Debeck’ Awards: The 2023 product management millésime
What’s made me tick this past year? Which articles, creators, and books tickled my product manager brain? I present to you the Debeck’ Awards, 2023 millésime.
Inspired by similar posts, here is a collection of my favourite product management ‘things’ of 2023.
The only rule is I must have experienced the 'thing' in 2023; it doesn't matter if it was created or published that year.
I hope you find inspiration from some of the content below. Let me know what you've enjoyed this year!
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Best Product Management (Written) Content
Earlier this year, Reforge launched Artifacts. If you haven't checked it out yet, suffice to say you're gravely missing out.
Unsurprisingly, my favourite piece of written content this year comes from Artifacts: Ravi Mehta's Travel Hub product strategy at Tripadvisor.
Ravi is excellent at describing his unique approach to crafting a product strategy. I recommend reading his Product Strategy Stack blog post in collaboration with Zainab Ghadiyali.
Best Product Management Talk
I don't tend to watch many talks. I often find them low quality and lacking substance. This only made Michelle Parsons’ talk stand out even more.
This is an excellent talk on bridging the gap between product vision, product strategy, experimentation, iteration, and growth. Michelle shares insightful real-life stories, particularly from her time at Netflix trying to understand and grow Netflix Kids.
It's a must-watch for anyone who, like me, is fascinated by the relationship between product and growth.
Best Product Management Podcast
I had to include this category because, y'a know, you have to. But it's fair to say we all know who's going to win, right?
Let's say it together on three. One... Two... Three: Lenny's Podcast!
Shock, horror, the crowd goes wild, no one could have predicted this. Except literally everyone. Lenny's the best of the best. If you're not yet listening to his podcast (or reading his Substack), do you even work in product?
Best Product Management Podcast Episode
Singling out an episode is significantly harder.
Published on Jan 8, 2023, this episode with Yupik Yamashita (CPO of Figma) on how Figma builds product was an instant 2023 highlight for me. Listen here:
Figma is a fascinating company that's been in the news a lot recently following a bid for acquisition by Adobe, an acquisition ultimately terminated by regulatory bodies. Wild stuff.
Product Management Creator Breakout
Carl Vellotti is my PM Twitter follow of the year. Carl shares excellent, insightful content almost daily and often with his own spin.
Carl is also an excellent memer, which is something I always appreciate.
Favourite Product Management Meme
Speaking of memes, time for the most anticipated award of the year.
Much like picking a favourite podcast episode from Lenny's extensive backlog, picking a single meme feels wrong. Yet here we are:
Need I say more?
Favourite Product Management Community
This year I joined Product Board's Slack community 'Product Makers'. Join here (it's free).
I've joined communities before and, to be honest, they've often been disappointing. They're either riddled with spam or inactive.
Thankfully, Product Makers is none of that. It is owned by Product Board which means you do get some branded content but it's minimal. Conversations are often vibrant and insightful, particularly in the #Talk-Product channel.
This Slack group has become my go-to whenever I have a product question with a little bit of nuance or that would benefit from the experience of others.
Best/Worst Product Management Trend
I'm combining both the best and worst PM trends of the year into one: the supposed 'death of product management' via Brian Chesky of AirBnB.
Remember that fun time? Remember when everyone lost their sh*t thinking PMs were done? Some cried. A few gloated.
That was a stupid trend.
Thankfully, Brian cleared it all out pretty quickly and turned this into the best PM trend of the year: PMs as PMMs.
Now that makes more sense. I strongly believe product managers should be responsible for at least a part of the marketing work. Marketing the product is part and parcel with managing it; along with customer research, attending sales calls, and promoting it internally.
Listen to Brian on Lenny's podcast:
Favourite (Non-PM) Book
I'm a painfully slow reader, only managed four books this year. My favourite was Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography.
It provides a personal and intimate look into the life of the man-turned-myth, reminding us of the many flaws intertwined with his genius.
It's a gripping read. At least it was for me. For my dog Mila, maybe not so much.
Favourite (Non-PM) Podcast
Out of the two, My First Million edges the win. The hosts have an insane track record, they’re always on, always funny, and always give me helpful insights. I genuinely have had to fight tears of laughter several times as I listen on my walk to work. Awkward!
Favourite Productivity Hack
I've tried plenty of productivity hacks in my days, none of which have tended to stick much; until this one.
It's not a novel method. Elon Musk and Bill Gates famously use it. The implementation is simple: plan your day by allocating time for each of your tasks (aka timeboxes).
The idea is to prevent time creep (see Parkinson's Law) and ensure you're doing all the things you said you would.
I've added a couple of twists to this method and it's working wonders for me. I'll eventually write a post about this as I believe PMs tend to be horrible at time management.
Trend Worth Keeping an Eye on in 2024
There's no escaping the GPTs of the world. In 2024, I'll keep a close eye on the development of LLMs, ChatGPT, and the like; particularly as they apply to product management.
I have yet to see convincing uses of LLMs in product management (other than rough brainstorming). I'm curious to see how this technology helps or hinders our profession.
Alright 2024, let's do this!
Want to share your awards for the year? Comment below or find me on Twitter!