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Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones (Book Review)

In Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products, Marty Cagan and Chris Jones reveal the secrets behind the success of top tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, and Tesla. Contrary to popular belief, their innovation prowess isn’t just about hiring top talent but lies in how they enable their people to work together to solve complex problems and create extraordinary products. 

This book provides strategies for leaders in product management, design, and engineering to foster an environment where innovation thrives. If you want to redefine your product teams or elevate your company’s product leadership, Empowered is your guide to unlocking the full potential of your team. Discover how to change your organization into a hub of consistent innovation and extraordinary products.

Empower your team and improve your products with the book Empowered!

Who are Marty Cagan and Chris Jones?

Marty Cagan founded the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG), where he helps others create successful products through writing, speaking, advising, and coaching. Before SVPG, Marty worked as an executive at top companies like Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.

He started as a software developer at Hewlett-Packard Labs, then moved to Netscape, where he worked with co-founder Marc Andreessen. At Netscape, he was Vice President for the platform and tools division and later for e-commerce applications. Marty then became senior Vice President of product and design at eBay, shaping their global e-commerce products.

Marty has experience in product management, software development, product marketing, user experience design, and more. He is a popular speaker at conferences and companies around the world. He has written books like “TRANSFORMED,” “INSPIRED,” and “EMPOWERED.”

Chris Jones has over 30 years of experience building and leading product teams, from startups to Fortune 500 companies like Lookout, Symantec, and Vontu. He holds multiple patents and has created innovative products in consumer and enterprise mobile, web, data, and platform services.

At SVPG, Chris has worked with more than 200 companies of various sizes and industries, helping them align their organization, process, tools, and culture with modern product best practices. He collaborates with both leadership and operational teams to enhance their product strategies.

Before SVPG, Chris was VP of Product at Lookout and Head of Product at Vontu (acquired by Symantec). At Vontu, he led the creation of a new security category that has dominated the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Data Loss Prevention since 2006. At Lookout, he grew the user base from 300k to over 60 million in four years.

Chris also founded Medicineman Product Design, offering product discovery, design, and implementation services to nearly 50 companies, including Netscape, Tibco, Hewlett-Packard, and JP Morgan.

What’s the Value in Exploring “Empowered”?

Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones is a game-changer for entrepreneurs looking to improve their leadership and product development skills. 

The authors argue that the real advantage of top tech companies is not merely who they hire but how they enable their people to collaborate effectively. Drawing from their extensive experience as partners at The Silicon Valley Product Group, they reveal that the key to innovation is creating an environment where everyone’s potential can emerge. As the legendary Silicon Valley coach Bill Campbell put it, “Leadership is about recognizing that there’s greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge.”

The goal of Empowered is to equip leaders in product management, product design, and engineering with the tools to foster such an environment. The authors emphasize the importance of building empowered product teams rather than the traditional “feature teams.” Empowered teams are given specific problems to solve rather than a list of features to build, which fosters creativity and innovation.

Cagan and Jones provide insights into recruiting and coaching team members. The book also discusses how to create an inspiring product vision and an insights-driven product strategy. Empowered details how to translate strategy into actionable objectives by empowering teams with problems to solve.

The book also explores how to redefine the relationship between product teams and the rest of the company. Effective product leadership means ensuring these teams are aligned with the broader organizational goals while maintaining the autonomy to innovate.

Finally, the book outlines the changes necessary to transform your organization into one that truly supports empowered product teams. This involves cultural shifts, process changes, and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement.

Final Thoughts

Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their leadership and product development skills. The authors show that the secret of top tech companies is not just hiring the best people but enabling them to work together effectively.

Cagan and Jones share their knowledge on creating a workplace where everyone can shine. They stress the importance of building empowered teams focusing on solving problems, not just completing tasks. This approach leads to more creativity and innovation.

The book gives advice on hiring, coaching, and inspiring your team. It also explains how to create a clear product vision and strategy and ensure your teams are aligned with the company’s goals while still having the freedom to innovate.

Don’t miss the opportunity to revolutionize your leadership and product development strategies. Pick up your copy of Empowered today!