(2019-09-03) Cagan Coaching Tools The Narrative

Martin Cagan: Coaching Tools - The Narrative: my single favorite coaching tool for helping product managers become exceptional.

Product Managers have to make arguments all the time... large features and projects, and especially significant new efforts

The technique I’m talking about is writing out a narrative explaining your argument and recommendation.

I’m talking about a document that describes the vision of what you’re trying to achieve, why this will be valuable for your customers and for your business, and your strategy for achieving this vision. If this narrative is done well, the reader will be both inspired and convinced.

One company that has made this written narrative the core of how they operate and innovate is Amazon. (Amazon Meeting Memo)

...watch as the meeting degenerates into design by committee... When this happens, it’s clear to me that the product manager did not do the necessary homework. The PM doesn’t truly know the topic. The argument is weak. The PM has not sufficiently considered and addressed the various perspectives and constraints. What the written narrative does is make this obvious.

When I begin to write, I realize that my ‘thoughts’ are usually a jumble of half-baked, incoherent impulses strung together with gaping logical holes between them

You might use this narrative to kick off decision meetings like Amazon does, or even if you decide you want to do that PowerPoint presentation, I promise you that if you first do a good job on the written narrative, then your presentation will be very easy to create and will flow directly from narrative; the presentation will be much better for it; and your visible preparation on the material will leave your audience justifiably impressed.

When I am working on a new keynote presentation, I force myself to write out a full narrative first, iterate until it’s logical and compelling, test the narrative with people I respect and know will tell me the truth, and only then do I create the actual presentation.


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