Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Unexpected Nuggets: Vogels and Norton

t's been about two weeks since I last blogged, which I think is a record since I started blogging. That just means that things have been very busy at work (oh, and I had an amazing trip to Vegas with my rock star friends).

And now I have time for just a quickie.

In the last two days I learned something unexpected from two feeds that I read: Ken Norton's Hey Norton and Werner Vogels's All Things Distributed.

First: I learned where Ken works. I read his feed because he's one of the few people around who write a meaningful product management blog. While I've found his content (both about product management and about more personal things) interesting, I've never delved deeply enough to even find out where he does his product management. Well, this week he announced that his company, JotSpot, had been acquired by Google. It's funny that I never knew where he worked--we may have crossed paths at some point: JotSpot and Digipede were both featured at Demo@15. Anyway, congratulations to Ken and the JotSpotters newest Googlers.

Second: I read Werner's feed primarily for his insights into distributed computing. Today's post, however, gave me a new insight into product management. Werner discusses Amazon's process for product definition (whether that product is something that faces the public or even an internal web service): they work backwards. First they write the press release, then they write a FAQ, next they define the customer experience, and finally they write the user manual. Only then do they begin development.

The result?
Once we have gone through the process of creating the press release, faq, mockups, and user manuals, it is amazing how much clearer it is what you are planning to build. We'll have a suite of documents that we can use to explain the new product to other teams within Amazon. We know at that point that the whole team has a shared vision on what product we are going the build.
It's a great perspective on how to ensure that you are building the right product for the right reasons. I can't wait to try it out.

To sum up: two great writers, two great blogs. If your oapmeal doesn't include some Norton and some Vogels, subscribe!

(oh, the picture of the Lamborghini Murcielago. Part of my amazing weekend was having my buddy Sam take me for a ride in one of those. Umm--wow).

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