Why product creators must hold seemingly contradictory concepts in their heads at all times to manifest their dreams.

When I speak with product teams and their leaders, it’s the topic of prioritization comes up most frequently.

Prioritization is hard because there is a constant tension between doing what is immediately urgent versus what’s good for the long-term outcomes of the business. Understanding this tension, and learning to be comfortable in it, is the key to effective prioritization.

Contraditions and Paradoxes

I’ve written about the counterintuitive choices that product teams face every day. Superficially, these choices can seem absurd or self-contradictory, but when interrogated or explained prove to be essential to good management.

The same is true of the vision and the…

Putting yourself in teacher mode forces you outside of your internal monolog and into the realm of understanding.

Jeff Hunter talks about confusion as the moment when you stand at the crossroads of opportunity. When you lean into that feeling and ask “what is this confusion teaching me?” something magical happens. Fear and frustration are replaced with excitement.

Confusion is learning.

For many of us, the confusion starts when someone asks, “Why?” or “How do you know that?” If you have kids, you know this feeling well.

Embracing confusion as a teacher flips the switch. We go from frustrated, fearful, or even angry, to curious and open.

The open mindset is sometimes compared to the child mindset. Curious…

We’re rushing to the finish line without asking why or how it’ll improve product value or team health.

Photo by Maico Amorim on Unsplash

For years I was focused on how product teams increase velocity but now I think it's a waste of time and energy.

I was wrong.

Unlike the “Move Fast and Break Things” mantra of the early internet boom, velocity seemed to be the more mature way to measure team success. Speed is pointless if you’re not heading towards a goal and breaking things seemed infantile. In contrast, velocity as a measure made sense to me.

Velocity Is Better Than Speed But It’s Flawed

Velocity is speed plus vector: how fast something gets somewhere. …

Product management appears to be full of contradictions and conundrums, but it’s not as messy as it seems.

Photo by Alice Yamamura on Unsplash

Product management is confusing. Sometimes you need to use the voice of the customer as the source of truth, and sometimes you don’t. One day you’re striving for high-fidelity design perfection, the next day a hand-drawn sketch will do.

There’s no single PM recipe because generic answers ignore the context and complexity of the work. “It depends,” is the reasonable answer to almost any product management question but that gets tired pretty quickly when you need to make decisions.

“there’s a person in my life I just do not trust. Even though I spend a lot of time with this…

We, the leaders, are stuck in a self-perpetuating doom loop with no one to blame but ourselves.

As a long-time CEO and now working closely with senior leaders across our portfolio of Fortune 1000 customers, I can safely say that all problems are who, not what problems. And most of those who’s are leaders.

To be clear, my focus as a transformation leader and author has been on design and product leaders so I cannot say for certain that leaders in departments like finance, HR, or sales are also guilty of these things, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are. …

Why making great product teams is so hard, and what leading companies are doing differently to create high-performance teams that trust each other.

Our Design Transformation team at InVision works with household brands to help them achieve their product creation ambitions. That gives us almost unprecedented access to the Fortune 500’s product teams and the leaders that guide them.

What we know without a doubt is that these organizations — like Amazon, Starbucks, and IBM — have embraced design as a critical component of corporate strategy. What’s less obvious is the relationship between those design strategies and building high-performance product teams. How these companies design conversations and create safe places to share opinions is as important as how they design their products.

Strong Foundations


My planet has been circling around the InVision sun for several years now, so in some ways, it was inevitable that I’d join the team full-time. As an early adopter of the prototyping approach to design, my relationship with InVision started with the product.

More recently with InVision, I’ve worked with Aarron Walter and Elijah Woolery on the Enterprise Design Sprints handbook, run several workshops, and hosted Design Leadership Forums. I’ve also worked with filmmakers Ben Goldman and Daniel Cowen on the soon-to-be released Squads movie. …

How To Intentionally Design A Money Making Product Machine

Photo by Jimi Filipovski on Unsplash

Design Is Good For Business

The good news is that Design makes businesses money. The bad news is that not everyone knows how to apply that to their business.

“My board doesn’t want me to do user testing because they say there’s no ROI on that type of work” — Director of Product who’d prefer to remain anonymous.

When I hear this insanity I want to pull out my hair. Even though report after report has found a high correlation between how strong companies are at design and superior business performance, there’s still a lag on how quickly this is adopted in all organizations.


Finding early adoption and ongoing product loyalty can be accelerated by getting product people involved in sales.

Photo of a confused man by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This article holds mostly true for all products but is especially true of B2B and complex products with a complex sales cycle.

I’m Dead Serious

If you just want to kick the twitter hornet’s nest, tweet “Do designers need to code?” A virtual turdstorm will follow. That question is pure clickbait and nobody really cares about the debate.

However, the question, “Do product teams need to sell?” is as serious as a heart attack. My answer is an unequivocal yes.

There are two reasons why product teams need to sell:

  1. Persuading people is an essential part of all mission-critical roles.
  2. A product…

The discipline of writing a long-form design brief might make you a better designer.

My goal here is to suggest a better way to write a design brief. By better, I mean, can we ask questions that will give us a better outcome. Five minutes is the time it takes to present or share the brief, not write it, and certainly not to discuss it. Discussions might take a significant amount of time. If you have suggestions to improve on this template please add your comments.

The Project

What are you creating? Describe the thing you are creating in a paragraph or less. For example:

“We want to add a more intuitive in-line component editing feature…

Richard Banfield

Dad, husband, cyclist, product and design transformation leader. I write books on design & product.

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