What you could learn ‘Escaping the Build Trap’ by Melissa Perri (2018, 168 pages)

Nobody ever won a race by running the fastest in the wrong direction.

This is one of my favourite mantras that I return to often. When I take on a new role or position, or build a new product – taking some time to observe and orientate before I acted has always enabled me to be more effective.

In Escaping the Build, Melissa argues that Product leaders forus on the outcomes, that is the change in customer behaviour desired, rather than outputs (getting stuff shipped).

Through a framwork of: role, strategy, process and organisation, Melissa upi the reader through a series of frameworks and examples to help you focus on outcomes, rather than outputs.

General notes

  • Be clear on value – it is not the things you make, it is the the value you provide to customers and the business
  • Don’t be Kodak – disrupt yourself before others do
  • Don’t be Google+ – don’t just imitate, differentiate
  • Build a professional Product function – which has the skills, experience and knowledge to ‘build the right product, not just build the product right
  • Be clear on the difference between Products, which are ‘vehicles of value’ that are repeatable with no extra work, and ‘services which are human intensive and product value to the user’

Types of company

  • Sales led – contracts define product strategy
  • Visionary led – leaders vision defines product strategy
  • Technology led – latest technology define product strategy
  • Product led – balance companies business objectives with long-term customer value


  • CPO/Head of Product – show how the roadmap adds together to crate business value to the Board
  • Product people must avoid the product death cycle
  • Balances solving a customer problem with generating value for the business
  • Product people need to be product experts, with the right training, skills and knowledge. Not engineers, marketers or designers transported it with no support
  • Good product people ask the following questions:
    • How do we determine value?
    • How do we measure success of our product in the market?
    • How do we make sure we are building the right thing?
    • How do we price and package our product?
    • How do we bring our product to market?
    • What makes sense to build vs to buy?
  • Organise you team structure to reflect the value that your customers get from you


  • ‘Product strategy connects vision and economic outcomes of a company back to its product portfolio’
  • Netflix GLE framework allows you to explicitly show what is important, so you can debate and align
  • Good strategy is not a plan, it is a framework that helps you make decisions
  • There are three types of Strategic gaps (which I have highlighted before, in a past blog):
    • A knowledge gap – difference in what we know and what we want to know
    • An alignment gap – difference in what we want people to do and what they do
    • An effects gap – the difference between the effect we want our actions to achieve and the actual results
  • Strategy development
    • Vision
      • What do we want to be in 5-10 years
      • What is value for our customers
      • What position do we want to be in the market
      • What does our business look like
    • Strategic intent – What business challenges are standing in our way or reaching our vision
    • Product initiative – What problems can we address to tackle these challenges from a product perspective
    • Options – what different ways can i address those problems to reach our goals
  • Product vision – most common problem is too many products and no coherent vision
  • Product portfolio
    • How do all of our core products work as a system to provide value to our customers
    • What unique value does each of the product lines offer that make this a compelling system?
    • what overall values and guidelines should we consider when deciding on new product solutions
    • What should we stop doing or building because it not not meet our vision


  • Use the product kata
  • This might
    • What is the goal?
    • Where are we now in relation to the goal?
    • What is the biggest problem or obstacle standing in the way of us reaching the goal?
    • How could we solve these problems/
    • What do we expect to happen/I believe xxxx (hypothesis)
    • What actually happened?

You can purchase Escaping the Build Trap here (https://amzn.to/2OnMcA6) on Amazon UK