Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products

Marty Cagan, Chris Jones

Publisher: Wiley, 2021, 416 pages

ISBN: 978-1-119-69129-7

Keywords: Product Management, Leadership

Last modified: May 28, 2022, 12:50 a.m.

What is it about the top tech product companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix and Tesla that enables their record of consistent innovation?

Most people think it's because these companies are somehow able to find and attract a level of talent that makes this innovation possible. But the real advantage these companies have is not so much who they hire but rather how they enable people to work together to solve hard problems and create extraordinary products.

As legendary Silicon Valley coach — and coach to tyhe founders of several of today's leading tech companies — Bill Campbell said, "Leadership is about recognizing that there's a greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge."

The goal of Empowered is to provide ya, as a leader of product management, product design, or engineering, with everything you'll need to create just such an environment.

A natural companion to Marty Cagan's bestseller, Inspired, Empowered tackles head-on the reason why most companies fail to truly leverage the potential of their people to innovate: product leadership.

The book covers:

  • How empowered product teams are different from the "feature teams" used by most companies to build technology products.
  • Recruiting and coaching the members of product teams
  • Creating an inspiring product vision and product strategy
  • Assigning teams problems to solve — rather than features to build
  • Transforming the product organization from feature teams to empowered product teams
  • Part I: Lessons from Top Tech Companies
    1. Behind Every Great Company
    2. The Role of Technology
    3. Strong Product Leadership
    4. Empowered Product Teams
    5. Leadership in Action
    6. A Guide to EMPOWERED
  • Part II: Coaching
    1. The Coaching Mindset
    2. The Assessment
    3. The Coaching Plan
    4. The One-on-One
    5. The Written Narrative
    6. Strategic Context
    7. Sense of Ownership
    8. Managing Time
    9. Thinking
    10. Team Collaboration
    11. Stakeholder Collaboration
    12. Imposter Syndrome
    13. Customer-Centricity
    14. Integrity
    15. Decisions
    16. Effective Meetings
    17. Ethics
    18. Happines
    19. Leader Profile: Lisa Kavanaugh
  • Part III: Staffing
    1. Compatence and Character
    2. Recruiting
    3. Interviewing
    4. Hiring
    5. Remote Employees
    6. Onboarding
    7. New Employee Bootcamp
    8. Performance Reviews
    9. Terminating
    10. Promoting
    11. Leader Profile: April Underwood
  • Part VI: Product Vision and Principles
    1. Creating a Compelling Vision
    2. Sharing the Product Vision
    3. Product Principles and Ethics
    4. Leader Profile: Audrey Crane
  • Part V: Team Topology
    1. Optimizing for Empowerment
    2. Team Types
    3. Empowering Platform Teams
    4. Empowering Experience Teams
    5. Topology and Proximity
    6. Topology Evolution
    7. Leader Profile: Debby Meredith
  • Part VI: Product Strategy
    1. Focus
    2. Insights
    3. Actions
    4. Management
    5. Leader Profile: Shan-Lyn Ma
  • Part VII: Team Objectives
    1. Empowerment
    2. Assignment
    3. Ambition
    4. Commitments
    5. Collaboration
    6. Management
    7. Accountability
    8. Objectives in Perspective
    9. Leader Profile: Christina Wodtke
  • Part VIII: Case Study
    1. Company Backgrounder
    2. Company Objectives
    3. Product Vision and Principles
    4. Team Topology
    5. Product Strategy
    6. Product Team Objectives
    7. Business Results
    8. Key Takeaways
    9. Leader Profile: Judy Gibbons
  • Part IX: Business Collaboration
    1. The Role of Product Leaders
    2. Stakeholder Management vs. Collaboration
    3. Shared Insights and Learning
    4. Keeping the Lights On
    5. Evangelism
    6. Leader Profile: Avid Larizadeh Duggan
  • art X: Inspired, Empowered, and Transformed
    1. Meaningful Transformation
    2. Transformation in Action
    4. The Most Important Thing
    5. The Destination