“I hope people learn more about the importance of reflective conversations within teams, about inspecting and measuring the value of your work, and about meaningful collaboration in pursuit of a goal”
Q&A with Jason Scherschligt
Alex: What led you to write this book?
Jason: The lead author, John Cutler, is a well-known product development expert. He and I had been connected on social media. About a year ago he posted about seeking a collaborator for a book project that his employer, Amplitude Corporation, was developing. Since I have a writing and editing background, in addition to product leadership experience, I contacted him. We chatted, we exchanged ideas, we chatted again, we started working together, and then we agreed to collaborate on The North Star Playbook, published by Amplitude.
Alex: What experiences shaped the North Star Framework?
Jason: It’s a framework similar to other metrics-based frameworks for product management and development, like the One Metric that Matters (OMM) or similar concepts. John, the lead author, had some interesting ideas about how to tie that to his work on nested bets and traceable impact. We combined that with some of my experiences with building product teams and strategic product leadership. It was a great experience.
Alex: When business leaders think about the shift from projects to products, what do they most often overlook?
Jason: I think systems for funding, measurement, and even employee incentives are often forgotten. Often, organizations say “we are excited to adopt a product mindset!,” but they’ve still funded quite specific projects and even put in place incentives for managers and technical staff to complete projects – I’m even talking about things like annual bonus targets that are tied to a project being completed, not an outcome being achieved. That can hinder the shift to a product mindset.
Alex: What do you get most excited about when working with a new customer or product?
Jason: Learning about new problems and opportunities with interesting groups of people. As a product leader, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about education, healthcare, manufacturing, and a host of other interesting disciplines that are helping to solve the world’s problems. I enjoy meeting the wise, good-hearted people who are working in these fields, and then thinking about how great products and experiences can help them do their work.
Alex How does the work you do every day relate to the book?
Jason: As a product leader and consultant, I work daily to help organizations make their customers’ lives better by offering better responses to those customers’ needs. That’s the essence of product-making: determining what a human being will find beneficial and useful, and then determining how to deliver that to them. The North Star Framework’s theme is that there are tools, like the North Star Framework, to help you do this.
Alex: The technology world is always changing. Do you have any predictions of what will change or what will stay the same?
Jason: Even with amazing advancements in automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart devices, we’ll still be people who seek meaning, who live in communities, who work best when we work well with each other. I see technology as a way of enabling that, not replacing it. Humans will always matter.
Alex: What’s one key takeaway you hope people get from the book?
Jason: This might sound counterintuitive, but I hope that people realize the North Star Framework isn’t about prescribing a single particular methodology. Instead, I hope people learn more about the importance of reflective conversations within teams, about inspecting and measuring the value of your work, and about meaningful collaboration in pursuit of a goal.
Alex: What’s is your favorite book you’ve recently read?
Jason: The best product development book I’ve recently read is Escaping the Build Trap, by Melissa Perri. My favorite recent novel is The Overstory, by the great Richard Powers. My favorite book of all time, if it’s possible to have just one, is Moby Dick. That novel contains the great themes of the universe, bound up in a seafaring adventure. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Header Photo from the North Shore, MN By: Ben VanDriel