

What is a Feature String?!

Each individual feature should deliver value on its own. …


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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

This article was originally published on www.Ben.Staples.com

Not all product managers are created equal, and not all engineers are either! As a Product Manager, you won’t always have the choice of what engineers to work with. However who knows, one day you could be presented with the opportunity to pick a squad you’ll work with. Even in your day to day interactions, as questions come up about work being done or the development team process, you’ll need to decide which engineer to approach with questions, request for consultation, etc.

These decisions will have significant impacts, not only on the quality of work your team produces, but also on the quality of your work experience as a whole. You spend a ton of time with the people you work with, make sure that you’re having fun! …


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Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

Originally published at www.Ben-Staples.com

Agile is the bees’ knees. But some people don’t understand.

Why is it important to be able to explain the difference between waterfall and agile to people?

At any company, many of your co workers will be on non technical teams. Stakeholders, upper management, customer service. Critical parts of the operation like marketing, operations etc. have often not yet been onboarded to an agile way of working. …


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Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

Originally published on www.Ben-Staples.com

Personal websites are all the rage these days. They are easier than ever to make. Back in the day you had to read up on how to code and do it yourself. Now through easy to use Content Management Systems like Wix, Wordpress, and others, non coders can build beautiful highly functional websites.

With such great tools making basic web development accessible to all, why doesn’t everyone have their own website?

They think they don’t have the skills

False: Anyone who has used photoshop, powerpoint, or even microsoft paint can use a modern CMS to build a great website.

They think they are too expensive

Wrong! While you can use a free option, generally any free website will come with a long list of unprofessional things like ads on your site, and not having your own domain. Jump in with two feet and pay to get a great website URL. …

About

Ben Staples

Ben Staples has over 7 years of product management and PMM eCommerce experience from at Nordstrom, Trunk Club, and Vistaprint . Currently based in Chicago IL

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