Creating an awesome culture is the backbone of any high-functioning product organisation — but how do you go about it? In the first part of this series we take a look at the key building blocks to consider…

When we think about culture in organisations we often come across many nebulous explanations about what it is and what it means — “It’s the way we do things around here” or “It’s the perks we receive as employees”. Culture can be hard to define, and even harder to define when you think about it in a product context.

Why a great…


Transitioning to having outcome-driven, empowered product teams is a tricky business. Here are some ideas to help navigate the human problems you’re likely to encounter on the way…

What companies can do to help empower product teams — illustration by Ian Viggars
What companies can do to help empower product teams — illustration by Ian Viggars
Illustration by www.ianviggars.com

I recently wrote a response to Marty Cagan’s article Product vs. Feature Teams with the aim of explaining why some companies struggle to empower product teams, how many of the problems are related to mindset and what I like to call ‘human problems’.

Many of you wrote to me asking what we can do to help companies navigate this and what my approach would be to solving this tricky problem.

I don’t…


A team that understands and agrees on what one another does is likely to be more high functioning than those who don’t. Here’s how to clarify roles and responsibilities on your team…

How to facilitate a roles and responsibilities workshop — illustration by Ian Viggars
How to facilitate a roles and responsibilities workshop — illustration by Ian Viggars
Illustration by www.ianviggars.com

What are team roles and responsibilities?

Roles are generally defined as the positions that each person on a team assumes — for example on a product team you might have a Product Manager role, a Product Designer role, etc.

Responsibilities are the specific tasks or duties that team members are expected to carry out as part of their role.

Why take time to clarify them?

Understanding what each person contributes and is responsible for is a big part of working…


Businesses are suffering from some very human problems when it comes to empowered product teams…

Why some companies fail to empower product teams — illustration by Ian Viggars
Why some companies fail to empower product teams — illustration by Ian Viggars
Illustration by www.ianviggars.com

Marty Cagan recently published an article about product vs. feature teams and it caused a bit of a stir in the product world.

His frustration about his ongoing experiences with companies who can’t seem to make the transition to outcome-driven, empowered product teams was clear to see.

Not to mention the solidifying of poor ways of working in conference talks, training programmes and “certification” programmes for product people.

Having spent much of my product career either working on empowered product teams or coaching teams to…


Defining a vision gives your team something to aim for in the longer term — something beyond quarterly goals and outcomes. Here’s how to create one with your team…

How to facilitate a team vision workshop — illustration by Ian Viggars
How to facilitate a team vision workshop — illustration by Ian Viggars
Illustration by www.ianviggars.com

I recently wrote about the importance of having a team purpose and how to define one for your team. Purpose is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to setting your product team up for success. Your team also needs something to aim for, a North Star.

What is a team vision?

A team vision is a longer term aim that looks out around 12 months ahead. It’s different from a company vision as…


Offering support and guidance to others can be very rewarding — but be prepared for the unexpected…

Illustration by www.ianviggars.com

It never occurred to me that I could be a mentor when I was first approached by a Junior Product Manager asking me to do just that, and the experience has taught me some interesting and valuable things over the years. Here are a few of the more surprising things I’ve learned along the way:

1. You will spend a lot of time talking about how to manage other humans

I recently wrote a piece about setting product teams up for success and in it I talked about my belief that being a Product Manager is primarily a…


Agreeing a purpose gives your team a reason for being and gives their work greater meaning than simply doing what they do. Here’s how to define one for your team…

How to facilitate a team purpose workshop — illustration by www.ianviggars.com
How to facilitate a team purpose workshop — illustration by www.ianviggars.com
Illustration by www.ianviggars.com

What is a team purpose?

Purpose, quite literally, is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

In the context of a product team we can understand this as the ‘why’ behind the work being done and the reason that the team was formed in the first place.

Purpose is sometimes confused with the team vision or strategy — but it’s more like the mission. So if vision is…


As a Product Manager, how can you ensure that your team feels able to take risks, voice opinions and put forward ideas without fear of judgement?

Psychological safety: why it matters to your product team and what you can do to help. Illustration by Ian Viggars.
Psychological safety: why it matters to your product team and what you can do to help. Illustration by Ian Viggars.
Illustration by http://www.ianviggars.com/

It’s been 4 years since Google published the results of Project Aristotle, their quest to define the formula for the most effective teams. And you guessed it, they found that psychological safety was the most important factor.

Since then, much has been published about psychological safety in the workplace and I have spent plenty of time trying to ensure that the teams that I work with always feel able to express themselves in a…


How to set a product team up for success — illustration by Ian Viggars
How to set a product team up for success — illustration by Ian Viggars

When you’re a Product Manager starting at a new company there is so much to learn — understanding what your team is working on and who your customer is, figuring out who’s who, what the company’s strategic aims are, and so much more.

What often gets forgotten is learning about what makes your team tick and what they need to do a great job.

Some people might disagree with me (and feel free to in the comments!) but my experiences have taught me that being a Product Manager is what I like to call a “human-centred” role, above and beyond…

Monica Viggars

Product Coach. Director @ Rather Good Consultancy: I help make product teams awesome! 💫 Writing about the human side of Product Management.

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