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Shipping Greatness: Practical lessons on building and launching outstanding software, learned on the job at Google and Amazon Kindle Edition

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Length: 228 pages

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Editorial Reviews


"Shipping Greatness is a perfectly-sized primer on how to lead a software's quite possibly the Dungeon Master's Guide of anyone's set of software books." -- Matt Shobe, co-founder of FeedBurner

"Shipping Greatness condenses years of experience on working with world class products into an accessible, practical guide. Whether you're looking for reference as an aspiring software leader, or need a handbook to keep everyone on the same page, it is a must-have guide for software leaders." -- Mike Smith, CTO Disney Interactive

"If you are about to start a project and only have time to read a single book, this is the one." --Lars Thorup, software consultant, CEO

"This book provides the tools and insight to be a better leader." --David Lutz, Senior Systems Engineer, Splunk

"It's the perfect book for folks who have an idea for a product, know they can build it, and are jazzed to get started." -- Tamara Adlin, author of The Persona Lifecycle

"Nevertheless, if you are a product manager or a startup building products , we strongly recommend you to get hold of this book (link). This is a must read." - Ashish Sinha, founder of

From the Back Cover

This is your shortcut to a degree in shipping great software. Team leaders today need an extremely broad skill set to find the right product, work through a complex and ever-changing development process, and do it all quickly. In this guide, Chris Vander Mey provides a simplified, no-BS approach to the entire software lifecycle, distilled from lessons he learned as a manager at Amazon and Google.
In the first part of the book, you'll learn a step-by-step shipping process used by many of the best teams at Google and Amazon. Part II shows you the techniques, best practices, and skills you need to face an array of challenges in product, program, project, and engineering management.
  • Clearly define your product and develop your mission and strategy
  • Assemble your team and become sufficiently technical to work with them
  • Create a beautiful, intuitive, and simple user experience
  • Track your team's deliverables and closely manage the testing process
  • Communicate clearly to gracefully handle requests, senior-management BS, and other feedback
  • Build metrics to track progress, spot problems, and celebrate success
  • Stick to your launch checklist and plan your marketing and PR

Product Details

  • File Size: 1954 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (August 24, 2012)
  • Publication Date: August 24, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091YS2CO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,171 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Chris Vander Mey is a former Senior Product Manager at Google and Engineering Manager (a.k.a. "Two Pizza Team Lead") at Amazon. He has shipped software that hundreds of millions of people use. At Google he shipped Google Apps Marketplace, Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, Google+ Hangouts. At Amazon he shipped multiple versions of customer reputation systems and the Real Names product. He has led teams to develop software in many consumer and enterprise areas, including Google Maps, iOS & Android, and highly scalable data storage systems. He holds numerous system patents and a Master of Engineering Management degree from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bea Kylene Jumarang on September 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
In the interest of Federal Trade Commission guidelines and covering my legal bases, I got this book free of charge via my involvement in the O'Reilly Media Blogger Review Program. That said, this review is entirely my opinion, after my reading of the book. I would also like to assure everyone that I was not paid to give any particular rating to the work, and that my rating is my personal choice.

Now let's get to the good stuff, which is the review itself.

If a university ever decided to teach a course on shipping great software, I enthusiastically nominate Chris Vander Mey for professor. After all, this book is practically a course already, with the added benefit of being speedy and concise.

Within its pages, you'll find not just the attitudes you need to build and launch outstanding software, but also the specific frameworks, along with the things you need to get done at each stage. It will also arm you with a load of examples for your benefit, including some cases from Vander Mey's own work at Amazon and Google.

More than that, Chris will be with you every step of the way, from the moment you begin to define the right product, all the way to dealing with crises during launch. At each stage of the process, he'll first show you the scaffolding you need to get in place, and then end strong by teaching you how to turn good to great.

In terms of the writing style, the attention to detail is sure to appeal to the analytic techies out there. Even if you're a veteran at the process, this book still has enough substance to make you feel at home. Even so, the simplicity of presentation will surely resound with anyone at any level.

Nowhere did the author cram the book with too much jargon, so even the newbies will find themselves comfortable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a little book of just over 200 pages that contains solid advice on the process of creating software products. I deliberately omitted the word "great" here and all its variations, though the author promises that his advice will help you lead a team that will create great software.

I have no argument with the author's advice. Two generations ago, Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft CEO, learned much the same lessons at Proctor & Gamble, then as now one of the great American marketing companies that maintains its leadership by introducing a constant stream of new products, all of which are "great" and most of which quickly die in the marketplace.

There is no question that if you faithfully follow the author's guidance, your product development process will be smoother. But there is no guaranty that your product will be "great".

One of the more amusing and potentially useful aspects of this book is its being loaded with tons of contemporary buzzwords.

Overall, I think this is a fun and helpful book, particularly for those new to the product (and business) development process. If I sound a bit jaded, it is because I have lived through three generations of books like this and read those of the two generations before mine.

The basic ideas don't change: only the jargon does.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By New York Guy on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a product manager, I really liked this book. Software product management is, as the author says, a "new craft", and finding good references on it is hard.

This book shares more practical advice on software product management than any "mentoring" conversation I've ever had. For one thing, the author isn't shy about talking about his own past mistakes, and how he learned from them; and insightful about the reasons for his success. He explains his tricks and techniques in very specific terms, with actual spreadsheets in some cases. A very useful book, and a let's-not-take-ourselves-too-seriously tone that makes it an enjoyable read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tjain on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Shipping Greatness: Practical lessons on building and launching outstanding software, learned on the job at Google and Amazon by Chris Vander Mey is as name suggests, is collection of Chris' experiences at Amazon and Google. This book is comprehensive list of best practices from Amazon and Google for developing and launching new product from a product manager perspective.

I like to cover this from a two opposing views:

What is good in the book?

List of best practices from Amazon and Google
Lucid flow
Emphasis on quality - quantative and qualitative and acceptability by customer not just on shipping the product
Consumer/user is center of all discussions and decisions

What is not considered?
Book assumes that project is being executed in fairly large organization so availability of resources is easy (if you can access them).

Considering context of book, it will certainly remain on by book shelf for long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David J. Kelley on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
As a part time software 'producer' at a interactive design firm I find the book interesting, engaging, relevant to my work leading dynamic software projects. what caught my attention was the quote about this being a dungeon master guide to product management and I'd have to agree. I'd have to say the book really is more engaging if your in the fields and definitely a must read...
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