How to fuck-up a Design Sprint: Day 3

Design Sprint fuck-up: Day 1


  • “Good morning everybody – Did you enjoy this week so far as I did?”
  • “I have great news: Our head of product is very pleased with the ideas we’ve developed so far in the Design Sprint…he even added another one in our jour fixe this morning. And he wants us to prepare the next product discovery while we’re at it anyways…”
  • “Let’s have a look at our output from yesterday. I already cleaned up some of the not so good ideas last evening.”
  • “Alright, let’s dot vote for what to pursue…everybody has one dot to spare. Except for management level, which gets three.”
  • “Why did you vote for Marc’s idea? I don’t think this is the solution we should pursue.”
  • “Has anybody seen Jim?”
  • “Oh btw, I talked to Janet from the marketing during lunch – She had some great ideas for a new ad format we could add right here in the user journey.”
  • “Ok, looks like we have some ideas – let’s split this up into some user story artboards. Who brought the personas?”
  • “Puh, looks like Alyssa has quite some prototyping to do tomorrow. Would you mind me taking some time off then while you’re busy?”
  • “Alright, that’s a wrap for today’s part of the Design Sprint. Who volunteers to prepare the user testing guide over night?”

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

How to fuck-up a Design Sprint: Day 2

Design Sprint fuck-up: Day 1


  • “Good morning everybody. Did anybody not enjoy yesterday?- Let’s dive right into sketching.”
  • “Don’t worry, I have my prepared sketches with me!”
  • “Shit, did anybody remember to forward the Design Sprint invitation to our designer?”
  • “Jim, did you work on this vision statement think like I asked you to? The group with our CEO is asking for it.”
  • “Ok, sketching time. I suggest we just do it in one group – Not seeing a problem with 15 people discussing each others ideas at the same time.”
  • “Can anybody recall what the actual user problem was? I think I missed this part because of my meeting yesterday.”
  • “How dare you to say that about my idea? It’s clearly better than yours! Leave alone my contribution to the whole product discovery – What’s your job title anyways?!”
  • “Alright, let’s do a critique about each others work. But – you know – the polite way.”
  • “Nice looks like we already nailed it after one iteration.”
  • “Why I added this feature to my sketch? Well because all the other fancy apps are doing it.”
  • “Very happy about our velocity so far – Maybe we can squeeze this Design Sprint thing through in only 3 days.”
  • “Our Marketing VP wants to drop by this afternoon so let’s try to have some final visual designs ready until 3PM.”
  • “Great day, everybody. I can’t wait to show our solutions to the Director of Product tomorrow in the morning.”

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

How to fuck-up a Design Sprint: Day 1

Design Sprint fuck-up: Day 1


  • “Nah, let’s just use a meeting room inside the office – Should be fine.”
  • “I assume you all read my memo upfront so we’re all pretty much on the same page by now, right?”
  • “Sure, let’s just start after your daily stand-ups. A Design Sprint is not about timeboxing”
  • “Vision? Well, let’s wait for Jim to arrive. Maybe he has written something about that on Confluence.”
  • “Has anybody his login credentials for Google Analytics at hand?”
  • “Don’t worry, I have a pretty clear picture of the product in my head, already.”
  • “Let me just quickly print this one thing out – Oh, we only have b/w printing in here?”
  • “I didn’t wanted to have someone from the other departments joining us this week so we can do ‘our thing’.”
  • “Of course you can leave anytime for your meeting.”
  • “Does anybody have an idea, where we can get more stickies? I want to squeeze in more Design Thinking.”
  • “You can probably share this pen just between the 4 of you.”
  • “In the end, this should result in the product our CEO wants to see live.”
  • “No need to worry, we’ll just grab test users in Starbucks on Friday – Lean Startup Style.”
  • “Alright folks, interesting first day of the Design Sprint. Max, could you put together the photo protocol and send it around?”
  • “Let’s meet tomorrow 60 minutes later – I have to take care of some stuff before we continue.”

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

What are Fractal Funnels?

The model of fractal funnels

As a Product Manager, chances are high that you’re regularly dealing with some kind of funnel during your daily analytics work. Independently from the kind of business you’re in, it’s most likely what I’d call a linear funnel – Those were also the ones I had to deal with for most of my product management career. So, let me tell you when those are simply not enough and the model of fractal funnels is worth looking into.

Especially when your main focus is on registered users and your product offers a variety of jobs to fulfill for them, the model of a linear funnel fails. What differentiates fractal funnels at this point is that not only considers single user actions to proceed, but also the impact those actions have on the general user behavior and which future changes may result from that.

A great example I found for this is a talk from some smart guys at VSCO – A social video editing and sharing app:
As a rather complex product, with the most business value only getting generated after a user has learned and performed a broad variety of actions. In order to become a user which has the highest value for the business.
After the initial acquisition, users move through the phase of being e.g. an editor or a curator. In order to approach those users within the app in the right way (to move them further into more valuable user groups), VSCO just doesn’t wanted to rely on just one action you’ve taken, but rather wanted to build unique cohorts of power users.

Because if you’d get targeted messages with the purpose of moving you further down the funnel only after one specific action was taken, you’re probably not yet in the right state of mind which would make you e.g. a curator instead of an editor.
So VSCO defined multiple milestones for user groups they had to achieve in order to get moved into another cohort and receive different in-app messaging and marketing.

So, the next time you’re looking at your established funnel model or are constructing a new one, consider turning towards fractal funnels for a more holistic perspective on user behavior.

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

Thoughts on Product Management Values

Thoughts on Product Management Values


While you’ll certainly define your own set of values as a product person along your professional journey, I personally always love to hear the ones of fellow product managers for inspiration. Setting professional values or a personal north star for what you value at work is incredibly helpful – Not only for yourself but also the people you directly work with.

Not only does it provide helpful guidance for (difficult) decisions you have to take on a regular basis, but discussing them in public also helps your stakeholders to get behind the reasonings of you moving forward with features and roadmaps.
For some of us those expressed values are maybe a bit more meta (like ‘be humble’, ‘aim for the highest outcome’) or closer to the actual work (‘be your users voice’, ‘start with the why’, ‘always be testing’).

Those values should of course not be set in stone forever without the possibility to make exceptions from time to time or even changing them fundamentally as you progress (think of ‘strong opinions loosely held’).

In order to remain consistent with what I personally like to keep in my head while discussing with my team or stakeholders, I put up a poster on my desk within direct sight. This way, those values are present every time I look up to e.g. overthink the phrasing of a ticket or just an e-mail reply.

By the way, if you’re interested in the poster I keep on my desk as a constant reminder for crucial Product Management values, I suggest you check it out over here (shipping only available to Germany atm).

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

Sometimes less excitement feels better

Less Excitement is more

The ones of you which know me in person are aware of one of my (possibly greatest) strengths: Passion. I try to throw myself 100% into stuff I’m doing. Wether it’s family, a work-related project/discussion or a (new) hobby.

While this makes me enjoy a lot of stuff I’m doing everyday so much more, it also brings some downsides with it. For example a drastically increased fear of missing out, impatience (worth another column by itself) and sometimes maybe even the lack of the right distance to judge things differently.
A great example for passion regarding a hobby are the regular update cycles of Apple products.

I’m a full Apple user since 2008 and share the excitement for their keynotes not only with the other hundreds of millions of iPhone users but also my best friend Stefan.
Basically since live coverage Apple keynotes became a thing, we used to watch them together. Even now as we’re living in different cities we manage to get together over FaceTime and discuss the latest announcements as they get revealed.

Last week’s keynote was no exception. And while both of us looked at some of the products with great joy and anticipation, it didn’t feel that crazy awesome in our usual exaggerated manner. This probably was mainly caused by different attention-drawing events happening in our lives – Stefan just moved in with his girlfriend an I became a father earlier this year and very recently started a new job.
The funny thing was how much relaxed I was after the keynote. I could look at the upcoming releases and become very happy about certain purchases I’ll definitely make but could just…enjoy it.

So, what to make out of this for your daily work challenges? Easy. Just try to balance-out your passion a bit across the various areas and projects. It’ll help you be (a bit) more objective about new stuff and upcoming challenges without losing that enthusiasm which differentiates you.

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

Productish Episode 28: Relaunches

In this episode of the Productish Podcast we’re discussing the impact of relaunches on a company’s processes and structures and which relaunch projects accommodated our professional career so far.

Note: This episode of Productish is in German.

Topics we touched during the episode:

Listen to it on iTunes or SoundCloud and don’t forget to subscribe via RSS or directly on iTunes.

Dealing with ‘The Age Card’

dealing with the age card 


Basically since when I started working, I was by far the youngest among my colleagues. Sometimes I even were younger than working students or interns. But while I managed (and wanted) to appear way older through e.g. clothing and social behavior, I never made a real secret of my age.
While I couldn’t deny feeling flattered in a certain way when people then reacted positively surprised to my professional experience in relation to my age, I also had to deal with something rather unpleasant in this context: The age card.

For those who don’t know: The age card is kind of a similar way of behavior as mansplaining. But between a younger (mostly less experience) and an older (mostly more experience) participant of professional discussions.

When the content of meetings is defined by rather subjective matters it’s probably only natural to have your own biases towards other attendees. Nobody can really come totally objective into all discussions. It only becomes a real disadvantage for you when you’re starting to de-value your opponents just because of a certain attribute (e.g. age).
Especially in rather young disciplines like BI, mobile design or even modern (user centered) product management, it’s in my opinion wise to forget about old economy ambitions like only starting to take people seriously with e.g. 7+ years of domain knowledge.

I like this anecdote & approach from Florian Heinemann in one of his recent podcast appearances (loosely translated):

„If I’d get asked to bring someone into the project with 15 years of strong BI experience and who’s a total industry expert, I’d rather bring someone on board who is 25 but has enormous potential to build up 15 years of BI experience and become an industry leader.“

What this can be boiled down to is basically that it’s probably much more important to watch out for people who work maybe seemingly few years within a domain, but has the passion to expand its knowledge over the coming years.

And just to be clear: I’m not only referring this totally selfish to myself. I know a ton of similar old or even younger friends which are incredible professionals and experienced the same behavior throughout their career.
And at least from what I’ve experienced throughout my professional life, especially those people would really like to be measured only against their skills and delivered outcome then what might be a reasonable performance in relation to their age.

PS.: It’s really accidental that I picked a birthday cake as the header image for the week of my own birthday. 🎂

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

How to nail it as a non-technical Product Manager

Nailing it as a non-technical Product Manager

When I entered the discipline of Product Management 5 years ago, I sometimes felt just overwhelmed with technical discussions, challenges and expectations of tech stakeholders. I considered myself definitely a non-technical Product Manager back then and was a bit what this would mean for my career.
But after significantly leveling up my tech knowledge over the years, I think it’s worth to look at the general technical vs. non-technical PM topic of our industry.

First of all, it’s important to not get intimated by missing knowledge. While social skills and values are pretty much given, knowledge about pretty much any topic can be build up by putting in honest work. It’s totally fine to raise questions regarding outlined technical constructions, details and ideas. After all, that’s our job anyways: To ask questions. Even more often there’s an often undiscovered advantage of looking at complex with a healthy naivety (something Erik Kessels tackles extensively in FAILED IT!).
So, instead of being ashamed of your missing knowledge, appreciate it as a strength to look at things. You’ll become professionally blinkered soon enough.

It’s also motivating to keep in mind that even some of today’s most recognized Product People in the world like Hunter Walk started as a non-technical Product Manager background and worked their way into this field.

A nice quote from Ken Norton sums this (often times controversially discussed) topic up from my perspective:

Too often PMs try to impress their engineers with their technical acumen, but in my experience engineers are much more impressed with PMs who are willing to ask questions and say ‘I don’t understand that.’”

Embrace your current set of skills and use them in the best possible way. When you’re comfortable doing this, become uncomfortable again and level up your (technical) skills.
If you want to discuss managing such a transition, feel free to hit reply and let’s have a chat about how I did it.

This article appeared first in my weekly email list for product managers, ux designers and entrepreneurs.

Josh Elman on Product Development

I found Josh Elman‘s recent tweetstorm on product development so valuable that I decided to curate it in a blog post for better readability – Enjoy!