20 Most Interesting Articles and Interviews of 2015

Another year has gone by and boy, what a year it was. With hundreds of new products being released, some making it big, some flopping, I really learned a lot. Much of what I learned was through the great articles that are published daily by product managers all over the world.

I started this blog in order to share my thoughts and opinions, but also to learn from others, and share their thoughts and opinions. Reading all the different blog posts and articles out there this year has noticeably changed my leadership and management style for the better. So as we say goodbye to 2015 and getting ready to welcome 2016, I want to thank the product management community for a year of magnificent content.

Below are the top 2015 articles that really made a difference in my thinking and management style, and I hope they help you as well.


1. How to Succeed as a New Product Manager

“Leading your product and company to greatness is a perfectly balanced creative and analytical feat-of-strength. It’s the best job in the world when you know how to do it.”

Brian de Haaf gives straightforward advice for new product mangers. While some of the points stressed seem simple and obvious, it is important to be reminded of the basics. His column is good for more senior product managers, who have already been through ups and downs, but it also contains great ideas to pass on the newer product managers.


2. Video: A Girl’s Guide to Product Management by Amanda Richardson

I like to think that I read a lot, and I am a man of the written word. But sometimes, I believe it’s nice to stop and listen, especially if it’s a great speech. In this video, Amanda Richardson gives a great presentation on how women can get into the world product management, and succeed. Nowadays, the field of product management is predominantly male, but I’m looking forward to seeing women take the lead.


3. 10 Things to do to Appear Innovative

Product managers must always stay relevant. You need to be up to date on what customers want, and what the newest trends are in technology, transportation, cellphones, and pretty much everything. Really. This satirical article perfectly encapsulates how it feels sometimes when dealing with all the craziness.


4. Want to Come Up With a Hot New Product Idea? Be a Ruthless Competitor

Educated, concise and ruthless. These are words that come to mind after reading this article. Unfortunately, the world we live in today is getting harder for people in tech. The more people start to adopt new technologies, the greater the competition becomes. What I liked most about this cleverly written post by Christian Schuh, was that it teaches you to look inwards as well. Spoiler alert: how Steve Jobs was willing to kill the iPod to boost iPhone sales shows ruthlessness in deciding that the sacrifice was worth the reward.


5. No One Cares About Your Product Features

One of the most interesting posts I’ve read in a while. It may seem counterintuitive that your product features aren’t what people are looking for, but looks can be deceiving. Learn why you need to address 3 main types of people – the skeptics, the worry warts, and the indifferent – when featuring a new product.


6. How to Find Customers for Your Product Development Interviews

It is always essential to talk to potential customers about your product before you invest the time to actually create it. You will need to know your target audience, know their location, and make a friendly request for help. After finding the right people, learn as much as you can from them. These are only some of the things I learned from this great article by Suzie Prince.


7. The Secret of Great Product Managers: Balancing the Worlds of ‘Techie’ and ‘Fuzzy’

Start-ups can cause themselves some serious damage by hiring product managers that lack the proper skill set. The Silicon Valley giants have mastered this skill, but many times these positions are vaguely defined, which can result in positions being staffed by the wrong people. In this post, William Hsu describes the key qualities and traits a great product manager should possess. Do you have what it takes?


8. Here’s Your Focus for the First 30, 60, and 90 Days as a Startup Product Manager

This article maps out what product managers should achieve in the 30, 60, and 90-day periods. It comprises strategies that should help product managers in startups produce noticeable results. Using a concise list, the writer focuses on and defines the subjects requiring attention in a startup’s most critical periods.


9. Before You Plan Your Product Roadmap 

Des Traynor stands behind this great article on the importance of planning your product roadmap, in order to better understand the use of each of your product features. Traynor also discusses the importance of feature audits, and provides four ways a product manager can handle them, including killing the feature or deliberately improving it.


10. Cloud and the Changing Role of Product Management

In this article, Felicia Anderson looks at the changing role of product management in the Cloud environment. In particular, she looks at the key things you’ll need to consider in order to increase the impact of your SaaS solutions. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the effects of deploying and operating the product before development starts, and highlights the importance of developing an investment plan.


11. Going Against the Flow: Robby Stein, Head of Product Management at Yahoo!

Here you can read an interview with Robby Stein, head of product management for video at Yahoo, conducted by Charu Sharma. In his interview, Stein talks about his experiences as a product manager, while providing significant pieces of advice for all us PMs.  Sten was named to the Forbes 30 under 30, Silicon Alley Insider 100, and received a Google Founder’s Award for his work on Gmail, so it’s worth listening to what he has to say.


12. The Five People You Meet In Product Management Heaven

In John Zilch’s very original article, he provides this humorous take on the type of personas that assemble the very best in product management. From the Miner to the Maven, you have definitely come across these types before, and I bet you will absolutely agree that he captures these five traits very well.


13. So You Want to Manage a Product?

What a simple question. Right? Wrong. There are so many things no one tells you about being a product manager. My favorite quote here was “it’s not about being a star – it’s about managing the universe.” Now, I’m not saying that product managers are gods, far from it. Product managers are the dark matter between stars, connecting them with an unseen energy that somehow unites it all together, allowing light to pass through us to reach other universes. Your designer, your coder, your tech team, your salespeople: they’re stars. You need to keep them attached, allowing them to transmit light and energy to each other.


14. 8 Secrets to Succeeding in Product Management

In case you haven’t realized, every once in a while I too need a little motivational boost. We all do. And it times like these, I think it’s best to read blog posts like this one, written by Evan Michner, for that extra boost. Michner creates a “checklist” of sorts, with 8 things we all can and should do in order to succeed. If you’re already doing some (or all) of these, then this post is sure to put a smile of your face, and if you’re not – well, you can start now.


15. How Do Product Managers Prepare for a Marketing Disaster?

It’s inevitable. You may have one of the best products in the market, but a silly rumor, an out of context quote, and even more fundamental problems like a marketing strategy, put your product success, and your hard work, at risk. In this great post, you can learn how to deal with a marketing disaster before it happens.


16. The geek shall inherit the earth: The age of developer-defined infrastructure

“Welcome to the age of developer-defined infrastructure (DDI), where developers are making decisions on how, what, and where their applications should run.” This article by Jerry Chen from Greylock Partners explains why software vendors that don’t understand or embrace developers will fail to be relevant.

And developers? They “need to expand what the definition of an application is. Code isn’t just a program, or an app on a smart phone, code becomes everything from metal to management, to the final pixel.”


17. Technical Product Manager – What It’s all About

Technical product manager is a term used to describe a tech-savvy product manager who works on technical products and has a technical background.  A technical product manager isn’t necessarily the writer of the code. However, a technical product manager is most likely well versed in technical concepts, trends, and standards. In this informative post, Tim Platt lays out the basics of technical product management.


18. 5 Indispensable Habits of Great Product Leaders

Being a great product manager means you don’t only need to be good at managing, but you also need to be a great leader. No matter how good you are at coding, at designing products, or at pitching to the CEO, if you can’t lead your team properly to become the best that they can be – you’re losing a great load of potential. Through this article by Shardul Mehta, you’ll learn 5 important habits you can adopt, in order to be truly great.


19. Ping Li Talks SaaS Product Management at VMworld 2015

This interview with Ping Li, General Partner at Accel Partners, at VMWorld 2015 offers an insider’s look at the scale and pace of innovation right now, specifically in cloud and security technology. He talks about how new opportunities are being created at a rate where companies can either embrace them and continue to build, or get left behind. A layering effect is created, which provides a chance for companies to build on each idea in order to scale and grow.


20. 7 Mistakes That Product Managers Make That Cause Customers to Churn

Now that you’ve read enough, feel free to sit back, and watch a very short video. Here you will pick up some advice on how not to cause your customers unease, and make them happy with your product. No matter how good your product is, you need to make sure that your customer is happy and that your product is easy to use.


Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.