Inspired, How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

by Marty Cagan


2021 Mar 13


In INSPIRED, technology product management thought leader Marty Cagan provides readers with a master class in how to structure and staff a vibrant and successful product organization, and how to discover and deliver technology products that your customers will love - and that will work for your business.

With sections on assembling the right people and skillsets, discovering the right product, embracing an effective yet lightweight process, and creating a strong product culture, readers can take the information they learn and immediately leverage it within their own organizations - dramatically improving their own product efforts.

Whether you’re an early stage startup working to get to product/market fit, or a growth-stage company working to scale your product organization, or a large, long-established company trying to regain your ability to consistently deliver new value for your customers, INSPIRED will take you and your product organization to a new level of customer engagement, consistent innovation, and business success.

Filled with the author’s own personal stories - and profiles of some of today’s most-successful product managers and technology-powered product companies, including Adobe, Apple, BBC, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix - INSPIRED will show you how to turn up the dial of your own product efforts, creating technology products your customers love.

The first edition of INSPIRED, published ten years ago, established itself as the primary reference for technology product managers, and can be found on the shelves of nearly every successful technology product company worldwide. This thoroughly updated second edition shares the same objective of being the most valuable resource for technology product managers, yet it is completely new - sharing the latest practices and techniques of today’s most-successful tech product companies, and the men and women behind every great product.

Notes & Highlights

CHAPTER 23: The Alternative to Roadmaps

In the model I’m describing, it is management’s responsibility to provide each product team with the specific business objectives they need to tackle. The difference is that they are now prioritizing business results, rather than product ideas. And, yes, it is more than a little ironic that we sometimes need to convince management to focus on business results.

CHAPTER 26: Principles of Product Strategy

Obsess over customers, not over competitors. Too many companies completely forget about their product strategy once they encounter a serious competitor. They panic and then find themselves chasing their competitor’s actions and no longer focusing on their customers. We can’t ignore the market, but remember that customers rarely leave us for our competitors. They leave us because we stop taking care of them.

CHAPTER 27: Product Principles

Where the product vision describes the future you want to create, and the product strategy describes your path to achieving that vision, the product principles speak to the nature of the products you want to create.

CHAPTER 33: Principles of Product Discovery

The purpose of product discovery is to address these critical risks:

  • Will the customer buy this, or choose to use it? (Value risk)
  • Can the user figure out how to use it? (Usability risk)
  • Can we build it? (Feasibility risk)
  • Does this solution work for our business? (Business viability risk)

Customer Discovery Program

It’s also important for tech product managers to have a broad understanding of the types of analytics that are important to your product. Many have too narrow of a view. Here is the core set for most tech products:

  • User behavior analytics (click paths, engagement)
  • Business analytics (active users, conversion rate, lifetime value, retention)
  • Financial analytics (ASP, billings, time to close)
  • Performance (load time, uptime)
  • Operational costs (storage, hosting)
  • Go‐to‐market costs (acquisition costs, cost of sales, programs)
  • Sentiment (NPS, customer satisfaction, surveys)

CHAPTER 59: Pilot Team Technique

Some people in your organization love change, some want to see someone else use it successfully first, some need more time to digest changes, and a few hate change and will only change if they’re forced to do it.

Rather than fight this reality, we can embrace it. One of the simplest techniques for facilitating moving to new ways of working is the use of pilot teams. Pilot teams allow the roll out of change to a limited part of the organization before implementing it more broadly. The idea is that you look for a product team to volunteer to try out some new techniques. You let them run for a while (usually a quarter or two) with this new way of working and see how this goes.

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Inspired, How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan