Keith Cowing

Keith Cowing

Product guy. Entrepreneur.
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December 1, 2014

whiteboard

Product Managers understand the key metrics they’re trying to drive
Product Leaders move the metrics

Product Managers inspire the marketing team to work hard and drive awareness
Product Leaders inspire their users

Product Managers identify the best way to climb the hill
Product Leaders identify the best hill to climb

Product Managers understand their team’s constraints
Product Leaders recruit world-class talent and transcend constraints

Product Managers learn best practices from the industry
Product Leaders teach best practices

Product Managers are constantly in motion and handle a busy calendar
Product Leaders differentiate motion from progress and optimize for the latter

Product Managers add features and make the product 10% better
Product Leaders remove features and make the product 10x better

Product Managers focus on the top 10 things that will improve their product
Product Leaders focus on the top 3

Product Managers write specs so that designers can build mocks
Product Leaders involve design from day 0 because design is everything, not a phase of the project

November 18, 2014

quarterback-on-field

I’m a football junkie and a lifelong student of leadership in business. So I make a lot of analogies between the two.

One great comparison starts with a football team’s film room. During the season, a team goes to the film room after every game to watch the game tape and evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what adjustments need to be made. Top teams develop an intense and productive rhythm. Film room, game plan, practice, game. They improve in some finite way every single week.

In business, it’s important to have something that acts like a film room. It’s a place for immediate and honest feedback. It’s important to have objective measures (precise metrics) and an outside view whenever possible. But it’s also critical to never mistake “performance” in the film room for performance on the field.

In business school, for example, 80% of your time is spent in the equivalent of a film room (discussing a case study and commenting on what a CEO should do in a given situation). You’re drawing up game plans, but you are never executing a single play. The film is the feedback loop. It is the homework and the coaching – not the test. You don’t actually forge your leadership skills until you get on the field. Making reasonably intelligent comments in a discussion about strategy is interesting. But executing on strategy is everything – that’s what builds careers.

Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Film room

  • A scheduled time and place to to perform honest critiques
  • A feedback loop to drive small, continuous adjustments
  • Best applied in a cyclic rhythm (film room, game plan, practice, game, repeat)

On the field

  • Where you test and develop your toughness
  • Where you test and develop your decision making
  • Where you forge your leadership and others decide if they believe in you
  • Where the game tape becomes your resume (true success is measured by results)
June 26, 2014

1. The level of brand loyalty is obscene

brand-loyalty-cigs
brand-loyalty-phone

2. They represent standard social behavior in bars

bars-cigs
bars-phones

3. They’re prohibited in some public places

public-places-cigs
public-places-phones

4. They’re the last thing you spend time with before bed

bed-cigs
bed-phone

5. Sometimes you have to bum a light

bum-light-cigs
bum-light-phone

6. They are a marketer’s dream

marketer-cigs
marketer-phone

7. We stuff them in our clothes

clothes-cig
clothes-phone

8. They drive some people crazy

drive-crazy-cigs
drive-crazy-phone

9. You just can’t put them down

put-down-cigs
put-down-phone

So how do we manage our addiction?

I love my phone, I use it constantly, and I have no desire to give it up. But maybe tonight we should all turn off our phones for 3 hours. We could spend un-interrupted time talking face-to-face with other humans. Don’t worry, our phones will be on our nightstands in the morning.

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