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Thursday, June 12, 2014

High Plains Drifters

Perusing the blogosphere one can easily arrive at the conclusion that all the interesting work in software is being done at startups. When talking to various gurus and “serial entrepreneurs” creating much of the buzz around startups, one hears the phrase “in the valley” (as in Silicon Valley) bandied about quite a bit, e.g., “Every one in the valley knows me.” While there is absolutely no doubt that startups play a critical role in innovation (both of products and product development practice), I’ve spent most of my career slaving away as a semi-anonymous cog in much bigger wheels. I realize this post may seem a bit defensive, but I thought it worthwhile to call out that software product management has many flavors and adds tremendous value to software organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity. Innovation and entrepreneurship aren’t the exclusive domain of those huddled in colorfully decorated offices reeking of new carpet. If they’re successful, many of those working in today’s startups will eventually work in more mature organizations facing the particular set of challenges maturity typically brings.

While many of the “cool kids” will continue innovating down in the valley, many of us will continue fighting the good fight on the plains just beyond this storied land. Maybe we don’t get as much press and in many cases our products don’t have that startup sizzle, but the view on the plains can be every bit as exciting and challenging as the one from the valley (we even get to enjoy a sunset from time to time). Take heart fellow high plains drifters -- you’re important and the role you play just as critical as those managing products a bit further back in the product life cycle.


  1. would you agree that startup success rates could be improved if they invest in product managers?