About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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Product vs. Program vs. Project Management

project program product

What does “discipline” mean to you? I bet a few words come to mind — self-control, punishment, or a system of rules. You might also conjure a field of study or branch of knowledge. This is how I most often think of it. Especially in the context of how our team at Aha! serves customers working in the disciplines of product, program, and project management.

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10 Tips From the Aha! Team on Working Remotely With a Full House

Everyone is asking me about remote work right now. I just spoke with a CIO who is deploying 5,000 laptops to employees who have never needed one before. COVID-19 is forcing many folks to adjust. Since Aha! has always been an entirely distributed company, people are naturally curious to learn how our team moves so fast and efficiently. Yes, our teammates all work remotely — but there is also a new challenge for us too.

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The Founder’s Paradox: How to Make Clear Decisions When the Future Is So Cloudy

I never imagined that I would talk with our company about a pandemic. But for many leaders, last week brought the unimaginable. It did for me on Wednesday, which I typically set aside for deep introspection and strategy. I spent that afternoon going through my own assumptions about the potential impact of coronavirus on the world, our company, our customers, and our team. Those reflections were the basis for a heartfelt conversation with the entire Aha! team last Friday.

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The Founder’s Paradox: How to Make Difficult Work Desirable

difficult work

Difficult work gets a bad rap. Tough to scope, complex to explain, and hard to deliver — I am sure you can think of some projects that would fit this description. When you are deep in it, the effort to break through can be tortuous. But I would wager that these projects are also some of the most impactful too. Either because of what you achieved or what you learned.

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Agile vs. Roadmaps

Agile vs Roadmaps

Have you ever tried to follow a complicated recipe? Exotic ingredients, specialty cookware, and professional techniques — it takes more than instructions to cook a delicious meal. Depending on culinary experience and access to tools, a dozen people following the same recipe could end up with dramatically different results. The same is true for building products. I think this is why a lot of teams focus on how they will get work done. For many, this means “going agile.”

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6 Commonly Confused Product and Project Management Titles

product and project management

Mad Libs was invented in 1953. I bet you played this fill-in-the-blank game as a kid — maybe on a long car trip. And even though the concept is more than 60 years old, hearing someone read off a wacky story with random words stuffed into sentences still elicits a laugh. But there is an important truth here. Just because a word fits a category (such as an adjective or noun) does not mean that it will hold meaning if used incorrectly or out of context.

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Roadmaps Make Strategy Work

Roadmaps make strategy work

Putting strategy into action can be difficult. That is because too many teams jump straight to the “how” before they agree on the “why” and the “what.” Typically this leap happens because there is a lack of clarity and transparency across the organization, especially as it relates to strategy. And inevitably, poor planning tools are in the mix. But the move-first mentality is unfortunately all too common.

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The Program Manager vs. the Project Manager

program manager vs project manager

“Program is to a project as product line is to a product.” One of our Customer Success teammates at Aha! made this analogy recently during a customer call. I believe her comparison perfectly encapsulates an important similarity between product and project management. Much like a product line is a grouping of individual products, a program is a collection of projects. And you need someone to own each — the totality and the individual.

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Why Your Boss’s Tiny Actions Have a Huge Effect

effects of boss's actions

We are all connected. Our actions have profound consequences on the people and communities around us. This is especially true at work, where we spend the majority of our time. Your actions — good and bad — directly impact your teammates and affect how much the collective group is able to accomplish. Think about your own boss’s words and actions. Even tiny actions can feel huge. This is the ripple effect.

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Why You Should Never Call Yourself a Guru

Never call yourself guru

Have you met any gurus recently? I know I have received quite a few connection requests from self-anointed ninjas, trailblazers, and pioneers. Recently I asked folks on LinkedIn to share their encounters with other “buzzword bingo” job titles. The responses did not disappoint — disruptor, change agent, influencer, and (yes) guru. Unless someone is an actual ninja, I have to wonder what people are hoping to communicate with these terms.

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Product Strategy vs. Go-to-Market Strategy

Product vs Go-to-market strategy

Have you heard of cognitive dissonance theory? In psychology, it refers to the tension that results when you attempt to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. We all balance ideas that are often quite different. This is especially true for product managers and product marketing managers. Building and launching brilliant products requires that you can understand and harmonize an internal focus (the build) with an external focus (the launch).

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How to Be Bored at Work

“If you cannot get out of it, get into it.” This is a simple yet powerful saying that I think is particularly applicable to work. Because even if you are passionate about what you do, you will not be energized by every single project or task. So unless you want to get out entirely, adopting a positive attitude can help you get into it.

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