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Retrospectives are easy to overlook as sources for team optimization and improvement. A lot of people talk about the downsides of not having retrospectives at all, but there are definitely problems that can come up if your retrospective meetings are run in the wrong way.

Here are three things that teams currently running retrospectives can be challenged with. If you think your team might be running into any of these problems; it is time to stop, think, and target areas for improvement.

1. The team can’t celebrate wins

A common problem with feedback across the board, including 1:1 scenarios as well as…

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I recently had a pretty frustrating experience with a Saas (Software as a service) product I love which really hammers home the importance of price transparency.

I live my life off of Trello (includes a referral link) to organize everything, whether it is task lists for work, or even tracking movies I want to watch. Sometimes Trello doesn’t cut it for me however. Tom Favaloro, one of the best Product Managers I’ve had the chance to work with, introduced me to Airtable (also a referral link).

The main difference between Airtable and Trello is that while…

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Scientific based AB testing is a skillset critical to any eCommerce Product Manager. There is a lot that can go wrong with AB tests. A few weeks back I published an article about the novelty effect; a risk you can run into when not looking at either the length of time you’re running your test for, or the distribution of customer cohorts.

Besides the novelty effect, here are three things to keep in mind to avoid common pitfalls when running AB tests:

1. Isolate variables of change

The waterfall methodology incentivizes big bang projects where an end to end project plan…

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I ran a recent poll on LinkedIn to understand what the biggest pain points of retrospectives are.

While it seems like everyone has something they could optimize about their retrospectives, here were the top three problems that stood out the most:

  1. 45% of poll participants said that their number one retrospective problem is that the meeting takes too long
  2. 27% of poll respondents mentioned that they just don’t have enough retrospectives
  3. 27% of people surveyed mentioned they struggle to remember what happened during the sprint

The Retrospective Meetings Take Too Long

Some teams can have incredibly long retrospective meetings. Oftentimes teams can…

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Last week, I wrote an article running through a framework product managers can use to gain more confidence in the success of their feature without building the actual functionality behind it. This is an incredible game-changing concept for any Product Manager looking to move faster and get learnings more effectively.

To learn more about this way of thinking more broadly, a few people have recommended The Lean Startup as a great book that walks you through the concept of experimentation and ways you can apply it to building anything.

In discussing last week’s article, Stephen Delaney

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As Product Managers, our job is to maximize the value of the engineering team. We do this by coming up with ideas that have as high of a probability for success as possible.

How do Product Managers do that successfully? We leverage direct customer feedback and any data we have on hand.

Customer feedback can come in many forms. Customers can on one hand, call in screaming to your customer service representatives about a terrible experience they’ve had. Alternatively, customers can send you flowers and a valentine because of how incredible their shopping journey was.


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A few weeks ago, someone reached out to me through the contact form on my website with a Product Management question (which I love by the way, please reach out if you have any questions, want recommendations, etc).

Alissa, an eCommerce Product Manager who is the very first Product Manager at her organization wrote:

“There isn’t much structure surrounding customer feedback right now. What has worked well for you in the past in re: to establishing new processes, customer feedback loops, etc. I don’t just want to rely on jotforms or survey monkeys. Are there any…

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Time is a limited resource for everyone. In this busier than ever world of technological innovation, you need to keep learning to stay relevant. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Software Engineer trying to stay on top of the newest programming language, or a Product Manager trying to understand new concepts for iterative scale, continuous learning is key.

In Product Management, you often hear that our job is to build the right thing and to build it right. …

Thanks for the insights Chris. Two things from your experience really stand out to me:

1. You are totally right, I just finished Radical Candor and boy can not having the fortitude to provide direct feedback when it is really necessary can really be detrimental to not only the team / org, but also the individual

2. Your points are super valid about agile ceremonies and the proliferation of meetings. Video feedback can totally be a supplement and at times even a replacement for some of those unnecessary touch bases.

Wild to hear you're full time in Vietnam! Very cool

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In the past, I’ve written about how retrospectives are like vegetables for your agile software development team. Oftentimes they are not peoples favorite food, but you need to do them so that your team continues to learn, grow, and get better.

Having the same format, with the same group of people can get repetitive. Discussion points can get stale, like that pain in the butt ongoing dependency that just keeps coming up. …

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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