Product Operating Model Marty Cagan


We have some news to share.

Those of you that read EMPOWERED might have noticed that there was another book in the SVPG series that has long been envisioned: TRANSFORMED.

Originally, my partner Lea was going to write this book, but after a year of trying to manage all her SVPG client work as well as a young family, she passed the project off to my partner Jon.  But after a year of trying to manage all his SVPG client work as well as a young family, he passed this project off to me.

The good news is that I do far fewer time-consuming company engagements than they do, my kids are no longer young, and unlike most people, I enjoy the writing.  Even though I’m now driving this project, Lea, Jon, Christian and Chris will all be making significant contributions to this book, and so they will each be co-authors.

The result is that I’m already well into this project, and feel confident saying that the new book will be out in early 2024, although this will largely consume my year.  But the purpose of this article is that I’d like to ask for your help, which I’ll explain more below.


We wrote INSPIRED in order to share the best practices and techniques used by the best product teams.

Then we wrote EMPOWERED in order to share the best practices and techniques used by the best product leaders in order to provide their product teams the environment they need to thrive.

What we learned is that there are some companies, mostly those that were created in the Internet era, that were born out of this new model of technology-powered product companies, and the way of working we describe is quite natural.

However, for the vast majority of companies in the world, (aka “the rest”) the ways of working we describe are very foreign.  

Most of these companies know they need to transform in order to compete in an era of rapidly changing enabling technology, but they have found that the degree of change necessary is much more disruptive than they expected, and anything but easy.

And so for the past twenty years, my SVPG partners and I have been helping as many of these companies as we can through the necessary changes.

It’s no secret that the overwhelming majority of companies globally that have attempted to transform have failed.  And rarely for lack of funding.

One CEO described the experience of transforming as “changing from driving on the left side of the road to the right – but gradually.”

Yet some companies do manage to transform, and their customers, employees and their shareholders have benefited dramatically from their new abilities.

This book is being written for the many people out there that are trying to help their companies transform: CEO’s, heads of product and technology, managers trying to help their individual contributors, and those coaches that help companies learn new and better ways to create products.

The purpose of TRANSFORMED is to share what we have learned about how to successfully transform your company.

What Are The Big Topics?

The premise for this book was published a few months ago as a series of articles where we define what we mean by truly transforming to the product model.

With that as the goal, the main topics for the book include:

  • the new core competencies that the product model depends on
  • the critical core product concepts that power the product model
  • the set of product first principles that you need to get right
  • tools and techniques for adopting and managing the required changes
  • common objections from each key company stakeholder, and how to address
  • common problems when organizations try moving to this model, and how to handle

I’ve been going deep on each of these big topics, and I keep finding myself thinking “this is the most important topic in the book.”  Obviously they can’t all be the most important, but it may say something about how substantial and important each of these big topics are.

First Person Transformation Case Studies

The part of the book that I’m most excited about, and I think the highlight for those that were invited to the Coach the Coaches sessions in London and NYC, will be the three, first-person transformation case studies.

Lea, Christian and Jon each joined SVPG after leading major successful transformations of large pre-Internet companies.  It’s not a coincidence that they joined SVPG after that.  I was able to observe each of them navigate the many challenges, and succeed where so many others have failed.

I’ve seen several transformation case studies out there, but most of them are failure case studies, and the few that I’ve seen that were considered successful are all “as told to.”

Moreover, it’s important to us that unlike our other books, in this book we won’t be showcasing any of the leading edge tech companies.  We all know they had a big advantage growing up in the product model.  

This book is about helping companies that do not currently follow the product model to develop new muscles.  So every example will be from companies that needed to transform in order to consistently innovate.  And some of these examples of what these companies have been able to do with their new skills will amaze you.

The Role of Coaching

How do you lead your organization through major change if you haven’t already been there and done that yourself?

One of the big realizations for us is that a serious challenge for many – if not most – companies trying to transform is that their leaders have never experienced the product model before.

One way to address this is to try to recruit some experienced product leaders to join your leadership team.  And we do encourage that.  But even then, it’s very difficult for those new leaders to have the necessary bandwidth to coach and develop a large organization.

Hence the need for more product coaches to help these companies learn the new ways of working.

If you’ve been following along, you know that we have been spending an increasing amount of time and effort working to nurture and develop a global product coaching community.  This book also serves as the next step in that effort.

We’ll also be profiling a number of product coaches, so that companies trying to transform can get a better sense of what to look for in a product coach.

How Can You Help?

As long-time readers of these articles know, much of what we publish as articles is intended to potentially end up as chapters in a book.  That will be especially true over the next six months.

If these topics are important and relevant to you, then hopefully you’ll send us your thoughts and questions.  Especially useful is when something is confusing or unclear, or if an issue you see in your company is not addressed, and you think it should be.

We’ll also have some specific questions on particular topics as we publish them.

In the meantime, we hope you’re as interested in reading this book as we are in writing it.