Changelogs are a medium with the potential to transform how we work.

Publishing a changelog is the highest value activity that you’re probably not doing. You might think that keeping a changelog is a boring chore reserved for developers. On the contrary, changelogs are a medium with the potential to transform how we all work. For those of you that already keep changelogs, I’d like to expand your concept of what they can be and do. Changelogs foster product-led growth, multiply the value of work, apply to disciplines outside of engineering, and can be more effective than OKRs in increasing accountability and transparency.

What are changelogs?

On the website, Keep a changelog, developer Olivier Lacan…

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“Nikon 135mm f/2.8 lens test (3x enlargement)” by s58y is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Problem

What are the heuristics for separating “important” product changes from minor changes that are essentially background noise? If this question sparks your interest, keep reading.

Everyone who works at a software company must perpetually ask the question: “How did our product change?”

The folks who sell, market, or support the product must understand changes to do their jobs. Since they’re removed from the actual building of the product, this poses a challenge.

Even the people who are hands-on in building the product lose grip of product changes as they unfold. For example, a product manager might know that a change…

Applying mountaineering strategies to startup building

When I meet aspiring startup founders, I’m struck by how many of them quickly abandon their ideas and pivot to something totally different. Sometimes the pivot is relatively small, like a different type of product for the same persona they were already targeting. Other times the pivot is huge, like switching from B2B infrastructure to building a dating app. One founding team tried 15 startup ideas across diverse domains in 21 months.

For these nimble folks, it feels like their main goal is to found a successful company, any successful company. While they might have strong values for the type…

How to fill a fundamental gap in your product dev process.

Accountants have ledgers. Scientists record their experiments. Marketers have CRMs. Engineers have code version history. Product builders, however, lack a sufficient source-of-truth for their past work. It’s a fundamental gap that holds back product management craft.

What is a “source-of-truth” (SoT) for product iterations”?

A SoT for product iterations consists of

  1. an accurate timeline of when product changes went live, and
  2. metadata describing each change.

Why do product builders need a SoT?

A SoT for product iterations provides the data necessary for a variety of applications:

  • Correlate past product changes with changes to business metrics. Need to figure out why that metric spiked or dropped? Look in the SoT.
  • Communicate product changes to internal stakeholders…

How product managers can help each other improve

“R-chie double structure arc diagram by Daniel Lai, Jeff Proctor, Jing Yun and Irmtraud Meyer” by dullhunk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It’s a common practice for art students to critique each other’s work as a means to improve. To conduct a critique, one student shares their creation. Then, the artist’s peers describe, analyze, and interpret what they see and feel. The ensuing discussion covers the holistic impact of the work and the details of how it was constructed through the use of mediums, composition, forms, and colors.

The critique process benefits both the subject and the onlookers. The presenting artist digests the feedback to improve their craft. …

Exploring the connections between meditation and innovation

In How Adults Build Products, I explored a cognitive difference between adults and babies: adults have “endogenous attention” while babies only have “exogenous attention.” In other words, adults have the capacity to control their own attention. For babies, in contrast, their attention is directed by the external world.

Adults behave like babies in the workplace. Instead of staying focused on their true goals, grownup creators allow themselves to chase squirrels, build shiny objects, over-react to customer feedback, or succumb to political pressures. …

A visual framework for executing your ambitious product vision.

Now that I’ve blown your mind with the animated gif, here’s a an explanation of how it all works.

Now it’s easy to adapt the framework however you’d like.

Ever since I first published the Product Management Triangle in 2014, people have asked for versions they can use for their own purposes.

I finally made this a lot easier! I updated the triangle and made it available as a Keynote template. Click here to download it. Edit the diagram however you want. I’d love to see what you do with it.

And here’s an expanded version that shows things that are both internal and external to your company.

You need a toolchain for reconciling your vision with reality.

Technology entrepreneurs like to say that they’re “making the world a better place” but they usually have little idea about what will happen if their creations are adopted or how it relates to a better world.

This phenomenon was mocked beautifully in one of my favorite sequences from HBO’s Silicon Valley. In that episode, startup founders make claims like these:

  • “We’re making the world a better place through paxos algorithms for consensus protocols.”
  • “We’re making the world a better place though software defined data centers for cloud computing.”
  • “We’re making the world a better place through canonical data models to…

Applying the cognitive development of children to product management

Babies are born with exogenous attention. This means that the external world dictates what they pay attention to. A baby could be playing with the best toy ever, but when another toy drops next to them, their attention uncontrollably shifts to the new shiny object. In The Philosophical Baby, Alison Gopnik says that babies can “become captivated by interesting things that they don’t care for, like an unusually bright light or loud noise. They cry and fuss but seem unable to look away, like adults watching a horror movie.”

Gopnik explains that as children grow older, they develop endogenous attention

Daniel Schmidt

CEO & co-founder of, a tool for tracking product launches. Maze designer at Author of

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