Be a Product Samurai!
With Agile practices becoming more and more common, the call for Product Leadership has never been louder. Product owners are drowning in feature alignment and internal stakeholder discussions, slowed by technical and organizational complexity, crippled by a risk-averse company culture and focused on internal risks rather than market outcome.
Long ago the Samurai learned that Agility in itself is not enough. Leadership comes from an unwavering vision, clear values and relentless exercise of martial practices (kata). What can we learn from them? What kata’s apply to Product Leadership? How can me make sure that we wield the sword of Agility in such a way that we don’t just make products right, but make the right products?
This lightweight talk will offer practical solutions and insights on how to become a better Product Owner, Product Manager or anyone responsible for setting out a Product Strategy. Based on my personal experience as Product Manager, Director, Coach, Teacher (and martial artist).
For it is our responsibility to save the world of crappy products and lead our teams like the Samurai.
I am an innovator. My passion and drive have always gravitated to the creation, development and introduction of innovative products or services.
I come from a broad background in both technology and business. This allows me to quickly see opportunities, threats and accelerators. Typically this means operating on board level, but I am also tech savvy enough to live and breath every aspect of the product.
My career focused at high tech companies such as Thales (Defense), Saab (Maritime and Aviation) and TomTom (Product Management US).
I’ve also worked at a string of startups like Service2Media (Red Hearing, Fast 500), Be Informed, Obroni and many others. Some utterly failed, some became multi-million Internationals. Since 2014 I’m part of the Xebia group and fathering the Innovation Business, coaching and teaching in the ways of Continuous Innovation.
My Samurai skills involve active practicing of Judo and Jūjutsu. I’ve trained Tai Chi in Hong Kong and Brazillian Jiu Jitsu at Gracies in the US. I also trained in Aikido, Karate, Kenpo, Kobudo, Pencak Silat, Jeet Kun Do and Krav Maga.
Having experienced many styles I mainly realize that there is much that I still need to learn. Perhaps my only developed Samurai skill is a willingness to make mistakes and learn. I am very grateful for my teachers that patiently guide me on this path.
Professionally I am usually the teacher or coach and find that in the teaching there is a lot to be learned. The secret is in doing amazing stuff, which generally attracts the next amazing challenge. Each challenge makes us stronger, more agile and a better Product Samurai.