Escaping the Build Trap

How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

Melissa Perri

Publisher: O'Reilly, 2019, 180 pages

ISBN: 978-1-491-97379-0

Keywords: Product Management

Last modified: Feb. 12, 2020, 1:32 a.m.

To stay competitive in today's market, organizations need to adopt a culture of customer-centric practices that focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Companies that live and die by outputs often fall into the build trap, cranking out features to meet their schedule rather than the customer's needs.

In this book, Melissa Perri explains how laying the foundation for great product management can help companies solve real customer problems while achieving business goals. By understanding how to communicate and collaborate within a company structure, you can create a product culture that benefits both the business and the customer. You'll learn product management principles that can be applied to any organization, big or small.

In five parts, this book explores:

  • Why organizations ship features rather than cultivate the value those features represent
  • How to set up a product organization that scales
  • How product strategy connects a company's vision and economic outcomes back to the product activities
  • How to identify and pursue the right opportunities for producing value through an iterative product framework
  • How to build a culture focused on successful outcomes over outputs
  • Part I: The build trap
    1. The value exchange system
    2. Constraints on the value exchange system
    3. Project versus products versus services
    4. The product-led organization
    5. What we know and what we don't
  • Part II: The role of the product manager
    1. Bad product manager archetypes
    2. A great product manager
    3. The product manager career path
    4. Organizing your team
  • Part III: Strategy
    1. What is strategy?
    2. Strategy gaps?
    3. Creating a good strategic framework
    4. Company vision strategy and intents
    5. Product vision and portfolio
  • Part IV: Product management process
    1. The product kata
    2. Understanding direction and setting success
    3. Problem exploration
    4. Solution exploration
    5. Building and optimizing your solution
  • Part V: Product-led organization
    1. Outcome-focused communication
    2. Rewards and incentives
    3. Safety and learning
    4. Budgeting
    5. Customer centricity
    6. Marquetly: The Product-Led Company
  • Afterword: Escaping the Build Trap to Become Product-Led
  1. Appendix: Six Questions to Determine Whether a Company Is Product-Led


Escaping the Build Trap

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Very Good ******** (8 out of 10)

Last modified: Oct. 5, 2021, 9:59 p.m.

When I started reading this I thought it was another book about how to handle scope creep in product development, with yet another fictional story (sigh) to create a context.

Imagine my surprise when I realised 25% in that it really was an excellent book about Product Management, at all levels, with a lot of practical tips (and the fictional story was nearly invisible, as it should be). 

I can say that this would be rated at Excellent, as it manages to convey a lot of all important aspects of Product Management, from aspiring PMs to CPMs and VPs of PM. What it is lacking is the space to explores it in more depth (but you can tell the author really knows what she is talking about when reading it). If she publishes an expanded version or another, more in-depth book, I would buy it without flinching.

All in all, I would say that this should be mandatory reading for anyone that wonders what Product Management is all about in the IT market (but it can be applied to other markets, of course).

Highly recommended.


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